This report is a welcome step towards understanding our recent history and could have huge implications for the mist that confounds South Asia.RR

LAHORE: Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a “great leader” and was unfairly “demonised” by India for his role in the Partition, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Jaswant Singh has said.

In an interview with CNN-IBN’s Devil’s Advocate programme, Singh credited Jinnah for having “created” Pakistan. “Oh yes, because he created something out of nothing and single-handedly stood against the might of the Congress party and against the British who didn’t really like him … (Mahatma) Gandhi himself called Jinnah a great Indian. Why don’t we recognise that? Why don’t we see (and try to understand) why he called him that?” he said.

Singh, whose book, “Jinnah – India, Partition, Independence”, would be released today (Monday), said Jinnah fought the British for an independent India in addition to fighting resolutely and relentlessly for the Muslims of India. “The acme of his nationalistic achievement was the 1916 Lucknow Pact of Hindu-Muslim unity,” he added.
To questions on whether he subscribed to the popular demonisation of Jinnah in India, Singh said: “Of course I don’t.” He said the view held by many in India that Jinnah hated Hindus was a mistake. He said Jinnah’s “demonisation” was a direct result of the trauma of Partition.
Self-made man: Singh said he admired Jinnah’s character and his status as a self-made man the most. “I admire certain aspects of his personality. His determination and the will to rise. He was a self-made man. Mahatma Gandhi was the son of a Diwan. All these (people) — Nehru and others — were born to wealth and position. Jinnah created for himself a position. He carved in Bombay, a metropolitan city, a position for himself,” he added.d.
Nehru to blame: The MP said it was Jawaharlal Nehru, not Jinnah, whose belief in a centralised system had led to the Partition. He said Jinnah had wanted “space” for the Muslims of India, not dismemberment. “He (Jinnah) in fact went to the extent of saying that let there be a Pakistan within India,” he added.
Asked if he were concerned that Nehru’s heirs and the Congress party would be critical of the responsibility he was attributing to Nehru for Partition, Singh said: “I am not assigning blame. I am simply recalling what I have found as the development of issues and events of that period.”

Aliens: Singh also claimed that the Muslims of India had a deep-rooted psychological insecurity, adding “We (Indians) treat them as aliens.” He claimed Muslims had “paid a price in Partition” and claimed that “they would have been significantly stronger in a united India”.

Daily Times Monitor/Iftikhar Gilani [ http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2009\08\17\story_17-8-2009_pg1_7]