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The truth about Aslam Jinnah

July 10, 2009

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I AM constrained to respond immediately to the letters which appeared in these columns on July 5 because they are simply not true.

Firstly, I am not an old guard of the All India Muslim League and was never its executive member. I wonder who passed on this baseless information to Jonaid Iqbal.

Secondly, how can Aslam Jinnah be Shirin Jinnah's son when her only child (my maternal uncle being my mother's cousin) was Akbar Jafferbhoy who remained a bachelor and died while his mother Shirin Jinnah was still alive in Karachi.

Jonaid Iqbal admits that the Quaid never sired a male child and agrees with my contention that Aslam cannot be a Jinnah but goes on to state that he was cheered as the grandson of the nation's father. What strange logic and deduction by an equally-strange reverse argument which lacks reason!

However, it has been revealed that the late Mahmud Ali patronised Aslam as he believed him to be the grandson of Shirin Jinnah who lived in penury. This is once again incorrect because Shirin Jinnah had only one child, Akbar Jafferbhoy, who never married and naturally had no children. However, Mahmud Ali, it is stated, got Aslam on the list of invitees at the Governor House and official functions and put him into the magazine.

Finally, Jonaid Iqbal concludes that if Aslam Jinnah belongs to the family and carries the name Jinnah, he deserves the respect of the Pakistani public. Sadly, there is a big 'if' according to the writer and the truth is that he is not the grandson of Jinnah or Shirin Jinnah or Ahmad Jinnah. How he became a Jinnah I do not know!

I have authored several publications on Jinnah, appeared in Jinnah-related litigation in the High Court, and control several Jinnah-related trusts and institutions. I have met all members of the Jinnah family and Walji Poonja family but not the Nathoo Poonja family.

The family of the Quaid (Jina Poonja descendants include Dina Wadia, Nusli Wadia (only grandson), Jay and Ness Wadia (great-grandsons) and the grandsons and granddaughters of the Quaid's two sisters Rehmatbai and Mariambai and these include Qulsoom Ibrahim, Zehra Chandoo, Gulshan Chandoo, Mohammad Ebrahim, Hussein Ebrahim, Abbas Peerbhoy, Rohina Peerbhoy, Liaquat Merchant, Moonira Kassam and other grandchildren of Rehmatbai and Mariambai living in Mumbai and Kolkata.

I hope this will put this controversy to an end. As for Majeed Nizami and Mahmud Ali extending support to a needy cause, no one can object. However, this sort of publicity adversely affects the Jinnah family in both Pakistan and India. Jinnah stopped his nephew Akbar Peerbhoy from disclosing his name in the book “Jinnah faces an Assassin” and also stopped his brother Ahmad from stating on his card that he was the brother of Quaid- i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

Can we imagine the Quaid's displeasure about someone, even if he is a distant kindred, using the surname Jinnah and stating that he is Jinnah's grandson or great-grandson? And yet some public functionaries and people in this country think this is acceptable.

I have no personal grudge against Aslam Jinnah if that is what he likes to be called, but the truth must not be distorted. Only Aslam can explain how he was given or acquired the name 'Jinnah' and how he is the grandson or great-grandson of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, son of Jina Poonja or Shirin Jinnah.

LIAQUAT H. MERCHANT
Karachi