Election Campaign 1965

by Dr. Sarfraz Hussain Mirza

Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah who stood high in national esteem not only because she was the sister of the Founder of Pakistan but also because she was a great lady in her own right for having rendered invaluable services during the freedom movement.

After the death of Quaid-i-Azam, she often issued different statements on different occasions as reminders to the nation of the ideals on which Pakistan had been established.

Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah contested Presidential election against the ruling President General Muhammad Ayub Khan. Although she lost but gave a tough time to a Military ruler questioning the validity of the Presidential system which she stressed to be substituted by the old Parliamentary System.

Due to her selfless work for Pakistan, the nation conferred upon her the title of Madar-i-Millat (mother of the nation). In early fifties she was addressed as Khatoon-e-Pakistan.

Let there be no doubt that it was she who injected fresh blood into the dying arteries of the nation during first Martial Law regime. She infused spirit in the rank and file of the dejected Pakistanis who were practically left leaderless.

If one looks at the politico-democratic scenario after the death of the Quaid, it would appear that political bickerings ransacked all norms of democratic growth in the country. The road to democracy was willfully blocked. The democratic basis on which the country’s edifice rested was purposely damaged. The people were devoid of their representation in 1951 elections. Furthermore, proposed elections of 1954 were not held smelling defeat in eastern part of the country. Such an act, in fact, laid the first brick of the murder of democracy in Pakistan. Thereafter, a series of undemocratic practices further added barriers one after another against the restoration of democracy.

Immediately after the assassination of Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan, Khawaja Nazimuddin’s undemocratic step from head of the State to that of Chief Executive leaving the portfolio open for a bureaucrat can hardly find any appreciable place in our history. The result was that in 1953, the in-coming Governor General removed Khawaja Nazimuddin in a humiliating way and nominated Mohammad Ali Bogra as Prime Minister. Such an act leaves a question mark. The new set up could not work well and he, too, met the same fate and, this time, not only the Chief Executive but along with him, the Assembly was also dismissed. This happened in 1954 when the country’s constitution was likely to be placed before the Assembly. Speaker of the Assembly, Maulvi Tamizuddin won the case in the Sindh High Court but the Supreme Court favoured the Government. This decision proved disastrous for the cause of democracy. A little later, the new Constituent Assembly came in. This time Governor General Ghulam Muhammad included two army personnel in the cabinet paving the way for an easy overthrow of the parliamentary government. The two Military Generals and one bureaucrat at the helm of affairs played havoc with the country.

Chaudhary Mohammad Ali successfully got approved the new Constitution and the nation heaved a sigh of relief but this too was short - lived as the Governor General who was now called President forced him to resign and invited Syed Hussain Shaheed Suharwardi to form the Government. Within a year, Suharwardi also met the same fate of his predecessor and I. I. Chundrigar was brought in. This was the year 1957. His tenure lasted for 56 days and then came Firoze Khan Noon who was sacked after ten months. Marital Law was promulgated in October 1958 that put an end to the growth of democratic institutions in Pakistan. The seed sown in 1958 grew up in the shape of a poisonous tree though brief intervals did occur to protect the right of self-determination but all in vain.

The foremost of these intervals was in 1964-65 when Presidential elections were announced. At this crucial juncture of our history, the nation looked upon Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah as its’ saviour. She was held in high esteem by the people of Pakistan, who despite her old age had remained active in social and educational fields keeping herself away from practical politics since the departure of the Quaid. Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, the constant source of help and encouragement for the nation now came to the forefront and at the persistent requests of the 5-party Opposition gave her consent to contest the election not because she aspired for the portfolio but for responding to the call of the nation and for the restoration of democracy. Despite of her old age she traveled throughout the country for election campaign. During this campaign, she delivered thought-provoking speeches and pin-pointed all important national issues. Her whirlwind tours, eloquent addresses, show of undaunted determination and courage, persuasion to people to preserve the integrity of the county opened a new chapter in the democratic life of the people of Pakistan. This gave a severe blow to the ruling dictator whose authority was challenged. He had missed the time. The bell had rung. He had to fight tooth and nail. Though he succeeded apparently but lost his stature in the eyes of the nation. No historian will be able to say that at a time when democracy was at stake, the revered sister of the great democratic leader had remained inactive. She responded to the call of the nation and worked indefatigably for the cause of democracy.

Madar-i-Millat launched her electioneering campaign on September 20, 1964 from Karachi. From October 1, she began touring West Pakistan from Peshawar. From October to December 1964, she visited Lahore four times. Her first Address was at Mochi Gate. She made her second speech in a gathering of Lawyers in November. The third was at Gol Bagh in December. The fourth was also in the same month. On 4 October, 1964 she was given a warm reception at Gulistan-e-Fatima, Lahore. On this occasion, a cheque amounting to rupees three thousand was presented to her on behalf of the Lahore Bar Association for election campaign. It was also assured that Madar-i-Millat would be fully supported for the Presidential candidature.

On 6 October, 1964 she met the journalists of Lahore at Railway Station. She expressed her thanks to Lahorites for having started vigorous election campaign in her support.

Madar-i-Millat commenced her formal election campaign from Mochi Gate, Lahore in October 1964. While addressing a mammoth public gathering, she touched every important national issue is reproduced below in detail. She said:-

"It is after a long lapse of time that today I have the opportunity of meeting you. I am touched by the warmth and sincerity of the welcome you have extended to me. Standing in your midst my mind goes to the time when 24 years ago the representatives of the Muslims of the sub-continent adopted in this city the historic Pakistan Resolution at the session of the All-India Muslim League under the Quaid-i-Azam’s dynamic leadership.

Lahore made history and gave a lead which changed the face of the sub-continent, culminating finally in the most marvelous event of modern times, the creation of a State on ideological foundations in the teeth of the bitterest opposition.

Today, 17 years after the inception of Pakistan you are again faced with a critical situation, and you have to take a momentous decision. The problem before you is the realisation of the ideals and objectives for which Pakistan was brought into being and to win back those basic rights and liberties which belong to you as citizens of a free State."

Tracing the landmarks of the Pakistan Movement, she made a reference of the Pakistan Resolution and said;

"When you adopted the Lahore Resolution you had before you the vision of a State in which every citizen would be treated as a decent human being possessing rights and responsibilities in which everyone would be assured of fundamental rights, equality of opportunity and basic necessities of life, in which the principles of Islamic social justice would find free play.

Whatever the causes, that vision has not been realised. If anything, the people’s right and liberties have been circumscribed, the people’s sovereignty is only a euphemism, they are told that they are unfit to exercise vote in a system of direct elections and they are expected to cling to the very fetters that have been put round them.

In such conditions there is no room for the growth of a healthy democratic body-politic. The people do not experience a sense of participation in the administration of the affairs of the country and its progress and development is naturally retarded."

While criticizing the ruler she said;

"There is today a wide cleavage between the people who want free democratic institutions and between the clique of the rulers who want absolute power in their own hands and who in order to mislead the people at home and abroad, are trying to set a façade of democratic institutions which have no substantial power and which do not enjoy any respect.

They have arrogated to themselves all the patriotism and all the understanding and claim that they alone, and none else, understand what is good for the country and what is in the interest of the people. Today they have discovered that democracy does not suit the genius of our people. On the contrary it is a recorded fact of history that without people’s clear understanding, Pakistan could not have been achieved."

She further said;

"My attention has been drawn to a virulent personal attack made by the other Presidential Candidate, almost immediately after his Governor’s appeal to the opposition to avoid such attacks. It smacks of bitterness, frustration and anger. On the one hand Mr. Muhammad Ayub Khan has appealed for cooperation from the opposition for dignity and decorum, on the other hand he has made sweeping allegations against all of us which shows loss of sense of proportion. I would not have taken any notice of it, but now I find that it is being repeated and repeated.

He has said that I have no right to destroy Pakistan. I do not claim any such right. It is incomprehensible that I would even think of destroying Pakistan which is a permanent monument to my brother, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and for whose achievement I have also made my humble contribution.

I have brought about unity amongst a large section of the people from one end of the country to the other. All the five parties today are speaking with one voice from one platform demanding the rights and privileges which have been denied to them. Is this destroying Pakistan? I think the country has been consolidated and saved from the danger it might be exposed to.

He has said that I am the easiest opponent to defeat. Ladies and gentlemen I would like to ask why should he then worry? It is not for me to answer this. This answer must come from you.

And if today elections were held under adult franchise you have already given your verdict in favour of your choice. But in the present circumstances you will have to be constantly watching and vigilant so that the result is in accordance with your wishes and aspirations."

While thanking the Bar, she said;

"Let me take this opportunity to say that it is a source of great satisfaction to me that the Bar Association have spoken with one voice. From all the corners of the country the clarion calls have been sounded by the learned friends of the Bar.

I congratulate them on their prompt and whole-hearted support. I am proud of them that they have understood the issues so well and so quickly. They have upheld the traditions of their profession so honourably and so fearlessly- the traditions that were dear to the Founder of Pakistan all his life, traditions which were jealously and courageously guarded by him.

I also congratulate the intelligentsia, the intellectuals and the educated classes and above all the masses who are the backbone of the nation for their overwhelming support in this campaign which we have launched.

I would, therefore, call upon you to spread out and carry this message of freedom, democracy and a life of honour and dignity to every home, village and nook and corner of your province."

"No people can defend their country if they do not have the capacity, courage and determination to fight for their rights. If we yield to temptation, to corruption and coercion and force today at home then, believe me, tomorrow if Pakistan is in danger you will not be left with the courage and strength which is so essential for the defence of your motherland.

Therefore go about fearlessly and let everyone of you decide that you will select a person who conforms and subscribes to those objectives and who faithfully discharges his duty so that we can live in Pakistan free from fear and walk with our heads in dignity at home and attain for us a place abroad which is rightfully ours.

People are the real sovereign power, it is for them to see the organs of State functioning in consonance with their will and wishes. If you are untied in your efforts you have nothing to fear, united we can remove all impediments in our way. Therefore, let us pool our resources in this gigantic task of restoring the sovereign rights of the people.

I hope you will rise to the occasion and give your verdict with a thumping majority in the achievement of freedom."

Madar-i-Millat addressed a huge gathering of Lawyers on 16 November, 1964. Thanking the audience she said that the peoples’ participation in the campaign on such a large scale had proved that they were out and out for restoration of democracy in the country. She said that the people had struck the last nail in the coffin of dictatorship and that they had courageously lined up in the field to face every challenge of the ruling regime.

While criticizing the ruler, she said that the dictator has made the entire nation a hostage. The constitution that he gave to the nation revolved round him because it served his purpose well. It appears that kingship prevails in Pakistan. She further said that it was an irony of fate that when ever the ruler of the country desired, he handed over any part or resources of the country to the enemy so much so that he had sold the river waters for a hundred million rupees.

On her way to Rawalpindi from Bahawalpur, she addressed the political workers at Lahore Railway Station. She greatly admired their services in election campaign and said that their heroic struggle was destined to achieve the goal.

On December 1964, a letter from Ch. Ghulam Abbas, a prominent leader of All-Jammu and Kashmir Conference was read out on the occasion of a huge gathering at Gol Bagh (Now Nasir Bagh) Lahore. In this letter, she was assured of full support of the Kashmiris. While addressing the people she expressed her heartfelt thanks for the vigour and devotion of the people of Lahore fighting for the cause of democracy. She expressed her satisfaction saying that within a short period of three months, they had understood the gravity of the situation and the dire need for restoration of democracy for which they had given their verdict. She said that when the bulk of the nation had given their whole hearted support to democracy then there was no reason for the dictator to place barriers against democratic will. Continuing she said that the ruler believed that he was the only one who possessed wisdom whereas the fact was that it was due to his wrong policies that the country was facing hell of corruption and gross irregularities which had brought the country at the verge of destruction. She further said that by making the nation his hostage, he had damaged the image of the country. She said with determination that she with the help of his followers and the entire nation liberate the country from the clutches of the dictator.

On 12 December, 1964 she addressed a gathering of Electoral College organised by the Election Commission. On this occasion, she gave prompt answers to different questions raised from amongst the audience. During the course of her address she said it was due to the election campaign that the nation had been electrified and had become alive once again. She continued to say that if any one tried to suppress the people, she would sacrifice her life for the nation. She declared that only parliamentary system was suitable for the country which was purposely sabotaged and disallowed to function.

While addressing eight thousand members of the Electoral College, she once again made a reference of the much controversial river water treaty which she termed as a treachery against the freedom fighters in Kashmir.

While explaining the Presidential Election Campaign, she said that it was in fact a confrontation between two ideologies - democracy and autocracy. She impressed upon the members of the Electoral College that they were the future builders of the country and their vote would decide the well-being of the people as well as the country itself. She warned them if they failed to do justice with their prime responsibility, they might inadvertently throw the people in darkness.

Criticizing the Government, she said that it had put a check on the freedom of speech and writing. Newspapers were under censorship and the freedom of press had been crippled by establishing Government-controlled Press Trust. She disclosed that at many places she was not allowed to conduct election campaign and hold election meetings. There was restriction of the use of loud speakers whereas such a facility was bound to be given to every one without any discretion.

Madar-i-Millats’ election campaign at Lahore had its benign influence all over the country. The masses rose to the occasion and redoubled their endeavours to make the election campaign successful throughout the length and breadth of Pakistan.