The nation has observed the 72nd death anniversary of the Father of the Nation, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on September 11, 2020. He had left for eternity on the same date, back in 1948, after 13 months of having fought a long struggle for the creation of a separate homeland for Muslims in the sub-continent on the basis of a concept presented by the great philosopher and poet, Allama Mohammad Iqbal.

What follows are the extracts from the autobiography, ‘Hayat-e-Rangroot’ by Major General (retd) Mohammad Akbar Khan Rangroot, to refresh the memory of the people—primarily the elderly and the young. The autobiography supports the view that the Father of the nation should not have been treated irresponsibly and indifferently by all concerned as they knew fully well about his failing health.

‘After the Balochistan war, I was sent on a tour of Loralai and Douggi in July 1948. In those days, the Quaid-i-Azam was in Ziarat and a rumour, saying that his health was deteriorating, was circulating in Quetta. Upon hearing these rumours, and after returning from the tour, I also went to Ziarat. There I met Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah who said, “Ever since Quaid-i-Azam went to Karachi for the inauguration of the State Bank, he has not been feeling well.”

“I enquired about his health from Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah while he rested. Instead of responding to my query, she asked me if I knew the principal of the Lahore Medical College and what was my opinion of him. I told her that his name was Col Ilahi Bux and that he was a good physician. After answering many of her questions, I left with her permission and the Ministry of Defence summoned me to Karachi. Consequently, I was sent on tour with many military officers and ministers to watch the borders.

On August 13, Quaid-i-Azam was taken to Quetta from Ziarat since Ziarat was on a height of more than 8 thousand feet and such a place was not suitable for a patient. Col Ilahi Bux had made the diagnoses, through x-rays and other sources, that Quaid-i-Azam was a patient of the heart and lungs. He was of the view that if this disease had been diagnosed and treatment initiated earlier, there was a 90 percent chance of recovery. However, in Quetta, he retreated to a residence and, at that point, there was a marked difference in his health. Noticing this improvement, Col Ilahi Bux advised the Quaid-i-Azam to go to Karachi but he did not want to go to the Governor General House on a stretcher. Instead, there was a proposal for going to the bungalow of the Crown Prince of Bahawalpur, Brigadier Muhammad Abbas Abbasi in Malir. Upon contact, it became known that the Nawab Sahib himself was sick and would like to stay in his bungalow upon returning from London. However, should the situation have demanded it, then Nawab Sahib could have been asked, through a telegraph, to stay somewhere else. When this came to the knowledge of the Quaid-i-Azam, he said that as the Governor General, he would not like to ask the Nawab of Bahawalpur to let him stay in his house when he himself is sick.

His health started falling from September 1; by the 5th, his feet got swollen and red spots appeared. According to an x-ray, he had suffered from pneumonia. When a medical checkup was done on the morning of September 6 and 7, his temperature was normal but in the evening his health suddenly deteriorated. The next day, Dr Ghulam Mohammad was called along with Dr M A Mistry. All doctors unanimously agreed that the Quaid-i-Azam should be taken to Karachi. For this purpose, complete arrangements were made.

Meanwhile, I received orders from the General Headquarters to go for the inspection of the Afghan border. As such, I could not accompany Quaid-i-Azam to Karachi. His Military Secretary gave me assurance of the fact that the ambulance and nurse will be at the Mauripur Air Base. Consequently, around 1pm., he was taken to the airport from where he left for Karachi. He was accompanied by Dr Mistry, his ADC Lieutenant Mazhar, Secretary Mr Ameen and Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah and also a nurse.

Afterwards I came to know, through Col Ilahi Bux, that Quaid-i-Azam’s aircraft had reached the Mauripur Air Base at 4.15 p.m. where the Military Secretary to the Governor General, Col Lolanz, was seen standing near an ambulance which carried the Quaid-i-Azam, and his party, to the Governor’s General House. It had hardly covered four miles when suddenly, it stopped. There was some defect in its engine. The excessive build-up of heat inside the ambulance forced Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah to ask Col Lolanz to call another ambulance. In the meantime, Dr Mistry checked Quaid-i-Azam’s weakening pulse and immediately gave him tea to stabilise it. When the second ambulance came, he was taken out from first boarding on the second with a lot of difficulty. It reached the Government House at 6.10pm at which point the Quaid-i-Azam was tired due to journey and went to sleep.

Upon reaching the Government House, I met Dr Mistry and he told me that the Quaid-i-Azam was still sleeping and that the circumstances are satisfactory. As soon as I left, I received a call urging me to rush back to the Governor’s General House. There, I saw Quaid-i-Azam in a very bad shape as nothing was going into his stomach. He was given an injection after which he regained consciousness and opened his eyes. When he was told, “You have been given an injection, Inshallah you will recover soon”, he replied with, “No. My time has come very near.” These were his last words. An hour later, he breathed his last breath and left for eternity.

I said to Col Ilahi Bux, “I had hoped that Quaid-i-Azam would recover but Allah had willed it otherwise. On September 11, 1948, the Father of the Nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, left us forever”.