THIS is with reference to the article ‘Learning from China’ (July 10). I wish the scientist-writer had quoted some source to let us know when, where and exactly what the Quaid-i-Azam said that showed he “feared and disliked” China.

In Jinnah’s lifetime, China was a divided country. During his crucial years as leader of the Pakistan movement, he saw China engaged, first, in resisting the Japanese invaders, and, second, after the war, in civil war between Mao Zedong’s Communist Party of China and Chiang Kai-shek’s Nationalist Party. Even during the 13 months he lived as Pakistan’s head of state, Jinnah never had the pleasure — or fear — of seeing China united or Red.

In fact, it was two years after his death that our northern neighbour became one country and went communist. A country ravaged by civil war poses no threat to any state except to itself and serves, instead, as a battlefield for proxy wars by foreign powers, as the examples today of Yemen, Syria and Libya show.

However, even before Pakistan came into being, the Great Leader was aware of the importance of China’s relations with a yet-to-be-born Pakistan. On June 8, 1947, the Chinese ambassador at New Delhi presented Jinnah with two flower vases, which, according to the Chinese diplomat, were “made of such fine stuff and by such skilful handcraftsmanship that they look quite transparent if placed against sunshine.”

Jinnah replied the next day and, besides thanking him for the vases “for which she is famous”, said: “I shall always keep them as a token of friendship between China and Pakistan.” (Pakistan had still not come into being).

Four days before Pakistan emerged as an independent country, President Chiang (and the imam of the Shanghai mosque) congratulated the Quaid in warm tones, expressing the hope that the government under Jinnah would usher in “a new era of freedom and progress.” This is the same Chiang whom Jinnah had criticised five years earlier (Feb 22, 1942) for making a statement “without understanding the political situation in India”. In both cases, Jinnah was guided by one consideration — Pakistan.

In 1946, irked by statements originating from China, Jinnah showed his contempt — rather than fear — when he said in an interview given to a foreign journalist on Sept 2, 1946: “I see they (Chinese) have been sending messages to Pandit Nehru.

I wish they would attend to their own affairs and put their own house in order first.”

Of course, he was anti-communist as he was against all authoritarian regimes and political philosophies, having himself conducted the struggle for Pakistan by constitutional means. During the war he made clear he wanted an Allied victory.

(POSTSCRIPT: All quotes in the text have been taken from Jinnah on World Affairs, compiled by Mehrunnisa Ali, and published by the Karachi University’s Pakistan Study Centre, which at the time was headed by Dr Syed Jaffar Ahmad.)

Name withheld on request
Karachi

Published in Dawn, July 14th, 2021

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