Dialogue with a Giant [1 of 2]

When Ireland was separated from Britain, the document embodying the terms of separation was approximately ten lines. Ten, hues of print to settle a dispute of incredible complexity ! All the details were left to the Future—and the Future is often, an, admirable arbitrator. In context of Pakistan, well! I’ve already given the world a good deal more than ten lines to indicate the principles and practice of Pakistan, but it is beyond the power of any man to provide, in advance, a blue-print in which every detail is settled.  Say, where was the blue-print, when the question of Burma’s separation was decided? Where was the blue-print when Sind was separated from Bombay? The answer, of course, is * nowhere. It didn’t exist and it didn’t need to exist. The vital point was that the principle of separation was accepted; the rest followed automatically.
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DIALOGUE WITH A GIANT

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by Beverly Nichols

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Note for WoP readers: On May 2, 2012, we put up a highly thoughtful post titled Significance of Pakistan’ by K. Hussan Zia. Interestingly Zaheer-ud-din Jeddy also published this on his weblog ‘the Treasure Chest’. Those of you who regular;y browse through pages of this weblog know that Zjeddy also runs an email circulating net. I being a recipient of these emails, too get such mails right in my email inbox every time a member puts up something [it could be anything such as opinion, brief comment, some off or on hand remark or even a somewhat witty, somewhat satirical but friendly remark to another friend].

This time too I received an email from Jeddy’s through which I learned of the post on his weblog and then a pertinent comment by Zahid Majid, along with a sizable extract from chapter III of Beverly Nichols remarkable book published in 1944.

The chapter details the interview Nichols had with the Qaid in 1943. Now when you read this interview, it at once clears up one’s mind why Qaid -e- Azam who was once declared an apostle of Hindu Muslim Unity was forced to take a great leap forward to demand for a separate nationhood for the Muslims of India and ask for what was then and even now aspired as a land of the pure people.

I thank Zahid Majid, who has done a good job by reproducing this piece from Beverly Nichols’ book. Though Nichols called this a verdict [on India] back in 1944, yet this VERDICT on the history of the subcontinent still holds as true as it was in the mid 1940′s.

The anti Pakistan forces, individuals, groups and parties may think whatever they have in mind as their truth but the facts stand to approve the statesman-vision of the Qaid.

Zahid Majid is right when he says, “Mr. Jinnah was the kingpin for Pakistan’s future and development as a nation. After his demise, no leader of any consequence emerged from among the Muslims to even follow up on what he built. All subsequent leaders were mediocre at their best, intellectual pygmies, corrupt, extremely self-centered and rode on the slogan of “democracy” without understanding even its meaning! “

This is the very dilemma that we as a nation have been facing right after the Qaid departed from here to eternity.

Zahid Majid calls these post Jinnah politicos [what to speak of the fauji jernails, who in their fortified offices and cantonments are always embedded in their strong disciplinary rotes and order is order culture] as intellectual pygmies. But I think they were mere pygmies and no intellectuals for had these nincompoops the slightest semblance of intellect in them, we would never have come to the impasse we are in now.

But again to equate this state of affairs with a question mark on the vision of the Qaid or on the very basis of Pakistan’s creation as an independent, sovereign nation state, is like putting the circle of history back to the point from where we started our journey as a nation.

Pakistan was bound to emerge this way or that way. Its geographical contours might have been different than what they are today. But the way the history was unfloding in those turbulent and last days of the Raj, Pakistan was bound to appear on the surafce of this earth. Jinnah accelerated its momentm and became the prime vehicle to bring such a change in the geopgraphical boundaries of the apparently ‘united’ but intrinsically ‘ununited’ Hindustan.

The problem arose only when that visionary, that great leader Jinnah left us and we as a nation were orphaned.

Now having spent almost 65 years in this wildeness, we are encountering another very serious challenge to our national fabric in the form of this religious intolerance. A psyche that slowly but steadily is creeping into our very national character. Again the reason for this has been lack of vision that characterised the post Jinnah leadership in Pakistan [if at all those bunch of nincompoops can be called a leadership] [Nayyar]

Beverly Nichols was in India in 1943 and wrote a book. The book  ‘Verdict on India’ carries  a chapter about Quaid-e-Azam. Its captioned ‘Dialogue with a Giant’. One of the questions asked by Mr. Nichols was about the economic viability of Pakistan. Quaid-e-Azam answered the question in the following terms:

“What conceivable reason is there to suppose that the gift of nationality is going to be an economic liability. How any European can get up and say that Pakistan is economically impossible after the treaty of Versailles is really beyond my comprehension. The great brains who cut Europe into a ridiculous patchwork of conflicting and artificial boundaries are hardly the people to talk economics to us.”

·
Beverley Nichols (1898–1983) was a prolific writer on diverse subjects ranging from gardening to religion to politics and travel. In addition to authoring six novels, five detective mysteries, four children’s stories, six autobiographies, and six plays, he is perhaps best remembered in the subcontinent for his remarkable book ‘Verdict on India’.

Mr. Jinnah was the kingpin for Pakistan’s future and development as a nation. After his demise, no leader of any consequence emerged from among the Muslims to even follow up on what he built. All subsequent leaders were mediocre at their best, intellectual pygmies, corrupt, extremely self-centered and rode on the slogan of “democracy” without understanding even its meaning!

Pakistani people deserve what they have got from their “elected” leaders.

Great pity that Pakistan lost its founding father and the only leader so soon after its birth.

But let not the present mess lead to doubting the wisdom of seeking to establish as an independent entity. There is every need to stay reminded of the rationale for our struggle for an independent Pakistan. Even though it occupies some space, it is MUST read stuff what Mr. Jinnah had to say to Beverly Nichols back in 1944 for the book he (BN) was writing!

This is what Nichols wrote in his book, back in 1944.

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CHAPTER III

 DIALOGUE WITH A GIANT

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The most important man in Asia is sixty-seven, tall, thin, and elegant, with a monocle on a grey silk cord, and a stiff white collar, which he wears in the hottest weather. He suggests a gentleman of Spain, a diplomat of the old school; one used to see his like sitting in the window of the St. James’s Club, sipping Contrexe-ville while he read Le Temps, which was propped against a Queen Anne toast rack stacked with toast Melba.

I have called Mr. Jinnah the most important man in Asia. That was to ensure that you kept him spotlight in your mind. Like all superlatives the description is open to argument, but it is not really so far from the truth. India is likely to be the world’s greatest problem for some years to come, and Mr. Jinnah is in a position of unique strategic importance.

He can sway the battle this way or that as he chooses. His 100 million Muslims will march to the left, to the right, to the front, to the rear at his bidding, and at nobody else’s, that is the point. It is not the same in the Hindu ranks. If Gandhi goes, there is always Nehru, or Rajagopalacharriya or Patel or a dozen others. But if Jinnah goes, who is there?

By this I do not mean that the Muslim League would disintegrate—it is far too homogeneous and virile a body—but that its actions would be incalculable. It might run completely off the rails, and charge through India with fire and slaughter; it might start another war. As long as Jinnah is there, nothing like this will happen.

And so, you see. a great deal hangs on the grey silk cord of that monocle.

I first met him on December 18th, 1943. He said he could give me half an hour, and gave me nearly three. In that space of time he surveyed a very wide field; the gist of his remarks, however, the living essence, is in the following dialogue, which he has been good enough to edit.

Here we are then, sitting in a quiet room looking out on to a garden, discussing one of the most important problems in the world, with the man most competent to solve it.

ii

B.N. … The most common accusation of your critics is that you have not defined Pakistan with sufficient precision—that there are many details of defence, economics, minorities, etc., which you have left deliberately vague. Do you think that is a just criticism?

Jinnah. … It is neither just nor intelligent, particularly if it is made by an Englishman with any knowledge of his own history. When Ireland was separated from Britain, the document embodying the terms of separation was approximately ten lines. Ten, hues of print to settle a dispute of incredible complexity which has poisoned British politics for centuries! All the details were left to the Future—and the Future is often, an, admirable arbitrator.

Well, I’ve already given the world a good deal more than ten lines to indicate the principles and practice of Pakistan, but it is beyond the power of any man to provide, in advance, a blue-print in which every detail is settled. Besides, Indian history proves that such a blue-print is totally unnecessary. Where was the blue-print, when the question of Burma’s separation was decided at the Round Table Conference? Where was the blue-print when Sind was separated from Bombay? The answer, of course, is * nowhere. It didn’t exist. It didn’t need to exist. The vital point was that the principle of separation was accepted; the rest followed automatically.

B.N. … How would you describe the ‘vital principles’ * of Pakistan?

Jinnah. …. In five words. The Muslims are a Nation. If you grant that, and if you are an honest man, you must grant the principle of Pakistan. You would have to grant it even if the obstacles were a hundred times more formidable than they actually are. Of course, if you do not grant it, then,.. . He shrugged his shoulders and smiled.. .Then, there is an, end of the matter.

B.N. ... When you say the Muslims are a Nation, are you thinking in terms of religion?

Jinnah. … Partly, but by no means exclusively. You must remember that Islam is not merely a religious doctrine but a realistic and practical Code of Conduct. I am thinking in terms of life, of everything important in life. I am thinking in terms of our history, our heroes, our art, our architecture, our music, our laws, our jurisprudence…

B.N. … Please, I would like to write these things down.

Jinnah (after a pause). In all these things our outlook is not only fundamentally different but often radically antagonistic to the Hindus. We are different beings. There is nothing in life which links us together. Our names, our clothes, our foods—they are all different; our economic life, our educational ideas, our treatment of women, our attitude to animals.. we challenge each other at every point of the compass. Take one example, the eternal question of the cow. We eat the cow, the Hindus worship it. A lot of Englishmen imagine that this cow-worship is merely a picturesque convention, an historical survival. It is nothing of the sort. Only a few days ago, in this very city, the cow question became a matter for the police. The Hindus were thrown into the greatest agitation because cows were being killed in public. But the cow question is only one of a thousand. (A pause) What have you written down.

B.N. .. I have only written ‘The Muslims are a Nation’.

Jinnah. … And do you believe it?

B.N. I do.

Jinnah. … What other questions have you got there?

B.N. … The first is economic. Are the Muslims likely to be richer or poorer under Pakistan? And would you set up tariffs against the rest of India?

Jinnah. I’ll ask you a question for a change. Supposing you were asked which you would prefer…a rich England under Germany or a poor England free, what would your answer be?

B.N. It’s hardly necessary to say.

Jinnah. … Quite. Well, doesn’t that make your question look a little shoddy? This great ideal rises far above mere questions of personal comfort or temporary convenience. The Muslims are a tough people, lean and hardy. If Pakistan means that they will have to be a little tougher, they will not complain. But why should it mean that? What conceivable reason is there to suppose that the gift of nationality is going to be an economic liability? 

A sovereign nation of a hundred million people—even if they are not immediately self-supporting and even if they are industrially backward is hardly likely to be in a worse economic position than if its members are scattered and disorganized, under the dominance of two hundred and fifty million Hindus whose one idea is to exploit them. How any European can get up and say that Pakistan is ‘economically impossible’ after the Treaty of Versailles is really beyond my comprehension. The great brains, who cut Europe into a ridiculous patchwork of conflicting and artificial boundaries, are hardly the people to talk economics to us, particularly as our problem happens to be far simpler.

B.N. … And does that also apply to defence?

Jinnah.… Of course it applies to defence. Once again I will ask you a question. How is Afghanistan defended? Well? The answer is not very complicated. By the Afghans. Just that. We are a brave and united people who are prepared to work and, if necessary, fight. So how does the question of defence present any peculiar* difficulties? In what way do we differ from other nations? From Iran, for example? Obviously, there will have to be a transition period. We are not asking the British to quit India overnight. The British have helped to make this gigantic muddle, and they must stay and help to clear it up. But before they can do that, they will *have to do a lot of hard thinking. And that reminds me—I have something I would like to show you.

He excused himself and left the room. I lit a cigarette and waited. And suddenly I realized that something very remarkable was happening, or rather was not happening. I was not Iosing my temper. Jinnah had been almost brutally critical of British policy (though I have not quoted his remarks in the above dialogue), but his criticism had been clear and creative. It was not merely a medley of wild words, a hotchpotch of hatred and hallucination, in the Hindu manner. It was more like a diagnosis. The difference between, Jinnah and the typical Hindu politician was the difference between a surgeon and a witch doctor. Moreover, he was a surgeon you could trust, even though his verdict was harsh.

“The British must realize”, he had said to me before we tackled the problem of Pakistan, “that they are not a friend in the country. Not a friend”. A Hindu politician would have said that at the top of his voice, with delight. Jinnah said it quietly, with regret. Here he was again. In his hand he carried a book.

Jinnah. … You will remember I said, a moment ago, that the British would have to do a lot of hard thinking. It’s a habit they don’t find very congenial; they prefer to be comfortable, to wait and see, trusting that everything will come right in the end. However, when they do take the trouble to think, they think as clearly and creatively as any people in the world. And one of their best thinkers—at least on the Indian problem—was old John Bright. Have you ever read any of his speeches?

B.N. … Not since I left school.

Jinnah. …Well, take a look at this. I found it by chance the other day.

Contd….

Next: Divide and Quit [2 of 2]

Related Posts:

1. Reality of Pakistan is far better than its image 2. Are we wrong about Pakistan? 3. Discovering a totally different country – Pakistan 4. Time – Australian takes issue over skewed article on Pakistan
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  1. […] Dialogue with a Giant [in two parts] 2. Significance of […]


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