So who exactly was Jinnah?
We sat in the proverbial 22nd row of a small theatre room in Badar Commercial. My eyes were moist with emotion, when Talat Hussain turned around and said “Quaid-e-Azam zindabad!”
It was the end of the movie, Jinnah, and we were at its re-launch. How does one explain such feelings for one who is more important than all other humans, barring a handful?
Yet he died a decade before I was born. Moreover, our understanding of Jinnah, the man, comes down to us as various personalities, depending upon the times, the government and the filters of the individuals describing him.
Across the border in India, he was the breaker of a nation; a man who committed sacrilege by dividing a religious piece of land.
Further afield, six thousand miles away in the confines of Whitehall, he is considered cold, arrogant and a stubborn protagonist.
The man is solely responsible for creating the first idealist country, within a decade carving out of ‘almost nothing’ such passion, which has not been emulated in history and to boot, causing one of the great upheavals of all time.
Jinnah stands atop a pedestal admired by many, but also decried by a lot. Even his own nation does not know which mould to cast him into. So like a pinball, his persona has rebounded from place to place over the last 60 years.
Events that go back 75-80 years still affect us, it is quite fascinating. How does it happen, that what was said in a small room in London by Muslim League leaders to a quiet, slim and confident man in 1933, is part of our lives today?
This happened around the time my late father was born, to put it in perspective. My father lived a full life in the shadow of these events and departed, the jigsaw still unsolved. He believed that the man, who carved our country for us, was a one in a billion, nay one in several billions.
There was the Pakistan of the 50s, with a relatively harmonious people. Yet, these same people allowed the mace to be passed into the hands of those who destroyed Jinnah’s vision. Ghulam Mohammad, Justice Munir and General Azam of the Lahore Martial Law; subsequently, this distortion of Jinnah’s view of Pakistan was used by Iskandar Mirza and Ayub Khan.
We were told that the man desired a Pakistan which was efficient and self fulfilling. Yet most forgot that Jinnah was evolutionary in nature. His struggle for freedom lasted a lifetime and his struggle for Pakistan 13 years. Never once, did he take the wrong route, never once a short cut.
By enforcing two martial laws in the 50s, the short cut ‘Doctrine of Necessity’ was carved out for subsequent times. Jinnah’s Pakistan was strangulated that day in 1953, when General Azam swore he would bring peace to Lahore in a couple of hours. That peace has cost us four Martial Laws and still limited our nation.
What about the Bengalis? Their earlier father of nation was replaced by a later version of Shaikh Mujib. The comparison is like chalk and cheese – and not to judge, either varied personality.
Would they hold Jinnah accountable for the lack of ownership they were given in their Pakistan? To the extent that the language should have been Bengali for them, I suppose yes. But even in that, Jinnah’s thinking was nation building and his fear that regional languages would have surfaced. Perhaps the answer was no action.
Leave the language as English; neutral for all. Sadly not to be and that became a source of inequality, which festered and fermented into larger problems.
Subsequent years saw Bhutto use the socialist Jinnah. The socialist doctrine and Mahboob-ul-Haq’s concept of nationalisation were rampant in our 70’s world. Mao was supreme dogma. Only Jinnah was no socialist. Yet quotes popped up on media of how he espoused Islamic Socialism. Socialism was anathema to the man. He just wanted fairness and justice for all. The very basic argument of Pakistan hinged on Jinnah’s fear, that the Muslim in undivided India would not get a fair deal.
Later years saw Zia, the master orchestrator taking a damaging turn. Suddenly, Jinnah became a religious figure and was forever driving Islam. One cannot judge Zia’s motives, but what he did has led to the schism in society today and Pakistan is now a serving nation to the US and we are a fragmented society.
Bhutto destroyed the economic belief and Zia destroyed our social harmony.
Lastly the puppet, Musharraf! The darling of the West espousing “enlightened Islam” and an “enlightened father of the nation”. Jinnah would have despised the hypocrisy of it. To live nationhood in servitude, to survive on blood money given by the West, to play a role of a lota! There cannot be any good coming out of this.
We have taken an upstanding man and cast him into a soothsayer’s role. Wherever a ruler required help, they have rolled Jinnah out in a new garb. In marketing parlance it’s called brand stretching and subsequent image of Jinnah is now suitably garbled and fuddled.
But all the people of Pakistan want is their original father of the nation back as an upstanding visionary, who fought with courage on their behalf and no ideological caps please, just the plain old Jinnah cap.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.