Former Foreign Minister Jaswant Singh's enormous love for Mohammed Ali Jinnah was once again on show during the launch of his controversial, yet popular book, 'Jinnah: India, Partition, Independence' on Thursday.
Speaking at the book launch function, which was attended by a galaxy of politicians, historians, journalists and diplomats, Singh said Indian leaders had not only misunderstood Jinnah, but also "demonised" him.
Comparing Jinnah with leaders like Mahatma Gandhi and Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Singh called Jinnah a 'selfmade man', who created a position for himself amidst the privileged ones.
"Gandhi himself called Jinnah a great Indian. Why don't we recognise that? Why don't we see and try to understand why he called him that?" The Daily Times quoted Singh, as saying.
"I admire certain aspects of his personality; his determination and the will to rise. He was a self-made man. Mahatma Gandhi was the son of a Diwan. All these people -- Nehru and others -- were born to wealth and position. Jinnah created for himself a position. He carved in Bombay a position for himself. He was so poor that he had to walk to work," said Singh, who was expelled from the Bharatiya Janata Party for praising Jinnah in his book last year.
The demonisation of Jinnah was a direct result of the trauma of partition, Singh said, adding, the view held by many in India that Jinnah hated Hindus was a mistake.
Singh has said it is time that the 'Berlin Wall' erected between India and Pakistan following the 1965 war be demolished.
Singh said people from both sides of the border have long been trying to come closer and it is time for making a new start in the relationship of the two neighbouring countries.
"Masses at both sides of the border are longing to come close to each other, and therefore we must let go of the shadows of history and let the new dawn arrive. We must create a strong relationship with each other, otherwise the poverty at both sides of the border cannot be wiped away," he said.
Commenting on the US and the North Atlantic Territory Organisation's intervention in India and Pakistan's issues, Singh said it is for both New Delhi and Islamabad to resolve their differences amicably.
"The US is around 8,000 miles away from Pakistan, whereas India is only eight minutes away, therefore the people of India and Pakistan must resolve their differences themselves," Singh said.
The book was released in August 2009 in India and soon became the subject of controversy.
It contains controversial opinions of Singh, claiming that Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru's centralised policy was responsible for partition and that Jinnah was portrayed as a demon by India for the partition.
The book has already received commendation from noted writers and experts Mark Tully, Meghnad Desai, Ram Jethmalani, Namwar Singh and Hameed Haroon, who believe that Jinnah's role needed to be reassessed.During his stay in Pakistan, Singh would also release his book in Islamabad and visit a famous Hindu temple, the Hinglaj Mandir in Balochistan.