Share

Jinnah’s politics

When Mohammad Ali Jinnah entered the politics of British India, the Muslim League did not exist then. However a reawakened Muslim consciousness was certainly present, as were those very first stirrings of demands for more authority. It was the turn of the century; Great Britain was at the height of its imperial glory.

A impecunious Khoja, socially very far from the Ashraf’s of India, not the inheritor of either family wealth, standing or name, did this young entrant to the cosmopolitan world of Bombay, etch his name so boldly and so indelibly on the social and political firmament of India? That was Mohammad Ali Jinnah, from Kathiawar,in the Indian State of Gujarat. It was then part of a small Kathiawari principality by the name of Gondal. In Paneli lived a family of Khoja Muslims.

In Karachi, on 25 Dcember was born a son to Mithibal and Jennabhai. After a prolonged discussion with Qazi’s and other relatives it was considered the name will be Mohammad Ali Jennabhai, the last a customary suffix being really the patronym. Mohammad Ali’s primary education was not formal, as customary teacher came to their home to teach later, he was shifted to Sindh-Madrassah and later on to Church Mission School. Upon the advice of Federick Leig-hcroft Jinnad was later sent to London. Before leaving for London he was married to Emi Bai in 1892.

In England the first tentative step of his future was taken. And it also here that he dropped the by now superfluous, also perhaps a somewhat curious sounding suffix to his name the word “bhai”, and changed the spelling of it too. He now became what he was to remain for the rest of his life: Mohammad Ali Jinnah.

There was also transition in the way that Jinnah had not just changed his name but also kept altering the spelling of his name: from being Mohomedalli Jinnahbhai, to a jettisoning of ‘Jennabhai’ and adopting to ‘Jinnah’; then on to Mahomed Alli Jinnah, and yet again then, dropping of the second ‘I’ from Alli.

Jinnah returned to India in 1896 but it was not to Karachi; there was, in reality no reason for him to do so. It was to Bombay and while he had been away from India, his bride Emi Bai had died, as had his mother.

At the beginning of 1913, the Viceroy proved his regard for Jinnah’s talents by nominating him, for a second term, to the Imperial Legislative Council. He seemed to flourish immediately: with this encouragement, he made a number of speeches on the Indian Extradition Bill, in March, and in April, a long address on the Criminal Law Amendment Bill. As a lawyer, he was a shrewd professional, but also as a stem keeper of the law. Some years later, the Raja of Mahmudabad said that Mohammed Ali Jinnah was “no apostle of frenzy,’ a fact that was already apparent in these early debates. During his speech on the Criminal Law Amendment Bill, Jinnah said, “I wish to express that every attempt on the part of my countrymen to undermine the authority of the Government, and to disturb law and order, deserves the strongest condemnation and the highest punishment/’ Such mal contents were, he said, ” the biggest enemies of his My country “and his “people”.

He continued, “I believe in criticizing the Government, freely and frankly, but, at the same time that it is the duty of every educated man to support and help the Government when the Government is right” Jinnah spoke then of those of his countrymen who were responsible for political crimes. ‘Let those men who still have these misguided ideas ; let those men who still have these hallucinations, realize that, by anarchism, by dastardly crimes, they cannot bring about good government : let them realize that these methods have not  succeeded in any country in the world, and are not likely to succeed in India.” The word ‘Holiday’ was alien to Jinnah’s busy mind. During the visit to London, he added two important chapters to his story: he helped to create the London Indian Association, and he made surprising decision by agreeing to join the Muslim League, on the eve of his return to India. The problems of the Indian students in England, in 1913, were more complicated than they had been when Jinnah was studying law at Lincoln’s Inn, twenty years before. In 1890’s, there was a small Indian colony-mostly sons of noble, rich or privileged families and it had been easy to admit them to the English universities and Inns of Court. By 1913, Indians were migrating to England in large numbers, and they were beginning to use English education to strengthen their hostility towards the British rule.

These cryptic subjects of the King-Emperor brought their politics into the silence of England’s ancient places, and the intrusion was presented. However with their politics, they brought also their caste-system; instead of meeting socially and enjoying their adventure in scholarship, they divided themselves into many little groups, each with its own hobby-horse. There were grievances on both sides, and, to avert folly, some Indian leaders, and their English friends, met and formed the London Indian Association.

Their aim was to remove restrictions imposed upon Indians wishing to enter the universities and Inns of Court; also to acquire a central club-house in which the students could meet, for debates and social pleasures.

A glow of ‘nobleness’ comes into the story of Indian affairs with the beginning of the 1914 World War. Leaders of both Congress and the Muslim League rested their differences and promised to help the Government. Rulers of Native States pledged their support, in arms and money. Jinnah no doubt agreed to these demands, but the war did not divert him in his quest for Hindu-Muslim unity. When he spoke to the Bombay Muslim Students Union, on February 13, 1915, he directed the boys to the virtues of” discipline” and self-reliance”: he deplored racial discrimination and urged them for co-operation, unity and goodwill” between the Mohammedans and other communities of the country.

He appealed to them to do away with dissensions “with all their “might “. In December 1915, Congress was due to hold its annual session, in Bombay. Jinnah, with the approval of leading local Muslims, sent a letter inviting the members of the All-India Muslim League to hold their annual session in the same place and at the same time. This rave move was in line with his own liberal political creed. 28 years after, he recalled his aims at this time: he said,” undaunted, hope sprang eternally in my heart and soul. I was not going to give up.” He wished neither to absorb the League into the Hindu-dominated Congress, nor to weaken Congress by exposing it to the sectarian character of the League. He wished only for unity, and he was supported in this by a number of moderate leaders in both communities; enough for him to hope that the dream might come true. Jinnah had to endure cynical and violent opposition, from extremists in both Congress and the League; also from those few Britons, who still believed in the policy of divide and Rule ‘who thought that Britain’s strength in India depended greatly on the political differences between the two communities.

Now Jinnah had to turn aside, momentarily, from the big issue of unity, and try to reconcile the antagonized elements within the League. Their load of prejudices might have made him despair: some believed that as the League was pledged to self-government within the Empire, they should not marry Congress, which was anti-British at heart; others argued that the League should disband, because Turkey the home of the Caliphate was now allied to Germany, in the war against England. Jinnah appealed to them. We are bound by our constitution. Reverence for and obedience to that constitution, and discipline, are absolutely necessary qualities to enable us to say that we are fit for real political franchise, freedom and self-government. At this juncture we are watched not only by India but by the whole of the British Empire, of which we aspire to be an independent, free and equal member. He asked, Can we not bury our differences and show a united front? It will make our Hindu friends value us all the more and will make them feel, more than ever, that we are worthy of standing shoulder to shoulder with them.

Jinnah broke ties with the Congress when Gandhi, launched a Non-Cooperation Movement against the British, which Jinnah disapproved of. Unlike most Congress leaders, Gandhi did not wear western-style clothing, did his best to use an Indian language instead of English, and was deeply rooted in Indian culture. Gandhi’s local style of leadership gained great popularity with the Indian people. Jinnah criticized Gandhi’s support of the Khilafat Movement, which he saw as an endorsement of religious zealotry. Jinnah quit the Congress, with a prophetic warning that Gandhi’s method of mass struggle would lead to divisions between Hindus and Muslims and within the two communities. In September 1923, Jinnah was elected as Muslim member for Bombay in the new Central Legislative Assembly.

He showed great talent as a parliamentarian, organized many Indian members to work with the Swaraj Party, and continued to press demands for a self rule government. He was so active on a wide range of subjects that in 1925 he was offered a Knighthood by Lord Reading, who was retiring from the position of Viceroy and Governor General. Jinnah replied: “I prefer to be plain Mr. Jinnah”. In 1927, Jinnah entered negotiations with Muslim and Hindu leaders on the issue of a future constitution, during the struggle against the all-British Simon Commission. The League wanted separate electorates while the Nehru Report favored joint electorates. Jinnah personally opposed separate electorates, but then drafted compromises and put forth demands that he thought would satisfy both. These became known as the 14 points of Mr Jinnah. However, they were rejected by the Congress and other political parties.

What made Jinnah decide to abandon the hope of reconciliation with the Congress? No single incident perhaps, but the cumulative weight of countless petty insults and disagreements added to the pressure of time and age.. He would not go softly or silently. “The struggle that we are carrying on is not merely for loaves and fishes, ministerships and jobs, nor are we opposed to the economic, social and educational uplift of our countrymen as it is falsely alleged” said Jinnah.

Jinnah’s personal life and especially his marriage suffered during this period due to his political work. Although they worked to save their marriage by travelling together to Europe when he was appointed to the Sandhurst committee, the couple separated in 1927. Jinnah was deeply saddened when Rattanbai died in 1929, after a serious illness.  At the Round Table Confrence in London, Jinnah was disillusioned by the breakdown of talks. After the failure of the Round Table Conferences, Jinnah returned to London for a few years. In 1936, he returned to India to reorganize Muslim League and contest elections held under the provisions of the 1935 Act.

On October 4, 1930 Jinnah sailed for London. Ever guarded and secretive about his private life, Jinnah made no pronouncement of future plans on the eve of his departure. Those who knew him assumed, of course, that he was merely packing in preparation for the Round Table conference. But he was planning his next step up the ladder of the law, to transfer his practice entirely to appeals before London’s Privy Council, the highest court in the empire. In mid August he had invited Dr. Mohammad Iqbal to preside over the Muslim League’s annual session, which he would not himself attend. He had lost almost as much faith in his Muslim colleagues as in the Hindus. They could agree on virtually nothing. Jinnah was fed up with petty conflicts and nights of endless argument. The Round Table would be serving as the setting for his final act on British India’s political stage. And should the curtain there descend on a flop at least that would leave him in London.

However, a new proposal of the Muslim Position was being articulated at a poorly attended meeting of Muslim League in Allahabad, on December 29, 1930. That meeting was presided over by Dr.Mohammad Iqbal. Though a barrister of Lincoln’s Inn. He joined the League’s British committee when it was first started in London in 1908. In Allahabad Iqbal was the first to articulate the two-nation theory of irreconcilable Hindu-Muslim differences. He went not calling for complete national separation as yet but insisted that “the principal of European Democracy cannot be applied to India without recognized the fact that of communal groups.

The Muslims demanded for the creation of a Muslim India within India, is therefore perfectly justified.” He then went further than other presidents of the League had ever gone, spelling out his vision of the future “final destiny” of the Muslim Community of his own Punjab and its neighboring provinces. “I would like to see the Punjab, the North-West Frontier Provinces, Sind and Baluchistan amalgamated into a single state. Self-government within the British empire or with the British Empire, the formation of consolidated North-West Indian Muslim State appears to me to be the final destiny of the Muslims, at least of the North-West India.” Iqbal did not feel optimistic about the round Table conference and in the concluding section of his Allahabad speech, criticized British for refusing “to see that the problem of India is International.”

In Cambridge a pamphlet was published in 1933, by a thirty-five old Muslim “student’ from the Punjab, Chuodhary Rahamat Ali. Now or Never was its title; it was subtitled Are We to Live or Perish for Ever? The shadowy Rahamat Ali identified himself as “Founder of the Pakistan Nation Movement” and named three associates, also Cambridge students, Mohammad Aalam Khan, Sheikh Mohammad Sadiq, and Inayat Ullah Khan who apparently contributed to the contents of his pamphlets, which first publicized the name     “Pakstan.” Rahmat Ali’s “proposed solution for the great Hindu-Muslim problem” was written “on behalf of the thirty million Muslims of PAKISTAN, who live in the five Northern Units of India-Punjab, N.W.F.P. [Afghan province], Kashmir, Sindh, and Baluchistan, embodying their inexorable demand for the recognition of their separate national status as distinct from the rest of India.”

While this early 1933 demand clearly derived inspiration, at least in part, from Iqbal’s Allahabad address of December 1930, the Cambridge founder of this “Pakistan National Movement” insisted that their plan was “basically different from the suggestion put forward by Doctor Sir Mohammad Iqbal,” whose Northwest “unit” was to have remain with all-India federation, by insisting: “These provinces should have a separate Federation of their own. There can be no peace an tranquility in the land if we, the Muslims, are duped into Hindu-dominated Federation where we cannot be the masters of our own destiny and captains of our own souls.”  Soon after the Pakistan pamphlet was printed, testimony by several by conservative British officials before Parliament’s Joint Committee on proposed Constitutional Reforms echoed that as yet obscure demand. Sir Micheal O’Dwyer testified before that committee in mid-June, arguing against an     all-India federation since “if the Federal Government, with a Hindu majority, endeavor to force its will on provinces with a Muslim majority , what is to prevent a breakaway of the Punjab, Sind, Baluchistan and N.W.F.P as already foreshadowed and their possibly forming a Muslim Federation of their own.”

At that time the Muslim League leadership including Mr. Jinnah did not support or even considered the idea of Pakistan. Up till that time Mr. Jinnah was an ardent supporter of Hindu-Muslim unity in British India. Mr. Jinnah’s interview to the AP two days after the AIML Council Meeting in New Delhi on April 1st and 2nd, 1934 clearly shows that he still hoped for Hindu-Muslim unity. However the conditions changed rapidly after the elections in 1937, when the Congress did not honor its commitment to accept Ministers nominated by Muslim League in accordance with the agreement made before the elections. The policies enforced by the Congress governments and the behavior of their Ministers in the Muslim minority provinces proved even to the most ardent nationalist Muslim leaders the futility of expecting any fair play by the Congress. The Muslim leadership finally adopted the demand for the partition of British India by passing the Lahore Resolution on, March 23, 1940 at the Annual Session of the Muslim League. This resolution called for establishment of independent Muslim states; however the Hindu press dubbed it as Pakistan Resolution and eventually the Muslim League also adopted the name Pakistan.

History has proved the correctness of the decision of the Quaid and the leadership of the Muslim League. Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s speech of August 11, 1947, in the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. “You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. This speech was made while the East Punjab had been engulfed in massive killing of Muslims, and shortly after the Quaid had been informed of the bombing near Bathinda of the special train carrying Muslim government servants from New Delhi. He was rightly afraid of reprisals against the Sikh and Hindu minorities in Pakistan. This speech is about law and order, and assures the minorities that they have nothing to fear, that, in the administration and justice, the state shall not practice any discrimination. It gives assurance to the minorities that in Pakistan there shall be no discrimination on religious grounds, which is exactly what Islam teaches. The remarks of Hector Bolitho about this speech are, “The words are Jinnah’s; the thought and belief are an inheritance from the Prophet S.A.W who said thirteen centuries before, “All men are equal in the eyes of God. And your lives and your properties are all sacred; in no case should you attack each other’s life and property.

Today I trample under my feet all distinctions of caste, color and nationality”. Regarding the treatment of minorities in his speech at lslamia College Bombay on 1, February 1943 the Jinnah said,” As far as we are concerned we make this solemn declaration and give this solemn assurance that we will treat your minorities not only in a manner that a civilized government should treat them but better because it is an injunction in the Quran to treat the minorities so.”

Jinnah was a strict constitutionalist and very particular in the choice of words. He said exactly what he meant leaving no room for interpretation. On June 18, 1945, in his message to the Frontier Students Federation the Jinnah said, that, “Pakistan not only means freedom and independence, but     preservation of Muslim ideology”.  Jinnah being a barrister never left unchallenged a statement contrary to fact or likely to be misinterpreted. Now Constitutionally Independent at midnight between the 14th and 15th August 1947. The Quaid assumed charge as the Governor General of Pakistan on August 15, 1947. Soon after that Jinnah riveted himself to work. The colossal task of building Pakistan from scratch needed his immediate attention. Since the Lahore Resolution of 1940, he never rested even for a moment. But he surpassed himself after becoming the first head of the biggest Muslim State. From the day he arrived in Karachi on August 7, till he breathed his last, is a tale of self abnegation, exemplary devotion to duty and intense activity.  In 1948, Jinnah’s health began to falter, hindered further by the heavy workload that had fallen upon him following Pakistan’s creation. Even at the hour of triumph, Jinnah was sick and in pain. He had little or no appetite; he had lost his gift of being able to sleep at will and he passed many sleepless nights; also, his cough increased and with it his temperature. The harrowing tales of the sufferings of the refugees affected him deeply.

Of the numerous disputes with India and domestic worries, evidently the unsolved problem of Kashmir, his inability to complete the Constitution of the new state of Pakistan, and the plight of the millions of refugees who had arrived in their new homeland utterly destitute affected him the most. The scale of the refugee problem and the depth of the tragedy were indeed heart rendering. For Pakistan the problem of coping with the refugees was proportionately far more serious than it was for India. Her territory and resources were much smaller and her administration was still in its infancy. It was not only the plight of the Muslim refugees who had arrived from India that grieved the Quaid-i-Azam deeply. The sad condition of the     Hindus in Pakistan hurt him no less. Apart from Kashmir, there were two Princely states Junagadh and Hyderabad that formed the subject of disputes between India and Pakistan. All the states in the subcontinent except these three had acceded either to India or Pakistan by 14th August 1947.

It so happened that all these three were ruled by princes whose own religion was different from that of the majority of their subjects. Attempting to recuperate, he spent many months at his official retreat in Ziarat, but died on September 11, 1948 from a combination of tuberculosis and lung cancer. His funeral was followed by the construction of a massive mausoleum – Mazar-e-Quaid – in Karachi to honor him; official and military ceremonies are hosted there on special occasions.

One of the dramatic things put forward by the two French authors, “Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins” in their book “Freedom at Midnight” was their conversation with Lord Mountbatten in 1980’s, which is: We never failed to discuss the often unexpected findings of our research with Lord Louis Mountbatten. One day we showed him a report of our meeting with the Indian doctor who in 1947 had treated the founder of Pakistan, Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Reading it made him blanch suddenly. ‘I can’t believe it!’ he gasped. ‘Good God!’, when he looked up again, the blue eyes that were usually so calm were shinning with intense emotions. He swiped the air several times with our sheet of paper. ‘If I’d only know all this at the time, the course of history would have been different. I would have delayed the granting of independence for several months. There would have been no Partition. Pakistan would not have existed. India would have remained united. There wars would have been avoided…’Lord Louis was astounded.

The reports described in details a chest X-ray we had discovered with Jinnah’s doctors. The plate confirmed the advanced stage of tuberculosis. In the spring of 1947, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the inflexible Muslim leader who had quashed all Mountbatten efforts to preserve India’s unity knew he had only a few months left to live.