VIEW: Jinnah: the man, the moments, the mission —Taimur Shaique Hussain - Tuesday, March 15, 2011

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It remains virtually impossible to draw a chronology of the multitudes of presidents and PMs that have ‘graced’ Pakistan with their presence, not to mention the swarms of minions that have danced to their tunes in shameless sycophancy

It is remarkable that a man of Jinnah’s financial stature could feel deeply for the downtrodden Muslims of United India. As one of the ‘priciest’ London-based barristers, and as a man completely hopeless regarding the calibre of his contemporaries, it must have required shiploads of courage to respond to the thousands of appeals to return and help the Indian Muslims, who would probably have sunk without Jinnah.

In the Quaid’s Museum in Peshawar, amongst a display of his photographs, clothing, shoes and accessories, is also parked the private plane that Jinnah and Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah would oft times use. Jinnah exclusively wore Saville Row. It is believed that, in those days of racial segregation, Jinnah remained a man whose shirts, shoes and accessories were custom-made in ‘white man’ boutiques. Advisor, confidant, sister, constant companion, Jinnah’s weakness in life (if any) was perhaps Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, a lady with unparalleled external elegance and deep spiritual strength. The unmistakable taste, fine class and large heartedness of Muhammad Ali Jinnah is ably illustrated by the fact, bordering on myth, that he actually leased out the expansive Mohatta Palace for the Mohtarma to reside within. However, as a vastly successful professional, he had earned every bit the right to all these comforts, as opposed to our gallery of ‘leaders’ today, most with nothing to show as professional credentials, perhaps other than failed factories and mills, subjugated subsistence-level farmers, near-zero education and a shared desire to make a ‘killing’ from dabbling in politics sans any ‘leadership’.

It is a common belief that Jinnah’s terminal disease was one of the most sacredly guarded secrets of United India because only Jinnah could have orchestrated the sub-continental division. If the British Raj had received an inkling of the great leader’s illness, crafty delaying tactics may have aborted the inception of our country. Leaving us with the time-tried adage of, “unity, faith and discipline”, Jinnah left for his eternal abode soon after the execution of his life’s near-impossible mission.

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah remains acknowledged to this day as a gentleman of great wisdom, wit and presence of mind. Anecdotes abound. There is the story of when the Muslims of Bombay had bought land for a mosque, paid in full and also secured with complete rights for the ceiling to be 40 feet. The Hindus had appealed to the municipality to allow a temple upon the roof. The situation was not agreeable to the Muslims because of sanctity, turf and ego issues. The Quaid suggested that the Muslims, despite ownership of 40 feet, leave the ceiling at 39. “Then you welcome your adversaries to build on top,” he is reported to have said.

Since Jinnah’s death, many self-proclaimed leaders have entered the corridors of power and have shortly disappeared into oblivion. It actually remains virtually impossible to even draw a chronology of the multitudes of the supreme presidents and PMs that have ‘graced’ Pakistan with their presence, not to mention the swarms of minions that have danced to their tunes in shameless sycophancy.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, according to his innermost circle of friends and confidants, had always maintained a secular vision for what appears to be a quite different Pakistan circa 2010-2011. He was forced to face his own share of incisive questions – sometimes even ridicule – for fighting for a separate Muslim homeland. However, he always suggested, in signature Jinnah style, that the nation was meant for economic, political, educational, representative and ideological freedom of the Muslims of United India, certainly not for their theological fundamentalism and extremism. Once questioned by someone, “Shall Pakistan be governed by mullahs?” he is on record as having replied, “Well, shall Hindustan be led by pundits?” Jinnah was far from being a bigot, and certainly did not create Pakistan for his progeny — his own daughter decided to live on the wrong side of the border.

I exercise my democratic right of freedom of speech to mention an emergent national trend. There appears one personality upon Pakistan’s horizon with the potentialities of leadership, a man who was not only educated in the UK, he also achieved prominence in whichever field he entered, married a non-Muslim and was forced into politics through wide national demand, all the traits shared by Jinnah. However, he is also a nationalist, has gained no personal benefit from politics and brings with him the same amount of non-experience as Jinnah brought when he succeeded in turning the history of the world around! All others appear to be vastly experienced, but vastly experienced in failure and poor governance! Our leaders are busy dividing and ruling, furthering rifts based on party, religion, sect, creed, caste, provincialism, ethnicity and any other divisible denominator convenient. At the risk of sounding like a loyalist, I shall state that only one personality seems to appeal to the nation as a whole cohesive unit, is forward looking and urges Pakistan’s independence from neo-colonialism.

Here I quote what Quaid-e-Azam said while laying down his vision for Pakistan in an address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947:

“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. You are free — you are free to go to your temples, mosques or any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed; that has nothing to do with the business of the state ... in due course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and Muslims will cease to be Muslims — not in a religious sense for that is the personal faith of an individual — but in a political sense as citizens of one state.”

Let those playing the politics of division to feed their vested interests seek their homelands elsewhere. Allow the common Pakistani to live in harmony as envisioned by the founder of our nation, who was just another common man.

The writer is a banker turned teacher and consultant. He has been the Editor of Aitchisonian — Centenary Anthology, and Senior Editor of the Wharton Journal

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