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Sushant Sareen

THE POLITICAL CAREER OF MOHAMMED ALI JINNAH
Edited by William S. Metz ,Roger D. Long
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 168, PKR 495.00

FIELD MARSHAL MOHAMMED AYUB KHAN: A SELECTION OF TALKS AND INTERVIEWS 1964-67
Edited by Nadia Ghani
Oxford University Press, New Delhi, 2010, pp. 315, PKR 795.00

VOLUME XXXIV NUMBER 8 August 2010

Jihad and Jaswant Singh seem to have been led to a quest to redis cover Mohammed Ali Jinnah and perhaps, reclaim his political legacy.Pakistanis petrified of the blowback of jihad see Jinnah as an anti-thesis, even an antidote, to the jihadist virus that has spread through the length and breadth of the country. And the furore created by Jaswant Singh’s revisionist book on Jinnah has only fuelled the debate on the role Jinnah played (or did not play) in the partition of India. It is probably this renewed interest that has led to the publication of a Phd thesis on the political career of the founder of Pakistan written a few years after partition. Biographies of Jinnah and books on his politics by Stanley Wolpert, Jaswant Singh and Ayesha Jalal among others have pretty much laid bare Jinnah’s life and politics. Metz’s work on Jinnah really does not provide any new, much less path-breaking, insights into Jinnah’s life and career. At the same time, it goes to Metz’s credit that he has been able to interpret Jinnah’s politics in a much more objective, dispassionate and succinct manner than many others who have written on Jinnah. By definition, a biographer is biased—he either idolizes his subject or despises him. Metz does neither, something that makes this volume eminently readable. Another reason to recommend the book is that despite being a slim volume, it proves a comprehensive picture of Jinnah’s political life. Jinnah’s greatest achievement in politics was the result of his success in mixing religion with politics, something that he always claimed to abhor. Ironically but understandably, today neither India nor Pakistan are ready to accept Jinnah’s ‘secular’ credentials because they are inconvenient since they go against the ideological construct of both the states. Jinnah’s ‘secular’ lifestyle has often glossed over the fact that right from the beginning of his political career he was always agonizing over trying to sort out the ‘communal’ problem and effect a compact between the Hindus and Muslims. Reading Metz’s work, one cannot help but wonder if Jinnah always had an eye on assuming the leadership of the Muslim community, initially to forge unity with the Hindus (and leverage this to increase his own political stature?) and later to raise the flag of Muslim nationalism and separatism, ultimately culminating in the creation of ...


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