Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah – a leader par excellence was not just the founder of this country, but the nucleus around which our history revolved. A charismatic leader in his own right, he inspired millions of people in the subcontinent and left an indelible mark in history by creating a separate state for Muslims – Pakistan.
The history of subcontinent cannot be discussed without mentioning the role that Quaid-e-Azam played and the political struggles he had to undergo to achieve independence.
His life has been a focal point in academic study of the subcontinent by many scholars and historians and are part of textbooks, yet every year we take a close look at his life – trying to imbibe and learn from the man who gave us our homeland with renewed vigour and zeal.
Born on 25 December 1876 to Jinnahbai Poonja and Mithibai Jinnah in a small rented apartment in Karachi, now known as the Wazir Mansion, his birth name was initially Mahomedali Jinnahbhai, which he later shortened to Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He acquired his early education from Sindh Madrassatul Islam, before the family moved to Bombay where he finished his matriculation.
He then moved to London after accepting an offer of apprenticeship from one of his father’s professional acquaintance, and enrolled at Lincoln’s Inn to become a barrister. Upon returning to India, he quickly rose up the ranks of the Indian National Congress in the first twenty years of the 20th century, and helped enact the Lucknow Pact of 1916. However, by 1940s, he had come to believe the notion that Muslims of the subcontinent needed a separate homeland, and in the same year the Muslim League, under his leadership, passed the Lahore Resolution demanding a separate nation, eventually succeeding with it by 14 August 1947.
Quaid-e-Azam founded Pakistan due to a vision – but his means to do so were constitutional and legal – a lesson to learn and remind our current crop of politicians. In order to get an understanding of the reasons that led to the creation of Pakistan, it is important to understand the leader whose vision made it all possible. He exhibited a deep philosophical interest in life around him from a very early age. As a lawyer, he is often regarded as an expert practitioner of advocacy. Historians have cited personal accounts of Quaid-e-Azam’s acquaintances that he had the skill of explaining even the most complex of cases, simplistically. When required, he would be aggressive, but also extremely persuasive to explain his point. Some of these personal traits helped him achieve success in the legal sphere – however these were the same qualities that helped shape his political career.
Many factors influenced Quaid-e-Azam’s personality and political ideology. His exposure to liberal politics coupled with British education and legal practice, and knowledge of historical Islamic dominance and decline. All these played a major role in his unwavering belief that Muslims of the subcontinent needed their own homeland.
Over the years, he realised that the cultural and political future of Muslims would not be secure in a united India ruled by the Congress, as the latter was becoming increasingly dismissive about rights of Muslims.
He believed in protecting and promoting Muslim rights and safeguarding their interests in the region, and in order to achieve this, he played an important role in his political dealings with the British and the Congress, eventually succeeding in forming Pakistan. After independence, he assumed the role of Governor-General and worked tirelessly to constitute the government.
Apart from his political struggle, on the personal front, the western world inspired his political life and also personal tastes. He had an immaculate sense of dressing, abandoning Indian attire for western suits. Always impeccably dressed, he is known to own over 200 suits, pairing them with starched shirts with detachable collars, following the dressing style that barristers in London had. However in later years he adopted the sherwani, and the karakul cap, which is now symbolically known as the Jinnah cap.
He suffered from tuberculosis from the 1930s, but ensured that only those close to him knew about the condition. He believed that awareness about his illness could harm him politically, and his reservations proved to be true when Lord Mountbatten, in his later writings, confessed that had he known about illness, he would’ve stalled the partition. This goes on to show how politically astute Quaid-e-Azam was, and had the foresight to predict it.
He breathed his last at his home in Karachi on September 11, 1948, after a prolonged suffering from tuberculosis and later pneumonia. He was 71 years old, and only a year after the creation of Pakistan.
He left a rich legacy for his fellow countrymen, a legacy that laid down the very basis of why this homeland was formed – equality and unity.
13 August, 1898: Carl Gustav Witt discovered 433 Eros, the first near-Earth asteroid to be found.
14 August, 1981: Pakistan came into existence as a result of the Pakistan Movement which aimed for the creation of a separate Muslim state by partition of the north-western and north-eastern regions of undivided India.
15 August, 1509: India gained independence from Great Britain.
16 August, 1896: Gold was discovered in Rabbit Creek, a tributary of the Klondike River in Alaska, resulting in the Great Klondike Gold Rush.
17 August, 1945: Korea was divided into North and South Korea along the 38th parallel.
18 August, 1960: The Beatles give their first public performance at the Kaiserkeller in Hamburg
In 1985, with her book The Sole Spokesman, Ayesha Jalal became one of the first Pakistani scholars and historians to construct an academically sound and largely objective study of the founder of Pakistan. In her book, Jalal eschewed every image of Quaid-e-Azam invented between 1947 and the late 1980s, and presented him as the man he really was.
The author uses numerous references and sources to bring to light a man who was highly intelligent, pragmatic, and extremely focused, but one who was vehemently opposed by the Indian nationalists. The book also highlights Quaid-e-Azam’s vulnerabilities as well as a man who could also often become melancholic in his outlook.
The flag of Pakistan was adopted in its present form during a meeting of the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, just four days before the country's independence. Designed by Syed Amiruddin Kidwai, the flag is based on the flag of the All-India Muslim League, a body which spearheaded the struggle of the Muslims of South Asia for independence. The national flag is green with a white vertical bar at the hoist, a white crescent in the centre and a five-pointed white star. The green represents Islam and the majority Muslims in Pakistan and the white stripe represents religious minorities and minority religions. The white and green together represent peace and prosperity, while the crescent symbolizes progress, and the five-rayed star stands for light and knowledge. The green colour, the star and the crescent are also traditional Islamic motifs.
1. When was All India Muslim league founded?
2. When was the Pakistan Resolution, demanding greater Muslim autonomy in British India, passed?
3. What was the first capital of Pakistan?
4. When did women in Pakistan get the right to vote?
5. Who dissolved the First Constituent Assembly of Pakistan?
6. When did NWFP’s name change to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa?
7. Who composed the music for Pakistan’s national anthem?
8. Who was the first female Governor of Pakistan?
9. Who designed Pakistan's flag?
10. When did Pakistan test its first nuclear device?
Last week’s answers:
1. Benjamin Franklin
2. The Romans
3. The Sumerians
4. Abraham Lincoln
5. Mohammad Ayub
7. To protect against counterfeiting
10. Queen Isabella of Spain