Jinnah of Pakistan

A couple of months back, I was so stricken by the destruction of Jinnah’s residency in Ziarat by Baluchistan nationalists. I couldn’t help feeling pangs of patriotism rushing through me. It made me curious to explore, the life of this pragmatic leader of South Asia.

One of the tragedies of Pakistani youngsters of my generation is - knowing Jinnah, always as the ‘Quaid-e-Azam,’ through text books from our schools. However, a saint like picture of an impeccable Jinnah painted in these books always seemed to me too good to be true. On the other hand, it’s rare that you find accounts of Jinnah that are not amalgamated with Indian biases towards this man – the one who absolutely stood unbent in the face of two of India’s most popular leaders– Gandhi and Nehru and their insistence on a united India.

Then I hit upon Stanley Wolpert’s, Jinnah of Pakistan. It is the first account of Jinnah I have read that doesn’t portray him as a prophet nor villainies him as some pigheaded opposing Gandhi and Nehru for his vested interests. When I opened this book, I was hooked on by these opening lines in the preface: '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. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.'

At the start, the book just felt like another chapter from Pakistan Studies text book since the book covers a broader canvas – Jinnah’s life from birth till death. But this was the first account of Jinnah I found no difficulty to believe in. As the charming, eloquent, intelligent and always wining advocate turns into a stubborn, cold, and egoistic man, who was so accustomed to of the idea of winning that failure wasn't a choice for him. Those who have read the book would agree that I'm not denouncing Jinnah, I'm instead praising him! Despite all this, he was the most extraordinary man this land could ever produce.

Jinnah was rather secular and more westernised. He never felt an attachment to the great masses of Indians and didn't feel he could communicate with people on that level. He would much later find that he could, as he finally convinced the Muslim masses that they would have to partition India and that he was the man to lead them.

The book doesn't focus on his triumphs only but his pain and failures are also part of the book. Small anecdotes and major incidents of Jinnah’s life are well narrated. Jinnah’s love and marriage to Ruttie is one of the most interesting parts of the book. Here is an excerpt from the book on death of Ruttie, ‘It (the funeral) was a painfully slow ritual. Jinnah sat silent through all of its five hours. As Ruttie’s body was being lowered into the grave, Jinnah as the nearest relative was the first to throw the earth on the grave. He broke down suddenly and wept and sobbed like a child for minutes together. That was the only time when I found Jinnah betraying some shadow of human weakness.’

Angel or devil, it won't be wrong if I say freedom of India may the result of rioting freedom fighters and post WW II constraints on Briton, but formation of Pakistan can be solely credited to one man - That is Jinnah!

20:03 hours
Sunday 3 August 2013

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