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Published in the 16-30 June 2005 print edition of MG; send me the print edition


Let Advani repent

By Zafarul-Islam Khan

The Milli Gazette Online 

I believe Jinnah saheb was a secular person both in his personal life as well as in his thoughts. Even if we overlook his long innings as a freedom fighter before he joined the Muslim League, this aspect is clear in many later instances, e.g., his speech on departure from India and his first speech in the Pakistani assembly. It is not possible and advisable even in a Muslim majority state to discriminate between citizens on the basis of religion. All are equal in rights and duties and are to be treated equally by law and State.

Jinnah’s idea of Pakistan was not of a theocratic state in which Muslims alone would have rights and supremacy. His idea of Pakistan was one of equal status for all its inhabitants but he died very soon after the emergence of Pakistan and power soon slipped into the hands of dictators like Iskander Mirza, Ayub Khan, Yahya Khan, Bhutto and Ziaul Haque who were not religious in their personal lives but knew that in order to prolong their rule they had to pander a certain constituency in Pakistan which is very much similar to the Parivar constituency in our own country. 

The idea behind Partition was not so much religious as was economic and political. Self-rule period prior to Independence coupled with Congress’ petty politics and narrow-mindedness had shown that the “majority” was not able to show the kind of magnanimity needed to dispel the fears of a minority. Marginalisation of Muslims in post-Independence India testifies that those fears were not misplaced. Serious studies, like that of Justice Seervai, have shown that Jinnah alone was not responsible for Partition. Many others, especially the Congress leadership, also shares that responsibility but this fact does not suit the Indian polity whether it is Parivar or Congress. In fact the idea of partition was floated by Lala Lajpat Rai, decades before the League.

After its defeat in the elections last year the BJP has been trying to re-invent itself and find new issues and slogans and move away from the brazenly divisive and communal agenda. It has realised that the Hindutva slogan has run its course and the majority of the Indian voters is not ready to vote for a party which will keep it in perpetual turmoil and a state of internal and external emergency. In the name of 'security', the BJP kept the country on its tenterhooks during its rule and gave the police and security forces carte blanche to do anything to marginalised sections of society in the name of security. On the external front, the BJP kept the country in a state of red alert for war for a whole year but at the end it did not have the guts to go to actual war. The leader of that same party has now visited Pakistan where he said things which were unthinkable while his party was ruling. The BJP wants to emerge as a rightist party in a two-party system like the US and UK but it remains hostage to its core and exclusivist constituency which does not believe in such niceties. The BJP thus is caught between the devil and deep sea but all of this is its own making because it wanted a short cut to power and is now paying the price. I support LK Advani if he wants to chart a new course for himself and his party. Repentance is a great virtue even for a crass communalist like Advani who it seems wants to re-invent himself and his party. 

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