Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1875-1948) was the father of Pakistan and the man often credited with making the idea of a separate Muslim state a reality, an idea he initially opposed. Jinnah doubted the motives of Gandhi and Nehru and accused them of practicing Hindu chauvinism. He relentlessly attacked the Congress-led ministries, accusing them of casteism, corruption, and nepotism. Skillfully, he succeeded in unifying various regional Islamic organizations and factions in Punjab and Bengal under the umbrella of the Muslim League. In Pakistan Jinnah is referred to as Quaid-e-Azam ("Great Leader").

Jinnah was Pakistan's first governor-general (its leader) following the partition of Britain's South Asian colony into India and Pakistan in 1947. He almost single-handedly created Pakistan by leading the fight for a separate Muslim state endorsed at Lahore in 1940. For Pakistanis he is like George Washington, Thomas Jeffereson and Benjamin Franklin all rolled into one.

A Bombay attorney, Jinnah joined the Indian National Congress in 1896, but by 1913 he had left the Congress and joined India's Muslim League, the leading organization for Muslims. Jinnah became popular for winning both Indian National Congress and League support for the Lucknow Pact, a proposal that called for Britain to give India dominion status at the end of World War I.

According to The Times: “Mr. Jinnah was something more than Quaid-i-Azam, supreme head of the State, to the people who followed him; he was more even than the architect of the Islamic nation he personally called into being. He commanded their imagination as well as their confidence. In the face of difficulties which might have overwhelmed him, it was given to him to fulfill the hope foreshadowed in the inspired vision of the great Iqbal by creating for the Muslims of India a homeland where the old glory of Islam could grow afresh into a modern state, worthy of its place in the community of nations. Few statesmen have shaped events to their policy more surely than Mr. Jinnah. He was a legend even in his lifetime.” [Source: The Times (London), September 13, 1948]

Jinnah's Character, Appearance and Habits

As a young barrister in London and Bombay, Jinnah was tall and handsome. He dressed in perfectly-tailored English suits and dazzled courtroom audiences with his extraordinary, English-accented voice. As an old man, Jinnah was pencil thin. He was 1.9 meters-tall but weighed only 54 kilograms, the result of a life-long battle with tuberculosis that slowly wasted him away. He wore a monocle and traditional Muslim clothes but retained his persuasive, intelligent style of speaking and was described as "cool, austere, polite to a fault."

Jinnah was a secularist and a strong supporter of minority rights. He was urbane and sophisticated and regarded as cerebral, aloof and alone. In many ways he was the opposite of Gandhi. He was a successful and wealthy barrister. He was cosmopolitan and a fastidious dresser. Ignoring the rules of his religion, Jinnah smoked constantly, drank a nightly whiskey and soda, rarely went to a mosque and never fasted or visited Mecca. Describing his impression after meeting a Jinnah, his biographer Ahmed Rizwan, told Newsweek, "You had to look down. You felt such powerful rays were being directed at you."

As a young man, Jinnah had little interests in religion or politics. He seemed to most interested in his work. According to one colleague at the Bombay High Court he was "the best showman of them all. Quick, exceedingly clever, sarcastic, and colorful, his greatest delight was to confound the opposing lawyer by confidential asides and outwit the presiding judge in repartee."

Jinnah told factory owners and feudal landlords to stop brutalizing and taking advantage of the poor. "The exploitation of the masses has gone into their blood," he said. "They have forgotten the lessons of Islam." Jinnah also supported women's rights. "No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you." Jinnah’s daughter Dina had a falling out with her father because she married a Christian and moved to India.

Father Of Pakistan

According to the Pakistan government: “Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's achievement as the founder of Pakistan, dominates everything else he did in his long and crowded public life spanning some 42 years. Yet, by any standard, his was an eventful life, his personality multidimensional and his achievements in other fields were many, if not equally great. Indeed, several were the roles he had played with distinction: at one time or another, he was one of the greatest legal luminaries India had produced during the first half of the century, an ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, a great constitutionalist, a distinguished parliamentarian, a top-notch politician, an indefatigable freedom-fighter, a dynamic Muslim leader, a political strategist and, above all one of the great nation-builders of modern times. [Source: Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation. tourism.gov.pk ]

“What, however, makes him so remarkable is the fact that while similar other leaders assumed the leadership of traditionally well-defined nations and espoused their cause, or led them to freedom, he created a nation out of an inchoate and downtrodden minority and established a cultural and national home for it and all that within a decade. For over three decades before the successful culmination in 1947, of the Muslim struggle for freedom in the South-Asian subcontinent, Jinnah had provided political leadership to the Indian Muslims: initially as one of the leaders, but later, since 1947, as the only prominent leader- the Quaid-i-Azam.

“For over thirty years, he had guided their affairs; he had given expression, coherence and direction to their legitimate aspirations and cherished dreams; he had formulated these into concrete demands; and, above all, he had striven all the while to get them conceded by both the ruling British and the numerous Hindus the dominant segment of India's population. And for over thirty years he had fought, relentlessly and inexorably, for the inherent rights of the Muslims for an honorable existence in the subcontinent. Indeed, his life story constitutes, as it were, the story of the rebirth of the Muslims of the subcontinent and their spectacular rise to nationhood, phoenix like.”

Jinnah's Early Life

According to rumors that floated around, Jinnah was a Muslim-convert who had been born a Hindu. But this is not true. Born on Christmas Day, 1876, Jinnah was the first of seven children born to an affluent Muslim merchant in Karachi. He educated at the Sindh Madrassat-ul-Islam and the Christian Mission School in Karachi. After graduating from the University of Bombay at the age of 16, he was married to a young girl and shipped off to Britain to study law. When he returned his bride was dead.

Jinnah joined the Lincoln's Inn in 1893 to become the youngest Indian to be called to the Bar, three years later. Starting out in the legal profession with nothing to fall back upon except his native ability and determination, young Jinnah rose to prominence and became Bombay's most successful lawyer, as few did, within a few years. Once he was firmly established in the legal profession, Jinnah formally entered politics in 1905 from the platform of the Indian National Congress. [Source: Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation. tourism.gov.pk ]

Jinnah went to England in 1905 along with Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915), as a member of a Congress delegation to plead the cause of Indian self-government during the British elections. A year later, he served as Secretary to Dadabhai Noaroji (1825-1917), the then Indian National Congress President, which was considered a great honour for a budding politician. At the Calcutta Congress session in December 1906 he made his first political speech in support of the resolution on self-government.

When Jinnah was 39-year-old, he fell hopelessly in love with a Ruttoe, the beautiful 16-year-old daughter of a Parsi millionaire. Against the objection of both families, the couple eloped and Ruttie bore Jinnah one daughter before leaving in 1928 and fleeing to Paris. He followed her and helped nurse her back to health after a grave illness only to have her leave him again. She died a year later. Jinnah's companion for the rest of his life was his sister Fatima.

Jinnah's Early Political Life

Jinnah was not always a separatist but he was always a stern defender of the rights of Indian Muslims. For a while he was a member of the National Congress, Gandhi and Nehru’s party. In 1910, Jinnah was elected to India's Imperial Legislative Council. Early in his career he avoided the Muslim League, and refused to meet the students who came up with name Pakistan. At that time he was described as the "best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity."

In 1910, Jinnah was elected to the newly-constituted Imperial Legislative Council. All through his parliamentary career, which spanned some four decades, he was probably the most powerful voice in the cause of Indian freedom and Indian rights. Jinnah, who was also the first Indian to pilot a private member's Bill through the Council, soon became a leader of a group inside the legislature. Mr. Montagu (1879-1924), Secretary of State for India, at the close of the First World War, considered Jinnah "perfect mannered, impressive-looking, armed to the teeth with dialectics..."Jinnah, he felt, "is a very clever man, and it is, of course, an outrage that such a man should have no chance of running the affairs of his own country." [Source: Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation]

For about three decades since his entry into politics in 1906, Jinnah passionately believed in and assiduously worked for Hindu-Muslim unity. Gokhale, the foremost Hindu leader before Gandhi, had once said of him, "He has the true stuff in him and that freedom from all sectarian prejudice which will make him the best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity: And, to be sure, he did become the architect of Hindu-Muslim Unity: he was responsible for the Congress-League Pact of 1916, known popularly as Lucknow Pact- the only pact ever signed between the two political organizations, the Congress and the All-India Muslim League, representing, as they did, the two major communities in the subcontinent."

The Congress-League scheme embodied in this pact was to become the basis for the Montagu-Chemlsford Reforms, also known as the Act of 1919. In retrospect, the Lucknow Pact represented a milestone in the evolution of Indian politics. For one thing, it conceded Muslims the right to separate electorate, reservation of seats in the legislatures and weightage in representation both at the Centre and the minority provinces. Thus, their retention was ensured in the next phase of reforms. For another, it represented a tacit recognition of the All-India Muslim League as the representative organisation of the Muslims, thus strengthening the trend towards Muslim individuality in Indian politics. And to Jinnah goes the credit for all this. Thus, by 1917, Jinnah came to be recognized among both Hindus and Muslims as one of India's most outstanding political leaders. Not only was he prominent in the Congress and the Imperial Legislative Council, he was also the President of the All-India Muslim and that of the Bombay Branch of the Home Rule League. More important, because of his key-role in the Congress-League entente at Lucknow, he was hailed as the ambassador, as well as the embodiment, of Hindu-Muslim unity.

Ideological Battle Between Jinnah and Gandhi in the 1920s

In 1920 Jinnah withdrew from the National Congress. He looked upon Gandhi's policy of non-cooperation as futile and regarded his approach as essentially Hindu He once dismissed Gandhi as a "Hindu revivalist" and described his tactics as illegal and unconstitutional, relying to much on emotion, and arguing that they ultimately would lead to chaos and disorder. Jinnah once boasted that if he joined one of Gandhi's non-cooperation campaigns "the British would have 500 times more trouble because we have 500 times more guts than the Hindus." Jinnah believed that the end British rule could be brought about through legal and constitutional means.

Jinnah felt dismayed at the injection of violence into politics and stood for "ordered progress", moderation, gradualism and constitutionalism, he felt that political terrorism was not the pathway to national liberation but, the dark alley to disaster and destruction. Hence, the constitutionalist Jinnah could not possibly, countenance Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's novel methods of Satyagrah (civil disobedience) and the triple boycott of government-aided schools and colleges, courts and councils and British textiles. Earlier, in October 1920, when Gandhi, having been elected President of the Home Rule League, sought to change its constitution as well as its nomenclature, Jinnah had resigned from the Home Rule League, saying: "Your extreme programme has for the moment struck the imagination mostly of the inexperienced youth and the ignorant and the illiterate. All this means disorganization and chaos". Jinnah did not believe that ends justified the means. [Source: Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation]

In the ever-growing frustration among the masses caused by colonial rule, there was ample cause for extremism. But, Gandhi's doctrine of non-cooperation, Jinnah felt, even as Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) did also feel, was at best one of negation and despair: it might lead to the building up of resentment, but nothing constructive. Hence, he opposed tooth and nail the tactics adopted by Gandhi to exploit the Khilafat and wrongful tactics in the Punjab in the early twenties. On the eve of its adoption of the Gandhian programme, Jinnah warned the Nagpur Congress Session (1920): "you are making a declaration (of Swaraj within a year) and committing the Indian National Congress to a programme, which you will not be able to carry out". He felt that there was no short-cut to independence and that Gandhi's extra-constitutional methods could only lead to political terrorism, lawlessness and chaos, without bringing India nearer to the threshold of freedom.

The future course of events was not only to confirm Jinnah's worst fears, but also to prove him right. Although Jinnah left the Congress soon thereafter, he continued his efforts towards bringing about a Hindu-Muslim entente, which he rightly considered "the most vital condition of Swaraj". However, because of the deep distrust between the two communities as evidenced by the country-wide communal riots, and because the Hindus failed to meet the genuine demands of the Muslims, his efforts came to naught. One such effort was the formulation of the Delhi Muslim Proposals in March, 1927. In order to bridge Hindu-Muslim differences on the constitutional plan, these proposals even waived the Muslim right to separate electorate, the most basic Muslim demand since 1906, which though recognized by the congress in the Lucknow Pact, had again become a source of friction between the two communities. surprisingly though, the Nehru Report (1928), which represented the Congress-sponsored proposals for the future constitution of India, negated the minimum Muslim demands embodied in the Delhi Muslim Proposals.

In vain did Jinnah argue at the National convention (1928): "What we want is that Hindus and Mussalmans should march together until our object is achieved...These two communities have got to be reconciled and united and made to feel that their interests are common". The Convention's blank refusal to accept Muslim demands represented the most devastating setback to Jinnah's life-long efforts to bring about Hindu-Muslim unity, it meant "the last straw" for the Muslims, and "the parting of the ways" for him, as he confessed to a Parsee friend at that time. Jinnah's disillusionment at the course of politics in the subcontinent prompted him to migrate and settle down in London in the early thirties.

Disillusioned with politics, disunity in the Muslim League, and the Congress under Mahatma Gandh, , Jinnah left political life in 1930 at the age of 58. He was fed with up what he perceived as Hindu betrayals he withdrew into a "self-imposed exile in Britain. While there be became greatly inspired by the work of Kemal Ataturk, the founder of modern, secular Turkey.

Jinnah Becomes Leader of the Muslim League

The Muslim League, which nearly collapsed from internal divisions, asked Jinnah to be their leader. Jinnah returned to India from Europe in 1935. A charismatic and eloquent politician, Jinnah was elected the League's permanent president in 1937 and given the title Qaid-e-Azam, or "great leader," by his followers. As time went on Jinnah lost faith in the Congress's ability to represent Muslim interests and distanced himself from the idea of a united Hindu-Muslim independent state of India. He set about making the Muslim League into a political organization solely under his control and committed to a separate Muslim state. He transformed it into a "highly politicized and disciplined party machine covering all parts of India's Muslim community.” Jinnah's rhetoric was intended to stir Muslims in a fight for freedom from the British and Hindu majority but it also ignited deep-seated hatreds and hostilities.

Reorganizing the Muslim League was anything but easy. The Muslim League was dormant: primary branches it had none; even its provincial organizations were, for the most part, ineffective and only nominally under the control of the central organization. Nor did the central body have any coherent policy of its own till the Bombay session (1936), which Jinnah organized. To make matters worse, the provincial scene presented a sort of a jigsaw puzzle: in the Punjab, Bengal, Sindh, the North West Frontier, Assam, Bihar and the United Provinces, various Muslim leaders had set up their own provincial parties to serve their personal ends. Extremely frustrating as the situation was, the only consultation Jinnah had at this juncture was in Allama Iqbal (1877-1938), the poet-philosopher, who stood steadfast by him and helped to charter the course of Indian politics from behind the scene. [Source: Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation]

Undismayed by this bleak situation, Jinnah devoted himself with singleness of purpose to organizing the Muslims on one platform. He embarked upon country-wide tours. He pleaded with provincial Muslim leaders to sink their differences and make common cause with the League. He exhorted the Muslim masses to organize themselves and join the League. He gave coherence and direction to Muslim sentiments on the Government of India Act, 1935. He advocated that the Federal Scheme should be scrapped as it was subversive of India's cherished goal of complete responsible Government, while the provincial scheme, which conceded provincial autonomy for the first time, should be worked for what it was worth, despite its certain objectionable features. He also formulated a viable League manifesto for the election scheduled for early 1937. He was, it seemed, struggling against time to make Muslim India a power to be reckoned with.

Despite all the manifold odds stacked against it, the Muslim League won some 108 (about 23 per cent) seats out of a total of 485 Muslim seats in the various legislatures. Though not very impressive in itself, the League's partial success assumed added significance in view of the fact that the League won the largest number of Muslim seats and that it was the only all-India party of the Muslims in the country. Thus, the elections represented the first milestone on the long road to putting Muslim India on the map of the subcontinent. Congress in Power With the year 1937 opened the most mementoes decade in modern Indian history. In that year came into force the provincial part of the Government of India Act, 1935, granting autonomy to Indians for the first time, in the provinces.

The Congress, having become the dominant party in Indian politics, came to power in seven provinces exclusively, spurning the League's offer of cooperation, turning its back finally on the coalition idea and excluding Muslims as a political entity from the portals of power. In that year, also, the Muslim League, under Jinnah's dynamic leadership, was reorganized de novo, transformed into a mass organization, and made the spokesman of Indian Muslims as never before. Above all, in that momentous year were initiated certain trends in Indian politics, the crystallization of which in subsequent years made the partition of the subcontinent inevitable. The practical manifestation of the policy of the Congress which took office in July, 1937, in seven out of eleven provinces, convinced Muslims that, in the Congress scheme of things, they could live only on sufferance of Hindus and as "second class" citizens. The Congress provincial governments, it may be remembered, had embarked upon a policy and launched a PROGRAMME in which Muslims felt that their religion, language and culture were not safe. This blatantly aggressive Congress policy was seized upon by Jinnah to awaken the Muslims to a new consciousness, organize them on all-India platform, and make them a power to be reckoned with. He also gave coherence, direction and articulation to their innermost, yet vague, urges and aspirations. Above all, the filled them with his indomitable will, his own unflinching faith in their destiny.

Jinnah and the Drive to Create Pakistan

In 1935, as part of the Government of India Act, the National Congress failed to include members of the Muslim League in the formation of provisional and provincial government. This was a fatal mistake. After the 1937 elections, when the Congress party of Gandhi and Nehru refused to share power with te Muslim League, Jinnah concluded that under its leadership Muslim's would become second class citizens. From then on he was committed to the creation of Pakistan and never trusted the National Congress or its leaders, particularly Nehru.

“In 1940, the League adopted a Muslim homeland resolution calling for the establishment of Pakistan (an acronym for the proposed territories in the provinces of Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, Sind, and Baluchistan).At the Muslim League’s landmark Lahore Conference in 1940, which favored the creation of Pakistan, Jinnah said, "Think 100 times before you make a decision. But once that decision is taken, stand by it as one man." Jinnah had no military force backing him, he forged Pakistan through sheer will and determination. Jinnah's supporters were aroused by Jinnah’s unyielding determination to create a Muslim state. "Failure is word unknown to me," Jinnah once said. He energized Muslims. Under the rallying cry “Islam in Danger,” Muslim League branches were opened all over South Asia, even in some of the remotest locations.

According to the Pakistan government: “As a result of Jinnah's ceaseless efforts, the Muslims awakened from what Professor Baker calls (their) "unreflective silence" (in which they had so complacently basked for long decades), and to "the spiritual essence of nationality" that had existed among them for a pretty long time. Roused by the impact of successive Congress hammerings, the Muslims, as Ambedkar (principal author of independent India's Constitution) says, "searched their social consciousness in a desperate attempt to find coherent and meaningful articulation to their cherished yearnings. To their great relief, they discovered that their sentiments of nationality had flamed into nationalism". In addition, not only had they developed" the will to live as a "nation", had also endowed them with a territory which they could occupy and make a State as well as a cultural home for the newly discovered nation. These two pre-requisites, as laid down by Renan, provided the Muslims with the intellectual justification for claiming a distinct nationalism (apart from Indian or Hindu nationalism) for themselves. So that when, after their long pause, the Muslims gave expression to their innermost yearnings, these turned out to be in favor of a separate Muslim nationhood and of a separate Muslim state. [Source: Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation]

"We are a nation", they claimed in the ever eloquent words of the Quaid-i-Azam- "We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of values and proportion, legal laws and moral code, customs and calendar, history and tradition, aptitudes and ambitions; in short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. By all canons of international law, we are a nation". The formulation of the Muslim demand for Pakistan in 1940 had a tremendous impact on the nature and course of Indian politics. On the one hand, it shattered for ever the Hindu dreams of a pseudo-Indian, in fact, Hindu empire on British exit from India: on the other, it heralded an era of Islamic renaissance and creativity in which the Indian Muslims were to be active participants. The Hindu reaction was quick, bitter, and malicious.

Equally hostile were the British to the Muslim demand, their hostility having stemmed from their belief that the unity of India was their main achievement and their foremost contribution. The irony was that both the Hindus and the British had not anticipated the astonishingly tremendous response that the Pakistan demand had elicited from the Muslim masses. Above all, they failed to realize how a hundred million people had suddenly become supremely conscious of their distinct nationhood and their high destiny. In channeling the course of Muslim politics towards Pakistan, no less than in directing it towards its consummation in the establishment of Pakistan in 1947, non played a more decisive role than did Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. It was his powerful advocacy of the case of Pakistan and his remarkable strategy in the delicate negotiations that followed the formulation of the Pakistan demand, particularly in the post-war period, that made Pakistan inevitable.

Jinnah: the Villain Partition?

In 1946, the British, the League, and Congress came to an agreement that divided the territory united under British rule into India and Pakistan. The partition led to a mass migration of Muslims to Pakistan and Hindus and Sikhs to India, which was accompanied by unprecedented communal violence that led to the deaths of between 500,000 and 1 million people. It was also the source of the territorial disputes that characterized the relationship between the two countries for decades.

William Dalrymple wrote in The New Yorker: At the center of the debates on who was responsibel for the partition of India and Pakistan "lies the personality of Jinnah, the man most responsible for the creation of Pakistan. In Indian-nationalist accounts, he appears as the villain of the story; for Pakistanis, he is the Father of the Nation. As French points out, “Neither side seems especially keen to claim him as a real human being, the Pakistanis restricting him to an appearance on banknotes in demure Islamic costume.” One of the virtues of Hajari’s new history is its more balanced portrait of Jinnah. He was certainly a tough, determined negotiator and a chilly personality; the Congress Party politician Sarojini Naidu joked that she needed to put on a fur coat in his presence. Yet Jinnah was in many ways a surprising architect for the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. A staunch secularist, he drank whiskey, rarely went to a mosque, and was clean-shaven and stylish, favoring beautifully cut Savile Row suits and silk ties. Significantly, he chose to marry a non-Muslim woman, the glamorous daughter of a Parsi businessman. She was famous for her revealing saris and for once bringing her husband ham sandwiches on voting day. [Source: William Dalrymple, The New Yorker, June 29, 2015]

“Jinnah, far from wishing to introduce religion into South Asian politics, deeply resented the way Gandhi brought spiritual sensibilities into the political discussion, and once told him, as recorded by one colonial governor, that “it was a crime to mix up politics and religion the way he had done.” He believed that doing so emboldened religious chauvinists on all sides. Indeed, he had spent the early part of his political career, around the time of the First World War, striving to bring together the Muslim League and the Congress Party. “I say to my Musalman friends: Fear not!” he said, and he described the idea of Hindu domination as “a bogey, put before you by your enemies to frighten you, to scare you away from cooperation and unity, which are essential for the establishment of self-government.” In 1916, Jinnah, who, at the time, belonged to both parties, even succeeded in getting them to present the British with a common set of demands, the Lucknow Pact. He was hailed as “the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity.”

“But Jinnah felt eclipsed by the rise of Gandhi and Nehru, after the First World War. In December, 1920, he was booed off a Congress Party stage when he insisted on calling his rival “Mr. Gandhi” rather than referring to him by his spiritual title, Mahatma—Great Soul. Throughout the nineteen-twenties and thirties, the mutual dislike grew, and by 1940 Jinnah had steered the Muslim League toward demanding a separate homeland for the Muslim minority of South Asia. This was a position that he had previously opposed, and, according to Hajari, he privately “reassured skeptical colleagues that Partition was only a bargaining chip.” Even after his demands for the creation of Pakistan were met, he insisted that his new country would guarantee freedom of religious expression. In August, 1947, in his first address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan, he said, “You may belong to any religion, or caste, or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the State.” But it was too late: by the time the speech was delivered, violence between Hindus and Muslims had spiralled beyond anyone’s ability to control it.

Jinnah as the leader of Pakistan

Jinnah was Pakistan's first governor-general (its leader) following the partition of Britain's South Asian colony into India and Pakistan in 1947. He was a proponent of parliamentary democracy and was against the idea of Pakistan as a theocracy. Considered the father of the nation, Jinnah led the independent nation of Pakistan for just over a year before dying in 1948.

What kept the new country together was the vision and forceful personality of the founders of Pakistan: Mohammed Ali Jinnah (1875-1948), the governor general popularly known as the Quaid i Azam (Supreme Leader); and Liaquat Ali Khan (1895-1951), the first prime minister, popularly known as the Quaid i Millet (Leader of the Community). The government machinery established at independence was similar to the viceregal system that had prevailed in the preindependence period and placed no formal limitations on Jinnah's constitutional powers. In the 1970s in Bangladesh, another autocrat, Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, would enjoy much of the same prestige and exemption from the normal rule of law.[Source: James Heitzman and Robert Worden, Library of Congress, 1989 *]

At independence Jinnah was the supreme authority. An accomplished politician, he won independence for Pakistan within seven years of the Lahore Resolution and was hailed by his followers as the Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader). As governor general, he assumed the ceremonial functions of head of state while taking on effective power as head of government, dominating his prime minister, Liaquat Ali Khan (the Quaid-i-Millet, or Leader of the Nation). To these roles, he added the leadership of the Muslim League and the office of president of the Constituent Assembly. [Source: Peter Blood, Library of Congress, 1994 *]

Although Jinnah had led the movement for Pakistan as a separate Muslim nation, he was appalled by the communal riots and urged equal rights for all citizens irrespective of religion. Jinnah died in September 1948 — only thirteen months after independence — leaving his successors to tackle the problems of Pakistan's identity.

Jinnah visited East Pakistan on only one occasion after independence, shortly before his death in 1948. He announced in Dhaka that "without one state language, no nation can remain solidly together and function." Jinnah's views were not accepted by most East Pakistanis, but perhaps in tribute to the founder of Pakistan, serious resistance on this issue did not break out until after his death. On February 22, 1952, a demonstration was carried out in Dhaka in which students demanded equal status for Bangla. The police reacted by firing on the crowd and killing two students. (A memorial, the Shaheed Minar, was built later to commemorate the martyrs of the language movement.) Two years after the incident, Bengali agitation effectively forced the National Assembly to designate "Urdu and Bengali and such other languages as may be declared" to be the official languages of Pakistan. [Source: James Heitzman and Robert Worden, Library of Congress, 1989 *]

Jinnah's Death

Jinnah died of tuberculosis on September 1, 1948, 13 months after Pakistan gained independence and nine months after Gandhi's assassination. Jinnah knew that he was dying and the last months of his of life were a struggle to stay alive long enough to see Pakistan created. On his death bed, according to his doctor, he said that Pakistan had been "the biggest blunder of my life." Jinnah was the greatest obstacle to a unified India. Mountbatten later said that if had he known that Jinnah was near death he might have delayed independence so that a unified India could be forged.

Most people believe Pakistan would be a much better place today if Jinnah hadn't died so soon. "His first priority was self-respect for all human beings—Muslims, Hindus and everyone," Ahmed Rizwan, Jinnah's biographer told Newsweek. "After Mr. Jinnah's death's, adventurists took over and brought our country to virtual ruin, politically and economically," Jinnah' former secretary told Newsweek. Democratic elections weren't held until 1971. "When he died," one man told National Geographic, "so soon after his dream of Pakistan came true, the entire nation wept."

Jinnah told Pakistan in his last message on August 14, 1948: "The foundations of your State have been laid and it is now for you to build and build as quickly and as well as you can". In accomplishing the task he had taken upon himself on the morrow of Pakistan's birth, Jinnah had worked himself to death, but he had, to quote Richard Symons, "contributed more than any other man to Pakistan's survival". He died on 11 September, 1948. How true was Lord Pethick Lawrence, the former Secretary of State for India, when he said, "Gandhi died by the hands of an assassin; Jinnah died by his devotion to Pakistan". [Source: Pakistan Tourism Development Corporation. tourism.gov.pk ]

A man such as Jinnah, who had fought for the inherent rights of his people all through his life and who had taken up the somewhat unconventional and the largely misinterpreted cause of Pakistan, was bound to generate violent opposition and excite implacable hostility and was likely to be largely misunderstood. But what is most remarkable about Jinnah is that he was the recipient of some of the greatest tributes paid to any one in modern times, some of them even from those who held a diametrically opposed viewpoint.

The Aga Khan considered him "the greatest man he ever met", Beverley Nichols, the author of 'Verdict on India', called him "the most important man in Asia", and Dr. Kailashnath Katju, the West Bengal Governor in 1948, thought of him as "an outstanding figure of this century not only in India, but in the whole world". While Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, called him "one of the greatest leaders in the Muslim world", the Grand Mufti of Palestine considered his death as a "great loss" to the entire world of Islam. It was, however, given to Surat Chandra Bose, leader of the Forward Bloc wing of the Indian National Congress, to sum up succinctly his personal and political achievements. "Mr Jinnah", he said on his death in 1948, "was great as a lawyer, once great as a Congressman, great as a leader of Muslims, great as a world politician and diplomat, and greatest of all as a man of action, By Mr. Jinnah's passing away, the world has lost one of the greatest statesmen and Pakistan its life-giver, philosopher and guide". Such was Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the man and his mission, such the range of his accomplishments and achievements.

Jinnah's Legacy: A Blueprint for Future Dictators?

Jinnah set the trend for dictators. He defied the Dominion Constitution that established Pakistan and made himself not only the governor-general of the new state but also made himself president of the Constituent Assembly and also a cabinet minister. The historian Ian Talbot wrote in “Pakistan: A Modern History”: “Pakistan’s democratic failure can be traced to the early days of Jinnah’s governor-generalship and his perpetuation of the viceregal system inherited from the Raj.” Jinnah dismissed the elected governments of Khan Salib and M.A. Khusro in August 1948 and sent his hand-picked choices to serve as governors in the Frontier and Sindh Provinces,

The influential founding fathers, Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Liaquat Ali Khan, had passed away by 1951, and their deaths were ominous precursors to the subsequent series of short-lived governments that changed just as often by military coup as by election. Pakistan was initially governed by a Constituent Assembly responsible for drafting a constitution and issuing legislation until the constitution went into force. However, the constitution’s drafting was delayed by disagreements over how different regions would be represented and how the state would embody Islamic principles. Legislative paralysis prompted Governor General Ghulam Mohammad to dismiss the Constituent Assembly in 1954. This action is now seen as the beginning of “viceregal” politics in Pakistan, in which the military and civil bureaucracy, not elected officials, govern the country and maintain substantial influence over society and the provinces. A new Constituent Assembly wrote the first constitution in 1956 and reconstituted itself as the Legislative Assembly. However, regional rivalries between East and West Pakistan and ethnic and religious tensions threatened political stability, and on October 7, 1958, President Iskander Mirza disbanded the Legislative Assembly. Later that month, Mirza himself was overthrown by General Mohammad Ayub Khan. [Source: Library of Congress, February 2005 **]

Ayub Khan saw himself as a reformer who would bring much-needed stability to the country, and he started by establishing a system of local governments called Basic Democracies for communities to have meaningful input into politics. But Ayub quickly lost interest and turned toward the civil bureaucracy for policy advice and formation. A new constitution was promulgated in 1962, and it established a weak legislature (the National Assembly) and a president with substantial legislative, executive, and financial powers.

Possibly the most notable event of Ayub’s tenure was a 17-day war with India in 1965 over the nagging Kashmir dispute. Pakistan argued that under the terms of the 1947 partition, Muslimdominant areas of the subcontinent should become part of Pakistan and claimed that India had pressured the Hindu ruler of Kashmir to accede to India at the time of partition, ostensibly against the wishes of the largely Muslim population. The 1965 war had the unintended consequences of interrupting impressive economic growth and deflating the military’s confidence in its own abilities. Amid worsening societal and political problems, substantial popular opposition, and his own declining health, Ayub Khan resigned in 1969.

Subsequently, General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan became president and chief martial law administrator, and he attempted to reinstitute parliamentary democracy. However, festering tensions over representation in the National Assembly led to civil war between East and West Pakistan in 1971. With Indian assistance, East Pakistan seceded and became the independent nation of Bangladesh. At the same time, India and West Pakistan fought another 17-day war, mostly in West Pakistan, which ended in a cease-fire agreement. Largely as a result of Pakistan’s military losses, Yahya resigned in 1971, and Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto was appointed president, becoming the first civilian head of government in nearly two decades.

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Text Sources: New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Times of London, Lonely Planet Guides, Library of Congress, Ministry of Tourism, Government of India, Compton’s Encyclopedia, The Guardian, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, Time, Newsweek, Reuters, AP, AFP, Wall Street Journal, The Atlantic Monthly, The Economist, Foreign Policy, Wikipedia, BBC, CNN, and various books, websites and other publications.

Last updated September 2020

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