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Quaid-i-Azam Day: Jinnah: the political genius

December 22, 2012

As part of my school presentation today on Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, I will not be discussing the common details all of us know about the great leader,” Kumail said to his classmates. “Rather I will be focusing on his role and achievements that made him one of the greatest leaders of all times.”

Kumail took a pause and then continued, “To begin with, we all know that Jinnah was born on December 25, 1876, in Karachi.

He studied law in England and first practiced it there before returning to India. He entered the political arena when he joined Indian National Congress. He later left it and became a member of All India Muslim League and then its leader. It was under his stewardship that the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent were able to get their own homeland. He died on September 11, 1948, and his tomb is in Karachi.

“His main achievements are as a politician, as it was his political wisdom that helped us to get our country. But before I shed some light on his political achievements, it is worth looking into his personal attributes that made him the great person that he was.

“First of all, he believed in himself strongly. He was strongly influenced by the modern western ideas of liberalism, which included democracy and progressive politics. He adopted these while pursuing his education, and it was soon apparent in his western style of clothing, and English remained his principal language all through his life.

“It was this motivation and self-belief that made him excel as a lawyer after his return from England at the age of 20. He settled and started his practice in Bombay.

“He began his political career as a member of Indian National Congress. Jinnah was part of a group of moderate Congress members who favoured Hindu-Muslim unity in achieving independence and self-government. He wanted to use constitutional means to achieve that. This was different from the policy of his main Congress rival Gandhi, who was a believer in philosophy of satyagraha or ‘non-violent civil disobedience’.

“With time Gandhi’s philosophy became popular among the Congress members, which led to Jinnah’s resignation from the party. Jinnah become a member of All India Muslim League and eventually its president.

“His biggest challenge was to unite the Muslims under the banner of Muslim League, as their support was divided between Indian National Congress and All India Muslim League. With the efforts of All India Muslim League, under the leadership of Jinnah and the anti-Muslim activities of  Indian National Congress, the support for separate homeland for Muslims gradually gained strength. The milestone for this movement was the passing of the historic Lahore Resolution in 1940.

“The rest of the political struggle of Jinnah was based on the terms of reference of this resolution. And the turning point of Jinnah’s struggle came in the 1945 elections in which Muslim League won every Muslim seat of the Central Assembly; and got 75 per cent of Muslims’ votes in the provincial assemblies’ election. According to Jinnah’s biographer Bolitho, ‘This was Jinnah’s glorious hour: his arduous political campaigns, his robust beliefs and claims, were at last justified.’

“The rest of the years leading up to the independence in 1947 saw intense political struggle by Jinnah. He fought on two fronts and countered the conspiracies of both Congress leaders and the Indian Viceroy Lord Mountbatten with his political foresight.

Without him as the president of All India Muslim League, Muslims of the subcontinent would not have achieved so much and Pakistan might not have come into existence.

“In one of his letters to Jinnah before partition, the great philosopher and poet, Allama Iqbal said: ‘… you are the only Muslim in India today to whom the community has the right to look up for safe guidance through the storm which is coming to North-West India and, perhaps, to the whole of India.’

“Even after the creation of Pakistan, Jinnah’s struggle continued as the first Governor-General of Pakistan. There were issues of migration and relocation of people from the areas of India to the areas of Pakistan. Pakistan also needed to receive one sixth of the total assets of the Indian subcontinent from the Indians which were being stalled. There were many other issues regarding the establishment and control of the new state that needed to be sorted out and Jinnah worked hard to take care of all of them despite his failing health. And he continued to do so for the sake of his country and countrymen till his dying day.

“That just about sums up the political achievements of Jinnah,” Kumail said to his classmates. “If you have any questions, then I would be happy to answer them.”

There was a silence in class. Nobody seemed to have a question. So the class teacher decided to take matter in her own hands and asked, “What about the famous 14 points of Jinnah? What was their purpose?”

“The 14 points were put forward by Jinnah in 1929 as a means to his aim of self-government for people of the subcontinent on the same grounds as those in British-held countries of that time like Australia, New Zealand, etc. They called for increased provincial autonomy while ensuring adequate Muslim representation in the legislatures and cabinets,” Kumail replied.

“I would like to sum up my presentation with these words of Wolpert on Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, ‘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’,” Kumail concluded.