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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Jaswant's Jinnah Butchered Again - C M Naim, Anjum Niaz's suggestion, Irfan's take

My first response: it is an embarrassing book to read. I felt foolish when I found myself trudging through such awful expository prose as this: "The League had claimed that it was the true upholder of Islam's ideological authenticity; also of representing a substantive Muslim consensus, therefore, it demanded, rather presupposed, just a single Muslim medium – and asserting its identity as a different conceptual 'nation', claimed a separate land for itself which is why this agonizing question continues to grate against our sensibilities: 'Separate' from what?"

While I prefer simplicity in any expository prose I am made to read, I readily confess to being a pedant when it comes to scholarly books. I expect them to fully employ standard scholarly tools and methods. For this reason, I took particular interest in the book's footnotes and endnotes, and checked the quotations included in the main text as well as elsewhere. The exercise was revealing. Singh's research assistants apparently felt no hesitation in borrowing verbatim from other people's writings and then presenting it to him as their own. He, subsequently, compounded the lapse by letting everything appear as the fruit of his own labours. I wrote on this matter in the Indian Express of September 1, 2009 and would like to share the relevant portions here: Rest of C M Naim's post morten report here.

Media in Pakistan is presently seized with domestic issues – Musharraf-bashing and politico gibberish. Bypassed are power games at play in Washington by our press. A lot is at stake for Pakistan. Let's learn from the Indian press. At moments like this, journalists bond with their establishment in the interest of India.Tear down the wall (between the establishment and the media as President Reagan said about Berlin Wall). Anjum Niaz

Irfan Husain's take on the same subject from afar is here. ".. good governance is a better guarantee of constitutional rule than a dead general."


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