From Dawn's Archives: The Father of the Nation laid to rest

Draped in Pakistan’s national flag, the Quaid-i-Azam’s Janaza moved along the driveway of the Governor General’s House.
Published September 11, 2017
  • <strong>Shirin Jinnah remembers her brother – the Quaid-i-Azam</strong>
  • The Father of the Nation laid to rest

    DAWN September 13, 1948 (News Reports)

    A view of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s funeral on September 12, 1948, at the Exhibition Ground in Karachi. Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan (centre) is seen conferring with Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani (in a white shalwar kameez), as he prepared to lead the funeral prayers. | Photo: The Press Information Department, Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage, Islamabad (PID)
    A view of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s funeral on September 12, 1948, at the Exhibition Ground in Karachi. Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan (centre) is seen conferring with Maulana Shabbir Ahmed Usmani (in a white shalwar kameez), as he prepared to lead the funeral prayers. | Photo: The Press Information Department, Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage, Islamabad (PID)

    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.

    Shirin Jinnah remembers her brother – the Quaid-i-Azam

    DAWN December 25, 1976

    A group photograph of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s siblings. Front row, from left to right: Fatima Jinnah, Bunde Ali Jinnah and Shirin Jinnah; back row, from left to right: Ahmed Ali Jinnah, Maryam Jinnah and Rehmat Jinnah. | Photo: *Pioneers of Pakistan: Jinnah & Iqbal* published by the ISPR
    A group photograph of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s siblings. Front row, from left to right: Fatima Jinnah, Bunde Ali Jinnah and Shirin Jinnah; back row, from left to right: Ahmed Ali Jinnah, Maryam Jinnah and Rehmat Jinnah. | Photo: Pioneers of Pakistan: Jinnah & Iqbal published by the ISPR

    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.

    Mohtarma Shirin Jinnah in 1976. | Photo: *Pioneers of Pakistan: Jinnah & Iqbal* published by the ISPR
    Mohtarma Shirin Jinnah in 1976. | Photo: Pioneers of Pakistan: Jinnah & Iqbal published by the ISPR

    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.

    The last days of Quaid-i-Azam

    DAWN September 11, 1949

    By Farrukh Amin

    Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah is seen having a last look at the speech draft as he was about to speak on All-India Radio on June 3, 1947, in Delhi, soon after the announcement by Lord Mountbatten of the British Government’s Partition Plan. | Photo: The Press Information Department, Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage, Islamabad (PID)
    Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah is seen having a last look at the speech draft as he was about to speak on All-India Radio on June 3, 1947, in Delhi, soon after the announcement by Lord Mountbatten of the British Government’s Partition Plan. | Photo: The Press Information Department, Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage, Islamabad (PID)

    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.

    ![ Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah is being welcomed at the Chamber of Commerce in Karachi in 1947. Seen in the distance is a crowd of people in front of the North Western Palace Hotel that had gathered to catch a glimpse of the Quaid. | Photo: The Press Information Department, Ministry of Information, Broadcasting & National Heritage, Islamabad (PID) ][20]

    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.

    This story is part of a series of 16 special reports under the banner of ‘70 years of Pakistan and Dawn’. Read the special report here.