The daughter of the father of the nation is no more. Dina Wadia, the only child of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah passed away in New York on Thursday at the age of 98.

She had only visited Pakistan twice in her lifetime. The first time was when Mr Jinnah passed away on Sept 11, 1948, and the second and last time in 2004 at the invitation of then president Musharraf to witness a cricket match between India and Pakistan.

On that final trip to the country in whose creation her extraordinary father had played such a pivotal role, she visited Lahore and also Karachi, where she laid a wreath at his tomb. But even though she was a distant figure for most Pakistanis, with her death, this country’s final, tenuous link with the founder of the nation has gone.

The country must mark her passing with a tribute befitting the Quaid’s daughter. All the more is such a gesture called for, given that successive governments did not try to persuade her to live in Pakistan or even visit on a regular basis. In fact, the state that owes so much to Mr Jinnah barely acknowledged her existence.

Much like her parents’ marriage which was opposed by the Parsi family of her mother Rattanbai Jinnah, Ms Wadia’s own marriage met with resistance from her father, ironically because her prospective husband was a non-Muslim.

That created a rift between father and daughter, at least for some time. Nevertheless, she spent many years with Mr Jinnah — who brought her up after her mother died at the age of 28 — and lived through the tumult of the events leading up to Partition.

Unfortunately, whatever passed between them is now consigned to history, for the daughter was as intensely private as the father to whom she bore a striking resemblance.

As for what she felt about Pakistan and how far it has strayed from Mr Jinnah’s vision, no one knows; she only had gracious words for this country. May his dream for Pakistan come true, she wrote in the visitors’ book at the Quaid’s mausoleum.

Her decision not to live in this country has, among other reasons, long been the target of right-wing ire, a section of which even issued a statement against her when president Musharraf invited her to visit the country. Sadly, the true daughter of the nation was never recognised unreservedly as such, especially by those who have perverted Mr Jinnah’s aspirations for Pakistan.

Published in Dawn, November 4th, 2017

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