Muhammad Zafar Khan Safdar |
It was 10:25 pm on Saturday, September 11, 1948, when father of the nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah breathed his last. The country that he had founded was left bereft. It was hard to come to terms with the fact that he was dead, all the more so because his illness was kept a closely guarded secret. On next day, more or less a million mourners attended funeral prayers to catch one last glimpse of their beloved Quaid. A hush fell on the assembled multitude inside and outside the compound of the Governor-General’s House as the funeral procession came in view.
As it was placed on the gun carriage, thousands of the voices in the immediate vicinity, from the sides of the road, from the tops of roofs, balustrades, and trees, burst into shouts of “Quaid-i-Azam Zindabad”. A 40-day mourning period was announced, but for millions of Pakistanis that he left behind, the mourning continues till date. The dynamic personality of Quaid-i-Azam was a combination of the characteristics of the eminent leaders of the world.
Quaid-i-Azam lived very short and served for only 392 days as Governor General of newly born state but this little period of his Governor-Generalship is considered a landmark in Pakistan’s history.
He had the acumen of Ata Turk, the charisma of Churchill, the dignity of De Gaulle, the frankness of Faisal, the greatness of Gandhi, the magnetism of Mandela and the rationality of Roosevelt. Former US President Clinton at the Chief Executive’s lunch in Islamabad in 2001 described Quaid-i-Azam as a greatest constitutional lawyer of the Commonwealth. Dr. B.R. Ambedkar, the Architect of the Indian Constitution, writes that “It is doubtful if there is a politician in India to whom the adjective incorruptible can be more fittingly applied”.
Quaid-i-Azam was ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, a great constitutionalist, a distinguished parliamentarian, a brilliant and strategist politician, a tireless freedom fighter, a gifted debater and orator, consummate master of logic, a profound lawyer, a sound statesman, a dynamic mass leader and above all, one of the great nation builders in modern times. He stood for justice, for freedom, for equal rights, for the rule of people, for an open society and for a noble Pakistan. Quaid-i-Azam devoted the last two decades of his life to the relentless struggle to realize the dream of an independent state of Pakistan.
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Quaid-i-Azam lived very short and served for only 392 days as Governor General of newly born state but this little period of his Governor-Generalship is considered a landmark in Pakistan’s history. Immediately following Pakistan’s birth, the country had to face a number of problems either created genuinely or on the instigation of India, which all were crucial to the existence of the state. With so many problems, the core issues were the Jammu and Kashmir, Pakhtunistan, accession of princely states to Pakistan, influx of Refugees into Pakistan from India, administration of the new state, financial resources of the new state, division of assets between India and Pakistan, division of armed forces between the two states, setting up new trends for Pakistan’s foreign policy including opening of foreign missions in various countries, framing of a new constitution for the state and setting up of the provincial governments and so on.
But he was determined, never submerged and worked ruthlessly, basking in the sunshine and joy of freedom, enriched by citizens of every faith, Parsis and Hindus, Christians and Jews, as well as Muslims of every sect, all working together, harmoniously helping each other to build this Land of the Pure into one of the world’s strongest, wisest, richest countries. Since 1937, the Quaid devoted himself to building the strength of Muslim League, advancing it from a few thousand members at Lucknow to half-a-million by March, l940, when the League held its greatest meeting, demanding the creation of Pakistan.
You are free; 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”.
Renan – the French philosopher rightly says that “Man is enslaved neither by his race nor by his religion, nor by the course of rivers, nor by the directions of mountain ranges. An aggregation of man, sane of mind and warm of heart, creates a moral consciousness and infuses in the masses the idea of reasserting their hegemony, and prepares them for achieving their lost empire”. How beautifully our poet of East, Iqbal, defines the concept of a true leader by saying “By leader, I mean men who by divine gift or experience possess a keen, a perception of the spirit and destiny of Islam along with an equally keen perception of the trend of modern history. Such men are really the divine forces of people, but they are God’s gifts and cannot be forced to order”.
Quaid-i-Azam was a pragmatist who never permitted his vision to be obscured by emotionalism. HV Hudson in his ‘The Great Divide’ eulogizes Quaid’s character in these words “Not even his political enemies ever accused Jinnah of corruption or self-seeking. He could be bought by no one, and for no price. Nor was he in the least degree weathercock, swinging in the wind of popularity or changing the times. He was a steadfast idealist as well as a man of scrupulous honor”. Even Lord Mountbatten for all his hostility towards Pakistan and the Quaid made the admission that “If it could be said that any single man held the future of India in his palm, that man is Mohammad Ali Jinnah. To all interests and purposes, Jinnah was the Muslim League and if the dream of Pakistan ever did come true, it could be Jinnah who brought it to life and fashioned it”.
Quaid-i-Azam paid great stress on dignity and strength of character. It was the aspect of his personality that marked him out as the leader of undisputed influence and power. To him character was not a thing to talk about; it was the basis of all human conduct. He was an adherent advocate of peoples’ welfare, human rights, and a bonded Pakistan. Addressing the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on 11 August 1947, Quaid-i-Azam said “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 work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what is his color, 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. You are free; 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”. In an interview given to Mr. Weldon James of the Collier’s Weekly Magazine on 25 August 1947, the great Quaid said “We expect to evolve a progressive democratic government in line with the Muslim belief in the equality of all men and to work for international peace.
This was the one ideal always in his mind”. His legacy of wisdom was worthy of the Quaid-i-Azam, who lived a life to honor justice and fair play. He will always be remembered for his struggle to gain inherent rights to his people.
As I have said many times before, Pakistan guarantees the just and equal treatment of all citizens, Muslim or non-Muslim, with freedom of worship, speech, press, and assembly. The position of women is already equal in law to that of men. It may be expected that their participation in civic affairs and in the professions will increase”. Quaid-i-Azam fought his entire battles single handed with courage, fortitude, and determination. Often his firm adherence to what he considered to be right and tenacity of purpose was misunderstood by lesser people as obstinacy. He never wanted to share his sorrow with others.
The great leader did not live long to witness the progress of the state that he founded. His excessive work soon confined him to bed. Disregarding medical advice, he devoted much of his time to official work that impaired his health and died. Richard Symonds in his ‘The making of Pakistan’ states,“ Mr. Jinnah had worked himself to death, but contributed more than any other person for the survival of Pakistan”. To quote Lord Pethick Lawrence “Gandhi died by the hands of an assassin, Mr. Jinnah died by his devotion to Pakistan”.
Khawaja Nazimuddin in his first broadcast on his assumption of office as Governor-General said “there cannot be another Quaid-i-Azam. What he did, nobody is now in a position to do. The various qualities he had few can combine. Forever we shall remember him, but no greater tributes could be paid to his memory than to make his creation Pakistan strong and great. This was the one ideal always in his mind”. His legacy of wisdom was worthy of the Quaid-i-Azam, who lived a life to honor justice and fair play. He will always be remembered for his struggle to gain inherent rights to his people.
Muhammad Zafar Khan Safdar, Ph.D. in Political Science, a civil servant based in Islamabad. His specialization is the political economy and social development. He can be followed on twitter @zafarkhansafdar. The Views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.