Home Muhammad Muhammad Ali Jinnah: A Symbol of National Unity

Muhammad Ali Jinnah: A Symbol of National Unity


KARACHI: Pakistan celebrated the 145th anniversary of the birth of the country’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah on Saturday.

Born on December 25, 1876 into a wealthy merchant family in Karachi, Jinnah – commonly referred to as Quaid-i-Azam, or the Greatest Leader – has remained the sole symbol of unity as the undisputed leader of a nation of 220 million inhabitants. during Pakistan’s 74 years of independence.

Jinnah’s name and pictures can be found all over Pakistan – from banknotes to the streets, from universities to military bases.

He ruled the nation, carved out of the subcontinent as the homeland of Muslims in 1947, at a time when it faced a number of serious challenges, including tensions with India over the Jammu and Kashmir issue. , fears for survival due to economic hardship. , an influx of refugees and violent community riots.

According to historians, in one of the largest displacements in the world to date, more than 6.5 million Muslims from different parts of India migrated to Pakistan after the end of British colonial rule in the sub -continent in 1947.

“From a social science perspective, no one can be totally unchallenged. But in the case of Jinnah, we can say that he is unchallenged among an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis, ”said Farooq Ahmad Dar, associate professor of history at Quaid-i-Azam International University in Islamabad.

“In a way, you can say that he is the only symbol of unity and the undisputed leader in Pakistan. The rest is [all] contested in one way or another, ”he said, addressing Anadolu Agency.

Citing the main reasons for Jinnah’s overwhelming acceptance among Pakistanis, Dar said, “He has emerged as a leader who has led the nation in a time of need. His determination, dedication and commitment to a cause [independence of Pakistan] raised him to a level where no one could match him [at the time]. “

Also acceptable for right and left wing

Jinnah’s concept of a modern Islamic state, according to Dar, made it acceptable to both Islamists and secularists in Pakistan who otherwise hardly agree on other points.

“Its concept of a modern Islamic state based on the principles of equality, justice, protection of minorities, etc., which are basic teachings of Islam, gives space to Islamists and the laity to quote in favor of their respective political ideologies. he said.

Approving Dar’s views, Raza Kazimi, a Karachi-based historian, said: “Jinnah is the only undisputed leader in the country’s history. So much so that he is the symbol of unity for otherwise political rivals like the left and right parties who pull and push their political manifestos through his ideology.

This is due to his “moderate approach” to religion and politics, Kazimi said.

“It is acceptable even to the religious parties which opposed the establishment of the state of Pakistan,” he noted.

Private life

Salima Hashmi, an educator and writer based in Lahore, has a different take on Jinnah’s personality.

“Jinnah was a complex personality [who is] yet to be fully understood due to the need to place him on a pedestal where many of his life choices are never discussed, ”Hashmi said.

Those, she argued, who oppose him “tooth and nail” like the religious lobby use him as a shield and attribute to him ideas he has never expressed.

“There needs to be a lot more debate on his ideas for democratic dispensation, which have never seen the light of day,” she added.

Jinnah received her early education at the Sindh Madrassah tul-Islam school and the Christian Missionary Society school in Karachi. A family friend then offered her an apprenticeship in London in 1892, but before leaving, Jinnah’s mother arranged her marriage to her cousin, Emibai.

Jinnah’s mother and Emibai died less than a year after moving to London, where he quickly left the apprenticeship and joined the famous Lincoln’s Inn as an aspiring lawyer.

After graduating, Jinnah began practicing law as the first Muslim lawyer in Bombay and served as an interim magistrate for a brief period of six months.

In 1918, Jinnah married Rattanbai – known as Ruttie – from an elite Parsi family. Ruttie embraced Islam before marrying Jinnah. The marriage, however, only lasted a few years, with the couple separating before Ruttie’s death in 1929. Jinnah had only one daughter, Dina, who was later raised by her younger sister, Fatima Jinnah. .

Dina married a wealthy Parsi businessman against her father’s wishes and did not choose to move to Pakistan after the then largest Muslim state was established in 1947.

Jinnah was the second child among seven siblings. But apart from Fatima Jinnah, her political assistant, little is known about her three other brothers and two sisters.

Fatima Jinnah was then declared Madar-i-Millat (Mother of the Nation) by the Pakistani government. A slum in southern Karachi is named after Shireen Jinnah, who is said to have been one of Jinnah’s sisters.

Suffering from tuberculosis, Muhammad Ali died on September 11, 1948 in Karachi and was buried in the same city.

A magnificent mausoleum, Mazar-i-Quaid, was built over his grave in 1970, where thousands of people flock every day to pay homage to the great leader who envisioned a separate state for Muslims on the subcontinent.

Political life

According to Stanley Wolpert, a Jinnah biographer, Quaid-i-Azam was influenced by 19th century British liberalism based on democratic nations and progressive politics while in London.

In 1906 he joined the Indian National Congress – a party founded in 1885 following the 1857 revolt against the British Raj to demand greater autonomy for the subcontinent.

Initially, Jinnah was a strong advocate of Hindu-Muslim unity and refused to join the All India Muslim League established by some Muslim leaders to protect the interests of their community in majority Hindu united India.

In 1913, he joined the Muslim League but remained associated with Congress until 1920, when he completely dissociated himself from his first political party.

It was part of the Lucknow Pact of 1916, which set quotas for the representation of Muslims and Hindus in different provinces. However, the pact was never fully implemented.

In 1928, the British government of the day proposed to the Indians to propose their rounds of constitutional changes to rule the subcontinent. Motilal Nehru, the founder of the Nehru political dynasty in India, proposed the Nehru Report which called for the formation of constituencies based on geography. Jinnah, for his part, presented his famous 14 points demanding mandatory representation of the Muslim minority in legislative assemblies.

Jinnah remained in Britain from 1930 to 1934 to practice as a lawyer. His biographers quarrel over why he has lived so long away from political struggle in India.

Following the persistence of several Muslim leaders, including the poet Mohammad Iqbal and Liaqat Ali Khan, he returned from London. Khan later became prime minister from 1947-51. Jinnah returned to India in 1934 to lead the All India Muslim League amid growing Muslim nationalism in the region.

On March 23, 1940, the famous Lahore resolution – later converted to a Pakistan resolution – was passed in a massive rally at Minto Park in Lahore under the leadership of Jinnah, demanding a separate Muslim state comprising five Muslim-majority provinces. .

The adoption of Pakistan’s resolution is considered the most decisive point in Jinnah’s political struggle when he got a clear idea of ​​his future plans. The following seven years proved to be eventful over the successive campaigns and counter-campaigns.

In 1942, in the midst of World War II, Congress launched the “Quit India Movement”, feeling that the weakened British Empire could no longer seize the subcontinent. In response, Jinnah launched the “Divide and Leave Movement” sticking to his guns for a separate Muslim state.

“Pakistan is a matter of life and death for us,” he said.

In December 1945, the Muslim League won all seats reserved for Muslims in provincial assemblies, reflecting the ever-growing confidence of Indian Muslims in the leadership of Jinnah.

In 1946, the British government resorted to sending a high-level parliamentary delegation, the Cripps Mission, to break the deadlock between Congress and the Muslim League over future governance, but to no avail.

Finally, on June 3, 1947, Lord Mountbatten, the last British viceroy of India, announced partition. On August 14, Pakistan became an independent state.

Jinnah was elected Pakistan’s first governor general, but he could not survive until a year after independence.