Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Leader of Nation and the Founder of State
Larger than his life, a shrewd politician, a constitutionalist, a true leader of the Muslims of India, the founder of Pakistan, and the father of the nation, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a legendary figure in the history of the Subcontinent. He was born in Karachi, graduated from Lincoln’s Inn, and started practicing law at Bombay Bar in 1896. Being an anti-British and an ardent supporter of Indian self-government based on the consensus of the Muslim League and the Congress during early phases of his political career, Jinnah started his journey in politics by joining the Indian National Congress in 1906. When All India Muslim League included the ideal of self-government in its manifesto, Jinnah joined it, in 1913.
Jinnah was a staunch supporter of establishing a united front against the imperialist government of the British but the two communities had to first make rapprochement. It was Jinnah who brought two parties to a consensus in 1916 which is known as Lucknow Pact. The parties agreed to form a united front against British imperialism while Congress conceded separate electorates and Muslims’ share in central legislature.
Jinnah became the most prominent figure in the second decade of the 20th century only to be sidelined by the masses-based agitational politics of Gandhi that also lured some fanatic Muslims. Jinnah resisted agitational politics as he fully comprehended the ground realities of Indian politics. He also stayed away from the Khilafat Movement and Gandhi’s Non-Cooperation Movement.
Despite being somewhat inactive in Indian political scene during the third decade of the last century, Jinnah kept on actively resisting the British and the Hindus alike. He proposed his famous Delhi Muslim Proposals for constitutional settlement with Hindus, even sacrificing separate electorates if the conditions outlined in the proposal – 30 percent share in the central legislature, reforms in NWFP and Baluchistan, separation of Sindh from Bombay – were met. Congress rejected these proposals and Motilal Nehru posited his Nehru Report which was against the interests of the Muslims. It is noted that the rejection of Delhi Proposals and publication of the Nehru Report pushed Jinnah on ways to become Quaid-e-Azam.
Jinnah was a political realist who never relied on communal cries; rather he was adept at distinguishing between the two distinct sociopolitical cultures of Muslims and Hindus. To him, coalescing of two separate and starkly different cultures was impossible and it is what we call ‘Two Nation Theory’. After the failure of the Round Table Conferences and internal feuds of Muslims, Jinnah was highly disappointed as Muslims were divided into different factions and this division not only led to failure of the conferences but also widening the divisions inside the League which was also divided into factions. Disappointed and dejected, Jinnah left India and settled in London. But the Muslim leadership in India soon realized that they had no leader of Jinnah’s stature. On the insistence of many prominent figures, he decided to return for what he referred to as a ‘grand mission to India’.
Upon his return, Jinnah started organizing the League to make it a single conglomeration. He also started preparations for the elections which were held in 1936-37. The League performed well in Muslim-minority provinces and Bengal but failed to acquire a prominent position in Muslim-majority provinces. But this did not deter Jinnah from penetrating into Muslim-majority provinces despite caveats from Unionist Punjabi politicians to keep his fingers out of Punjab’s pie. Jinnah was a player of a slow game, always looking for opportunities in the worst reversals.
At every stage before the outbreak of World War II, Jinnah tried to make a settlement with Hindus only to be rebuffed by Congress. Jinnah wanted to secure the interests of Muslims in provinces where they were in minority while also wanting a due share of power in Muslim-majority provinces based on their demography. He was fully aware of the hidden ambitions of the Hindus who wanted the subjection of Muslims under the Hindu Raj. Since Jinnah comprehended what was at stake for Muslims, he had no option but to turn to Islam and Muslim separatism. He demanded a separate and sovereign Muslim state that had already been outlined by Iqbal in his Allahabad Address of 1930. On 23rd March 1940, Jinnah demanded from the British an independent territory which would include North-Western and North-Eastern regions of India under sovereign Muslim government and the demand was referred to as Lahore Resolution – it later was known as the Pakistan Resolution.
Muslims demanded the division of India into two states of Hindustan (India) and Pakistan. There was no other solution than a surgical operation of the Indian Subcontinent to avoid civil war and anarchy. Jinnah’s grand mission was now in full swing. Enemies started recognizing him as the sole Muslim representative and he was considered the equal opposite of M.K. Gandhi. It was Gandhi who started calling him Quaid-e-Azam and even invited him to become premier of United India. But Jinnah was not going to betray Muslims for his self-aggrandizement. He made it clear that two communities couldn’t dwell together till the rights of Muslims are secured and they have their own state. Jinnah even accepted Cabinet Mission based on its grouping because it implied an overt plan for the sovereign state of Pakistan. But when Congress reneged on the grouping and the Cabinet Mission, Quaid-e-Azam was not ready to accept any other program but separate and sovereign Pakistan.
Jinnah made it clear that the elections of 1945-46 would decide whether Muslims are behind League and Jinnah or not. Elections were swept by Muslim League and Jinnah became a charismatic leader of the Muslims. No power on earth could now stop Quaid-e-Azam from snatching Pakistan from his enemies. And the dream came true when he declared that every citizen of Pakistan is free and allowed to perform his/her religious duties without fear or apprehension. Pakistan became a reality. Quaid-e-Azam, despite his ill health and severe lung problems, sacrificed his all life for the Muslims of India and led them to victory as a general lead on the battlefield.
Quaid-e-Azam’s 11 August speech is seen as the foundation of secular Pakistan despite the fact that he never uttered the word ‘secular’ in his speeches while he overly emphasized that constitution of Pakistan would be based on the principles of Islam, i.e. Muslim democratic Pakistan. At a huge rally on 30 October 1947 in Lahore, he addressed the crowd so: ‘Take inspiration from the Holy Quran, the final victory, will be yours … You have to develop the spirit of mujahids (soldiers of Islam) … Be prepared to sacrifice all, if necessary, in building up Pakistan as the bulwark of Islam and one of the greatest nations whose ideal is peace within and peace without … Do not be afraid of death […] The tenets of Islam enjoin every Muslim to give to his neighbours and to the minorities regardless of caste and creed.’
Quaid-e-Azam became an embodiment of love, compassion and courage. He changed the course of history and created a nation-state that he snatched from the jaws of his enemies. He was a ‘charismatic leader’ who was considered Shahenshah-e-Pakistan’. He has been bestowed governorship of the new state. Quaid-e-Azam started building his nation from scratch and stabilized the country after its inception. He outlined the basics of the constitution of Pakistan which would be based on the principles of Islam. He worked head to toe till his breath allowed. It was not long after the creation of Pakistan that he left the world to heaven, leaving millions aggrieved.
Quaid-e-Azam was not simply a political leader, but he was the embodiment of a state who not only created a state but outlined the basic Islamic principles of equality, liberty and harmony on which it would be based and that is why he is still remembered as the founder and father of the nation of Pakistan. Dr Ishtiaq Ahmed called him one of the most fascinating political leaders while Akbar Ahmed called him Saladin of our times who freed the Muslims of India.
The writer is a student at Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad.