Mr. Jinnah: A person larger than life

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On 25th December 1876 Jenabhai and Mithibai were blessed with a son whom they named Muhammad Ali Jenabhai. A family of mediocre means Jenabhai moved from Paneli to Gondal and then to Karachi in 1875 not knowing that by some stroke of luck their destinies would smile on them. Muhammad Ali Jinnah could not receive a formal primary education. He was admitted in the school at an age of nine years and a year later got shifted to Sindh Madrassatul Islam. After three years Mr. Jinnah was admitted to Church Mission School Karachi. He left for London in November 1892 and got admission in Lincoln’s Inn in 1893 to study law.
The virtues of a man are reflected through his thoughts which are then transformed into action, therefore, if one has to paint Jinnah’s personality and character, it can be through these words of young Mr. Jinnah who once said, “I want to be in London and enter Parliament where I hope to wield some influence. There I shall meet British statesmen on a footing of equality.” This bold and dynamic lawyer who was destined to climb high in the skies of fame and glory got admitted to the chambers of John Molesworth Macpherson who was then acting advocate-general of Bombay. He was also appointed as the Third Presidency Magistrate of Bombay. Such a prestigious and prosperous future welcomed Mr. Jinnah for the riches and power but all he wanted was objectivity and a life inspired by purposefulness.
Jinnah at first was a strong nationalist who believed in self-government and started nationalistic politics by joining Congress in 1906. He was an ardent supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity against British Imperialism and reflected a strong sense of Indian nationalism which is quite evident from the fact that Jinnah wanted to defend Tilak in Bombay high court who was arrested on charges of sedition, despite the fact that he was an extremist Hindu politician who despised Mr. Jinnah as an active figure while in Congress. Jinnah once said, “Is it too much to ask and appeal to Hindus and Mohamedans, the two great communities in India to combine in one harmonious union for the common good, where we have to live together in every district, town and hamlet, where our daily life is interwoven with each other in every square mile of one common country.” He not only talked about unity and prosperity of a united India but also walked the talk by arranging the famous Lucknow Pact in 1916, unlike Gandhi and Nehru who favored a united struggle against the British but did not include a single Muslim minister during Congress Ministries of 1937.
Mr. Jinnah was a man of principles and never reflected any sense of compromise once he made up his mind about something. He strongly advocated for the cause of a federal India with equal provincial autonomy but once he realized that the congress under the extremist Hindu oriented political philosophy of Gandhi & Nehru would never agree for an arrangement based on ‘equal space for all’; he then made up his mind for a sovereign and independent Muslim state. It was he who single handedly reorganized and lead Muslim League as the representative body of the Muslims of India. During Karachi conference of the Muslim league in October 1938 he said, “If the Musalmans are going to be defeated in their national goal and aspirations, it will only be by the betrayal of the Musalmans amongst us, as it has happened in the past.” Although, Mr. Jinnah desired the possibility of Hindu-Muslim unity on equal footings till last but was never ready for any compromise which might harm the interests of Muslim community.
Jinnah indeed had such high moral values that despite being offered the position of prime ministership of United India in the interim government by Gandhi, he didn’t show any interest in such a scheme which might possibly compromise the future of the Muslims of India. Integrity, righteousness and honesty were eternal parts of Jinnah’s personality. He did not intend to gain power for securing his own interests rather for those who had no approach to the corridors of power. In his presidential address at the thirtieth session of the Muslim League at Delhi, on 24 April 1943 he warned the exploitative class by saying, “There are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilization? Is this the aim of Pakistan? Do you visualize that millions have been exploited and cannot get one meal a day! If that is the idea of Pakistan, I would not have it.”
If Jinnah were alive today and had witnessed his Pakistan as we have shaped it, he would definitely disown it. He worked day in and day out for the establishment and consolidation of a Pakistan which would prove as a refuge in the face of harsh challenges. Rarely has the world’s history witnessed such a commitment to a political cause where a leader would want to achieve his political objective at the cost of his life as Jinnah did. He knew he had tuberculosis which might cost him his life but he never disowned his struggle and requested his doctor to keep his secret. This was termed as the best kept political secret of twentieth century. Such was the valor of an old man who grew physically weak but strongest in spirit.
Unfortunately, unlike Mr. Jinnah the ruling elite of this country who in one form or the other enjoyed the pleasures of power trusted to them by the state but acquired foreign citizenship after retirement. What a pity! This poor motherland which offers us the safe refuge, gives us recognition and shares the fortunes of its resources but fails to attract our attention for its own wellbeing. Nothing can be more a shameful fact that millions lost their lives and property for achieving a land where justice might prevail at the end but what we get today is a society which is unjust and lawless at best.
Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah said, “We do not demand Pakistan simply to have a piece of land but we want a laboratory where we could experiment on Islamic principles.” He struggled for a country where every citizen felt equally important irrespective of his religion, race, class system and gender. Jinnah had a dream of a country where the state would elevate the morale and confidence of every citizen to feel equally important in the eyes of law. In his presidential address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August 1947, he said, “You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of 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.”
Perhaps, Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the only great parliamentarian that South Asia has ever produced. He did not have much time to tackle one by one all the challenges that this infant state faced but did his best in his capacity as a human being. If only we consider focusing on the solution of problems which Mr. Jinnah mentioned in his first speech on 11 August 1947, life could be much easier to live.
He vividly mentioned the responsibility of state to protect the life, property and beliefs of its subjects. Then he mentioned bribery, corruption, black-marketing, the evil of nepotism and jobbery as the greatest problems this great country faced. He emphasized so much on equality by saying, “We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.” This great statesman passed away on 11 September, 1948.

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