3. Let me state this quite unequivocally: it is my firm conviction that the hidden purpose of the Indo-Pakistani war of 1965 was nothing more nor less than the elimination of my benighted family from the face of the earth.

This quotation occurs in Book Two, in the chapter “How Saleem Achieved Purity.” Throughout the telling of his story, Saleem often places himself at the center of major political events. While we can detect a strain of narcissism in Saleem’s desire to see himself as either the central cause or primary victim of various historical events, his life does converge with national history on countless occasions. If we consider that Saleem—born at the dawn of India’s independence, and destined to break into as many pieces as India has citizens—represents the entire population of India, it makes sense that his life seems directly impacted by national events. Things that happen on a national or global scale will always affect the collective life of a nation’s people.

By claiming that the purpose of the Indo-Pakistani war was to eliminate his family, Saleem draws critical attention to the fact that the war was justified in religious terms. The Indian presence in Kashmir was represented as a kind of defilement, and the Pakistani government claimed that Pakistan needed to reclaim Kashmir for the good of the country. Saleem claims that he and his grotesque family also needed to be cleansed in order for the nation to be purified. The absurdity of Saleem’s claim that an entire war might be fought in order to murder a family of civilians highlights the absurdity of Pakistan’s claim.