I happen to be in Pakistan on this December 25 and have spent the last many days and specially today devouring the great out-pouring of ‘Jinnah-spection‘ that is on display all over the country, on television, in the press. As a Jinnah fan myself and having devoted so many posts on ATP on exactly the same question, part of me is delighted by the intensity and level of the discourse. More so, because I sense this is not just khanna purri, it is in fact real introspection. However, what struck me is that nearly the entire discussion is about figuring out the “real vision” of the Quaid-i-Azam, Mr. M.A. Jinnah. That after so many years we are still searching for that “vision’ is a statement not about Mr. Jinnah, but about our own national confusion.
Part of me feels that it is time that we acknowledge and confront our own national confusions without using (and misusing) Mr. Jinnah for our ideological skirmishes. Let the man be please. He did what he needed to do. And a did a remarkable job of it. What we did beyond that, was our doing and only we need to accept responsibility for it. Honor him for what he achieved, but please lets spare him the dissection; specially since the purpose seems to have little to do with understanding the essence of his achievements and much more with scoring points about what we are inclined to believe already and anyhow.
I should confess that this thought has been haunting me some weeks now, ever since I joined Dr. Akbar Ahmed at a recent panel at Harvard University marking Mr. Jinnah’s anniversary. Akbar Sahib is one of our leading authorities on the subject (including his movie and books on Mr. Jinnah) and in our conversation with the audience after his lecture the question of the “real Mr. Jinnah” came up again and again. As he pointed out, this question is not about Mr. Jinnah at all. It is about us ourselves. On this 25th of December as we celebrate Mr. Jinnah, it is time to recognize this fact. Let us please honor Mr. Jinnah for what he was, and not torture his memories with that which we ourselves have failed to become.
His achievements were a great blessing for all of us, but our failures are all our own. Let us accept that. To do so will itself be a first step in truly honoring him.