Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s achievement as the founder of Pakistan, dominates everything else he did in his long and crowded public life spanning some 42 years. Yet, by any standard, his was an eventful life, his personality multidimensional and his achievements in other fields were many.
Indeed, several were the roles he had played with distinction: at one time or another, he was one of the greatest legal luminaries India had produced during the first half of the century, an `ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, a great constitutionalist, a distinguished parliamentarian, an indefatigable freedom-fighter, a dynamic Muslim leader, a political strategist and, above all one of the great nation-builders of modern times
He created a nation out of an inchoate and down-trodden minority and established a cultural and national home for it. For over thirty years, he had guided their affairs; he had given expression, coherence and direction to their ligitimate aspirations and cherished dreams; he had formulated these into concrete demands. He said, “Think 100 times before you take a decision, But once that decision is taken, stand by it as one man.”
After 1937 Elections, the Congress, having become the dominant party in Indian politics, came to power in seven provinces exclusively, spurning the League’s offer of cooperation, turning its back finally on the coalition idea and excluding Muslims as a political entity from the portals of power.
In that year, also, the Muslim League, under Jinnah’s dynamic leadership, was reorganized, transformed into a mass organization, and made the spokesman of Indian Muslims as never before.
Above all, in that momentous years were initiated certain trends in Indian politics, the crystallization of which in subsequent years made the partition of the subcontinent inevitable. The practical manifestation of the policy of the Congress which took office in July, 1937, convinced Muslims that, in the Congress scheme of things, they could live only on sufferance of Hindus and as “second class” citizens.
The Congress provincial governments, it may be remembered, had embarked upon a policy and launched a PROGRAMME in which Muslims felt that their religion, language and culture were not safe.
This blatantly aggressive Congress policy was seized upon by Jinnah to awaken the Muslims to a new consciousness, organize them on all-India platform, and make them a power to be reckoned with.
Extremely frustrating as the situation was, the only consultation Jinnah had at this juncture was in Allama Iqbal (1877-1938), the poet-philosopher, who stood steadfast by him and helped to charter the course of Indian politics from behind the scene.
As a result of Jinnah’s ceaseless efforts, the Muslims awakened from what Professor Baker calls (their) “unreflective silence”, and to “the spiritual essence of nationality” that had existed among them for a pretty long time.
Roused by the impact of successive Congress hammerings, the Muslims, as Ambedkar (principal author of independent India’s Constitution) says, “searched their social consciousness in a desperate attempt to find coherent and meaningful articulation to their cherished yearnings. To their great relief, they discovered that their sentiments of nationality had flamed into nationalism”.
In addition, not only had they developed” the will to live as a “nation”, had also endowed them with a territory which they could occupy and make a State as well as a cultural home for the newly discovered nation.
These two pre-requisites, as laid down by Renan, provided the Muslims with the intellectual justification for claiming a distinct nationalism for themselves. So that when, after their long pause, the Muslims gave expression to their innermost yearnings, these turned out to be in favor of a separate Muslim nationhood and of a separate Muslim state.
Jinnah agreed with the belief of Iqbal that Muslims and Hindus were distinct nations, with unbridgeable differences—a view later known as the Two Nation Theory. Jinnah declared that a united India would lead to the marginalization of Muslims, and eventually civil war between Hindus and Muslims.
In the session in Lahore in 1940, the Pakistan resolution was adopted as the main goal of the party. The resolution was rejected outright by the Congress, and criticized by many Muslim leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Syed Ab’ul Ala Maududi and the Jamaat-e-Islami.
Jinnah gave a precise definition of the term ‘Pakistan’ in 1941 at Lahore in which he stated: “Some confusion prevails in the minds of some individuals in regard to the use of the word ‘Pakistan’. This word has become synonymous with the Lahore resolution owing to the fact that it is a convenient and compendious method of describing [it]….” He said, “Pakistan not only means freedom and independence but the Muslim Ideology which has to be preserved, which has come to us as a precious gift and treasure and which, we hope other will share with us.”
For this reason the British and Indian newspapers generally have adopted the word ‘Pakistan’ to describe the Moslem demand as embodied in the Lahore resolution Jinnah issued a call for all Muslims to launch “Direct Action” on August 16 to “achieve Pakistan”.
“We are a nation”, they claimed in the ever eloquent words of the Quaid-i-Azam- “We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of values and proportion, legal laws and moral code, customs and calendar, history and tradition, aptitudes and ambitions; in short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life. By all canons of international law, we are a nation”. The formulation of the Muslim demand for Pakistan in 1940 had a tremendous impact on the nature and course of Indian politics.
On the one hand, it shattered for ever the Hindu dreams of a pseudo-Indian, in fact, Hindu empire on British exit from India: on the other, it heralded an era of Islamic renaissance and creativity in which the Indian Muslims were to be active participants. The Hindu reaction was quick, bitter and malicious.
Jinnah founded Dawn in 1941, a major newspaper that helped him propagate the League’s point of views. During the mission of British minister Stafford Cripps, Jinnah demanded parity between the number of Congress and League ministers, the League’s exclusive right to appoint Muslims and a right for Muslim-majority provinces to secede, leading to the breakdown of talks.
While the British reaction to the Pakistan demand came in the form of the Cripps offer of April, 1942, which conceded the principle of self-determination to provinces on a territorial basis, the Rajaji Formula (called after the eminent Congress leader C.Rajagopalacharia, which became the basis of prolonged Jinnah-Gandhi talks in September, 1944), represented the Congress alternative to Pakistan.
Jinnah supported the British effort in World War II, and opposed the Quit India movement. During this period, the League formed provincial governments and entered the central government. The League’s influence increased in the Punjab after the death of Unionist leader Sikander Hyat Khan in 1942. Gandhi held talks fourteen times with Jinnah in Bombay in 1944, about a united front—while talks failed, Gandhi’s overtures to Jinnah increased the latter’s standing with Muslims.
The Cripps offer was rejected because it did not concede the Muslim demand the whole way, while the Rajaji Formula was found unacceptable since it offered a “moth-eaten, mutilated” Pakistan and the too appended with a plethora of pre-conditions which made its emergence in any shape remote, if not altogether impossible.
Cabinet Mission, the most delicate as well as the most tortuous negotiations, however, took place during 1946-47, after the elections which showed that the country was sharply and somewhat evenly divided between two parties- the Congress and the League- and that the central issue in Indian politics was Pakistan.
These negotiations began with the arrival, in March 1946, of a three-member British Cabinet Mission. The crucial task with which the Cabinet Mission was entrusted was that of devising in consultation with the various political parties, a constitution-making machinery, and of setting up a popular interim government.
But, because the Congress-League gulf could not be bridged, despite the Mission’s (and the Viceroy’s) prolonged efforts, the Mission had to make its own proposals in May, 1946. Known as the Cabinet Mission Plan, these proposals stipulated a limited centre, supreme only in foreign affairs, defense and communications and three autonomous groups of provinces.
Two of these groups were to have Muslim majorities in the north-west and the north-east of the subcontinent, while the third one, comprising the Indian mainland, was to have a Hindu majority. A consummate statesman that he was, Jinnah saw his chance. He interpreted the clauses relating to a limited centre and the grouping as “the foundation of Pakistan”, and induced the Muslim League Council to accept the Plan in June 1946; and this he did much against the calculations of the Congress and to its utter dismay.
Tragically though, the League’s acceptance was put down to its supposed weakness and the Congress put up a posture of defiance, designed to swamp the League into submitting to its dictates and its interpretations of the plan.
Faced thus, what alternative had Jinnah and the League but to rescind their earlier acceptance, reiterate and reaffirm their original stance, and decide to launch direct action (if need be) to wrest Pakistan. Partition Plan by the close of 1946, the communal riots had flared up to murderous heights, engulfing almost the entire subcontinent.
The two peoples, it seemed, were engaged in a fight to the finish. The time for a peaceful transfer of power was fast running out. Realizing the gravity of the situation, his Majesty’s Government sent down to India a new Viceroy- Lord Mountbatten. His protracted negotiations with the various political leaders resulted in 3 June (1947) Plan by which the British decided to partition the subcontinent, and hand over power to two successor States on 15 August, 1947.
The plan was duly accepted by the three Indian parties to the dispute- the Congress the League and the Akali Dal (representing the Sikhs).
On October 11, 1947, in an address to Civil, Naval, Military and Air Force Officers of Pakistan Government, Karachi, he said:
“We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice could find free play”. He further said, “Expect the best, Prepare for the worst.”
It was, therefore, with a sense of supreme satisfaction at the fulfillment of his mission that Jinnah told the nation in his last message on 14 August, 1948:
“The foundations of your State have been laid and it is now for you to build and build as quickly and as well as you can”. In accomplishing the task he had taken upon himself on the morrow of Pakistan’s birth, Jinnah had worked himself to death, but he had, to quote richard Symons, “contributed more than any other man to Pakistan’s survivial”.
He died on 11 September, 1948. How true was Lord Pethick Lawrence, the former Secretary of State for India, when he said, “Gandhi died by the hands of an assassin; Jinnah died by his devotion to Pakistan”.
The Aga Khan considered him “the greatest man he ever met”, Beverley Nichols, the author of `Verdict on India’, called him “the most important man in Asia”, and Dr. Kailashnath Katju, the West Bengal Governor in 1948, thought of him as “an outstanding figure of this century not only in India, but in the whole world”. While Abdul Rahman Azzam Pasha, Secretary General of the Arab League, called him “one of the greatest leaders in the Muslim world”,
‘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. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.’ – Stanley Wolpert.