In Talks with : Venkat Dhulipala, Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Wilmington
Updated on: 30 Jun 2016
'Both thought it was a good remedy to resolve the communal problem in India' and that 'transfer or exchanges of populations was inevitable and necessary'.
Venkat Dhulipala's book – Creating A New Medina: State Power, Islam, and the Quest for Pakistan in Late Colonial North India – demolishes the existing scholarship on Muhammad Ali Jinnah that his demand for Pakistan was a mere bargaining chip, that it was the reason why he deliberately kept the idea of Pakistan vague, and that Pakistan was merely an obsession of the Muslim political elite.
Associate Professor of History, University of North Carolina, Wilmington, and Visiting Senior Fellow, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi, Dhulipala revisits the debate on Partition from a new perspective.
Excerpts from the interview:
You have demolished existing theories about Partition. Were these theories constructed because historians wanted to portray Jinnah as modern and secular?
You need to look at the context of the historians who focused on elite politics and portrayed Jinnah as wanting to create a modern secular Republic. This context included the creation of Bangladesh, the hanging of [Pakistan Prime Minister] Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and General Zia-ul-Haq's campaign of Islamisation of Pakistan.
For Pakistani liberals, this was not the Pakistan that Jinnah wanted. They believed Jinnah was like them, a very modern figure. They started to push back against the tide of Islamisation in Zia's Pakistan through their historiography.
Was the scholarship also influenced by the wish to convey that Muslims who stayed back in India were not keen on Pakistan?