Muhammad Ali Jinnah: The Great Quaid

Pakistanis remember Muhammad Ali Jinnah with his title Quaid-e-Azam, the greatest leader’. Jinnah is certainly the greatest leader, not only, for the Muslims but he is counted among the world leaders of consummate caliber.. Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the architect of a separate and sovereign homeland for the Muslims of South Asia. He articulated the aspirations of the Indian Muslims which ultimately culminated into the creation of Pakistan, then the largest Muslim state on the world map, on 14th August, 1947. He was one of the most striking and distinctive figure in that part of time.

Quaid-I-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s personality marked unique features. He was tall and towering, handsome and heroic, dashing and dominant, incorruptible and invulnerable, practical and pragmatic -- a man of high principles and great probity. He was an able advocate, a leading lawyer, a profound parliamentarian, a super statesman, a dynamic mass leader, and above all, one of the great nation builders in modern times.

Historians of the Quaid have focused for the most part, on his gargantuan achievement of Pakistan and the historic struggle under his self-motivated leadership in the forties that culminated in the great national separate sovereign state. However, the earlier part of his life is significant nonetheless; it prepared him meticulously for the stunning final act of whirling the course of history of the South Asian subcontinent.

From his first appearance in Indian polities in 1904, membership of Indian National Congress in 1906, and election to the Imperial Legislative Council in 1910, he espoused national causes, with a infatuation and conviction all his own, such as Compulsory primary education, freedom of association, of expression, and of the press, curbing of executive power from Bureaucracy to Democracy, recruitment of Indians in Civil Services as well as in the army. However, his brilliant advocacy of such All-India causes, which made him acceptable to all sections of the people, never made him unconscious of his basic and fundamental duty to his own community. He spared no efforts to advance the interests of Indian Muslims from the platform of the Indian National Congress and other representative bodies. It was because of him that the heart of Muslim India, always passionately faithful to its own spiritual and moral traditions became suddenly and vividly aware also of its own inheritance politically and its own responsibility in shaping the national future for freedom.

“Motivated by a deep sense of history, Jinnah concluded early in his life that the British would one day depart from India and leave the management of the country to the native population. Therefore, he was all the more convinced of the need to bridge deep and abiding differences between the major religious and cultural communities, especially the Hindus and Muslims. So, between 1906 and 1920, he gave the best years of his life to forging unity between Hindus and Muslims and between the Congress and the Muslim League in the struggle for getting self-rule for India from the British Government “Jinnah without abandoning his membership in the Congress joined the All India Muslim League in October 1913 in a display of Muslim Solidarity, but his instincts were aimed at identifying moderates in both parties who, like himself, wished to neutralize the extremists” and he had the League's constitution amended to incorporate the "attainment of a system of self-government" which would be in compliance with the Congress goal as well. In the pursuit of this goal, the 1916 'Lucknow Pact' was one of the momentous achievements of Mr. Jinnah which won him the title of "Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity" from the greatest Indian poetess of her time, Sarojini Naidu, an eminent Congress Party leader. Lucknow Pact provided a common formula for the Congress and the Muslim League to work together for the accomplishment of their common ideal. Quaid-i-Azam also stalwartly championed the objectives of the "Home Rule League Movement" started by Mrs. Annie Besant in 1916. “Under his chairmanship the Bombay Branch of the Home Rule League became the most powerful limb of the organization which at the time dominated the Indian scene.” For his fervent heart-felt support of the objectives of India's Constitutional progression, his role won national approbation and he came to be called as an "apostle of Indian self-government". However, the pursuit of the Hindu ideal of "The Vedic and Epic Periods and a dream of a Ram Raj and taking on the trappings of a Mohatama by M K Gandhi and even criticized by Nehru, severely strained the Hindu-Muslim harmony. All this was an abomination to the Quaid who, disappointed with the new turn in Congress politics, began to veer away from the policies of that body. Once Gandhi went inexperienced with a vengeance, Nehru became a camp follower. But, the Quaid stuck to his liberal, moderate, constitutional ways. What distinguishes him from his contemporaries is that he was essentially a modern man - one who above all valued reason, discipline, organization and economy. He was committed to substance rather than symbol, reason rather than emotion, modernity rather than tradition. Albeit a modern man, he could with full credit pass the test of Muslim ness - persistent quest and commitment to his community's search and urge for a just, respectable and sovereign existence in the world in consonance with Islamic values. However, he did not discard the constitutional means to get his objective. M.A.Jinnah was such a person that could not be tamed by threats or bribes or job offers and he had more knowledge of the law than any minion in Government bureaucracy. When the British Indian Government hurriedly enacted the Rowlett Act in March 1919, Jinnah blasted it in the sharpest language in the Imperial Legislative Council and resigned from the membership of this legislature in gripe. A veteran constitutionalist who weighed his words carefully, Mr Jinnh’s courageous instincts as a freedom fighter was reflected in these powerful words which he thundered in the house, "... If these measures are passed, you will create in the country from one end to the other ,a discontent and agitation the like of which you have not witnessed, and it will have, believe me, a most disastrous effect on the good relations that have existed between the Government and the people."

All the 22 Indian members of the Legislative Council opposed the Rowlett Bill but the 34 British members rubber-stamped it on March 18, 1919, and it became the infamous Rowlett Act. Mr. Jinnah walked out of the House to protest against this black law and resigned from the Legislative Council's membership forthwith. Mr. Jinnah's letter of resignation sent to the Viceroy, Lord Chelmsford, was couched in strong words of dissent. ".......A Government that passes or sanctions such a law in times of peace forfeits its claim to be called a civilized Government...".

Viceroy Chelmsford, it appears, was glad over Jinnah's resignation from the Legislative Council because without "Jinnah's acid tongue and razor-sharp mind", life on this Council would be more comfortable for the white rulers of British India. Later on Mr.Jinnah’s prediction proved true and the incident of massacre of Jallianwala Bagh took place in April 1919. Mr. Jinnah strongly condemned this massacre of Indian demonstrators.

When The Quaid got down in organizing the Muslim League, under his dynamic leadership, it was metamorphosed in telescoped time into a mass movement, and in the space of just about a decade it founded a state. He was the inspiration, strategist negotiator, orator and organizer of the League - a sort of one-man political bureau as it were. In his career at the Bar, in his personal and political life, are to be found just those qualities of courage, of hard work applied to the mastery of detail, of impeccable integrity, of dedication to duty, of solicitude to human concerns, which were essential to a public career. How could the "autocratic", cold, calculating figure of common perception of his distracters has spontaneously attracted the unswerving loyalty of so many veteran politicians, and of countless party workers? It was not as a "dictator" that he exercised power, but as a man with the poise, persuasive skill and uncanny ability to elicit consent and compromise from friends and foes alike. Quiad-i-Azam was an incisive and perspicacious lawyer, an atypical politician, a consummate parliamentarian, and a man of wisdom and high purpose, with an impeccable honesty and indomitable courage. He fought heroically for a Muslim resurgence in the subcontinent and most decisively swayed the battle against the British imperial power as well as the Hindu congress. As for his personality and position as a leader of the Muslims of India is concerned, Beverley Nichols, an English journalist, commented in his famous book “Verdict on India” that:

“Mr. Jinnah is in a position of unique strategic importance. He can sway the battle his way or that as he chooses. His 100 million Muslims will march to the left, to the right, to the front, to the rear at his bidding and at nobody else’s…that is the point. It is not the same in the Hindu ranks. If Gandhi goes, there is Nehru, or Rajagopalachri, or Patel or a dozen others. But if Jinnah goes, who is there? By this I do not mean that the Muslim League will disintegrate---it is far too homogeneous and virile a body---but that its actions would incalculable. It might run completely off the rails, and charge through India with fire and slaughter; it might start another war. As long as Jinnah in there nothing like this will happen.”

Jimail-uddin Ahmed’ quoted in his book “Creation of Pakistan” that even Lord Mountbatten for all his animosity towards Pakistan and Quaid-e-Azam made him admit that:

“If it could be said that any single man held the future of India in the palm of his hand in 1947, that man was Muhammad Ali Jinnah. To all interests and purposes Jinnah was the Muslim League and if the dream of Pakistan ___the separate Muslim state___ever did come true, it would be Jinnah who brought it to life and fashioned it.”

A philosopher has said, "Ordinary minds talk too much and do little, extra-ordinary minds talk as well as do more, but the greatest minds act in silence." The Quaid was simple, calm, sober and serene. He used to burn midnight oil. Once asked why he slept little and remained awake for most part of the night. Apt came the reply "I keep awake as my community mostly remains asleep." His ideal for a separate homeland was so important and lofty that he cared little for food, rest and other worldly deeds, even at the cost of his failing health.

No other leader had the unswerving loyalty of his people as he did on the eve of taking oath as the Governor-General of Pakistan, the Quaid said, "It was not I alone who achieved Pakistan but I had millions with me and specially the masses. The intelligentsia came last, the masses came first. I am proud that I am not that Governor-General who was an agent of another power but one who has been chosen by the people." Continuing he said, "All that is best in Sindh is present at this gathering here. Do not forget one thing, I have never forgotten it and will never forget it our duty towards the poor and the down trodden. It is your sacred duty to look after the poor and serve them. We must secure for them better living conditions. It should not be our policy to make the rich richer, but this does not mean that we want to uproot things. We can quite consistently give all and sundry their due share." We are filled with pride when we read of the incident where the Quaid was delivering a speech at a village and not a soul was educated but were listening to his words in a pin-drop silence. Yet the people clapped and cheered. When a reporter inquired from one among them what they understood of the Quid’s words. A villager replied that he understood nothing at all but he knew with all his heart that it was the truth. And so they cheered. Such was the Quaid's affinity with common people and their complete and unflinching confidence in the leader whose roots were firmly ingrained in the masses. The Quaid's voice became the voice of the people and the voice of people has been and always will be the voice of God. The Quaid had categorically declared, "There are million upon millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilization! Is this the aim of Pakistan! If this is the idea of Pakistan, I would not have it." On the morrow of freedom, the Quaid said, "We are going through fire, the sunshine has yet to come. Are you prepared to undergo fire! You must make up your mind. We must have Unity, faith and discipline."

Pakistan had come to stay and no power on earth could shake or break it, the Quaid proclaimed on the morrow of independence. But every thing in Pakistan was uncertain and nothing was organized to meet the challenge to its existence from within and without. The problems of defending the frontiers and resettling the unending flow of displaced person, were overwhelming, especially as its share in the defense stores and financial assets were withheld by New Delhi from where the threat to its survival also arose. This was very devastating situation. In view of Lawrence Ziring, Quaid-e-Azam played even more critical role after independence of Pakistan. He writes in his latest book Pakistan; At the Crosscurrent of History” that:

“The colonial civil service was the only professional instrument of the government, and few Muslim civil servants had much if any experience in managing departments, agencies or for that matter, taking charge of day-to-day operations. Suddenly, advanced into high position, they took their cues from Jinnah, who spurred them on to higher levels of achievement. The selflessness exhibited by government officials in those first tiring weeks, and the discipline and professionalism of career officers were a tribute to Jinnah’s looming presence. So much had been sacrificed and so many depended upon the integrity of those in key position that no one was permitted to consider failure an option. It has been said that without the leadership of M.A. Jinnah, Pakistan would never have achieved independence. It also was said that without Jinnah’s leadership in those initial months after independence the nation would not have survived.”

The Quaid-e-Azam takes his place in history among men, who have shaped the destinies of nations by the great causes they have championed and the mission they have accomplished in their lifetime. Like George Washington and Lincoln, Disraeli and Gladstone, or his contemporaries, Gokhale and Gandhi, he was a statesman of outstanding stature in the subcontinent. Pre-eminent though his contribution was in the realm of politics, he did not claim to be the innovator of a new political theory or the author of a new political system.

He had fought his political battles with the British on their own ground. The people of the subcontinent, once he argued, were not a different species from the rest of mankind to be denied the right of self-government, which the people of England exercised for themselves. From the Morley-Minto and Montague Chelmsford Reforms, through the Roundtable Conferences, the Statutory Commission, the Government of India Act until the dawn of independence, he had waged a ceaseless struggle for a voluntary transfer of power to a representative government. Pakistan was not a chimerical or utopian scheme. For him it was a historical necessity inherent in the inner contradictions of a heterogeneous society, which no amount of logical subtlety of the Hindu mind could make homogenous. This led to the creation of Pakistan. The Times acknowledging his role as the architect of Pakistan commented: "Few statesmen have shaped events to their policy more surely than Mr. Jinnah." He was a strategist and a tactician; he planned and made his political moves with utmost care, deliberation and astuteness. But his moves were always tampered with a sense of dignity, fair play, `justice and lofty ideals.”

When Pakistan was established, Anti-Muslim forces were hoping that the resource less state of Pakistan would get choked at its very birth. Prompt came the resounding thunder from a physically fragile but morally and mentally indomitable will and spirit "Pakistan has come to stay and stay it will no matter what." The Quaid was, without doubt, a man of destiny and unparalleled will and courage. His message and guideline to the nation was, "We must develop a sense of patriotism which should galvanize and weld us all into one united and strong nation." Alas! That was not to be! After his early demise on Sept 11, 1948, this nation as led by successive weak and self centered leadership which never rose to the expectations of the people and the lofty ideals that were set out by the Father of the Nation. But there should be no despair and despondency. It is never too late to mend. Let all of us make a new resolve to rise above the selfish motives and make the promise of Pakistan in consonance with Quaid's lofty ideals.

On his death USA’s president Truman paid him homage in these words "He was the originator of the phenomenon that became Pakistan, architect of the state and Father of world's largest Muslim nation. Mr. Jinnah was the recipient of a devotion and loyalty seldom accorded to any man." The last chief justice of India Lord Patrick Spencer opined: "There is no man or woman living who imputes anything against his honor or honesty. He was the most upright person, I know.

The far sightedness of Jinnah’s views makes them relevant to the issues faced by Pakistan, even, today. So, Pakistan can perhaps simply follow the advice of its Founder, Jinnah, truly a great leader of this world, to shine among the brightest of all nations. However history may judge him, but his contribution to history cannot be doubted. As his biographer, Professor Stanely Wolpert, in his book ‘Jinnah of Pakistan’, summarizes the significance of Jinnah, not only for Pakistan but also for the world history,

‘Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.’

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