Jinnah "the Quaid"

Excessively snobbish and completely cut off from grass roots politics, while immensely westernized and totally inaccessible to the man in the street were some of the characteristics of the great leader

He was an Ismaili and Ismailis are generally not considered a part of mainstream Islam .And while being an Ismaili, it was not easy to win over the Muslim constituency of India, he converted to Shiaism (Asna ashri). However he cherished ham sandwiches and high quality liquor, nevertheless he made sure that the vast Muslim community remained unaware of it.

To the wrath of his close friend, he enticed his daughter into a relationship, twenty four years his junior and after several years of a strained married life, let her die in seclusion. He himself married a Parsi but when his own daughter wanted to marry another Parsi, he disowned her. At one point in time he would propagate a state structure guided by religious tenets, while at another he would strongly oppose a theocratic state. He would advance the two-nation theory that Hindus and Muslims were two nations and could never live together. And in one speech of Aug 11, 1947, he would blast the whole concept of two-nations; while completely oblivious of the fact that Islam was excessively exploited during the Pakistan movement and it was almost impossible to put the genie back into the bottle. While Gandhi ji, Mountbatten and even Ataullah Shah Bukhari could foresee the bloodshed and a chain reaction of atrocities to be committed in the wake of Partition, Jinnah was least bothered or he conveniently ignored it.

While the sub-continent was burning due to communal strife, a grand party was being held at governor house Karachi where guests were being served with high quality wine.

He read little, wrote nothing and never went to jail. When asked as to why he never went behind the bars whereas Gandhi ji did. The reply was “I am not a criminal”. He would call Abul Kalam Azad, a great statesman and a scholar of high caliber as the show boy of Congress. He would say that Pakistan was inevitable yet would accept the Cabinet Mission Plan negating the creation of a separate state. And while championing the cause, he completely overlooked the consequences for those Muslims who were to be left behind in India. He did not know Urdu, would generally wear English dress and had almost no interaction with the common man of the areas which were to become part of Pakistan.

He was the Governor General and yet he kept the office of the President of the Muslim League and the constituent assembly. Liaqat Ali Khan was the head of the government yet Jinnah would chair the cabinet meetings often bitterly snubbing Liaqat in front of his cabinet ministers. Excessively snobbish and completely cut off from grass roots politics, while immensely westernized and totally inaccessible to the man in the street were some of the characteristics of the great leader.

The major players in the cabinet were unelected and unrepresentative bureaucrats like Chaudhary Mohammad Ali, Sir Zafarullah and Ghulam Mohammad who happened to be very close to Jinnah. Surrender of vital decision- making to these non- elected individuals laid the foundations of bureaucracy’s ascendency in national politics.

This was the type of personality which was to become the father of the Pakistani nation.

On 15th August 1947 Mr. Jinnah took oath as Governor General of Pakistan and on 22nd August, just after a week, dissolved the elected government of Dr. Khan Sahib in the NWFP. Prior to that Mr. Jinnah had urged Khan Qayyum to create a breakaway faction of Congress, by any means, who would join Muslim League (ML) so that the strength of ML in the provincial assembly could be increased and an ML government could be formed in the province. That laid the foundations of horse trading for all times to come. On 26th April 1948 the government of elected Chief Minister of Sindh Mr. Ayub Khuhro, which enjoyed the support of majority of the members of the provincial assembly, was also dismissed, as Mr. Jinnah ordered the Governor Mr. Hidayatullah to dispose him of.

One month after coming into power, while Maharaja Hari Singh was indecisive about his accession to either India or Pakistan, he ordered General Gracy, the army chief to invade Kashmir. On his refusal he asked tribal lashkars to get into Kashmir and capture it. They did, only to face a humiliating defeat. He also laid the foundation of intrusion into another country’s territory.

Seven months into power in March 1948; and he ordered military action in Balochistan which culminated in the forcible annexation of the states of Balochistan. Seven months into Power and while addressing the provincial assembly of East Pakistan in March 1948, he declared that Urdu and Urdu alone would be the national language of Pakistan. Interestingly he was addressing the assembly in English. That declaration led to riots and protests in the Eastern Wing. Denying Bengalis the right to adopt their own language, as the official language, which also happened to be the language of the majority, laid the foundation of East Pakistan’s separation at a later stage.

He referred to Kashmir as Pakistan’s jugular vein which led to later conflicts where three inconclusive wars were fought to no avail. He was for the inclusion of two large provinces namely Punjab and Bengal into Pakistan, however, Mountbatten disagreed. To this he stated that people were first of all Bengalis and Punjabis and then Muslims. And their history, language, culture and economy were common. Mountbatten smiled and said “Well, following your line of argument they are first of all Indians and then Muslims and Hindus, and this is what congress says”. However Jinnah could never foresee or he ignored the horrifying consequences of dividing India on the basis of religion.

Hence at times he would use religion as the lynchpin of nationhood and at other occasions he would refer to ethnicity and country forming the cornerstone of a separate nation. The Lahore resolution was passed in 1940 whereas partition took place in 1947.During this seven year period Jinnah did nothing except resorting to hollow rhetoric and political sloganeering. The fallout came when the Boundary Commission was preparing its recommendations. The entire Muslim League had nobody who could appreciate the technicalities of the Commission’s recommendations. The only capable person was an Ahmadi, namely Sir Zafarullah Khan who faced The Commission and was finally able to get hold of what was later to become a state declaring Sir Zafarullah a non-Muslim.

When the Partition plan was announced on June 3rd 1947, the first thing required to be focused on was the demarcation of boundary between the two countries and the division of assets. Now it was worthwhile that during the interim period (which may even extend beyond August 15, 1947) both the states had a common Governor General who could oversee a just division. Mountbatten wanted to remain as the Governor General and the Congress accepted the proposal but Jinnah refused. He wanted to become the Governor General himself, of the newly created state at any cost, even if the state had to bear losses worth billions. To this Mountbatten sent a secret telegram to London in which he described Jinnah’s behavior as “Megalomania in its worst stubborn form”. It is said that since Mountbatten was the Governor General of India, he took care of the Indian state and as a consequence Pakistan lost Ferozepur head works while Gurdaspur also went to India which then got land access to Kashmir. Had Mountbatten been the Governor General of both the states after Partition, he might not have used his influence in favor of India.

While Jinnah did not accept Mountbatten as the common Governor General of India and Pakistan, he did acknowledge Field Marshal Auchinleck as the common Supreme Commander of both the states. The same Auchinleck had ordered Pakistan’s army chief General Gracy not to send his troops for invasion into Kashmir.

When Liaqat Ali Khan went to see him in Ziarat, Balochistan, while he was sick, Jinnah later told his sister “He had come to see if I was alive”. Precisely so, as Liaqat knew that as long as Jinnah was alive, he could never function as Prime Minister of Pakistan.

by Waseem Altaf |

Waseem Altaf is a social activist



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