Here is the first of my The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly biographies of key figures in Pakistan’s history. Who better to start with than Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah? This Biography has been split into two parts, the first part will cover the bio and family info and notable quotes about and by Jinnah; the second part will contain the Good the Bad, and the Ugly sections and the final analysis This will hopefully be the only bio that needs to be done in two parts but I feel that given the important events Jinnah took part in and the huge role he had in Pakistan’s founding that it is justified to go in depth into his life and times. Without Further ado let the biography begin.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born on December 25th 1876 in the city of Karachi in Sindh province in what is now Pakistan to a wealthy Gujarati merchant family who were members of the minority Shia sect of Islam. In 1918 he married a non Muslim Parsi woman named Rattanbai Petit which caused outrage in the Muslim community; the couple had one daughter Dina born in 1919. Rattanbai died in 1929 after a long illness; which prompted Jinnah’s sister Fatima to give up her thriving dental practice to take over his household. Dina herself would later marry a non Muslim Parsi man which greatly strained her relationship with her Father. Jinnah died of Tuberculosis on September 11th 1948 in Karachi.
Jinnah was supposed to follow his father into the family business but instead studied Law in England where at the age of 19 he became the youngest Indian to be called to the Bar. He returned to India in 1896 and set up a soon thriving legal practice in Bombay (Mumbai) where he soon gained a reputation as a brilliant lawyer.
He also began dabbling in Politics first as a member of the Indian Congress party and then as part of the Muslim League. He served in India’s legislative council where he was a staunch defender of Muslim interests which led to him being elected President of the Muslim League in 1916.
Jinnah initially worked closely with the Congress party in promoting Hindu-Muslim unity and in opposing the British Raj (Rule). But Jinnah began to distance himself from Gandhi and Nehru (Congress party leaders) in the 1920’s as they began directly challenging the Raj and Gandhi began appealing to devout Hindus to join their campaign. Jinnah eventually came to believe that Muslims would be dominated by Hindus in a free India.
In the early 1930’s the Two Nations Theory was developed among certain Muslim intellectuals; the theory stated that Hindus and Muslims were two distinct nations that should each have their own independent states. Their Muslim state was to be called Pakistan an acronym for Punjab, Afghan (NWFP), Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan provinces that were mostly Muslim and formed a contiguous state. Muslim majority Bengal was to form a separate state that included Muslims and Hindus to act as a counterweight to Hindustan (ie. the rest of British India).
Jinnah was in England for the early 30’s and attempted to win a seat in Parliament but failed due to voter racism. When he returned to India he agreed to work with the Congress party but only if Muslims were granted a third of cabinet posts and Congress accepted the Muslim League as the sole representatives of India’s Muslims. Congress refused as they were against special rights for any religious groups and they had many prominent Muslim members of their own. This led Jinnah to declare his support for the Two Nation theory which culminated in the Lahore Resolution of 1940 in which the Muslim League called for the Independence of Pakistan which Jinnah vowed would be a secular state that protected its minorities in a way in which he believed Hindu India would be unwilling or unable to.
In 1942 the Congress party launched a massive disobedience campaign in order to force Britain to grant India her freedom. Jinnah refused to join them as he believed that India should help Britain win WW2 then negotiate afterwards for freedom. Nehru and Gandhi and most of the top Congress leadership were jailed and the parties activities sharply curtailed. Meanwhile the Muslim League operated unhindered and began gaining more support among Muslims for the creation of Pakistan.
In 1946 the Congress party leadership was released and Britain began negotiating for India’s Independence; Britain and the Congress party wanted a united India with substantial regional autonomy but Jinnah and the Muslim league would accept nothing less than the partition of India into Pakistan and India. Jinnah launched a day of action on August 16th 1946 that quickly devolved into Hindu -Muslim violence and cost thousands of lives. Britain and the Congress party finally agreed to partition in order to prevent more violence and the date of Independence was set for June 1948. However in March of 1947 mass violence erupted throughout India which forced Britain to move up plans for Independence to August 1947.
On August 14th 1947 Pakistan gained Independence with India’s following the next day. Jinnah became Governor General and delivered his famous address to the Constituent assembly, based in the new Capital of Karachi, of which I will reproduce the pertinent part here:
”Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.
I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community, because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on, and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalis, Madrasis and so on, will vanish. Indeed if you ask me, this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free people long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time, but for this. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this.
You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State. As you know, history shows that in England, conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some States in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days where there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do not exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation.
Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”
When the Radcliffe commission announced the boundaries of Pakistan and India on August 17th 1947 violence flared anew and 15 million people left their homes half going to India half to Pakistan and at least a million people were killed with hundreds of thousands of women raped and countless thousands abducted. Jinnah did his best to prevent the violence and tried to establish a strong Pakistani state. He worked tirelessly to fight corruption and to build up the economy while trying to establish friendly relations with all nations. The Tuberculosis which he had since the early 40’s was exacerbated by his overwork and he grew deathly ill in September of 1948 before finally dying on September 11th 1948
Notable quotes about Jinnah:
”One of the most extraordinary men in history.” – Jawaharlal Nehru India’s first Prime minister and Jinnah’s longtime political adversary reflecting on Jinnah.
”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.”– Stanley Wolpert eminent historian and biographer of Jinnah.
Quotes by Jinnah:
”I will have nothing to do with this pseudo-religious approach to politics. I part company with the Congress and Gandhi. I do not believe in working up mob hysteria. Politics is a gentleman’s game.” -Jinnah speaking in 1920 after the Congress party began directly challenging the British Raj.
”No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable condition in which our women have to live.” -Jinnah speaking in 1944 at a Muslim University.
” In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic State to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims — Hindus, Christians, and Parsis — but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.” –Jinnah speaking in a radio broadcast to the people of the U.S.A. in February 1948.
”Character, courage, industry and perseverance are the four pillars on which the whole edifice of human life can be built and failure is a word unknown to me.”– Jinnah’s life philosophy.
”Pakistan was my greatest blunder”-Jinnah’s deathbed confession to his right hand man and Pakistan’s first Prime minister Liaquat Ali Khan as recorded by Jinnah’s doctor .