By Stanley Wolpert
ON August 11, 1947, when Mohammad Ali Jinnah addressed the first democratically elected Constituent Assembly of his newly independent nation, he told Pakistan’s political leaders that “the first duty of government” was to maintain “law and order … so that the life, property, and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state.” Their “second duty,” he continued, was to prevent and punish “bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down … as soon as possible.” Another “curse,” he added, “was black-marketing … a colossal crime against society, in our distressed condition, when we constantly face shortage of food.”
“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 will work … together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, 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. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state … We are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.”
Mohammad Ali Jinnah devoted the last two decades of his life to the relentless struggle to realise his brilliant and beautiful dream of an independent state of Pakistan, born just 70 years ago out of the Muslim majority regions of partitioned British India.
Sent to London by his father to study business management, young Jinnah’s fascination with politics was ignited by the Congress Party’s president Dadabhai Naoroji, a Parsi whose campaign in the British parliament, demanding liberty, equality and justice for all Indians, lured Jinnah to work hard for him, helping Congress’s ‘Grand Old Man’ win his seat by only three votes, after which he was called ‘Mr. Narrow-Majority’.
Jinnah joined the Congress as Dadabhai’s secretary, and enrolled in the City of London’s Lincoln’s Inn, deciding to study law instead of business. His portrait still hangs in that Inn’s hall, its only Asian-born barrister to become governor general of a Commonwealth nation. After he returned to India, Jinnah also joined the Muslim League, brilliantly drafting the Lucknow Pact in l9l6, which was adopted by both the Congress and the Muslim League, as their post-World War I demand for Dominion status in Britain’s Commonwealth.
He launched his singularly successful career as a barrister in Bombay, rather than in his smaller birthplace, Karachi, which was destined to become Pakistan’s first capital. Before the end of the War, Jinnah‘s negotiating skills and wise moderation earned him the sobriquet, ‘Best Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity’. Throughout World War I, both Jinnah and Gandhi had supported the British cause, as did the Indian princes. Brave Muslims of Punjab were recruited to help hold the Maginot Line in France, and to fight and die in Mesopotamia. Congress and the League had hoped that such loyal service would be rewarded with freedom at the end of the War, or at least the promise of Dominion status. Instead, India was forced to accept martial ‘law’ regulations, extended indefinitely, and a brutal massacre of unarmed Sikh peasants in Amritsar’s Jallianwala Bagh, leaving 400 innocents dead and over 1,200 wounded.
Jinnah immediately resigned from the prestigious ‘Muslim seat’ from Bombay he’d been elected to on the Governor General’s Council, arguing that the “fundamental principles of justice have been uprooted and the constitutional rights of the people have been violated at a time when there is no real danger to the state, by an over-fretful and incompetent bureaucracy which is neither responsible to the people nor in touch with real public opinion”.
Gandhi launched his first nationwide Satyagraha in response to Britain’s post-War ‘black acts’ and the Punjab murders. Jinnah, on his part, tried unsuccessfully to caution him against inciting Congress’s masses, who cheered the Mahatma’s revolutionary calls to boycott everything British, including all imported cotton goods from Britain’s midlands, and every British school as well as all commercial and legal institutions.
Jinnah cautioned Gandhi that his movement would lead to greater violence and disaster, but Gandhi insisted that non-violence (Ahimsa) was sacred to him, and Jinnah was booed out of Congress’s largest meeting for calling their Great Soul – Mahatma Gandhi – “Mister” Gandhi. Jinnah felt obliged to resign from Congress, and returned to London to live, and practise law, in Hampstead with his sister, Fatima, and teen-aged daughter Dina. But soon Liaquat Ali Khan and other League stalwarts convinced him to return to India to revitalise the Muslim League, over which he would preside for the rest of his life.
“We must stand on our own inherent strength … It is no use blaming others,” Jinnah told the League in Karachi. “It is no use expecting our enemies to behave differently.” To young Muslims who complained to him about the behaviour of inept League leaders, Jinnah replied, as he might admonish today’s youth: “It is your organisation … no use keeping out and finding faults with it. Come in, and … put it right.”
Faced with Congress’s revolutionary movement, from which most Muslim leaders were alienated, the British tried to win back mass support by holding provincial elections in 1937, devolving regional powers to popularly elected cabinets. Nehru campaigned most vigorously nationwide and led Congress to victory in seven of the 11 British Provinces. Jinnah’s Muslim League, however, faced with a number of competing Muslim regional parties, failed to capture even a single Province with a Muslim majority.
Young Nehru’s heady victory increased his arrogance and contempt for Jinnah, to whom he replied when Jinnah suggested joint cabinets for India’s large multi-ethnic provinces. “Line up!” Jawaharlal shouted. “There are only two parties” left in India, “Congress and the British”. Jinnah insisted, however, that there was a “Third Party; the Muslims!”
“Unless the parties learn to respect and fear each other,” Jinnah told the League, “there is no solid ground for any settlement. We have to organise our people, to build up the Muslim masses for a better world and for their immediate uplift, social and economic, and we have to formulate plans of a constructive and ameliorative character, to give immediate relief from the poverty and wretchedness from which they are suffering.”
Jinnah never again attempted to convince Nehru to agree to Congress-League cabinets, no longer wishing to link the League to Congress’s lumbering bullock-cart of a Party, insisting that the Congress “has now killed every hope of Hindu-Muslim settlement in the right royal fashion of Fascism … We Muslims want no gifts … no concessions. We Muslims of India have made up our mind to secure full rights, but we shall have them as rights … The Congress is nothing but a Hindu body.”
In Lucknow, in December 1937, wearing his black astrakhan Jinnah cap and long dark sherwani, instead of a British barrister’s suit, Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader) Jinnah presided over his League, assembled in the Raja of Mahmudabad’s garden. “Your foremost duty is to formulate a constructive programme of work for the people’s welfare … Equip yourselves as trained and disciplined soldiers. Create the feeling … of comradeship amongst yourselves. Work loyally, honestly and for the cause of your people and your country. No individual or people can achieve anything without industry, suffering and sacrifice. There are forces which may bully you, tyrannize over you … But it is by going through this crucible of the fire of persecution which may be levelled against you … that a nation will emerge, worthy of its past glory and history, and will live to make the future history greater and more glorious. Eighty millions of Musalmans in India have nothing to fear. They have their destiny in their hands, and as a well-knit, solid, organised, united force can face any danger to its united front and wishes.”
Throughout 1938 and 1939 Jinnah devoted himself to building the strength of the 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, in the beautiful imperial Mughal Gardens of Punjab’s mighty capital.
“The Musalmans are a nation,” Jinnah announced. “The problem of India is not of an inter-communal character, but manifestly of an international one, and it must be treated as such.” To “secure the peace and happiness of the people of this subcontinent,” Jinnah added, the British must divide India into “autonomous national states.” Pakistan was not mentioned in his speech, however, and every member of the press asked him the next day if he meant one or two new states, since Bengal’s Muslim leader, Fazlul Huq, had chaired the resolutions’ committee that proposed partition the day before Jinnah spoke.
Jinnah knew by then that his lungs were fatally afflicted with cigarette smoke, coughing up blood. He couldn’t wait for Congress and the British to agree to the birth of what later became Bangladesh. So he insisted that his League meant one Pakistan, though divided by a thousand miles of North India.
When the last British Viceroy, ‘Dickie’ Mountbatten, urged Jinnah to accept him as joint governor general of Pakistan as well as of independent India, the job Nehru offered Mountbatten, Jinnah refused, never charmed by the Royal Mountbattens, as was Nehru, insisting on serving himself as Pakistan’s governor general.
After seven decades, how many of the problems Jinnah defined at Pakistan’s birth have as yet been resolved? And of late senseless terrorist murders have been added to Pakistan’s list of dreadful crimes against its innocent, impoverished people, helpless women and children, as well as devout Muslims bent in their prayers even inside the most beautiful mosques of Karachi, Quetta, Lahore and elsewhere.
Jinnah worked tirelessly for Pakistan to become a great nation 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. That was what the Great Leader dreamed his nation could and would become long before Pakistan’s birth.
It would never be easy, he knew, yet Jinnah tried his best to remind his followers of what they needed to do, shortly before Pakistan’s birth, when he had little more than one year left to breathe, losing more blood every day from his diseased lungs.
Often asked by disciples, “What are we fighting for? What are we aiming at?”, Jinnah replied: “It is not theocracy – not for a theocratic state. Religion is there, and religion is dear to us. All the worldly goods are nothing to us when we talk of religion, but there are other things which are very vital – our social life, our economic life …We Muslims have got everything … brains, intelligence, capacity and courage – virtues that nations must possess … But two things are lacking, and I want you to concentrate your attention on these.
One thing is that foreign domination from without and Hindu domination here, particularly in our economic life, has caused a certain degeneration of these virtues in us. We have lost the fullness of our noble character. And what is character? The highest sense of honour and the highest sense of integrity, conviction, incorruptibility, readiness at any time to efface oneself for the collective good of the nation.”
His legacy of wisdom was worthy of the Quaid-i-Azam, who lived a life honouring justice and fair play. Every Pakistani must remember that Jinnah’s fearless integrity would never sanction any terrorist murder, nor the violent abuse of any man, woman or child in his noble Land of the Pure.
The writer is a historian and a well-known biographer, among others, of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Al Jinnah.
This story is part of a series of 16 special reports under the banner of ‘70 years of Pakistan and Dawn’. Read the complete first report, second report, and third report, or visit the archive for more.
HBL has been an indelible part of the nation’s fabric since independence, enabling the dreams of millions of Pakistanis. At HBL, we salute the dreamers and dedicate the nation’s 70th anniversary to you. Jahan Khwab, Wahan HBL.
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On Saturday, September 11, 1948, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah finally succumbed to a prolonged bout of tuberculosis. 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.
As dawn broke on the following day, September 12, the sound of a 41-gun salute was heard across Karachi; grey clouds gathered over the skies as rain began to descend, adding to the pall of gloom that had wrapped itself around the city.
As the day progressed, nearly half-a-million mourners assembled at Governor-General House to catch one last glimpse of their beloved Quaid. It was from there that the body of Mr Jinnah was carried to Exhibition Ground, draped in the national flag with rose petals showered all over, and where he was laid to rest. A 40-day mourning period was announced, but for the millions of Pakistanis that he left behind, the mourning would continue long after.
DAWN September 13, 1948 (News Reports)
Exactly at 3 p.m. on Sunday, September 12, 1948, Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah began the journey to his last resting place on the shoulders of his Prime Minister, Liaquat Ali Khan, and his ministers Zafrullah Khan, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, Pirzada Abdus Sattar, Jogendra Nath Mandal, Sheikh-ul-Islam Shabbir Ahmad Usmani and others.
As the carriers of the precious burden lifted it from the Main Hall of the Governor General House, they chanted “La Ilaha Illallah Muhammad-ur-Rasulullah.”
Draped in Pakistan’s national flag, wreathed in garlands of flowers, the Quaid-i-Azam’s Janaza moved gently, solemnly along the driveway of the Governor General’s House to the gun carriage outside the main gate.
His eyes still heavy with tears – he had been weeping like a child sitting on the floor beside the body in the Main Hall – the Prime Minister led the mournful Janaza till it reached the gun carriage. Immediately behind the Janaza followed in a car Fatima Jinnah, the broken-hearted sister of the Quaid-i-Azam, accompanied by his daughter, Dina Wadia, who had rushed to Karachi by air from Bombay on Sunday morning. A hush fell on the assembled multitude inside and outside the compound of the Governor-General’s House as the Janaza 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.”
To his people the Quaid-i-Azam was still alive and would be alive for ever. Then the ceremonial State Funeral began.
The gun carriage was drawn by Naval Cadets, and on the other side of the carriage were the Prime Minister, Mr Liaquat Ali Khan, and other ministers including Sir Mohammed Zafrullah Khan, Sardar Abdur Rab Nishtar, Mr Mandal and Pirzada Abdul Sattar, Sindh Premier Pir Illahi Bukhsh and Syed Miran Mohammed Shah.
A detachment of 50 civil policemen founded the vanguard of the cortège, followed by the main body of the Royal Pakistan Navy ratings, about a hundred personnel of Pakistan Army and Air Force, two companies of the RAF and the Governor General’s body guards were in front of the gun carriage.
Two cars carrying Miss Fatima Jinnah, Mrs Wadia and Begum Hidayatullah and others followed the procession. Over 200,000 mourning citizens reciting ‘Kalima’ uninterruptedly moved on slowly and solemnly in an impressive manner.
Emerging from the main gate at exactly 3:15 p.m., the procession turned to Victoria Road. It then proceeded toward Elphinstone Street in a measured but slow speed, swelling in volume as it progressed. It took nearly an hour for it to reach the junction of Garden Road and Bunder Road Extension, the estimated crowd at that time being over 300,000.
The [two-mile-long] procession was disciplined and orderly. Every window and balcony, and in fact, every point of vantage along the two-mile route, was filled with seething humanity, particularly women and children.
The procession reached the Exhibition Ground – the destination of the last journey of the Father of the Nation at 4:30 p.m.
An already existing wooden pillar was painted black as a mark of respect to the memory of the passing soul. [Close to the pillar], the Janaza prayers were led by Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani.
“The Quaid-i-Azam is dead, but the nation he brought into existence still lives and hopes to live a life of honour and strength,” said Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani addressing the huge gathering, after the prayers.
“The Quaid-i-Azam is no more. The loss is irreparable for Pakistan, nay, I should say for the whole Muslim world. He was gifted with heart and was a rare example of nature’s gift to humanity. His selfless services to Pakistan and the Muslim nation will be remembered by all and in all ages”, said Maulana Usmani.
Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani added that it was the ambition and determination of the Quaid-i-Azam to create a solid bloc of all the Muslim states stretching from Karachi to Ankara, from Pakistan to Morocco and from here to the capital city of China. He wanted to see the Muslims of the world united under the banner of Islam.
At the conclusion of Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani’s speech, the bier was lifted by Army and Navy personnel. As it reached the burial ground, Royal Pakistan Air Force Tempests, while dipping in salute, showered flowers.
At 6:24 p.m. the body was gently deposited into the grave by Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan and other members of the Cabinet. Mr Liaquat Ali Khan placed a handful of earth and other Ministers and members of the Diplomatic Corps of Islamic countries followed him in the last rite. After the grave was covered and the last homage was paid to the Quaid-i-Azam, the vast concourse dispersed quietly.
DAWN December 25, 1976
On the first floor verandah of the Jungshahi-stone Mohatta Palace, overlooking Old Clifton, Mohtarma Shirin Bai was seated on a sofa once used by [her brother] Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
On a table nearby is a clock which Mr Jinnah glanced at from time to time when it was placed on his writing desk, and many years later it continues to function. Mr Jinnah’s prized Iranian carpets adorn the tiled floors of the verandah, where a teak dressing table, flower vases, exquisite pieces of pottery, as well as a host of articles used by him can be seen and complete the perfect ‘relic-room setting’ which today inspire his only surviving sister to recall moments of her cherished association with the man who changed the destiny of a people and the world political map.
“‘My son is destined to be Rajah. He has a birth-mark on the sole of his right foot,’ mother used to tell us often when we talked after dinner about Bhaijaan who was then studying law in England,” Mohtarma Shirin Bai recalls. “Upon his return from England, my sisters and I, curious about his birth-mark, requested him to let us look at the sole of his right foot.”
“‘Don’t be superstitious,’ was his immediate, brusque response, but after our cajoling, he eventually yielded, and took off his shoes and a sock. And there it was, right in the middle of his sole – round and the size of a rupee coin.”
“That the prophecy would prove truer than the belief could not, however, be dreamed by any of us,” Mohtarma Shirin Bai says.
Mr Jinnah lived a disciplined life and followed his schedules rather rigidly. He was usually dressed in a three-piece suit except when retiring for bed; he would wear a dressing gown before his morning bath or as he relaxed every afternoon at 5:30 p.m. That was the time when family members usually visited him.
“He greeted us with a soft smile – always. He was pleased to receive us,” she remembers. “He would enquire about everyone’s welfare, not excluding that of my cook Latif, whose Mughlia dishes, especially biryani and zarda, he particularly liked.”
However, given the fact that he was a very busy person, first as a lawyer and later as a politician, the courtesy calls had to be brief. In Mohtarma Shirin Bai’s case, the conversations were even briefer. This was because while Mr Jinnah was not conversant in Gujarati or Urdu, she was not fluent in English. After her marriage, Mr Jinnah visited Mohtarma Shirin Bai at her in-laws’ home; she remembers vividly the time that he bought a mechanical toy for her son who he called “Little Akbar”.
During the time when Mr Jinnah was associated with the Home Rule League, he was living alone as Miss Fatima Jinnah was studying dental surgery in Calcutta. It was then that Mohtarma Shirin Bai stayed with him.
“I vividly remember watching the proceedings of one of the League’s meetings from the ladies’ enclosure which was separated by a qanat,” she recalls. The Quaid wanted her to become an active worker of the Home Rule League to mobilise the women of the country.
“He went to the extent of translating each and every word to explain the concept, aims and objectives of the Home Rule League and all that it entailed. It was all so complicated that I begged him to spare me. I suggested that Fatima would be a better choice, and indeed, she was.”
Mohtarma Shirin Bai, however, did introduce the Quaid to several women who were active in public life, including Mrs Sarojini Naidu, Atiya Begum, Begum Bhopal and Begum Nazli.
For nearly 12 years, Mohtarma Shirin Bai lived in Poona. “During this time, Bhaijaan visited us, mostly unannounced, unexpected and unscheduled. One evening, while I was at the new Poona Club, my servant came running to tell me that he had come to see me. He had first gone to my house, and upon not finding me there, he asked the servant to accompany him to the club. The servant came on a cycle and Bhaijaan followed him in a car. As word got around, a host of his admirers and followers, including Sir Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah (who later became the first governor of Sindh after independence) gathered around the table. After a while, we returned to my residence; he stayed there for a while and left early due to a dinner engagement elsewhere.”
She adds: “The Quaid was a hard taskmaster but he was benevolent and rewarded persons of merit. He paid a handsome salary to the person who looked after his files and maintained his office for 20 years.” As she was nearly 15 years younger than Mr Jinnah, she confesses that she knows little about her illustrious brother’s childhood. “I wasn’t born when Bhaijaan was studying at a school in Bombay or when he was pursuing law at Lincoln’s Inn in London.”
Mohtarma Shirin Bai established the Quaid Foundation in January, 1974, after donating one-quarter of her property, mainly due to her curiosity about the various aspects of Mr Jinnah’s life and his achievements. She is hopeful that that the Board of Directors, which she heads and which includes Mr. M.H. Saiyid (Vice-President), Mr. Rizwan Ahmad (Secretary/Treasurer), Mr. Husain Imam, Maulana Zafar Ahmed Ansari, MNA, Mr. Justice (Retd) M.B. Ahmed, Mr. Z.A. Suleri, Mr. K.H. Khursheed and her son Mr. Akber C. Jafferbhoy (members), will be able to do this, and adds that the Foundation’s progress has been insignificant so far, perhaps due to the pending property inheritance case in the court.
She is of the opinion that the condition prescribed by the Government with regard to income tax exemption on donations to the Foundation, which requires the Foundation to consume every penny within the year the donation was received, will be an impediment. Besides, she points out, the Government has not revalidated this exemption for the year ending December 31, 1976.
Mohtarma Shirin Bai is confident that these problems will be overcome in due course, and states that the work done so far, which includes initial research undertaken on individual basis by various board members, is encouraging.
The article has been edited for clarity.
DAWN September 11, 1949
By Farrukh Amin
This day, a year ago, our Quaid-i-Azam departed from us. The loss was too deep for tears, and the hearts of the people of Pakistan wept more bitterly than their eyes. For it was he who gave us our homeland and the right to a name amongst the nations of the world. He was not only the Creator of Pakistan and of an era of independence and self-realisation for us, but he was like a father to all Pakistanis and was loved, respected and looked up to as such.
How my good fortune brought me close to the Quaid-i-Azam was a surprise to me, and I remember the details vividly. It was in New Delhi on July 23, 1947, four days after the formation of the Provisional Government of Pakistan, when unexpectedly I received word that I should see Mr. Mohammad Ali, Secretary-General to the new Government, at 10 a.m. I went to him, and he selected me for appointment on the personal staff of the Quaid-i-Azam and asked me to go and report to the GREAT MAN.
So far I had seen and admired the Quaid-i-Azam from a distance, on the public platform and Assembly Floor, but being so near to such a great man was different. It was therefore with no easy steps that I made my way to 10, Aurangzeb Road, where I sent in my name. Mr. Mohammad Ali had telephoned about me, and I was immediately admitted. I walked into the study and then suddenly I was in his presence. This was the greatest moment of my life.
The Quaid-i-Azam was seated in a sofa smoking a cigar and beckoned me to sit down. My excitement and nervousness had the better of me as I wondered what he would expect of me and my work. Soon, however, the Quaid-i-Azam in his inimitable way put me at ease. He asked me questions about myself, my career, my plans for moving to Karachi. Then, in a tone which removed the last vestiges of my nervousness, he asked me, pointing to a heap of telegrams and messages he had received from all corners of the earth on his appointment as the Governor General of Pakistan, whether I would “kindly” start with them and sort them out.
Two weeks later we arrived in Karachi and immediately plunged into a vortex of official functions. On August 14 when the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan met for the first time the Quaid-i-Azam asked me to accompany him to the Assembly Chamber. This was his first official function. The roads were lined with members of the Armed Forces and the public. The full-throated shouts of ‘Quaid-i-Azam Zindabad’ and ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ made my heart swell.
The Quaid-i-Azam was visibly moved and remarked, pointing to the people, what wonderful human material we had and how, if their enthusiasm was directed into the proper channels, Pakistan would become one of the leading states of the world.
As we passed the YMCA building on Strachen Road, he described the institution as an example of organisation and how a handful of people had set up branches in all quarters of the world. He went on to mention the Parsi community – a small fraction of the population of India, but rich and honoured because of their industry and organisation. “If only we can organise all the Muslim people,” the Quaid-i-Azam added, “we can achieve miracles.”
Although the Quaid-i-Azam never rested a moment after he became Governor General and literally worked himself to death, his first two months were the busiest and most anxious. It was a period when Muslims were being mercilessly butchered in East Punjab, and the West Punjab Government which had had a Muslim League Ministry only from August 16, was suddenly confronted with the stupendous problem of refugees. It was a time of great trial and had he been unnerved then, Pakistan would have succumbed in the very hour of its birth.
The Quaid-i-Azam exerted himself to the utmost and thundered in those uncertain days “Pakistan had come to stay” and, as everyone now knows, it stayed and shall stay. But at what grievous cost to himself!
Some people have blamed the Quaid-i-Azam for being cold. No doubt, he retained balance and poise and showed no weakness when smaller men were swayed by passion and wanted to give vent to it.
If he did not keep his head cool ,who would? But mentally he suffered deep anguish.
It was during his second visit to Lahore in October, 1947, where he had an attack of influenza that I realised how difficult he was in the matter of his personal health. I respectfully suggested to him twice to let us arrange for the best doctor available but he would say “Amin, there is nothing wrong with me. I have had this bad throat on many occasions, and I know what to do!”
He did not like doctors “to experiment” on him, as he put it himself humorously. He had also an aversion to a nurse attending to him probably because he did not want to be helped by others. In the beginning, I used to pick up his papers or pen to place before him, but he did not like it and would always help himself.
Though his mind was usually made up, he sometimes relented and paid us the compliment for our sincerity by accepting our advice in harmless matters. I remember for example when he planned to visit Kakul and open the Pakistan Military Academy in May, 1948, and suddenly became too indisposed to travel. He insisted upon going, as any changes in his official engagements were most repugnant to him. But we all felt that he should not go and in the end he accepted our advice and agreed to the cancellation of the visit.
On a more pleasant occasion, he said that Ziarat, which he loved, could be made into a beautiful city with big comfortable hotels, nice bungalows, parks, flower gardens, and so on. He added smiling: “You know I dream, and sometimes my dreams come true. Pakistan was one such dream. Similarly I dream about Ziarat too and it may one day come true!”
The Quaid-i-Azam had a keen sense of humour – his one quality generally unknown to the people. He was simply charming at times. He often regaled us with anecdotes and jokes at the dinner table. One joke that has stuck in my memory was as follows:
A certain Indian judge was strolling on the platform of a small country station in England where the train had stopped for an unduly longer time, when a top-hatted Englishman got down from his 1st class compartment and, coming straight to the judge, asked: “When is the train due to leave?”
“How do I know?” The latter replied.
“Surely you ought to know. Are you not the station master?” said the top-hatted Englishman.
“No, I am not,” said the judge with some acerbity.
“Then,” retorted the Englishman, “why the hell do you look like one?”
The details of the Quaid-i-Azam’s last illness are now more or less known to the public. Since he would not spare himself from official work at Karachi and carried work and met visitors even during the weekends at Malir, he was advised a change. He left for Quetta on May 25 but cut short his rest and recuperation in the end of June and came down to Karachi to inaugurate the State Bank of Pakistan.
During his stay in Karachi he overworked himself and returned to Balochistan a tired man with the good effects of his rest lost again.
One day one of the doctors attending on him said, “Quaid-i-Azam, we need you for another 10 years to strengthen Pakistan which you achieved after such a long struggle.”
I am told that he did not let the doctor even finish. “I have done my job,” he said. “I do not mind dying now – but I don’t want to die in Ziarat.” Then he added the famous words some of which he later repeated in his Independence Day message. “You have got everything – a free and independent country where you can shape your life to your own pattern. Nature has given you everything … It is now for you, the younger generation, to build up and strengthen your country.”
Throughout his illness, until he was absolutely spent, he continued to attend to official work. I will never forget the occasion when he signed one of the last official documents granting Full Powers to Sir Zafrullah Khan to represent Pakistan on the UN. He was very weak and asked me to help him sit up. I did so and he said, “Hold me fast.” The words were uttered as if in command, but how very weak was the tone!
He was tired when he had got through with the paper, and said in a peculiar touching voice. “Amin, I am out of breath and you are also out of breath.” I was certainly out of breath, but not because the effort of holding him up had tired me. It was the effort to control my emotions.
On September 10 in Quetta he called me. “Is everything ready”, he asked, “supposing I want to leave for Karachi today?’’ I said, “Yes, Sir.” “Have you got anything important to show to me?” He added after a pause. “There is nothing, Quaid-i-Azam,” I said and was amazed at his perpetual concern for matters of state even in such a delicate condition. The next day we left Quetta.
A few hours after arrival at Karachi his condition suddenly took a turn for the worse. I had the privilege to be near him up to the last. At 10.10 p.m. that day, the doctor, in order to make him fight the illness, said, “Quaid-i-Azam, you are going to live.”
“No, I am, not” said the Quaid-i-Azam prophesying his end, and within 15 minutes he was no more. The Father of the Nation was dead. He had departed from our midst and joined the immortals. His last moments were very peaceful and in his death he looked more serene and dignified than ever.
As His Excellency 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.
The article has been edited for clarity.
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By Roger D. Long
The greatest contribution of Dawn to the creation of Pakistan was in helping to create [Mohammad Ali] Jinnah as the charismatic figure of the Quaid-i-Azam, constantly publicising the League’s activities and the demand for Pakistan. However, if the new nation were to be created, everything hinged on the League’s performance in the general elections in the cool weather of the winter of 1945-46.
If the League failed to win the Muslim seats in the elections, which were fought by the League on the basis that every vote cast for the League would be a vindication that the party spoke for the Muslims of South Asia, and those Muslims demanded Pakistan, Jinnah, the demand for Pakistan and the party would have been dismissed as of no consequence by the Congress and, more importantly, the British, both in India and in London in the British parliament, where there was little sympathy or even very much serious consideration given to the idea of dividing India upon independence.
The British certainly divided and ruled but they had no intention of dividing and quitting. Without victory in the general elections Pakistan would never have been created. All of the elements of the [all-India Muslim League] AIML that had been assiduously cultivated over the previous eight years were called into play for the general election. Dawn would play a central role and shift into overdrive in reporting on the elections and all those who were involved.
The elections were clearly perceived to be a life-and-death struggle and preparations began early. On September 22, 1945, Liaquat Ali Khan took one of his many trips to Aligarh Muslim University to mobilise the students of the University for the coming campaign by asking them to give up their studies for a period of time and to campaign for the League. Dawn reported the speech in full as the lead story in its issue of three days later under the headlines, ‘Avoid Dark And Gloomy Future’ and ‘Time May Come For Supreme Sacrifice’.
Inter alia Liaquat told the students: “Come out of your schools and colleges, whether you lose one year or not – that does not matter. Come out and support the Muslim League. I want every student to show that he is really fighting for the freedom of Muslim nation … This is only the beginning of the struggle. Time may come when the supreme sacrifice might be necessary to obtain the freedom of the nation. What good will the degrees be to you if the future is dark and gloomy. No sacrifice is too great at this moment.”
This was the message that was taken to Muslims everywhere there was a copy of Dawn to read, to share with others, or for the message to be spread by word of mouth or reiterated after Friday prayers at the mosque. It was a message that Dawn took loud and clear to many parts of India and students responded to in droves. So many students showed up for Liaquat’s election fight in the United Provinces that he had to write asking that no more students be sent to his campaign. In the Punjab, too, students appeared in large numbers. This was one measure of the effectiveness of Dawn in spreading the League’s message.
Dawn was, above all, the means by which Jinnah became firmly established as the Quaid-i-Azam, the ‘Great Leader’, the charismatic leader of the Muslims of South Asia. The newspaper faithfully recounted his activities, his travels, his law cases, and especially all his speeches and pronouncements.
One part of this campaign to elevate Jinnah to the same stature as Gandhi was to surround him with Muslim dignitaries whenever he made a public appearance, however mundane the event, where his pronouncements would be faithfully recorded by Dawn. One such occasion was the unfurling of the flag of the ‘Jinnah Football Tournament’ held in Delhi on November 12, 1944.
In his remarks, reported under ‘Muslims To Emerge A World Nation’ and ‘Quaid-e-Azam Appeals For Discipline’, on November 14, 1944, Jinnah claimed that the Muslims of India were “in the process of moulding and are being hammered out to emerge as a strong nation” and not only in India but also abroad. Team work on the football field would teach discipline which was something Muslim youth needed. After his short speech he went to the centre of the pitch and kicked the ball off to start the game! The first time, he revealed afterwards, he had ever kicked a football in his life. He lent his dignity to the spectacle, of which two of the 10 teams were called ‘Jinnah Young Friends’ and ‘Jinnah Sports Union’, until half-time.
For this event the League had not only rounded up a number of Leaguers but also the Consul General for Iran. The Leaguers consisted of Liaquat Ali Khan, who was the organiser of these events and never far from Jinnah’s side at these meetings, and almost all the League members of the Central Legislative Assembly and the Council of State and a number of Muslim government employees. A photograph of Jinnah giving his talk and another of members of the delegation were printed on November 26.
Dressed in Muslim attire, Jinnah’s photograph appeared in Dawn on November 20 along with a report of his address at an Id-uz-Zuha reception sponsored by the Muslim Association gathering where he said that every nation once in its life had to fail but then pick itself up. Muslims in India the past 200 years had been a fallen nation but now they were emerging as a powerful nation and he asked the audience to contribute to this emerging world: “Let us do our task in such a way that our coming generations may not be ashamed of our actions.” This meeting was followed by a tea party hosted by Dawn itself at the Imperial Hotel, an event and the names of its participants, including the Consuls General of Iran and Afghanistan, all faithfully recorded by Dawn.
Hundreds of such stories in Dawn in the years leading up to the all-important general elections were published, all helping to mobilise Muslims behind the League. As Reuters fed Dawn with stories of the Second World War, it was evident the War was winding down, the elections were not far off and the campaign to establish Jinnah as its Quaid-i-Azam continued without flagging, reporting his every move and every utterance.
In the same way that Congressites paid pilgrimage to Gandhi in his ashram so too Dawn recorded all of the visits made to Jinnah by figures great and small, but special attention was paid to visits paid by politicians in the areas claimed for Pakistan: Bengal, Punjab, the NWFP, Balochistan and Sindh. It was front-page news on December 2 when the ‘Sind Premier Calls On Mr. Jinnah’ for a ‘Two-Hour Talk’ on November 30.
Ghulam Hussain Hidayatullah flew into Delhi after being summoned by Jinnah as he wanted to know the reason for Hidayatullah’s appointment of a non-League member to his Cabinet without consulting his League colleagues. The local League party requested Jinnah to intercede in the matter and he did so. They talked that day and G.M. Syed, President of the Sindh Provincial Muslim League, was expected to join the talks the following day as he too had been summoned by Jinnah. By reporting these visits Dawn played an important role in enhancing the importance of Jinnah in the nation’s politics. In a quite remarkable manner Jinnah, whose small political base was in Bombay, had made himself, and been made, into the most important Muslim political leader in India.
The greatest battle to assert Jinnah’s authority was in the Punjab, the province considered the ‘cornerstone of Pakistan’. The year 1944 was pivotal in that regard. The Muslim leader of the Punjab Unionist Party since 1937 had been Sikandar Hayat Khan, but he died suddenly of a heart attack in December, 1942. His successor was Khizar Hayat Khan Tiwana, who was a lesser figure but determined, as were the British, that Jinnah would not control the politics of the province and be the bulwark behind the demand for Pakistan as Jinnah demanded, and that the Punjab would continue to be governed by the coalition, cross-communal, Unionist Party forged originally by the Muslim Mian Fazl-i-Husain (1877-1936) and the Hindu Jat Chhotu Ram (1881-1945) in 1923. With the early death of Fazl-i-Husain at the young age of 59 in 1936, with the death of the poet Muhammad Iqbal in 1938 and the passing of Sikander in 1942, there was no-one in the Punjab with the same stature as Jinnah. It was time to move in for the kill in the Punjab and Dawn spared no column inches in waging a ceaseless campaign of criticism and invective against the Unionist Party and its leaders.
On February 3, the campaign began when the AIML Committee of Action travelled to Lahore to discuss the condition of the Punjab Muslim League and to suggest ways [in which] the party could be strengthened but it was the following month on March 18 that Jinnah inaugurated the Annual Conference of the Punjab Muslim Students’ Federation and claimed that 90 per cent of the Muslims of India, whether they were members of the League or not, were behind the party.
The following day he entered into negotiations with Khizar Hayat Khan, the leader of the Unionist Party, to have the name of the ministry changed from that of the Unionist Coalition Party to the Muslim League Coalition Party and for the Muslim members of the Unionist Party to accept League party discipline. Over the next month he met with him numerous times with discussions lasting up to two to three hours on each occasion but on April 27, negotiations between the two finally broke down with Dawn faithfully recording every meeting and every take that Jinnah had on the meetings.
A breakthrough for the League occurred on April 26 when Sikander Hayat Khan’s son Shaukat Hayat Khan was dismissed by Khizar because he had become close to the League and he was to become a staunch member of the League and a member of the AIML Council. This was a startling turn of events and the opportunity for the League to force a final showdown with Khizar. The press, including Dawn, covered the episode ad nauseum.
On May 2, the AIML Committee of Action met in Lahore to press Khizar as hard as they could to force the issue. The following day the Convener, Liaquat Ali Khan, wrote to Khizar, asking him to explain his position with regard to the League in the province. Khizar replied six days later, arguing that the Sikandar-Jinnah Pact of 1937 was still in effect and, therefore, he recognised Jinnah as the national leader of the Muslims of India but in the province the local party was independent. This interpretation of the Pact had been widely accepted in practice but the League was now waging a campaign to destroy this understanding and to force Khizar into the League.
On May 14 in Delhi the Committee met to consider Khizar’s response and asked him to respond. He did, on May 20, merely repeating his statement of May 8 that in refusing to transform his coalition into a Muslim League coalition he was operating within the parameters of the Pact. A week later the Committee was back in Lahore to announce that Khizar had been expelled from the AIML and barred from membership in the party. The lines had finally been drawn, and while the League had not imposed its will on Khizar, it had put the party in a position to wage a ceaseless campaign against Khizar, raising the question of his loyalty to his fellow Muslims, and especially with regard to the next general elections. Dawn would lead the charge.
On July 8, Dawn reported the Montgomery District Muslim League’s resolution passed two days earlier which showed the tack the League was adopting toward Khizra. First, they depicted Khizar’s expulsion from the League as a defection from the “only representative political party of the Muslims namely the Muslim League [and it] is clearly against the best interests of the Millat”. In short, not to support the League was not to be a good Muslim. This was a powerful charge to level against any Muslim and partly accounts for the success of the League in mobilising support. The following day Dawn published a two-column story by its ‘Special Representative’ in which it began, “Do the Unionists want to use the Congress against the Muslim League?” Again, this raised the spectre of un-Islamic behaviour as the League depicted the Congress as a Hindu organisation. Hundreds of these kinds of articles appeared over the next three years.
It would be the elections scheduled after the War that would determine whether the British would take the Pakistan demand seriously and Dawn reported on and followed the campaign closely.
Excerpted from ‘Dawn & the Creation of Pakistan’, Media History 2009, SOAS, London.
The writer is Professor of History, Eastern Michigan University, USA
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By Zohra Yusuf
THE pen, as goes the adage, is mightier than the sword. This is an adage that journalists fervently wish to believe in. And yet, in Pakistan’s 70-year history the contrary has been the case. Those responsible for stifling the press represent the entire spectrum of power in Pakistan: military dictators, intelligence agencies, the bureaucracy, political party activists, religious, nationalist and ethnic militants – and sometimes the judiciary through contempt of court notices.
To many observers and media consumers today, the press would appear to be unbridled. Today, the media – electronic, in particular – appears almost reckless in demonstrating its freedom, practically unchecked in spite of several attempts at self-regulation and occasional raps on the knuckles by Pemra, the regulatory authority.
Contrary to common belief and claim, however, freedom of the media didn’t get to where it is courtesy the policy of ‘enlightened moderation’ of General Pervez Musharraf’s regime. Behind freedom of the press that slowly began to make its mark starting from the late 1980s are the decades of struggle of journalists and their unions. The first dictatorship of General Ayub Khan brought take-over of newspapers, the institutionalisation of control through the Press & Publications Ordinance, 1960, and the imprisonment of leading editors.
Nevertheless, repression was met with resistance. Some were acts of individual courage, some of collective defiance. In his pioneering work, The Press in Chains, Zamir Niazi has recorded a detailed account of both – repression and resistance. In fact, Niazi’s set of three books on the subject of freedom of the press and the challenges it faced in the first four decades or so are essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the press in Pakistan.
However, resistance didn’t necessarily mean that there was unity among newspapers or even the community of journalists. The press in Pakistan learned to gang up against itself and its freedom fairly early in the country’s history. The first recorded instance of the issue of ‘press advice’ concerned the Father of the Nation himself. Attempts were made to suppress the Quaid-i-Azam’s historic address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, in which he assured the non-Muslims of equal rights as citizens of the new country. As Niazi noted, all the editors complied, except for Altaf Husain of Dawn who took the trouble of investigating the source of the ‘press advice’.
In spite of failing health, Niazi dedicated his life to recording the history of the press in Pakistan. Working without the support of researchers or the convenience of technology, he set about meticulously monitoring newspapers every day and clipping out reports about violence and injustices against the press. He clearly demarcated the themes of his three seminal works. While the first, The Press in Chains, comprehensively covers the efforts of successive governments to crush freedom of the press, the second, The Press Under Siege, focuses on new challengers to press freedom – primarily those with street power who use brute force to dictate their terms to the media.
Niazi’s last book, The Web of Censorship, was written when his ailment had significantly progressed. This made even sitting down very painful for him. However, by then he had gained tremendous respect due to the quality of content of his first two books and his request to journalists to contribute their own experiences of press censorship greatly enriched his last effort. Oxford University Press, too, readily published the book which was quite a contrast to his first book which could not find a publisher till the Karachi Press Club stepped in to publish it under its name.
While the military coup in July, 1977, brought unprecedented hardship for the press, it also inadvertently enriched Niazi’s manually maintained database. When direct censorship was finally lifted in January, 1982, it was replaced with ‘self-censorship’, a more demeaning experience for journalists, an aspect covered by several contributors in The Web of Censorship.
General Ziaul Haq’s government also set a record in terms of issuing press advices. Their subjects ranged from political parties challenging the dictatorship (for example, the prefix ‘so-called’ had to be added before the Movement for the Restoration of Democracy) to instructions about the projection of the general’s family (for example, only officially released pictures of Begum Ziaul Haq were to be published).
However, the democratic government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto was just as intolerant of a free press as was that of any dictator. After a somewhat bold beginning with the airing of the footage of the surrender in Dhaka, the government soon went after its critics with a sort of vengeance perhaps not seen before.
Dawn became among its top targets and while its writers and Editor Altaf Gauhar were arrested, the newspaper was financially squeezed by the denial of government advertisements. It should be noted that with the sweeping nationalisation of the early 1970s, the government had suddenly become the single largest advertiser in the country.
Journalists in Pakistan, accustomed to battling those in power for freedom of the press, were not ready for the new threats soon to come their way. New centres of armed street power began to threaten the press in ways not witnessed earlier. While the newly emerged Mohajir Qaumi Movement (MQM) practically kept the Karachi press under siege (to borrow the title from Niazi’s book) with its strong-arm methods, it was not the first bully on the block. It was the Islami Jamiat-i-Tulaba (IJT), the student wing of the Jamaat-i-Islami, that introduced violence in dealing with the press.
However, it was the MQM, with its near monopoly over power in urban Sindh from the late 1980s till fairly recently, that perfected violence against the press into a horrific art form, even forcing newspapers such as Dawn to cease publication. The party has been held responsible for attacks on journalists, media houses, as well as allegedly for the killing of a journalist.
The rise of militancy and terrorism brought yet another threat to journalists in Pakistan. It has made the country one of the most dangerous for journalists. Today they are sitting ducks for Islamic militants as well as any interest group that sees the free press as an adversary. This includes the country’s myriad intelligence agencies, in particular the powerful Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) that frequently threaten the press and, at times, are accused of physical attacks and, again, of murder.
The latest victims are social media bloggers. While it was believed that the social media will give everyone unfettered freedom of expression, it was not to be. The Prevention of Cyber Crimes Act curtailed that freedom through vague and wide-ranging definitions. And, at the same time, the enforced disappearance of several bloggers and the registration of blasphemy cases against some have resulted in a new age of self-censorship.
The media, particularly the electronic media with all its potential, has not covered itself in glory either. It is largely responsible for the spread of rigidity in society and intolerance of the minorities and of voices questioning the state’s role in matters of faith. It has also remained primarily urban and patriarchal. Shrill coverage of politics continues to be its focus while the disadvantaged are rarely paid attention to.
Seventy years is a fairly long time for state institutions – including the judiciary and the armed forces – to accept the media’s intrinsic adversarial role. Having said that, it is also a long time for the media to demonstrate greater responsibility in reporting.
The writer is an analyst based in Karachi.
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By Zamir Niazi
SINCE the dawn of Independence, the Establishment — albeit with varying labels — has tried to misinterpret, tamper or altogether censor any sayings of [Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali] Jinnah and his sister [Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah] which are in direct conflict with the ruling cliques’ own views.
On August 11, 1947, according to Hector Bolitho, Jinnah made “the greatest speech of his life”. Some hidden hands tried to tamper with a portion of this speech, without success. During the anti Qadiani inquiry, Justice Mohammad Munir and Justice M.R. Kiani had “to face the wrath of obscurantists on the same speech”. During Z.A. Bhutto’s trial in the Supreme Court, he had said that “attempts were made to have this speech burnt and removed from the record”. Details reproducing the attempts to gag certain portion of this speech are given in The Press in Chains, pp. 34 8, with documentary evidence.
Miss Jinnah, like her brother, has been a frequent victim of the whims and fancies of the mercurial power hungry bureaucrats. On the third death anniversary of Jinnah, her speech broadcast on the radio was twice faded out for a few seconds. “A successful attempt was made to silence her voice on two occasions”, which, in the opinion of the Controller of Broadcasting, Z.A. Bokhari, were “critical of Liaquat’s government”.
At least twice Jinnah’s sayings were censored by the provincial [Press Information Department] PID censor authorities, once in August 1980 (Business Recorder) and again in March 1981 (The Muslim). The second incident once again related to Jinnah’s speech of August 11, 1947. As stated, attempts were made to censor or censure Jinnah’s inaugural address to the Constituent Assembly, but without success — the bureaucracy failed in its attempt to stifle his voice. But in 1981, during the dark days of pre-censorship, this passage was deleted from an article by Khwaja Masud.
The first incident relates to a sentence in Jinnah’s address which an editorial in Business Recorder quoted on March 23, 1980, and which was deleted by the Sindh PID, although a few weeks earlier the editor, M.A. Zuberi, then a member of the toothless Majlis i Shoora, had read out the entire passage in one of [its] sessions.
Jinnah’s motto of ‘Unity, Faith and Discipline’ was tampered with during the Zia dictatorship. No word was added or dropped or changed. It was just the positioning of one word that made all the difference. Hamid Jalal writes: “His ‘Unity, Faith and Discipline’ has been presented as ‘Faith, Unity and Discipline’. Perhaps our theocratists , clutching at straws, equate the word ‘Faith’, used in the Quaid’s motto, with Islam. There is evidence to show that for the Quaid ‘Faith’ was to be used in the context of the Pakistan Movement. Once Pakistan had been achieved, the Quaid in his first broadcast as Governor General, from Lahore on August 31, reworded his motto. He said: ‘It is up to you to work, work and work and we are bound to succeed, and never forget our motto, Unity, Discipline and Faith’.”
It is not only Jinnah’s sayings that have been censored. His only portrait, painted by Ahmed Saeed Nagi, for which he sat in Lahore in 1944, mysteriously disappeared from the VIP lounge of Karachi Airport in 1982, where, according to the noted painter, it “hung for many years”. Nagi claimed that he did the painting at the request of Liaquat Ali Khan. He writes: “[I]t (the portrait) has been replaced by another painting with the Quaid i Azam dressed in a black sherwani … The authorities concerned suddenly decided that portrayal of Mr Jinnah as he was, bareheaded, in a suit and tie, with a light in his eyes and a smile on his face, is repugnant to present day trends, and have seen fit to cause it to disappear.”
Thus was Jinnah ‘Islamised’ in official portraits, showing him in sherwani and Jinnah cap. Jang, Karachi, went a step ahead when it published his full page colour portrait in the ‘Awami’ shalwar qamiz and waistcoat. During Z.A. Bhutto’s ‘Awami Raj, his battalion of sycophants tried to convince the nation that Jinnah was an ‘Islamic socialist’.
Like Jinnah, Allama Iqbal has not been spared by the master tailors who have been engaged to fabricate history. He also is quoted selectively, words are put in his mouth, and matter torn from its context to fit into ideological frameworks. The Nai Roshni Schools in Punjab (a brainchild of Lt-Gen Mujib) in its primer told its pupils: “The great poet of the East, Allama Sir Mohammad Iqbal, attended the historic public meeting in Lahore on March 23, 1940, along with the Quaid i Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and presented the momentous Pakistan Resolution. He read out his blueprint for the new state, and issued the ideology of Pakistan.”
[During all these years] the names of Jinnah and Iqbal have been capitalised on by all kinds of adventurers and zealots as their common stock in trade.
One can go on and on quoting articles and editorials debunking falsification of history in our country. One is tempted to end this chapter with a reference to two publications by noted historian K.K. Aziz, entitled The Pakistani Historian and The Murder of History. He tells us that “millions of young minds are being fed on a diet of lies, inaccurate facts, misrepresentations and blatant official propaganda”. The painstakingly-documented books explore how and why history in Pakistan has become a strange and dangerous mixture of fact and fiction.
Excerpted from ‘The Web of Censorship’
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By S.M.A. Feroze
In almost all parts of the British dominated India, by the middle of the 19th century, newspapers were being published in English as well as in every vernacular language of some importance. Journalism had made considerable progress in the sub-continent when the first newspaper appeared in the territories now comprising Pakistan.
The first definite step towards the establishment of a newspaper in the sub-continent seems to have been taken by William Bolts, who, in 1768, proposed to set up a printing press at Calcutta and affixed a notice on the door of the Council House announcing his intention to bring out a newspaper. But his intention was not approved by the East India Company and he was ordered to quit India for “having endeavoured to utter an odium upon the administration and promote faction and discontentment”.
At long last the first regular newspaper in India was started, by one James Augustus Hickey at Calcutta. It was entitled the “Bengal Gazette” or “Calcutta General Advertiser”. The first issue appeared on January 29, 1780. The paper was generally known after the name of its founder as Hickey’s Gazette.
Severe criticism published in the paper incurred the wrath of many a person who wrote to the Governor General for taking immediate action against Hickey, who was imprisoned and fined more than once. But all the hardships failed to extinguish the flame of freedom in his heart. Hickey despite all his shortcomings deserves to be remembered as the pioneer of the freedom of the Press in the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent. The second oldest paper was the “Indian Gazette” which appeared in November, 1780, at Calcutta. Then followed in quick succession the “Calcutta Gazette”, quarto-size publication, in February, 1784; the “Bengal Journal” in February, 1785; the “Oriental Magazine” or “Calcutta Amusement”, the first monthly in the sub-continent, in April of the same year; and, lastly, the “Calcutta Chronicle” in January, 1786.
By this time, newspapers had started publishing also from other parts of the country. On October 12, 1785, appeared the “Madras Courier”, the first newspaper of the Madras Presidency. The weekly “Madras Gazette” (January, 1795) and the “Indian Herald” (April 2, 1795) followed it. The Bombay Presidency saw the publication of its first newspaper, the “Bombay Herald”, in 1789. Next year was founded the “Bombay Courier” which is now represented by the “Times of India”. These facts provide sufficient ground to believe that newspapers were appearing from almost all parts of the British-occupied India by the end of the 18th century.
By the middle of the 19th century two provinces (Sind and the Punjab) which now have been amalgamated in the Province of West Pakistan, had been included in the British Kingdom of India. Lahore started to assume an important position culturally. When the first newspaper appeared from this town in 1849, other parts of British India had already begun to give their stray newspapers the form of an organized Press. By 1839, Calcutta had 35 newspapers (six of which were dailies), Bombay possessed 14, Madras nine and Ludhiana, Delhi and Agra, one each. Most of them were published in the English language.
The first newspaper appearing in the regions which now comprise Pakistan was titled the “Lahore Chronicle” and it started appearing in 1849. Its promoters were high officials “whose object was to strengthen what we know as patriarchal rule”. It is stated that the “Lahore Chronicle” was started by Syed Muhammad Azim, father of the Punjab historian, Syed Muhammad Latif, in 1849.
Syed Muhammad Azim was a native of Delhi and started his journalistic career as compositor in the Delhi Gazette Press in 1830. He was soon promoted to the position of a foreman and became a skilful printer. He came over to Lahore in 1849 and started the “Lahore Chronicle”. In 1856, he brought out another paper, the “Punjabi”. It was a tri-weekly. It first appeared as an English journal, but was converted, after a few years, into a purely vernacular one, in which form it continued till 1890. Syed Azim’s career as a journalist was long and prosperous. His enterprise as the pioneer of the Press in the Punjab and his intelligent appreciation of the object and motives of the Government won for him the respect of eminent men connected with the Province”.
The “Lahore Chronicle” was in existence in 1857. When the Press Act of 1857 came into force, it became necessary for the “Lahore Chronicle” to get a licence. The records show that the licence was granted on December 3, 1857, on an application signed by Mr. Oswald Welly, manager, and Mr. McArthy, printer.
It has already been mentioned that the “Lahore Chronicle” was supported by high officials. This group was afterwards opposed by the younger civil servants who launched the “Indian Public Opinion” on November 16, 1866. A sharp struggle ensued between the two organs, and a year later in 1867 the “Lahore Chronicle” collapsed. It was then purchased by the “Indian Public Opinion” and absorbed into that paper.
Before proceeding with the account of the English Press in this part of the sub-continent it would be well to give a brief account of other newspapers which appeared not much later than the “Lahore Chronicle”. No useful material which could give some help in tracing the progress of journalism in the territories of the former provinces of Sind, N.W.F.P., Baluchistan or the present Eastern Wing of Pakistan is forthcoming. One, therefore, finds oneself helpless in furnishing a detailed account and has to rely on what little information is available. Luckily, however, we find, it was the custom in those days, to copy news from contemporaries and quote them as the source of information. By utilizing this method we come to know through the files of the “Indian News” and “Chronicle of Eastern Affairs” of London (1848-50) and the “Lahore Chronicle” (1857) that the following newspapers existed in the above named territories of present day Pakistan and that they appeared during the year 1850 or afterwards: “Kurrachee Advertiser” (1850), “Sindian”, “Sind Kossid” and “Scind” were published from the former province of Sind; “Dacca News” (1850) came out from East Bengal, while the provinces of the N.W.F. P. and Baluchistan had no English newspaper.
Although during the sixties of the 19th century a number of somewhat outstanding newspapers appeared from Karachi, yet the year 1872 was a turning point in the history of English journalism in this region, for in that year was founded the first great English newspaper, the “Civil and Military Gazette”, which in the coming years played an important role in the development of English journalism in the Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. As a matter of fact the history of the “Civil and Military Gazette” is the history of the evolution of English journalism in the region now known as Pakistan.
The “Civil and Military Gazette” was first established as a weekly at Simla in 1872 and was then printed on royal-quarto size. When the Government offices shifted to Calcutta during the winter, the paper was published from Calcutta. Its main object was to cover the activities of the Central Government; and it, therefore, had to follow the Government offices wherever they went. In 1876, the proprietors of the “Civil and Military Gazette” acquired the “Mofussilite” of Agra, the joint publication was then issued from Lahore as a daily. It continued to pursue the policy which it had set forth in its issue of February 1, 1873, which opens with the following operative sentence:
“The object of the Civil and Military Gazette is to make the Civil and Military Gazette a faithful and conscientious advocate of the true interests of the services, civil and military, in India, watching all that affects those interests for good or evil…”
The “Civil and Military Gazette” continued till 1947 to give a lead in the adoption of many journalistic innovations which our English Press has incorporated.
A few years after the appearance of the “Civil and Military Gazette” at Lahore, appeared the well-known English newspaper of the British Punjab, the “Tribune”. Its first issue appeared on February 1, 1881. The paper was started as an Anglo-vernacular bi-weekly, but it later abandoned the vernacular edition and became a purely English journal. In the foundation of the “Tribune” considerable inspiration and assistance was given by Sir Surendranath Banerji, who was an intimate friend of the founder of the paper, Sirdar Dayal Singh Majithia.
On January 1, 1906, the “Tribune” was converted into a daily newspaper. The treatment of news received greater attention and as an organ of the public opinion it gained in prestige and influence. From the 1920s onwards considerable improvements were made in the production of the paper. By the year 1945-46 its circulation had risen to 26,500 copies a day, the largest circulation ever enjoyed by an English newspaper in this part of the Indo-Pakistan sub-continent.
The “Punjab Observer” was founded in the years 1893-94. It was owned by a wealthy Muslim of Ludhiana, Khwaja Ahmad Shah. It was an Anglo-vernacular bi-weekly, having a circulation of 1,200 copies per issue in 1897. The prominent figure of the Urdu literature, the late Sir Abdul Qadir, held the post of its editor from 1898 to 1904. The paper published frequently articles contributed by the late Mian Fazl-i-Husain who later also edited the paper for some days. It continued to appear till 1918.
The “Muslim Outlook” was started as a daily in 1922. This was the first daily English newspaper ever owned by a Muslim and was brought out with the object of voicing the feelings of the Muslims in North-Western India. In the first year of its publication the paper enjoyed a circulation of 1,800 copies a day. The “Muslim Outlook” was a champion of the Pan-Islamic movement and was a modern paper in every sense. The display of news was quite up-to-date with two to five-decker head-lines set in different varieties of type. When the paper ceased its publication in 1932, its circulation had risen to 2, 260.
In 1931 appeared another Muslim daily in English, the “Eastern Times”. It was started by Ferozsons, a Lahore publishing house, and was edited in the beginning by the late Abdulla Yusaf Ali. It is recorded in the book on Mian Fazl-i-Husain by its author that the “Eastern Times” was the only newspaper in the Punjab which held high the cause of the Unionist Party and supported it fervently and, in return, received regular annual subsidy from the said Party. After the death of Mian Fazil-i-Husain, the paper saw its decline as a daily, and was converted into a weekly in which form it continued to appear till 1940 when it again assumed the status of a daily after changing its ownership. The “Eastern Times” was finally closed down in November, 1947.
The “Hindu Herald” was an English daily which existed between the years 1926-31. Later it became a bi-lingual paper appearing in English and Hindi. In the beginning it was a moderate paper, but later it grew into an advocate of Hindu communalism. Its circulation ranged between 1,600 and 6,000 copies a day, during its five years’ existence.
Sind was captured by the British forces before their occupation of the Punjab, but it appears that no part of modern Western Pakistan, except the Punjab, had a newspaper before 1850. A Gazetteer of the Province of Sind states that a newspaper called “Sindian” was the first to appear in Sind. But reference to the file of the “Indian News” and the “Chronicle of Eastern Affairs,” London, makes one believe that a newspaper called “Kurrachee Advertiser” existed in 1850. The total number of publications in Sind in 1876 was 13, nine of which were in English.
It may be pointed out here that in 1861 the only English paper published at Karachi was “Our Paper.” However, later in 1879 when a share-holder of the Lahore “Civil and Military Gazette”, Colonel Corey, visited Karachi, he made arrangements to bring out a Karachi Edition of the paper. But this arrangement could not continue long and only after five years, in 1883, Colonel Corey severed his relations with the Lahore office and carried on the Karachi paper under the title of the “Sind Gazette”, which continued to appear till 1912.
The year 1886, however, was a turning point in the history of the “Sind Gazette” for then Sir Montague acquired an interest in the Company and began to take an active part in its affairs. At his instance the “Sind Gazette” was converted into a daily in 1904. In 1915, the paper’s title was changed to the “Daily Gazette” and it first appeared with this name on July 1 of that year. The “Daily Gazette” continued to appear till 1938. In 1940, Haji Abdullah Haroon and Mr. N.E. Dinshaw were appointed its liquidators and subsequently the latter acquired this concern. Early in 1948, the “Daily Gazette” was purchased by the Dalmia Jain Charity Trust, but it could not become popular and somehow maintained its existence till January, 1949, when it was again taken over by the “Civil and Military Gazette” of Lahore and published as a Karachi edition of the Lahore paper, but this venture could not last long.
The “Sind Observer” was established in 1911 and was appearing as a bi-weekly in 1919. It was converted into a daily afterwards and played a leading role in representing the Muslim cause in the province of Sind during the Pakistan movement. The paper could never attain the position of a first-rank publication and remained in existence just because it was the only paper run by a Muslim concern. When the “Dawn”, chief spokesman of the All-India Muslim League, shifted its head-quarters to Karachi after the establishment of Pakistan, the “Sind Observer” was hit hard, and had to be stopped in May, 1953.
The Urdu Press has always been the strongest of all vernacular presses in the former province of the N.W.F.P. Among the English newspapers, the “Khyber Mail” was and continues to be the most prominent. It was started in 1932 as a weekly and converted into a daily in 1950. Other less important English newspapers which existed for a smaller duration are the “Frontier Mail” and the “Frontier Gazette”.
In the end it will suffice to say that about 125 English newspapers and journals are being published in Pakistan in 1957, of which “Pakistan Times,” “Dawn”, and “Times of Karachi” in West Pakistan, and “Morning News,” “Pakistan Observer” and “Pakistan Post” in East Pakistan are the most outstanding.
Excerpted from the Winter, 1957 edition of ‘Pakistan Quarterly’.
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