Anguish of a veteran

Published: October 5, 2014
The writer is a retired air commodore of the Pakistan Air Force and is author of Flight of the Falcon (Vanguard, 2009)

The writer is a retired air commodore of the Pakistan Air Force and is author of Flight of the Falcon (Vanguard, 2009)

The deep anguish of this octogenarian, and passionate Pakistani, emanates from an article titled “Honouring Maulana Abul Kalam Azad” by Saad Saud, which was published on these pages on September 9, 2014. The article honoured the malicious Abul Kalam Azad and with callous insensitivity, denigrated the father of the nation, the Quaid-e-Azam.

I am sure that Indian journalist and anchor Karan Thapar would not dignify the writer’s unsolicited interference into India’s Bharat Ratna medallion award affair with a retort on whether the award should go to the intrepid soldier Field Marshal Manekshaw, the toady Gandhi or to Nehru, who was a charlatan, and was against the idea of a home for Muslims outside the clutches of rabid Hindutva majority. The impertinence typifies pseudo journalism, based on contrived history and the irreverence to the father of this nation state whose intellectual superiority, integrity and statesmanship is being exalted by many Western intellectuals today, who have opined that had Jinnah been a leader of a Western nation instead of in the subcontinent, historians would have placed him even above Winston Churchill. Gandhi and Nehru’s combined intellect did not match that of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

The writer refers to the Quaid as ‘Jinnah’ and Abul Kalam as ‘Maulana’. His exuberance is shorn of historical veracity and is an insult to the raison d’etre of Pakistan. He has chosen to eulogise to the heavens, Abul Kalam, who was a loyal protege of Nehru and Gandhi and a brigand who hated the idea of a Muslim nationhood based on the incontrovertible Two-Nation Theory. The columnist has crossed the Rubicon verdict of history, reprehensibly at the cost of denigrating the Quaid-e-Azam, while contemporaneously praising the opportunist Abul Kalam Azad. He writes, “A staunch adversary of communal politics and the Two-Nation Theory … Azad was never reconciled with parochial interests (the idea of Pakistan) and communal agenda (the Muslim League’s demand for Pakistan to escape Hindutva genocide)”. He has praised Azad’s motive to trash the Two-Nation Theory and the idea of Pakistan motivated by personal profit by bartering his Muslim scholar identity to curry favour from Gandhi, claiming him to be a saint of peaceful politics. Gandhi harboured contempt for Muslims, while lying on railway tracks, and igniting hysteria and frenzy amongst the illiterate Hindus was Azad’s concept of peaceful agitation. Gandhi injected Hinutva religion in politics, kicked out his son for marrying a Muslim. The writer has skipped over the crime of Babri Mosque’s destruction by a frenzied mob, or the train tragedy, or the Modi-inspired massacre of Muslims in Gujarat and the mass rape of old and young female Muslims. Azad’s souls must have laughed at these tragedies as minor incidents in a nation of more than a billion people.

I am now in my octogenarian years. My life was marked by a passionate love and service for Pakistan from before its creation as a dedicated Muslim Student Federation leader of the original Muslim League of the Quaid-e-Azam, to leading in two wars with arch enemy India.

I was deeply pained and rattled at how a journalist bludgeoned my sensitivities and perhaps, that of a multitude of devout disciples of the greatest leader of the last century, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, who gave us a country and identity.

Saad Saud writing a eulogy for an irrelevant man, Abul Kalam Azad, and that too out of context, provoked the sensitivities of the nation who have only one peg to hang its glory on — the sage Quaid-e-Azam.

The writer needs to apologise for his immature diatribe.

Published in The Express Tribune, October 6th, 2014.

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Reader Comments (50)

  • Oct 5, 2014 - 11:33PM

    Sir, It would be best if you stuck to flying planes. History is clearly not your forte.


  • J. Niaz
    Oct 6, 2014 - 4:13AM

    Mr Haider writes with conviction and belief. His credentials for doing so are impeccable.
    To write in a manner which attempts to lessen the image of the Quaid-e-Azam is distasteful.
    The author of the Azad piece should apologise.


  • Dr Shahbaz A Kureshi
    Oct 6, 2014 - 7:40AM

    Every patriotic Pakistani feels like Sajjad in this context. The Quaid e Azam stood head shoulders above his peers.Recommend

  • Ashraf
    Oct 6, 2014 - 8:38AM

    As a Pakistani, I feel your pain and share your thoughts about Maulana Azad who you accuse to be the lowest of the low muslims, but there is no denying that every last word the Maulana said about Pakistan and partition has come out 100% true. (Please click on link to read details). He forecast how we would fight amongst ourselves, how we would become a puppet of USA/UK and how we would become a failed state. Today we export polio and terrorism and have become an international migrain for the world community. He also forecast the birth of Bangladesh, all this several years before partition. Do you deny he was wrong? Recommend

  • Oct 6, 2014 - 12:02PM

    Decades back, I had the honor and privilege, which remains with me to date, to meet the illustrious retired Air Commodore.
    Being a youngster, I had an insatiable appetite for flying and the Sabre jet was the latest addition to the PAF at that time. The honorable gentleman very patiently answered all my inquisitions of the PAF. He then went on to become a hero leading the legendary “Tankbusters” squadron at Chawinda in 1965.
    Sir, you article is loaded with veritable and time honored facts. Please do not give any heed to the comment of South Asian posted above with 29 recommendations. To me they are full of BULL-CRAP.
    Please accept our very best wishes for Eid Mubarak and keep writing. Thank you and Salams to you and your family, and Pakistan. Go Nawaz go! Go PPP go!


  • Ranjha
    Oct 6, 2014 - 2:35PM

    @South Asian:

    Well done. A kick in the teeth response for a valiant patriot. By the way, who is the Maulana Azad?


  • Aseem
    Oct 6, 2014 - 2:37PM

    Sir, In his article Saad Saud has favoured Maulana Abul Kalam Azad in comparison with General Maneckshaw while yourself has tried to show Maulana Azad in a lesser light in comparison with Mr. Jinnah. Thanks for augmenting the stature of Maulana Azad by, albeit inadvertantly, putting him in league with the Qaid-e-Azam.


  • observer
    Oct 6, 2014 - 3:47PM

    Bravo Mr. Haider for such a well timed and apt rebuttal.

    Maulana Azad and the myriad of such mullahs in the subcontinent are intellectual midgets when compared to Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

    India’s present culmination in a Hindu empire with the crowning of Narendra Modi has only vindicated the Two Nation Theory and Jinnah’s extraordinary foresight. Meanwhile, the Mullahs on both sides of the border appear to be quite happy to serve as vassals of their Hindu emperor.

    Muhammad Ali Jinnah had rightly noted that the spirit and glory of the Muslims lay not in the redundant clergy but in the achievement of statehood.


  • LS
    Oct 6, 2014 - 5:43PM

    @Ranjha: So a patriot gets to complain on article that has nothing to do with Pakistan in essence of this letter is why did Saud referred to Maulana as Maulana and Jinnah instead of Quaid e azam. Does his Patriotism give him a license to denigrate other leaders? So again who is this Jinnah?


  • Someone
    Oct 6, 2014 - 8:11PM

    A couple of columns by pseudo-scholars holding minority viewpoints do not reverse the patriotism of 180 million Pakistanis. This is Express Trib. Please do not be surprised, because you have not yet read what else twisted things they write. Their views are a minority and most Pakistani people rightly do not pay heed to these pseudo-scholars’ revisionist version of history, and other clows sitting in the media.


  • someone
    Oct 6, 2014 - 8:20PM

    I don’t understand the hate of Pakistanis for Nehru and Gandhi. Should Pakistanis not be thankful to Gandhi and Nehru to let Jinnah have Pakistan??? Whats the anger about?


  • Parvez
    Oct 6, 2014 - 9:45PM

    I don’t think the writer has understood the context. Praising Azad does to diminish QA. Azad had his views. H was honest about them and many of his fears have come true. The fact that two nation theory morphed and there is no unified religion in our country prove that Azad was right in saying that Muslims have never and shall not unite in the name of Islam. Why hate him for showing that our dreams were nightmares. Lets be rational and not hysterical.


  • James
    Oct 6, 2014 - 10:04PM

    I really don’t agree with your article, but one thing I will agree that partition is the best thing ever happened to India…..


  • Pak pakhtun
    Oct 7, 2014 - 12:00AM


    Thank you for reminding us.

    We will be forever grateful to you for defending us.

    Pakistan Zindabad


  • Sajjad Ashraf
    Oct 7, 2014 - 12:24AM

    Emotions, emotions, emotions…

    Let us study history a little more dispassionately….


  • Oct 7, 2014 - 12:51AM

    @Dr Shahbaz A Kureshi:

    Being patriotic does not mean being stupid. Do compare the predictions made for Pakistan by Jinnah and Azad and see which have stood the test of time.


  • Oct 7, 2014 - 4:57AM


    Maulana Abul Kalam Azad has been air-brushed out of Pakistani history books which is why the anguished veteran knows little about him. He was born in Mecca and was a leading religious scholar as well as a journalist opposed to colonial rule. He is the author of the celebrated book India Wins Freedom. Maulana Azad was India’s first education minister and credited with the establishment of the internationally renowned Indian Institutes of Technology. His contribution was recognized by the award of the Bharat Ratna, India’s highest civilian award, and his birthday is celebrated as National Education Day across the country.


  • Alhindawi
    Oct 7, 2014 - 7:40AM

    Sir, i have only one question to ask. Why did Jinnah in his wisdom left million of Muslims in India and till this day Pakistan have made no effort to bring them to their destined land ?


  • Boringus Yellingstin
    Oct 7, 2014 - 8:48AM

    Comrade, do you need burnol? We have it in high supply in mother Russia. By the way, this Quiad-A-Azam you talk about, are his speeches about secularism and respect for all religions still expunged from your amazing history books? One should learn from you, how to respect the greatest intellect of the century.


  • IZ
    Oct 7, 2014 - 10:55AM

    The sooner we realize there are no holy cows in history the sooner we will grow up as a nation.


  • Oct 7, 2014 - 11:53AM

    I feel the anguish of the author and it would help if you realizes that Jinnah was not all great and Gandhi was not all bad.


  • BA
    Oct 7, 2014 - 12:31PM

    Well people tend to worship the rising sun. Let our good time come and Saad and the likes, like cattle shall drove to writting great things for Qaid-e-Azam. Those who take bad situation and guide the nation out are intellectuals. Those whose opinions change with the order of times are but cattles.


  • Devkant Bose
    Oct 7, 2014 - 1:56PM

    Although an Indian and a Hindu, I fully agree with what the marshall sahib said. Saad Saud must apologise, else be charged with sedition if not blasphemy laws. Namaskar/Salaam


  • Parvez
    Oct 7, 2014 - 2:16PM

    I read Saad Saud’s article again……….and Sir suggest you do so to.


  • Dr Sameena Hussain
    Oct 7, 2014 - 2:45PM


    This is where Jinnah’s pakistan is in comparison to Maulana Azad’s India.

    One can now understand the anguish of a retired military veteran.

    Many thanks


  • Warn
    Oct 7, 2014 - 3:56PM

    It was the same Gandhi who went on a hunger strike to stop the violence that resulted from the call to Direct Action by Quaid. It was Gandhi who laid on rail tracks to ensure Pakistan got its resources from the treasury after partition. There is a reason the likes of Gandhi, Mandela and King are revered.

    Forget Azad, Gandhi and Nehru. Standup for Qaid. Now what is Pakistan’s identity? Has Pakistan accepted itself? Why does it need to compare itself to India to feel validated?


  • Oct 7, 2014 - 4:28PM

    @someone: Mister! get one thing straight, loud and clear. Nehru lived under the armpits of Mountbatten and Gandhi knew his manners. If you ever recognize me coming from the opposite direction, please cross the road.


  • Oct 7, 2014 - 4:30PM

    Decades back, I had the honor and privilege, which remains with me to date, to meet the illustrious retired Air Commodore.
    Being a youngster, I had an insatiable appetite for flying and the Sabre jet was the latest addition to the PAF at that time. The honorable gentleman very patiently answered all my inquisitions of the PAF. He then went on to become a hero leading the legendary “Tankbusters” squadron at Chawinda in 1965.
    Sir, you article is loaded with veritable and time-honored facts. Please do not give any heed to the comment of South Asian posted above with garbage recommendations. To me they are BULL-CRAP.
    Please accept our very best wishes for Eid Mubarak and keep writing. Thank you and Salams to you and your family, and Pakistan.
    PS: EDITOR, Sir, this comment was posted yesterday and it is being re-posted. SO, PLEASE PUBLISH IT. Thanx. Salams


  • ahmed
    Oct 7, 2014 - 4:53PM

    I know Tribune doesn’t like publish my opinions because they are coherent.
    I agree that we should be open to criticize any historical facts and data starting from beginning of the Islamic history that has been glorified and colored beyond reasonableness. As far as Jinnah, Nehru and Gandhi are concerned there is no better researcher then Dr. Stanley Wolpert. He thoroughly researched and wrote a book on all three and in his opinion Jinnah was by far the smartest and ablest politicians of that era bar none including the Bristish or Indians.


  • Jat
    Oct 7, 2014 - 7:31PM

    @the Skunk: Your comment stinks…


  • Leela4fun
    Oct 7, 2014 - 8:33PM

    You may have soared to the skies as a pilot, but have plumbed the depths of journalism with your article.

    The merits and actions of Quaid Jinnah will stand on its own and will be judged by history. With your vitriol, you have basically done more damage to his legacy! Jinnah’s sagacity and leadership will be judged by the type of country Pakistan turns out to be.


  • Sandip
    Oct 7, 2014 - 9:11PM

    @Ranjha: If you don’t know who Maulana Azad is yet, then it’s best you give it a pass. In any case his thoughts and ideas would be beyond you.


  • Amit Lunia
    Oct 7, 2014 - 9:39PM

    Great writer

    Gandhi:: toady
    Nehru:: charlatan
    Abul Kalam Azad:: opportunist , irrelevant man
    Field Marshal Manekshaw :: intrepid soldier

    To end he wrote about himself
    “The writer needs to apologise for his immature diatribe”


  • Oct 7, 2014 - 10:58PM

    You read Saad’s article again? You were not sure at the first read?
    Suggest you have your dictionary handy with you. Complicated words.


  • Oct 7, 2014 - 11:09PM

    Had no idea Gandhi disowned his son because son married a Muslim.
    They say he disinherited the son from his hand loom and the bag of
    cotton that he owned. Wonder who got the lentils and rice.
    You learn something new every day.


  • Oct 7, 2014 - 11:12PM

    @South Asian:
    Hope you take a ride in one of those leaky Indian submarines.


  • TooTrue
    Oct 8, 2014 - 12:35AM

    I saw Mr. Haider as a young officer being interviewed by a BBC reporter on a fighter base during the 1965 Indo-Pak war. What a different society it was. The young men looked confident and didn’t invoke Allah in every sentence. That’s the country that Mr. Jinnah had created, the one, unfortunately, we were not able to preserve. I wish there were more people like the young version of Mr. Haider today. We would be a far better country.


  • razzmazz
    Oct 8, 2014 - 12:53AM

    if only it had been a complete partition and India hadn’t been left with this many Muslims….how is this even a partition? I really wish, the cut, which was very painful, had been complete…India would actually have been racing towards superpower status then and not have been bogged down by religious strife that only comes form having Muslims in large numbers as citizens.

    My grandparents had to leave their homes in the part of Punjab that is now in Pakistan and start life afresh in refugee tenements in New Delhi…what was the point if Muslims still burn Hindus alive and run Minority Schools where they are free to reserve 50% seats for Muslim students?


  • sp
    Oct 8, 2014 - 12:59AM

    “The writer needs to apologise for his immature diatribe.”

    Would the writer apologize for his MATURE diatribe against Indian leaders and for twisting facts?


  • Mirza
    Oct 8, 2014 - 7:27AM

    My comments have not been included. Here is another try.
    Quaid’s Pakistan was dismembered during martial law with a drunken womanizer as CMA and half a dozen generals in the cabinet with totalitarian powers. Quaid made Pakistan but the militant rulers broke it surrendered it in 1971.
    What was Quaid’s salary, benefits and perks compared to our generals? How many DHA mansions does he have which our generals have? There was no role of army in Pakistan movement however they were on the forefront in breaking it. Molana Azad and other religious scholars had rightly predicted the fate of new country. Those living in glass houses should not lynch a dead man.


  • John F
    Oct 8, 2014 - 8:58AM

    Whatever you say, Maulana Azad’s predictions about Pakistan were dead right.


  • Oct 8, 2014 - 10:40AM

    @Jat: Oh really! Please elaborate. Thanx.


  • Jor El
    Oct 8, 2014 - 11:58AM

    Thank god for partition or else this gentleman wud have been an Indian. We have no shortage of lunatics(including myself sometimes) in our own country n can certainly do with one less.


  • Jor El
    Oct 8, 2014 - 12:09PM

    The writer needs to apologise for his immature diatribe.
    I am seriously confused(i confess i am not very intelligent).
    Is this a disclaimer put up by ET or part of the article written by “the deeply pained/rattled/anguished octogenarian, a passionate Pakistani and a devout disciple of the greatest leader of the last century”


  • Oct 8, 2014 - 12:13PM

    @the Skunk:

    The air commodore was a great pilot and a gracious host. That does not make him the best heart surgeon in the world. Neither does it make him the most astute historian. Your admiration is admirable but you need to separate the one from the other.


  • Oct 8, 2014 - 12:15PM

    @Pak pakhtun:

    We need defending from our own ignorance.


  • Oct 8, 2014 - 12:17PM

    @Sialkot wala:

    Don’t read any history. Don’t examine any facts. Just hope. Bury your head in the sand and hope.


  • Asad
    Oct 8, 2014 - 1:25PM

    Sir, You dont need to be anguised by such non-sense. Whatever Abul Kalam Azad was, does not matter to us. He could be a sage in India, but for us Pakistanis, he was just another opponent to us being free. There is no compromise on freedom of Pakistan and honor of Quaid. Thank you again, Sir Sharp Shooter. You are as spot on today, as you were in 65 in Pathankot. The writer honoring Azad got the freedom on a plate, so he has the liberty to scribble nonsense like this. Lest he lashes back at you with his venom, he should know that this freedom to write whatever, is the very freedom provided by veterans like you who battled with there blood in two wars, stood a court martial for being upright against any move denigrating PAF and then when you had a ladder to the upper most echelon of PAF, you decided to kick it away by standing up to the worst dictator of Pakistan. Thank you sir for being a source of strength for us the youth.


  • Gurion
    Oct 8, 2014 - 2:11PM

    @Dr Shahbaz A Kureshi:

    Every patriotic Pakistani feels like
    Sajjad in this context. The Quaid e
    Azam stood head shoulders above his

    How come? He had access to a ladder or a stool?
    I can’t see which other way that can happen!


  • Sajjad Ashraf
    Oct 8, 2014 - 6:07PM

    The original article does not even compare Maulana Azad with Quaid-e-Azam. Can’t understand what is this noise about?

    The two are great men in their own right. One is a scholar and a visionary and the other founder of a country (I refrain from using the word nation). Let us be gracious in accepting both for the good they did. No one can take that away…


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