Reflections on Jinnah – Part 7

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 7

It is such a shame that this movie was never shown to a mass audience in the West, like the Gandhi biopic of 1982, in an age when media plays a major role in shaping narratives. Sir Christopher Lee himself has credited his portrayal of Jinnah as the best role he had ever played. He also lamented the fact that the West’s censure of the movie was due to it being a positive portrayal of a Muslim leader.

During his time in exile, Jinnah was constantly visited by Muslim leaders who begged him to return to India and continue his political struggle for their cause. Chaudhry Rehmat Ali and his group of friends met Jinnah during this time as well, and proposed to him a radical idea of a Muslim state comprising the western provinces of India which were majority Muslim. The Eastern provinces which were also Muslim majority were conveniently left out.

Upon his return to India, Jinnah assumed the leadership of the Muslim League, although he still looked favorably towards some sort of accommodation of Muslims in a United India. Jinnah’s aspirations for settlement were shattered when the Congress (maintaining its claim of representing all Indians) swept the 1937 elections and formed governments in the Center and the Provinces. Nehru and his party felt no need to consider a minority party in the formation of their government.

Many incidents of maltreatment, provocation and rioting were reported in the Muslim majority provinces, which disillusioned the Muslim populations from the party which claimed to represent all Indians. In one of his speeches before the outbreak of WWII, Nehru insisted that there were only two powers in India, the British and the Congress. Mr. Jinnah retorted and said that there was a third power as well, namely the Muslims.

Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed

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Reflections on Jinnah – Part 5

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 5

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‘The following scenes accurately describe the difference between the political ideologies of Jinnah and Gandhi.

Gandhi, a lawyer who had been subjected to racial discrimination whilst in South Africa had given up his Court Dress in favor of the historical Dhoti and had radically deviated from his ideals of activism in favor of populist politics.

Jinnah, also a lawyer, (who by no means was a favorite of the British) had stood his ground and maintained a constitutional struggle for the Independence of India, rejecting symbolism and soothsaying. Jinnah joined the Congress in 1905, and was a respected member of its moderate faction which was lead by Dadabhai Naoroji, Sir Pherozeshah Mehta and Gopal Krishna Gokhale. He was opposed to the disruptive and provocative politics of his factional rivals in the Congress, Bal Gangadhar Tilak and Lala Lajpat Rai who advocated quick and violent measures to kick the British out of India.

Jinnah’s political acumen can be estimated from the fact that by 1913 he was a member of both the Congress and the Muslim League, and was instrumental in the signing of the Lucknow Pact. Jinnah was also a founding member of the Home Rule League, which (whilst supporting the British War effort in hopes of political reforms in India in return) was to become the foundation for future independence demands. His detestation of communal politics can be understood from his denouncement of the formation of the Khilafat Movement (influenced by Gandhi’s Ahmisa and Satyagraha), which was based on Gandhi’s conviction that India was a Dar ul Harb (Land of War) for the Muslims and therefore must return to their original home, (i.e. anywhere but India).

Jinnah was also extremely critical of Gandhi’s cherry picked words and his provocative actions, which were aimed at the religious sensitivities of the Hindus. Gandhi returned to India after the 1918 Jallianwala Bagh Massacre and was intent on inciting disobedience against the British. The ‘non-violence’ was restricted to Gandhi’s speeches only, as all across the country religiously charged groups would agitate at the flicker of his fingers.

The symbolism was toxic as per Jinnah, who foresaw the desolate conditions of minorities that currently prevail in India. Gandhi’s intentions may have been different (which is highly unlikely considering how calculating and sharp his mind was) but the results were always going to be the same: a religiously charged Hindu majority group that saw all others as ‘invaders’ and ‘outsiders’, and would stop at nothing to kick everyone else out.

If Jinnah had at that time submitted to the wishes of the majority that dominated not only the Congress but also the entire Indian Subcontinent, the fate of the Muslims of India would have had been very different. One could draw parallels with the apartheid regime that currently runs Indian Occupied Kashmir.

Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed

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Pakistan Cricket’s resilient resurgence and India – CT 2017

Pakistan Cricket’s resilient resurgence and India – CT 2017

It would be an understatement to say that Pakistan’s decisive victory over India the other day made me happy. I’ll admit that I was ecstatic bordering on euphoric, not only because I had been constantly praying for them to make a ridiculously impossible comeback in the tournament, but also because it was the first time in almost 15 years that I saw the team playing with such energy and determination. It was heartening to see them diving all over the place, attacking the wickets and taking jabs at every other ball. This tournament brought out the side in them that I had been longing to see!

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The team which once ruled the Cricketing world in all formats of the game had been reduced to whipping boys in the mid 2000’s, and could be counted on to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Mired in fixing scandals, administrative ineptitude and politicization, cricket in Pakistan was dying a slow death. The situation was intensified by the menace of terrorism which had been haunting the country since 2006 and which lead to every international team refusing to play in Pakistan.

I was happy to see the unifying force of sport that made everyone forget about the plethora of social and political ills that have for so long been plaguing the country. I was also pleased to see many Indians congratulating Pakistanis on the win and hoping for a revival of the team.

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I write this post not to take jabs at the Indian team, neither is it an attempt to undermine their achievements. I would however like the people of India to take a practical step in exercising their democratic powers and request their authorities to restore Cricketing ties with Pakistan. Restoration of India-Pakistan cricket (including home series) would go a long way in restoring faith between the two countries, and would also make it easier to convince international teams to return to Pakistan. India is after all one of the most influential members of the ICC and has a major stake in all of its decisions. It is a known fact that India has been refusing to play bilateral cricket with Pakistan for over 5 years now, and has lobbied internationally to ensure that Cricket doesn’t return to Pakistan any time soon. The idea of isolating Pakistan is not new, and has been around for over 10 years.

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While many disagree, there is indeed a major group of hardliners in India that influences the policies of the BCCI and the Indian government when it comes to ties with Pakistan. This was evident during the years leading up to the 2011 Cricket World Cup, which was scheduled to be hosted collectively between India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Pakistan’s hosting rights were taken away after the Sri Lankan team was attacked in Lahore, and international players including those from India cited security concerns about playing in Pakistan. I sincerely believe that had Pakistan been allowed to host that world cup, Cricket would have returned much earlier to the country. Similar was the case of the 2009 Champions Trophy, which was stripped away from Pakistan after several countries withdrew their diplomatic support. It was in these moments that Pakistan needed India’s support the most, which it withheld.

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The Indian Premier League bans Pakistani players from participating in it, which has had an obvious impact on the physical and psychological state of our players. Whether this is due to political reasons is debatable, but there have been incidents involving Pakistani commentators as well who were told to leave India due to pressure and threats by hardline groups. And while the cricketing world evolved with the annual T20 event, Pakistan was conveniently left out of the fray, ensuring that its team would be unable to keep up. It would be a major step at creating goodwill if Pakistani players are included in the next IPL tournament.

Despite everything, the international boycott, the labels, the lack of adequate training regimes and public disapproval, the Pakistani team still manages to somehow defy the odds and produce a memorable performance.

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I’ve read quite a few ‘odes’ to Pakistan’s ‘unbelievable’ victories recently, calling for ‘more power’ to the team and thanking them for restoring the faith of people in ‘underdogs’. I’m sure it was well received.

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But voicing disapproval would go a longer way rather than conveniently playing the role of silent observers when hardliners and hate mongers demonize Pakistan in the name of ideology.

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 4

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 4

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‘One of the reasons that I am very fond of this movie is its ability to precisely describe the state of affairs in India under the Raj. The following scene depicts the years of the Great War (WWI), when the British recruited thousands of Indian soldiers to fight in Europe against the Axis powers.

Pertinent to note here is that the British had shifted all military recruitment from Bengal, Madras and Bombay to the Northern and Western regions of India (i.e. Punjab, Kashmir, Himachal, Baluchistan, NWF) after the 1857 War of Independence.

Despite countless services by Indians in the defense of Britain (e.g Khudadad Khan – Victoria Cross at the First Battle of Ypres – British equivalent to Nishan e Haider & Vir Chakra), the British would never allow Indians to join the Army as Officers.

Jinnah was one of the few Indian lawyers at the time who advocated equality for Indians who were laying down theirs lives for the Empire. Jinnah’s advocacy continued through out the period, as a member of the Indian National Congress Party.

The British responded by delaying matters until the war ended, and later in 1923 introduced the ‘Indianisation reforms’, which were supposed to create quotas for Indians applying as Officers to government services. This was of course just to be done on paper, as British officers and civil servants alike resented the idea of Indians being their superiors.

The Indianisation reforms did however initiate the process which was in 1938 to result in the formation of the Indian Military Academy (IMA) at Dehradun, and in 1948 as the Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) at Kakul.

(Note: I believe this scene was shot in one of the halls of the King Edward Medical College, Lahore.)

Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed

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Reflections on Jinnah – Part 3

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 3

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‘By 1946, the political landscape of India had changed quite dramatically. The Muslim League, which had only a decade earlier descended into obscurity after continuous internal rifts and political estrangement, had risen under the leadership of Jinnah to become the 2nd largest party of India. Jinnah had assumed its leadership after his return from a self-imposed political exile in England, and was determined to safeguard the rights of the Indian Muslims at all costs.

What, one might ask, had lead to Jinnah’s fierce conviction that Muslims in a United India would be reduced to 2nd class citizens? For starters, the Muslim representatives in the various political parties of India at the time were by no means popular leaders. They were too few and too powerless, in terms of both political acumen and vision, to claim to represent the 2nd largest religious community of India. The Muslims in the Congress were no different, overshadowed and silenced by their Hindu superiors.

Jinnah’s political ideology had always been opposed to communal differences (which was evident in his years of advocacy for Hindu Muslim unity), but due to the persistent projection of an ancient Hindu civilization that had been ravaged and destroyed by the ‘invaders’ and its convenient acceptance by Congress leaders, and also due to the symbolism that adorned all of the political initiatives undertaken by the Congress, Jinnah had come to conclude that the Muslims of India would sooner or later be forced to assimilate into the fold, being unable to resist against the massive majority group.

Secondly, when the Cabinet Mission was sent to India after the end of WWII to discuss transfer of power with a proposition of grouping together Muslim majority provinces in the East and West of India at par with the Hindu majority provinces and the remaining Princely States, Nehru cited a vicious disagreement with the idea of giving Muslim majority provinces an equal status of representation in the Central government.

Jinnah agreed initially, aware of the fact that the plan dismissed the creation of a separate Muslim state, but insisted on the ‘safeguards and assurances’ that were to be provided to the groupings in terms of Provincial Autonomy. This should be taken as proof of his commitment to securing the rights of Indian Muslims even in a United India after all that had transpired (e.g. 1937 Congress Ministries etc), and is enough to debunk the claims that he was a communally charged opportunist.

Realizing that the Muslim League had now come at par with the Congress, and that Jinnah’s claims of representing ALL the Muslims of India had been justified, the Congress rejected both proposals and did not draft any resolutions in their working committee regarding them. The Viceroy still invited Congress members to join the interim coalition government. Jinnah’s patience had run out by that time, and he had realized that the Congress would never accept the logical and just demands of the Muslim community. He subsequently rejected all plans for a coalition government or any type of system that denied an independent Muslim country.

After the League’s boycott, the Congress readily joined the interim government, all the while conveniently neglecting the demands of the second largest political party of India and the minority community that it represented.’

Video Credits: Jamil Dehlavi & Akbar S. Ahmed

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Reflections on Jinnah – Part 2

Reflections on Jinnah – Part 2

The second in the series on Jinnah. This is a fairly longer video clip. I decided to add a few subtitles in the video too, as some of the dialogue can be difficult to make out for an average viewer. Please do leave a comment and let me know your opinion on the video and the analysis.

‘The Mountbattens had arrived in India in February 1947, and were commissioned by the British Government to transfer power to Indians whilst extricating all British personnel from the country.

Lord Mountbatten, the New Viceroy of India, perceived Nehru to be a more liberal minded and enlightened leader, who would set the newly independent country on a course that wouldn’t collide with British interests and would play a positive role in global affairs. Nehru was Cambridge bred, belonged to a wealthy upper class Brahmin family and was revered in both political and religious circles.

Dasht e Tanhai

SO its been a while since ive posted anything on this blog. Ill try to make a comeback to blogging by posting one of my favorite Urdu ghazals. The poem is titled ‘Dasht e Tanhai’, and it is by the most iconic Urdu poet of Pakistan, Faiz Ahmed Faiz.

Faiz was a man whose love for his country and people cost him his freedom. The poem was written during one of his tenures under incarceration, and conveys his longing for the times gone by, times when public opinion and freedom of expression weren’t met with oppression and subjugation.

The poem is historic and has been reproduced in various forms over the years, forever maintaining its ominous message and relevance.

Dasht-e-tanhaai mein, ai jaan-e-jahaan larzaan hai
Teri awaaz ke saaye, tere honthon ke saraab
In the desert of my solitude, O love of my life, quiver
The shadows of your voice, the mirage of your lips

Dasht-e-tanhaai mein
doori ke khas-o-khaak talay
Khil rahe hain tere pehloo ke saman aur gulaab
In the desert of my solitude
Beneath the dust and ashes of distance
Bloom the jasmines and roses of your proximity


Uth rahi hai kahin qurbat se teri saans ke aanch
Apni kushboo mein sulagti hui, madhdham madhdham
From somewhere very close, rises the warmth of your breath
Smoldering in its own aroma, slowly, bit by bit

Door ufaq paar chamakti hui, qatraa qatraa
Gir rahi hai tere dildaar nazar ki shabnam
Glistens, far away, across the horizon, drop by drop
the falling dew of your beguiling glance

Kis qadar pyaar se ai jaan-e-jahaan rakhkha hai
Dil ke rukhsaar pe is waqt teri yaad ne haath
With such tenderness, O love of my life
On the cheek of my heart, has your memory placed its hand now

Yoon gumaan hotaa hai, garche hai abhi subhaa-e-firaaq
Dhal gayaa hijr kaa din, aa bhi gayi vasl ke raat
It looks as if, though its still the dawn of adieu
the sun of separation has set, and the night of union has arrived.