Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had a strong bond with the Sir Syed school of thought. He is seen here seated with the students of Aligarh Muslim University on March 12, 1941. Mr Jinnah mobilised the students to campaign for the Muslim League in elections that were due shortly. —Photo: Dawn/White Star Archives
Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had a strong bond with the Sir Syed school of thought. He is seen here seated with the students of Aligarh Muslim University on March 12, 1941. Mr Jinnah mobilised the students to campaign for the Muslim League in elections that were due shortly. —Photo: Dawn/White Star Archives

AS the founder of a nation-state, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah has been rightly counted among the global leaders who had the vision, the legal instincts and the political acumen to pull off more than what one expects of a human. Stanley Wolpert’s tribute — “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. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three” — is apt and well-deserved.

His leadership style and personal traits distinguished him from most other world leaders. The transformational leadership owed its origin to Jinnah’s unflinching belief that the Muslim community in undivided India needed to be empowered. He first brought this into the political consciousness of the community and then legally codified the rights in his famed 14-point charter.

The dilemma that crystallised after the War of Independence in 1857 was an outcome of wilful distortions about the Muslim community. The British believed that the Muslims were their real enemy and thus their attitude towards the community remained hostile, affecting Muslims badly in every walk of life. Sir Syed Ahmed Khan began dispelling the British misconceptions in the subcontinent during this rather dark phase of Muslim history. He explained that the main cause of the episode was actually the failure of the British rulers to win the confidence of its subjects, arguing that had the British rulers been less isolated from their Indian subjects, there would not have been a revolt.

The Aligarh movement launched by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan had a trinity of ideas: loyalty to the British, distance from politics, and devotion to education. The development of Muslim education under this movement not only produced ICS officers but also significantly contributed to the emergence of Muslim leaders who played a vital role in the intellectual and political awakening of the Muslims.

Luckily for the Muslims of the subcontinent, the Indian National Congress did not have a Jinnah in its ranks. As has been famously said, the independence of India was possible without Gandhi, and without Lenin and Mao, Russia and China could have endured their Communist revolutions, but Pakistan would not have been possible without Jinnah.

The idea of ‘two nations’ was formulated by Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, and he was subsequently proven right. Through Minto-Morley Reforms, the colonial rulers accepted the demand and conceded that the Muslims did represent a separate community.

It was this idea that was further developed by the Quaid-i-Azam who polished it to explain the Muslim case, to interpret the Muslims’ legal status, and to articulate a vision for their future. Jinnah added a legal dimension in the philosophical and ideological basis of the two-nation theory which created huge consciousness among the Muslims about their rights.

Before transforming the theory into a legal framework, he provided opportunity to both the major communities — the Muslims and the Hindus — to negotiate a workable solution of the political problem faced by India at the time.

He convinced moderate leaders from both sides that the real progress of India “lies in the goodwill, concord, harmony and cooperation between the two great sister communities”. The Lucknow Pact in 1916 brought the two communities closer and they agreed to organise a joint struggle against British rule for the attainment of self-governance in India.

Congress accepted the Muslim League demands of separate electorate and weightage system. In the words of Hector Bolitho, this was a momentous achievement and the first great victory of Jinnah as the “Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity”.

However, this pact did not last for long and the two communities began to part ways. The subsequent events leading up to March 1929 convinced the Quaid-i-Azam to put forward his own 14 points as the minimum Muslims legal demand to be incorporated in the future constitutional framework of India.

These demands confirmed his political insight and acumen because through them he succeeded in safeguarding the constitutional rights of Muslims. Jinnah’s 14-point charter checkmated the political opponents by providing legal and logical justification for the protection of the Muslim community. These points proposed the nature of future constitution and uniform measure of provincial autonomy.

Under these points, no change could be made in the constitution without the concurrence of the constituting units of the proposed federation. They also protected one-third seats for the Muslims in cabinets and provided for adequate and effective representation of the minorities in all elected bodies and legislatures, including the central legislature where one-third Muslim representation was ensured.

Jinnah’s points provided for the protection of Muslim culture, education, language, religion, law, institutions, share in sate services, and full religious freedom. Reforms were to be introduced in the North-West Frontier Province (NWFP) and Balochistan, whereas Sindh was to be separated from the Bombay Presidency under the Jinnah’s charter.

However, due to unfair and unreasonable attitude of the Congress, Jinnah’s political outlook transformed, and from being the ambassador of Hind-Muslim unity, he became the staunchest advocate of Muslim nationalism. The approach adopted by Congress led him to believe that there was no hope for unity and common ground for working together any more.

Jinnah’s personal reflections and political experiences provided enough evidence to validate the idea of two nations. Thus, he changed his approach mainly because of discrimination that was being done against the Muslims on the basis of religion.

Consequently, in 1930, Allama Iqbal conceived the idea of a separate homeland for the Muslims. Iqbal’s clear conception was based on geographical and ideological factors. In 1937, Iqbal wrote to the Quaid-i-Azam that the time to demand a separate country for Muslims had come. Quiad-i-Azam was fully aware of the emerging scenario, and he could also see that nothing short of a separate homeland would alter the situation for the better. This is how the great movement for a separate country was launched from the platform of the All-India Muslim League.

The Quaid was able to understand the political situation of Indian Muslims, and came up with the idea getting Muslims first identified as a nation with their own distinctive culture, civilisation, language, literature, art, architecture, names, values, laws, codes, customs, calendar, history, tradition aptitude and ambitions. Thus, he justified the demand for Pakistan on legal and constitutional grounds.

In his words: “Muslims are a nation according to any definition of nation and they must have their homeland, territory and their state”. Jinnah also made it clear that the Muslims were by no means a minority. This statement of Jinnah was considered an important landmark in the constitutional history of the Muslims of British India. Jinnah, in an interview with Manchester Guardian, further declared that democracy could not work in India as the Muslims would not accept the domination of Hindus in the name of democracy.

The Congress rule of 1937-39 proved that democracy based upon mere numerical majority was not a solution to the Indian problem. The Muslims were exploited under the dictatorial Congress rule. In 1938, the Sindh Provincial Muslim League, in its meeting at Karachi, hinted for the first time placing a demand for a new country.

With the popularity of the League increasing by the day and the Quaid becoming the sole indispensable Muslim leader, it was in Lahore in March 1940 that the league adopted the idea of a new homeland as the destiny of the Indian Muslims. Jinnah’s presidential address was a major milestone in the political history of British India. His remarkable way of translating his vision into reality inspired the people who subsequently made a beeline to join the League.

World War II had begun a year earlier and this period was characterised by political chaos and harsh circumstances. Jinnah, the shrewd politician that he was, had read the situation well and had already reiterated in his article that appeared in Time and Tide on March 9, 1940, that democratic systems for homogenous nations, such as England, were definitely not applicable to the heterogeneous population of India.

Historical evidence indicates that the Muslim demand was regarded by the British as inimical to their interests. Viceroy Lord Linlithgow in his official correspondence with secretary of state for India declared that the demand as “extreme and preposterous.” Similarly, the Muslim demand was described by Lord Wavell as a “nonsense”. In addition, various world leaders, including Franklin D. Roosevelt, were not in favour of the creation of Pakistan. However, the Muslims, under leadership of Jinnah, were determined to achieve a separate homeland.

V.D. Mahajan, in his book History of Modern India, quoted Dr Lal Bahadur as saying that the resolution was the highest culmination of Muslim aspirations that had never been put as boldly as in 1940. I.H. Qureshi, in his book The Struggle for Pakistan, wrote that from 1940 onwards, the league policy was “clear and unmistakeable”.

Right after the World War, the British tried to engage various political groups by sending the Cabinet Mission in 1946. The plan was no different from the earlier Cripps Mission of 1942 as it envisioned the concept of keeping India united. Although Jinnah was disappointed with the plan, he knew that the compulsory grouping of provinces clearly reflected the idea of separatism, and it reflected the people’s aspirations as envisaged in the Lahore Resolution. Therefore, the Quaid approved the Cabinet Mission plan.

Jinnah was a brilliant strategist with a strong willpower. He was able to achieve something that hardly has a parallel in history. Researchers and scholars hold him to be the driving force, suggesting Pakistan was a one-man achievement, which was true in so many ways. Michael Brecher, in his book Jawaharlal Nehru: A political Biography, has even gone so far as to suggest that had Jinnah died earlier, there would not have been a Pakistan. John Biggs Davison, a member of British Parliament, agreed, saying: “The independence of India was possible without Gandhi, and without Lenin and Mao, Russia and China could endure Communist revolutions, but Pakistan would not have been possible without Jinnah”.

Nehru’s sister Vijay Lakshmi Pundit could not agree more, saying that even if the League had a hundred Gandhis and twice as many Azads [referring to Maulana Abul Kalam Azad], and Congress had only one Jinnah, India would not have been divided.

Jinnah’s position as the founder of the nation and the head of the state was unique in the sense that he was the only leader who relied more on people’s support and less on civil-military bureaucracy for exercising his power and authority.

On August 11, 1947, Jinnah made his famous speech in the Constituent Assembly to set the future direction of the country. He laid stress on the maintenance of law and order, as well as on the elimination of bribery, corruption and nepotism. He made clear that equal citizenship for all would be the main feature of the new state where all individuals, irrespective of their religion, caste and creed, would be treated equally.

In his death, just about a year after his biggest achievement, Pakistan suffered a setback that no enemy could, or would ever cause.

The writer is Director, Pakistan Study Centre, University of Sindh, Jamshoro.

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