Truth about Jinnah

August 29, 1997

THE reader of Professor Ahmed's biography will assume that he is functioning as a biographer as well as an anthropologist in it, and that when he invokes other's views, without contesting or refuting them (Riaz Ahmad on Anil Seal; S. S. Pirzada), he does so as evidence, not randomly as a reflector of "society and its opinions".

The phrase "Pakistani caricature" does not describe Riaz Ahmad on Anil Seal but Pakistani critics who object to Wolpert's discussion of Jinnah's "eating and drinking habits" and Jalal's questioning of Jinnah's commitment to Pakistan. It is, of course, Jinnah's alleged "midlife crisis", not the influence of Iqbal on him, that is unauthenticated. I named the dubious secondary sources Professor Ahmed relied on; Dina Wadia's recollections, as I state in the review, are reverential and unilluminating. (Wolpert, incidentally, in his Acknowledgements states that he spoke "many times" to Mrs Wadia.) I can find no references to the complete, unpublished Quaid-i-Azam Papers in Islamabad in chapter one and there is no indication in Professor Ahmed's book that he consulted them himself. Far from sneering at Professor Ahmed's use of the word "hero" for Jinnah, the main point of my review was that he failed to do justice to a leader of great stature.

Katherine Frank

Leek Staffordshire

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