The story of Quaid-i-Azam’s life is as extraordinary as the story of the country he helped to create. It is a story of strong convictions, firm ideals and complete self-belief and a determination to stand committed to the cause that he dedicated his life to.
The cause was the creation of a separate homeland for the Muslims of the Subcontinent and Quaid-i-Azam sacrificed everything, including his personal life and his health, for this purpose.
For more than 40 years, he pitted his intelligence and knowledge of law against wily British and Indian politicians and ended up changing the map of South Asia when Pakistan emerged as a free country in 1947.
Quaid-i-Azam was born in 1876, and was the eldest of seven children. His father was a prosperous merchant. As a young child, he did not like mathematics but loved to read poetry. He also disliked sitting still to study and hated rote learning, that was a common practice in primary schools of India in those days. Instead, he preferred to go outdoors and ride his father’s horses and carriages.
Even when he was a young boy, Quaid-i-Azam had a strong sense of personal dignity and self-confidence. His childhood friend Nanji Jafar recalled, “Once Jinnah, only 14, came to me and said, ‘Don’t play in the dust; it spoils your clothes and dirties hands. We must stand up and play cricket’.”
His father wanted him to enter the family business after completing his studies. He was sent to England as an apprentice in a business firm. Things, however, changed when he reached England and decided to get admission in Lincoln’s Inn to study law.
Even at that young age of 18, he was fascinated by the world of politics and often went to the British Parliament to listen to heated debates.
It was during those times that he found that Indians were labelled as “black men” by British politicians. In his words, Quaid-i-Azam says that from that day he became “an uncompromising enemy of all forms of colour bar and racial prejudice”. He also became a firm believer of justice and equality for all men. Truth became his guiding principle in life and these personal ethics remained the prominent aspects of his personality for the rest of his life.
Another striking feature of his personality was his personal grooming and impeccable dress sense which he developed when he was barely 20. He bought smartly tailored suits from England’s finest shops. He was very stylish and chose only the best quality clothes and shoes, which impressed his British and Indian friends alike.
What also impressed everyone was his brilliant legal mind. After returning from England, Barrister Jinnah started practising law in Bombay. Though he struggled for the initial three years to make a name for himself, no one doubted his skill and talent.
He was a very clear thinker and always chose his arguments carefully. His fellow lawyers said that he cast a spell on the courtroom and his presentation of a legal case was “nothing less than a piece of art”.
Quaid-i-Azam himself used to say, “Failure is a word unknown to me.” This was not some idle boast. He used his sharp wit, legal acumen and strong presence of mind to win difficult cases. Because of these qualities, he cleverly used British constitution and laws to defeat British politicians who wanted to prolong the British Raj over India. During his years’ long battle, he had to face stiff opposition and strong resistance from both British and Hindu leaders, but he remained steadfast.
Quaid-i-Azam was an upright man who always kept his word. If he made a promise he made sure that he fulfilled it. In his last days when he was suffering from a life threatening illness, he went to the meetings and dinners for which he had accepted invitations. Battling the disease and against the doctor’s orders, he also went to inaugurate the State Bank of Pakistan because he had promised that he would be there. He advised, “Think a hundred times before you take a decision, but once that decision is taken, stand by it as one man.”
Personal integrity and unwavering commitment to the Muslim cause were also the hallmarks of his character. Liaquat Ali Khan declared him to be “un-purchasable”. He refused all ceremonial titles or honours which British viceroys tried to bribe him with. “I will always be guided by principles of justice and fair play without any prejudice or ill-will.” He promised his countrymen and he remained true to his word.
Before dying on September 11, 1948, he gave Pakistanis a last message: “The foundations of your state have been laid and it is now for you to build and build as quickly and as well as you can.”
His message to the students was, “Pakistan is proud of her youth, particularly the students, who are nation builders of tomorrow. They must fully equip themselves by discipline, education, and training for the arduous task lying ahead of them.”
He also said, “With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.”
The greatest tribute that we can pay to Quaid-i-Azam is not just to praise him with words but to do what he asked us to do and make Pakistan into one of the greatest nations of the world by following his principles. Long Live Pakistan!