Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Come the month of December and we, as a nation, begin preparations to celebrate the birthday of one of the greatest men in history. You all must have guessed who I am referring to. Yes, the founder of Pakistan who we refer to as the Father of the Nation: Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

Schools arrange special programmes and students take part in declamation contests and speeches highlighting various aspects of the Quaid’s life. Along with special programmes, excerpts from his speeches are telecast throughout the day on TV and radio.

In whatever way possible, we show our love for our great leader. We know that Quaid-i-Azam worked relentlessly day and night, along with his team, and earned for us this independent state which we call our home and should be proud of it as it is our identity. And on this day we pay homage to the man who devoted his life to make Pakistan a reality.

It is not only us, Pakistanis, who acknowledge his hard work and shower praise on him. Eminent world leaders have spoken highly of him, not only during his life, but paid great tributes after his death too. He received tributes from everyone who met him or had some close dealing with him for his intelligence, courage, integrity and firm belief in truth.

For his tireless effort and dedication for the cause of Pakistan, US historian Stanley Wolpert, in his 1984 book Jinnah of Pakistan, wrote: “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”

John Biggs-Davison, a Conservative Member of Parliament in the UK, said: “Although without Gandhi, Hindustan would still have gained independence and without Lenin and Mao, Russia and China would still have endured Communist revolution, without Jinnah there would have been no Pakistan in 1947.”

Even his adversaries have praised him for the fact that it was Jinnah who changed the map of the world. Mrs Vijay Lakshmi Pundit, Nehru’s sister and a prominent figure, stated, “If the Muslim League had 100 Gandhis and 200 Azads and Congress had only one Jinnah, then India would not have been divided!”

Even Lord Mountbatten, the last viceroy of India, admitted that “If it could be said that any single man held the future of India in his palm, that man is Mohammad Ali Jinnah. For all intents and purposes, Jinnah was the Muslim League and if the dream of Pakistan ever did come true, it could be Jinnah who brought it to life and fashioned it.”

He further said that Jinnah had a “consuming determination to realise the dream of Pakistan.” And he remained focused on that till his death.

Acknowledging Jinnah’s fight for the rights of his people throughout his life, Surat Chandra Bose, leader of the forward bloc wing of the Indian National Congress, paying tribute to him succinctly summed up his personal and political achievements in these words: “Mr Jinnah was great as a lawyer, once great as a Congressman, great as a leader of Muslims, great as a world politician and diplomat, and greatest of all as a man of action. By Mr Jinnah’s passing away, the world has lost one of the greatest statesmen and Pakistan its life-giver, philosopher and guide.”

Quaid-i-Azam was not only a historic figure, an epoch-making man, he had a gifted personality which left a deep impact on everyone. He was upright, straightforward, sincere and direct — no double game, no deceitful ways and no trickery at all.

Patrick Spens, the last Chief Justice of undivided India, paid tribute to Jinnah in the following words: “The tallness of the man, the immaculate manner in which he turned out, the beauty of his features and the extreme courtesy with which he treated all; no one could have made a more favourable impression than he did. There is no man or woman living who imputes anything against his honour or his honesty. He was the most outright person that I know.”

British economist and editor, H.V. Hudson in his book The Great Divide, eulogised Quaid’s character in these words, “Not even his political enemies ever accused Jinnah of corruption or self seeking. He could be bought by no one, and for no price. Nor was he in the least degree weathercock, swinging in the wind of popularity or changing the times. He was a steadfast idealist as well as a man of scrupulous honour.”

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

Along with having a great personality, he was one of the best lawyers of the country. It is said that he was extraordinarily brilliant and used to explain his point of view in the court based on law as well as facts. He presented his point of view in a unique way and had no parallel in this respect. His approach towards legal problems was scientific and straightforward. And for this he has been praised by eminent lawyers and judges.

In 1927, Carim Chagla, an Indian jurist, diplomat, and cabinet minister, said: “Jinnah was a pure artist in the manner and method of presentation. Even the most complex facts became simple and obvious when he waived his wand over them. He had common sense, that most uncommon of qualities, in an uncommon degree.”

He also said: “Jinnah was a superb advocate. What impressed me most was the lucidity of his thought and expression — Jinnah was absolutely impeccable in his professional etiquette.”

Long time after Quaid-i-Azam’s death, in 2000, US President Bill Clinton visited Pakistan. During his address on Pakistan Television and Radio Pakistan, he recalled the Quaid’s vision and said: “I am here … as a committed friend who will stand with the people of Pakistan as long as you seek the stable, prosperous, democratic nation of your founder’s dreams. More than half a century ago, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, shared that vision as he addressed Pakistan’s constituent assembly. ‘If you work together,’ he said, ‘in a spirit that everyone of you is first, second and last a citizen with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.’ Pakistan can have a future worthy of the dreams of the Quaid-i-Azam. If you choose that future, the United States will walk with you. I hope you will make that choice. And I pray for our continued friendship, for peace, for Pakistan.”

It is said that for his visit to Pakistan in 1995, Ex-South African President Nelson Mandela had insisted on including Karachi as a destination to visit Jinnah’s grave and his house in Karachi. He considered Jinnah as “a constant source of inspiration for all those who are fighting against racial or group discrimination.”

On another occasion while addressing the African National Congress, Mandela mentioned three names Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Gandhi and Nehru as sources of inspiration for the movement against apartheid.

The Jinnah Anthology, which contains material and information on Jinnah and the partition of India, co-authored by Liaquat Merchant, grand-nephew of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, includes a tribute by Sarojini Naidu.

“The casual pen might surely find it easier to describe his limitations rather than to define his virtues ... But the true criterion of Jinnah’s greatness lies not in the range and variety of his knowledge and experience, but in the faultless perception and flawless refinement of his subtle mind and spirit; not in the diversity of aims and challenge of a towering personality, but rather in a lofty singleness and sincerity of purpose and the lasting charm of a character animated by a brave conception of duty and an austere and lovely code of private honour and public integrity.”

This was how Quaid-i-Azam was praised by all, friends and foes alike. The best way to show our love and gratitude for him is to try to adopt some of his personality and character traits in our day to day life.

Success and respect is never given on a platter, one has to earn it.

Published in Dawn, Young World, December 21st, 2019