Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, The Greatest Leader of the Century
Muhammad Zahid Khan Lodhi
No single individual had a greater role for the liberation of Indian Muslims and the creation of a sovereign and independent state for them, than the Quaid-i-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. His achievement lies in the fact that the single-handedly fought two rival nations i.e. the Hindus and the British. Within a short span of seven years after the Lahore Resolution was passed in March 1940, he successfully steered the ship of his nation to an independent state.
The year 1940 is considered as a landmark in the history of Indo-Pakistan subcontinent as it proved a turning point in the Hind-Muslim relationship. The Muslim League categorically declared that the Hindu – Muslim unity was “neither possible nor practicable” because Hinduism and Islam were not only two different religions but also two paradoxical, different and distinct social orders. The working of Congress ministries in the Hindu dominated provinces had also given the Muslim a bitter experience. So the Lahore resolution was passed on 23rd march, 1940 under the charismatic leadership of the Quaid-i-Azam. The Muslim League declared that nothing short of the demand of Pakistan shall be acceptable to the League.
In order to counter the determination of a separate homeland for the Muslims, the Indian National Congress and its Hindu leaders restored to negative secret overtures with the British government. Lord Wavell, the British Viceroy in India, had still to complete his tenure of office. An impartial and neutral Viceroy amongst the two nations was unsuited to the Hindus. They wanted a new viceroy who could possibly yield to their wishes.
With the change of government in London i.e. overthrow of Churchill’s Conservative ministry and installation of Attlee’s Labour government the Congress leaders thought that it was high time for them to avail of the opportunity. In order to gain their ulterior motives, the Hindus started a high level propaganda against Lord Wavell. The services of pro-Congress ministers, like Sir Stafford Cripps and Lord Pethick Lawrence were also fully utilised. Consequently, Wavell was recalled and Mountbatten appointed for a brief period of 143 days as the last Viceroy of the British government the shortest tenure of a Viceroy in the history of British India.
It was almost a mission with Mountabattan and the British government to leave behind a United India after their departure from the subcontinent. The Hindu leaders urged Mountbatten to play a “historic” role in this connection.1 Mountbatten himself confessed:
“Nothing I have seen or heard in the past few weeks has shaken my firm opinion that with a reasonable measure of goodwill between the communities a United India would be by far the best solution of the problem.”2
To quote him again:
“My own feeling was that a united India was, of course, the right answer….3
He “argued endlessly the case of a unified India.”4 A unified India with a strong Centre was his best choice, while a United India with a weak centre was his second best.5
The Quaid was most distressed at the way Mountbatten’s mind was working for a united India because it meant permanent and complete subjugation of the Muslims by the Hindus i.e. freedom not for the Muslims but for the Hindus only. Mountbatten considered it as a “very great tragedy” if the Quaid would force him to give up the idea of a united India.6
It was on account of the unshakable stand taken by the Quaid-i-Azam that the “reluctant”7 Mountbatten, the British government and the Congress leaders had to bow and agree upon the division of India.
Mountbatten called the Quaid as “a psychopathetic case” who was “intent on his Pakistan”.8
Like the Hindus, Mountbatten never wanted to divide the subcontinent. In other word, he wanted to give freedom to the Hindus but not to the Muslims of Indo-Pakistan subcontinent. In his ideal state for India (united India with a strong centre) the Muslims would have been ruined for ever: In fact, the Indian National Congress and the Hindu leaders had always worked for a strong Centre prior to independence. Even, in Mountbatten’s sub-ideal Indian State (united India with a weak centre) the Muslims would have been at the mercy of the Hindus. The Quaid-i-Azam wanted that after the departure of the British the Muslims should also have real freedom like the Hindus. Mountbatten acted upon the wishes of the Hindu leaders and considered it as a “very great tragedy”9 if the Quaid would force him to give up the idea of a united India.
However, due to the firm stand of the Quaid, Mountbatten and the Hindus had to yield the partition to India.
By 1947, there existed no practicable alternative to some kind of division of the British Raj between Muslims and non-Muslims, though this might have been achieved in practice in a number of ways. In the event, by May 1947 the type of Partition proposed by Mountbatten seemed to offer the only escape from a political impasse.10
Since the partition of India had become inevitable, Mountbatten and the Hindu leaders were now determined not to let Pakistan be a viable and strong state. Their ultimate object was to unite India again. Pandit Nehru made no secret of his belief that Pakistan would not survive and eventually India would be one country.11 Similarly, Mountbatten had the greatest doubts about the birth, survival and future of Pakistan.
In order to favour the Hindus and make Pakistan a weak and feeble state, Mountbatten jeopardised the Muslims interests through the sinister device of “other factors” which only worked for the benefit of Bharat. On this pretext, he sliced away certain Muslim majority areas from Pakistan.
Before Mountbatten left for India in March 1947, he gave no indication in London of the necessity for the hurricane speed for the transfer of power. The British government had declared to grant independence to India in June 1948. Mountbatten wanted to shift the date of independence ten months earlier. The question arises why did he precipitate the date of independence? Was he too eager for the independence of India than the Indians themselves? Nehru saw in the hurriedly vivisected subcontinent a “stepping-stone”12 to a united India and Mountbatten acted accordingly. Their object was to pressurise the Quaid-i-Azam and the Muslim leaders not to manage the affairs of Pakistan in a haste.
In order to implement the Hindu scheme of making Pakistan an inherently weak state, the newly emerged state was deprived of its military and financial assets. Mountbatten not only announced the premature closure of Supreme Headquarters but also failed in the performance of his legal and moral duties to hand over to Pakistan its just share of assets. He deliberately manipulated indefensible and vulnerable boundaries between Pakistan and Bharat in order to make defence an uphill task for them, particularly for the new state of Pakistan.
The early period after the independence was very crucial for the survival of Pakistan. Those were the days of great turmoil in its history. Pakistan’s enemies were out and out determined to wipe out its existence; and openly declared that it would not survive. Pakistan’s financial assets were not released, and its 36% share of military assets was also withheld by India. The withholding of cash balances and military assets could practically jam the working of its administrative machinery and render its defence weak and vulnerable. The country had yet to coin its money and establish its State Bank. Pakistan was almost penniless. Its borders with India were indefensible. Pakistan had to start everything from a “scratch”13. The refugee problem and the Muslim genocide in India were threatening issues for the independence of Pakistan which the newly born country was “unprepared to stand”. Even our friends said that Pakistan would not survive the refugee problem.”14 One million Muslims lost their lives in the communal riots while 7 million refugees came to Pakistan from across the border.
The man who faced and solved all these problems with courage and determination was the Quaid-i-Azam. With his failing health, weak and feeble physique, he roared like a lion: “Pakistan has come to stay and play its great role for which it is destined….Nothing on earth no can undo Pakistan.”15 Being undaunted he could not be subdued by anybody and stood firm like a rock in angry seas. He had to accomplish his mission of a separate homeland for the Indian Muslims and look after the management and consolidation of Pakistan. It is the irony of fate that the Quaid-i-Azam could not live long and died one year and twenty six days after the creation of Pakistan. He lived and died for Pakistan.
No man in the history of Indian Muslims had been so loved and idealized. No man in living memory evoked such unquestioned loyalty, such unqualified devotion and such unbounded faith than the Quaid-i-Azam. Forty days mourning was rightly declared by the Government of Pakistan after his death. Leaders of different states of the world condoled his death and paid glowing tributes to him. The British Prime Minister, Mr. Attlee said; “Mr. Jinnah’s unswerving devotion to the ideal of Pakistan and his tireless work for it will always be remembered.”16 The British Chancellor of Exchequer, Sir Stafford Cripps stated, “Mr. Jinnah was a man of honest convictions and clear purpose. No one could for a moment doubts his whole – hearted and single minded devotion to the cause of the Muslims of the Indian continent. It was the honesty of his convictions and the clarity of his purpose which marked him out as a great leader of his people.”17 The Quaid’s loss was not only a loss for Pakistan but for the entire Muslim world.
- The Transfer of Power, details vol xi, no. 531, pp. 946-51, Krishna Menon’s letter to Mountbatten dated 13 March 1947.
- Mountbatten’s broadcast on 3 June 1947, The Transfer of Power, vol xi no. 44, p. 86.
- Mountbatten’s address at a press conference held in New Delhi on 4 June 1947.
- Philip Ziegler, Mountbatten: The Official Biography, Collins, London, 1985, p. 368.
- The Transfer of Power, vol.x,p. xvii; no. 119, p. 190.
- Ibid., no. 42, p. 164.
- Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, Freedom at Midnight, Collins, London, 1975, pp. 93 and 235. Gandhi was so desperate to avoid partition that he wanted to “give Jinnah all India instead of just the part he wanted., the baby instead of cutting it in half.” Ibid.
- The Transfer of Power, vol.x, no. 119, p. 190.
- Ibid., no. 42, p. 164.
- The Pakistan Times, Lahore, 10 December 1991, p. De.
- Jinnah to Attlee. Letter no. 1523-GG/47, Ist October 1947.
- M. Rafique Afzal ed. Speeches and Statements of Quaid-i-Millat Liaquat Ali Khan (1941-51), Research Society of Pakistan, Lahore, 2nd edition, 1975, p. 250.
- Jamiluddin Ahmad, Speeches and Writings of Mr. Jinnah, M. Ashraf, Lahore, vol. ii, 1976, pp. 422, 464, 480.
- The Pakistan Times, 14 Sep. 1948 p. 4c.
- Ibid., 16 Sep. 1948 p. 4 a.