“Your Excellency doesn’t understand. A man is a Punjabi or Bengali before he is a Hindu or a Muslim. They share a common history, language, culture and economy. You must not divide them. You will cause endless bloodshed and trouble” — Quaid-e-Azam to Lord Mountbatten.
The self-appointed guardians of Pakistan’s physical and ‘ideological’ frontiers are frothing at the mouth — again. The man-eaters want more and, as always, they want it in the name of Islam and the ‘ideology’ of Pakistan. From political liberals and dissidents to the religious minorities, this pack of wolves has hounded them all. But this time the target is not the secular Salmaan Taseer.
The thirst of the vicious cabals in the media and religio-political parties were not quenched by Taseer’s blood. Now they are out to get a centre-right politician, a rather devout Muslim: the former prime minister of Pakistan and leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Mian Nawaz Sharif is the object of their latest venomous barrage. His fault is to have candidly given a roadmap for peace between Pakistan and India at the South Asian Free Media Association (SAFMA) seminar in Lahore last week. Dunya TV anchor Meher Bokhari, Jamaat-e-Islami’s Siraj-ul-Haq and the charlatan Zaid Hamid then ganged up to verbally lynch Nawaz Sharif.
This vitriol by the media, mullahs and the military stooges was a sordid game of snakes-and-ladders: just when a politician is about get past the security state paradigm, the snakes bite him down all the way to square one. Allegations ranging from being a sellout to India and betraying Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal’s vision to violating the oath to uphold this vision were hurled at Nawaz Sharif. Since the bigots have invoked Jinnah and Iqbal’s words in their odious invective against Nawaz Sharif and SAFMA, I shall keep the discourse within that realm. I have watched Nawaz Sharif’s speech and was reminded of Jinnah and Iqbal’s words; especially the latter’s lines in Javeed Nameh:
“Hind raa eeN zauq-e-azadi kih daad,
sayd raa sauda-e-sayyadi kih daad,
lalah-e-ahmar ze roo-e-shaaN khajal,
taizbeen o pukhta-kar o sakht-kosh,
az nigahe-shaaN farang andar kharosh,
asle-shaaN az khaak-e-damangir-e-maast,
matla’-e-eeN akhtaraaN Kashmir-e-maast.”
(Who gave to India this yearning for freedom?
Who gave the quarry this passion to be the hunter?
Those scions of Brahmins, with vibrant hearts,
whose glowing cheeks put the red tulip to shame,
keen of eye, mature and strenuous in action,
whose very glance puts Europe into commotion.
Their origin is from this protesting soil of ours,
the rising-place of these stars is our Kashmir — translation Arthur J Arberry.)
Who were those Brahmin Hindus that Iqbal has immortalised in his verse? My Persian is rudimentary but the personalities in the verse cannot be mistaken. He wrote it when Jawaharlal Nehru became the president of the Indian National Congress and had demanded complete freedom from the British. Jawaharlal and his father Motilal Nehru are the Kashmiris that Iqbal — himself a descendant of Kashmiri Brahmins — credited with giving the subcontinent the awareness that caused commotion in the colonial ranks.
But I still wanted to be sure and asked a friend to help me contact Dr Javed Iqbal, who is not just Iqbal’s son but perhaps the foremost living authority on Iqbal’s poetry. With great kindness Dr Iqbal received my phone call and confirmed that Allama Iqbal indeed was referring to Nehru, of whom he had very high hopes, in the said verse. Dr sahib did not wish to comment on Nawaz Sharif’s speech, as he had not heard the speech himself.
I then asked Dr Javed Iqbal what might have Iqbal’s vision been for Pakistan vis-à-vis its neighbours. Dr sahib pointed towards Iqbal’s Allahabad address in which he had given the sketch of what today may have looked like the European Union. He added that while a separate state was not the initial objective of Allama Iqbal or Jinnah, after the Cabinet Mission fiasco, it became inevitable. I then inquired about what he, as a Pakistani, intimately familiar with Iqbal — the person, poet and politician — thinks, is the way forward. Dr sahib said that we are more a part of South Asia rather than anything towards the west of our borders. He said if someone still cared to listen to him or give credence to his advice, he would say that Kashmir be given a (independent) status like Bhutan or Nepal, with China and Russia becoming guarantors of this arrangement, and the process leading to open borders like the European Union. My other question to Dr Iqbal was about an analogy that Quaid-e-Azam had once made about two bickering brothers. He said that he did not recall that but did say that he felt that Jinnah’s aspiration would not have been anything but peaceful relations with neighbouring nations.
What Quaid-e-Azam had said in a conversation with Mountbatten’s Chief of Staff, General Ismay has been chronicled in M A Jinnah Papers (Editor Zawar H Zaidi, Volume I part II, page 647) as: “Mr Jinnah said with the greatest earnestness that once the partition had been decided upon, everyone would know exactly where they were, all their troubles would cease, and they would live happily ever after. He quoted me the case of two brothers who hated each other like poison as a result of portions allotted to them under their father’s will. Finally, they could bear it no more and took the case to court. Mr Jinnah defended one of them and the case was fought with utmost venom. Two years later Mr Jinnah met his client and asked how he was getting on and how was his brother, and he said: ‘Oh once the case was decided, we became the greatest friends.’”
There is a method to the media-mullah madness. The security establishment frets that a strong politician from Punjab, who always had the wherewithal to cut them down to size, has been consistently expressing his will to do so too. The junta that has idolised the Turkish military is also aware that not only a Muslim country like that can live in harmony with its European neighbours, a centre-right party is best placed to defang the praetorian guard. So before Nawaz Sharif can do an Erdogan number on them, the generals want to go Kenan Evren on him. Fortunately, the brass and its stooges stand on the wrong side of history. Nawaz Sharif did not use Iqbal and Jinnah’s elaborate diction but has cogently reiterated their message. Well said Mian sahib and well done SAFMA!
The writer can be reached at email@example.com. He tweets at http://twitter.com/mazdaki
Source : DailyTimes