Milan Kundera and the ghost of Jinnah



The Jaswant Singh debacle has again brought Jinnah back from the dead. Interestingly exoneration/conviction of Jinnah is an issue that we still are not able to remove from our collective minds. Definitely we want a villain for the partition blood baths and our minds are not that accustomed to gray players.


 When I went through the articles that appeared in net and magazines, my first thought was that how slippery the truth is. Jinnah was disturbed by the ‘big brother’ attitude of Indian National Congress especially after the elections in 1938 but finally during the time of partition came across as very adamant and unreasonable to every one including Lord Mountbatten. But what we don’t know is what was going on in his mind. We will have to stop all history there. Was his motive really ambition for power or a steely resolve due to feeling of being subjugated or just plain inflexibility of thought? We will never know. Because history can only deal with events- rest of it is just speculation.

But what I am more intrigued about is the traditional stance of Indians and Pakistanis. For most of us who are not academic historians Jinnah has been a villain while for Pakistanis he is the savior. This stance is based on just what we hear when we grow up. It has nothing to do with what we have carefully dissected out. The question is not what Jinnah really is. The question is how we reached our beliefs.

This is more less similar to our relegious beliefs. We defend our relegions with logic and facts (whatever that may mean). But it never occur to us that first we chose our relegion (or rather relegion chose us during birth) and we set out to defend and die for our relegions because we never have any doubt regarding whether we are in the right group or not. We are chosen by our sect (over which we have no control) and then we search for arguments to defend it.

In ‘Unbearable lightness of being’ by Milan Kundera, the protagonist says when his son who had being an atheist chooses the church-

I am quoting from memory- ‘When they are ready to take him in, he develops faith. It is as simple as that- One moment you decide to have faith and you have it.’

I am not quoting this to say that having faith is as simple as that. Any kind of human belief has a leap attatched to it. If you are not ready to take that leap, you will always remain a skeptic.


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