Destroying Jinnah’s house will not undo the Partition, Mangal Lodha

Published: March 29, 2017

For once, let us break the pattern of kneejerk responses that have defined India-Pakistan relations. PHOTO: MID-DAY & HAMARI WEB

The sordid saga of ultra-nationalism unfolding in the subcontinent took a new twist this week. The Times of India reports that a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, demanded that Jinnah’s house in Mumbai be demolished and replaced by a centre representing Maharashtra’s culture. 

Jinnah’s residence is a mansion in the Malabar Hill area of Mumbai where Mohammad Ali Jinnah resided following his return to India from England in 1936. It continued to be his primary residence till 1944, following which he started transitioning to the Flagstaff House in Karachi where he moved permanently after Partition.

Before anything else, let’s dispense one clarification: jingoism is equally prevalent on both sides of the border. Successive governments have used the spectre of the enemy to justify extravagant defence budgets at the expense of health, education and infrastructure. For much of the past seven decades, Indian and Pakistani leaders have shrouded their corruption and maladministration with the smoke and mirrors of war and the threat of it.

Within the two nations, where a combined 330 million people live in poverty and 150 million lack access to potable water, the most prominent area of competition is nuclear capability. Each country proudly owns over a hundred nuclear warheads, and these stockpiles are reportedly the fastest growing ones in the world – such are the priorities of our leadership.

So, moving on to Mr Lodha and his demand, this delightful gentleman is a textbook example of a purblind mentality widely prevalent in the subcontinent. A mentality that refuses to accept history and attempts to efface all remnants of the past that stand in the way of the dishonest narrative of nationhood it wishes to make reality.

According to Lodha,

“The Jinnah residence in south Mumbai was the place from where the conspiracy of Partition was hatched. Jinnah House is a symbol of the Partition. The structure should be demolished. The structure should be demolished and a cultural centre highlighting Maharashtra’s culture and pride should be built. The cultural centre should also exhibit the glorious history of India.”

Mr Lodha, the Pakistani dream of nationhood birthed in the imagination of intellectual giants like Allama Iqbal and was brought to fruition by the political prowess of master statesmen like Jinnah. If after 70 years it is all still a “conspiracy” to you, pardon us for suspecting you of both prejudice and ignorance.

Where the artists, poets, writers and everyday citizens of Pakistan and India make overture after overture of peace and rapprochement, politicians like Lodha continue their vile mission to sow hatred and schism. If the speed at which the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) brand of nationalism is rising in government ranks in India is any indication, the hatemongers are having a heyday of sorts.

For once, let us break the pattern of kneejerk responses that have defined India-Pakistan relations. Following the precedent of the Katas Raj renovation, instead of destroying the beauty of our multicultural and diverse heritage, let us restore it and preserve it.

Regardless of what the BJP chooses to do across the border, let us refuse to be provoked into such childish tantrums and retaliation. Let us refuse to tolerate jingoism and attempt to rewrite history. Let us, as Gandhi said, “be the change we want to see in the world”.

As for you Mr Lodha, destroying the Babri Mosque did not magically undo the Mughal conquests and the Mughal Empire. Destroying Jinnah’s residence, which I urge you not to lobby for, will not undo the creation of Pakistan. You and the people of these two great nations will be best served by peace. Be an ambassador of peace Mr Lodha, not one of discord.

Khusro Tariq

Khusro Tariq

The author is a Pakistani-American Psychiatrist currently pursuing training in Jungian psychoanalysis. He blogs on Huffington Post on matters of psychology, faith, politics and poetry. He tweets as @KhusroKhwaja (twitter.com/khusrokhwaja)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • wb

    In all honesty, if Allama Iqbal what he wrote, today, he would be beheaded by Pakistanis.

    ” politicians like Lodha continue their vile mission to sow hatred and schism.”

    This reads like a German accusing a Jew of being hateful and creating of differences by talking ill of Nazis. After all, as Tariq will wholeheartedly agree, Nazis did what they did because they thought they were just and honest and believed that that was in the best interest of the world.

    Jinnah did the same.Recommend

  • Hassan

    You are Comparing Mr Jinnah to Hitler, seriously ???????Recommend

  • Concard_007

    “Pakistan is far from a bed of roses but it does not have institutionalised religious bigotry.”

    Good joke. That is why yesterday Christians were asked to convert to be let off in a case. As for as Hindus again you are a good comedian. Lot of Hindus who travel to India for tourism purposes stay put and never go back. They say Pakistan is bad for them. Go convince them to come back to Pakistan.Recommend

  • LS

    Name 10 Muslim freedom fighters from what is pakistan today. I do not consider Khan Abdul Gaffar Khan as pakistani. He hated pakistan. He was an Afghan.Recommend

  • LS

    Tipu Sultan did not fight to free India for its freedom, he was fighting to save his kingdom. he himself butchered millions of Hindus. He had no interest in India. Participation of Muslims in 1857 was negligible. Bahadur Shah Jaffar was a token king and reported into Marathas. He was a puppet of Marathas. Recommend

  • LS

    Then why is that No non-muslim can occupy a top leadership position anywhere in pakistan by constitution?
    Why is that Ahmadia and other sects are discriminated by constitution?
    Why is that NOW after 70 years you are legalizing minority marriage laws?
    Why is that minorities are forced to recite “Kalma” in schools?

    Why is bigoted text books are used for teaching in your government schools?Recommend

  • Vishal Saurav

    If Pakistan is so concerned about ‘historical houses’, then why did it destroy Abbotabad mansion in which Bin Laden was found?? 50 years down the time, that mansion could have been tourist destination in Pakistan.
    Recommend