In Quest of Jinnah
By Kamran Shahid
Great leaders often control the imagination of the masses and inspire them. They are also regarded as infallible. From Mahatma Gandhi to Jinnah this has been a point of observation. But as every qualitative research requires a critical vantage point to judge and interpret facts in order to reach the truth, 'The Quest of Jinnah; Diary Notes and Correspondence of Hector Bolitho' edited by Prof: Sharif al Mujahid is a serious attempt to assess of Jinnah from a human perspective.
Hector Bolitho's ability to analyse the subject matter with objectivity has also been questioned in the book -- an in-depth enquiry of this account as well as Bolitho's approach has been conducted by Sharif al Mujahid in the 22 page introduction. Sharif al Mujahid deserves credit for compiling the first ever biography of the founding father, based primarily on oral sources.
Bolitho talked to more than two hundred people who knew Jinnah. Through these people we get to know about the human side of Jinnah -- his weaknesses and strengths; limits and commands; power of persuasion and control of mind; arrogance and pride; triumphs and disillusionments, and so on.
Hector Bolitho's account presents a mixed picture of Jinnah. His much discussed arrogance perhaps needs to be explained. He was arrogant mostly with equals, particularly when he wanted to assert his authority as a spokesman of Indian Muslims. For instance in 1944 Jinnah's refusal to take the message of the British Governor from his private secretary on phone, with the argument that "If His Excellency is too busy to come to the telephone so am I" forced the Governor to come to the telephone. A witness of this episode was compelled to tell Jinnah that 'arrogance' was one quality he must never give up: "it makes a hero of you to the students..."
As Governor General of Pakistan, Jinnah refused to return the call of the British Naval Commander with the argument that "You are the commander of only one part of the British Navy. I am head of a state."
Jinnah was not indifferent to women. Rather he enjoyed female company. "He was always so gracious to ladies..." was observed by Jinnah's mother-in-law, "he would compliment us on our saris..." According to another woman's account, Jinnah "was so erect and so charming. He always took off his hat and said: 'Good Morning'."
Jinnah's profile has been treated differently by various historians. Some call him a Muslim fundamentalist, others label him a realist politician and so on. Yet two traits of leadership seem overwhelming -- his unconditional allegiance to democracy and his honesty. As father of the nation, he was entitled to attain life-time membership of the founder party Muslim League, yet to institutionalise the principle of accountability and right of free will, he opposed the move. He said: "Annual elections are important. I must come before you each year, to seek your vote of confidence."
According to Bolitho's account, Jinnah was not fond of reading books. Rather he relied merely on newspapers, was short tempered and stone-hearted. As for his honesty, he would not let merit be undermined in any case and for anyone. Hence when Sir Cowasjee Jehangir's father asked Jinnah to make his son as brilliant as himself, Jinnah replied firmly: "He can work in my chamber, but he must shine with his own brilliance." On another occasion Jinnah returned the huge amount as a balance to his client since the case was concluded before the expected time.
The editor has divided the account into five parts, based on diary and notes of Bolitho, interviews related to Jinnah, including friends and members of Jinnah's family ( Dina Wadia daughter, Lady Petit Mother in Law, Jamshed Nusserwanjee) his colleagues like Cowasjee Jehangir, subordinates and secretaries of Jinnah, British officials like General Sir Frank Messervy First C.N.C of Pakistan Army, Lady Wavell the Viceroy of India (1943-47) Bolitho's miscellaneous correspondence with Press Information Department, Government of Pakistan. In addition, this volume becomes more valuable because of the inclusion of the contemporary reviews on Bolitho's venture on Jinnah ('Jinnah the Creator of Pakistan') in British and American press. And most interestingly the Expunged Passages from 'Jinnah the Creator of Pakistan' that Bolitho made confidential until 01 Jan 1963, but later to "until...I die".
In social sciences, the postmodern discourse altogether overrules the possibility of an objective research. Even the concept that the 'author is dead' elaborates the irony of research, according to which even the creator of the research becomes irrelevant when others start making interpretations of the author's particular account according to their perceptions and through their prisms of reality. In the oral history this irony can be seen with more intensity, since it primarily relies upon the memory perceptions and realities of various witnesses of history unverified by the established parameters of objective research.
All the inherent limitations of research under the postmodern premise apart, this volume is a source book in itself, as it explores new insights about Jinnah. A primary source of first ever oral history around Jinnah, credit must be given to the editor, since without his efforts to transform the diary, notes and interviews of Bolitho into a form of book, the precious data collected by Bolitho might have never been materialised into reality. The exceptional organisation of facts and figures has made this account of Sharif ul Mujahid another milestone in the realm of modern historiography.
By Abrar Ahmad
While age-old 'Naqoosh', 'Auraq' and 'Funoon' gradually faded away, the new ones emerged with incredible speed, not only to fill in the vacuum left by the archetype journals but also to cater to the ever-changing dynamics of our current literary scenario.
'Symbol' (Editor: Ali Mohammad Farshi) is one such magazine from Rawalpindi. Initiated only a year ago, its third issue reached readers last month -- with all the trappings of a major literary magazine.
In the third issue Farshi, a celebrated modern poet, stresses the maintenance of one's own identity and acknowledges the unwavering role of eternal human values as the uniting force among literatures the world over.
Abul Khair Maudoodi (the elder brother of Maulana Maudodi) was an unnoticed scholar and intellectual of substantial credibility. It was his writing which occupied the very first page of the first issue of 'Funoon' in 1963. Mohammad Kazim's write-up titled 'Abul Khair Maudodi - Kuch Apni Yadain, Kuch un ki batain' is a narrative of few sittings with Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi, Mohammad Tufail and Kazim himself. It's a revealing article especially if one recalls the progressive stance of Qasmi.
In an exclusive section homage has been paid to legendary poet Munir Niazi. In an impressionistic style Jalil Aali unfolds the different currents in Niazi's poetry. He declares Munir as the king of economical vocabulary. Dr Najiha Arif is more well oriented and objective in her comments. She perceives Munir as a soul responding to sounds and colours as inspiration. To him silence and sounds remained equally haunting. Dil Nawaz Dil pays his tribute in the form of a poetic piece.
Post-modernism is finding its way and getting established as a new tool of criticism. Symbol-3 presents the analysis of 'Samundar Ka Bulawa' the famous poem of Meera Ji by Nasir Abbass Nayyar in a methodology based on structuralism and it gives an appealing reading. Gopi Chand Narang candidly writes on an unexplored writer Jabar Hussain whose first book of fiction appeared in 1997 titled 'Sunn Aay Katib' and 'Rait Par Khaima' in 2002. Narang's logic based on current theories is captivating and replete with references and comments on other literary issues as he goes though the works of Jabar Hussain.
The most lucid and informative section of the book comprises critical articles. Tanvir Saghar writes on 'collective unconsciousness', Zafar Sipal explores the origin of life and concept of God while Ravish Nadeem takes up Manto's work with specific reference to the female characters in his short stories -- all valuable pieces of substance.
Zafar Iqbal's article on his 'followers' is inspired by a comment by Asif Farrukhi. Every beginner has a role model and so did Zafar Iqbal which he pleasantly recalls. He visualises his own followers in the same vein -- though not refraining from commenting on some poets.
'Kai chand thay Sar-e-Asman', a fictional work of Shams-ur-Rehman Faruqi is being widely discussed. The novel is slowly but surely attaining a status of significant work appearing in recent times. Syed Mazhar Jamil while commenting on it takes us to the explorative journey of the last two centuries with specific references to the novel. It is a valuable article capable of helping readers in the appraisal of the fiction under review.
Zia-ul-Hassan takes up Yagana, an important poet of pre-Iqbal era with valid parameters to decide where he could be placed in the history of Ghazal. He points out it was Yagana who laid the foundation of an ongoing rebellion against the stereotype Ghazal -- creating a ground on which our modern poets stand today. The article is in fact a counter argument to the observations made by Zafar Iqbal in Symbol-2 declaring Yagana less than even an ordinary poet whose image was over-inflated. This is in contrast to research scholar Mushfiq Khawaja's massive work on Yagana, documenting the significance of the man both as a poet and a non-conformist and penalised intellectual in the entire literary history of the subcontinent.
A separate section has been allocated to the great Spanish poet.contributed by Mohammad Salim-ur Rehman and Ali Tanha. Ahmad Sohail presents beautiful translation of two Brazilian poems.
Rashid Amjad sticks to his soliloquised manner of narrating a story while Mansha Yad keeps roaming in the desolate streets of village as before with nostalgic resonance. Mohammad Hameed Shahid exploits Marquez's novel to evolve a story residing within his own creative ambit. Asim Butt comes out with a good piece. 'Bird Flu' by Najam-ul-Hassan Rizvi, although a decent composition, keeps reminding one of 'Rani Khait' by the late Mohammad Yusuf Chaudhry. The section falls short of the excellence achieved in Symbol-2 where Aslam Sirajuddin's contribution made the real difference. Shahzad Narray in his letter rightly identifies the exceptional brilliance in Aslam's fictional piece but then such extraordinary work is not a routine happening. Aslam Sirajuddin remains an unacknowledged author who published his maiden collection of stories 'Samar Samar' in 1997. He definitely deserves an intent focused study.
The editor has turned Symbol into a project of huge success. No one could anticipate this immediate success. The overall literary climate is decisively dominated by ingenious works of new names in the world of literature.
Gazumped and gazundered
You ask what 'gazumping' is. It's an unsavoury practice which makes some people rich and others miserable. Let me explain: I once set my heart on a charming, Georgian cottage in the Cotswolds. I made an offer which was accepted, but the owner, an Australian lady, a spitting image of Martita Hunt, demanded an extra ten thousand pounds a few days before the deal was to be signed and sealed, thus shattering my dream of becoming a country squire. I lost out because of gazumping, but if I had the extra money I would have paid it to her -- and then would have become a victim of gazumping.
Gazumping is a commonplace phenomenon in England and (I am informed on good authority) in Brazil. It happens when there is a boom in the property market. It is quite illegal, of course, but nine times out of ten, the gazumper gets away with it, because the buyer finds it too cumbersome to get into a legal wrangle which might take years to resolve.
There is now a new term, 'gazundering' meaning the opposite of gazumping. A buyer agrees to a price for your house or flat but at the last minute, (when you have already ordered new curtains and carpets for the house that you intend to move into) drastically reduces the prices he had offered in good faith, leaving you high and dry.
The normal procedure of house buying in England is that you make appointments, through the estate agent, to look at properties which fall within your price range. You find that none of them meet your requirements. You then start looking at houses which are way above your price range just for the heck of it. Invariably, the property that you like is at least fifty or sixty thousand pounds dearer that what your pocket allows.
In England conveyancing is a long drawn-out process. Once you have looked over a property (often two or thrice times) and decided to make a bid for it, you make an offer. If the offer is accepted, you get in touch with your solicitor who organises a team of surveyors to make a thorough examination of the property -- solidity of joists, subsidence, pointing, cracks under pebble-dashing, dry rot, woodworm, floor boards and a host of other things.
If the surveyor's report, for which you pay heftily, is not negative your solicitor approaches the seller's solicitor and a date is settled between them for the all important step: the 'exchange of contracts'. I think the expression, 'there's many a slip between the cup and the lip' was coined solely to describe the process known as the exchange of contracts. There can be scores of hurdles to prevent this exchange. For example, during his search, the solicitor may find that a new motorway is coming up in the vicinity of the property (reducing its value to nothing) or that the borough council will not allow permission for installing that extra bathroom that you need. Sometimes there is an outlandish problem such as a neighbour who keeps a Rottweiler.
The solicitor's enquiries having been completed, there is usually, a four week period to allow the buyer to conclude his mortgage deal with his bank or with his Building Society. If his deal falls through, the waiting period can be longer. Gazumping or gazundering occurs a few days before the contracts are exchanged.
Since I have always been unlucky enough to buy a property at a time when the prices are too high and forced to sell at a time when the price of property has plummeted to an all time low, I have never had the kind of money that could have enabled me to buy the right kind of jade.
Having lived in flats for a good many years I decided that with two small children I ought to buy a house. The first house I bought in London (15 Guion Road) was off New Kings Road. Today it is an upmarket area, but at that time it was known as the unsmart part of Chelsea. It was a terraced house, three up, two down, with one bathroom and no central heating. The price of the house was seven thousand two hundred and fifty pounds which, in the 60's, was not considered to be cheap.
In those days actors found it very hard to raise a mortgage because of their precarious profession. I was fortunate enough to be have been offered a television series in which I was playing one of the leads. My face was becoming known to the public; even my bank manager thought that he could risk lending me the money.
And so a mortgage, spread over a period of 25 years, was organised and I was able to take possession of my new home. The man who sold me the house, a frail, wispy man with a toothless grin, a Polish emigre with a name I defy anyone to spell correctly, told me that he had bought the place, soon after the war, for five hundred and sixty pounds. It hurt.
Within a year, white carpets were in place, an extra bathroom had been added, the dinning room was extended, the backyard was patioed and I was even able to acquire a live-in manservant. My dinner parties were talked of with a degree of awe amongst actors and directors.
Fate had something else in store. Once again I had to move away from England, this time for an extended period. The house was let to some friends, but they left after a few months because the husband was transferred to Turkey. The house remained empty for more than a year. During one of my short trips to London I decided to put it on the market, and within a day or two received an offer.
My friend Bernard Walsh, who was also my agent, advised me to hold on. Prices, he said had begun to move up and if I could wait a bit longer I was likely to get a far better offer.
I should have taken Bernard's advice; I should have realized that prices were shooting up by the hour; I ought to have waited, but I didn't, and I accepted that first offer of £32500.
This was in May 1973. In January 1974, Bernard Walsh rang me up, "I thought I'd let you know" he said, "Yesterday I resold 15 Guion Road for £327000. You should've listened to me."
I could have had my jade and perhaps a Matisse as well.
Gazumped and Gazundered.