The other child of Mr Jinnah

Coincidentally, Dina was born just before midnight on the night of 14th August 1919, a date and time, though not the year, she shares with Pakistan!

2016-01-27T14:00:57+05:00 Aamir Butt

Muhammad Ali Jinnah is universally acknowledged as the father of Pakistan. We also know that he has an older child as well called Dina but unlike Pakistan not much is known about her.

Coincidentally, Dina was born just before midnight on the night of 14th August 1919, a date and time, though not the year, she shares with Pakistan!

It was a time when Jinnah despite his busy political life was enjoying a blissful marriage with his young and beautiful wife Ruttie. Both the parents dotted on Dina. However, over the next few years Dina spent most of her life with her grandmother and governess in Bombay. Her parents drifted apart and would have divorced was it not for an early death for Ruttie in February 1929 when Dina was just 9 years old.

In 1931 Jinnah bought a house in Hampstead, London while Dina was enrolled in a boarding school in England. She was close to her father and rather spoiled as a child. In those days she affectionately called him Grey Wolf due to Jinnah's fondness for a book by that name, a biography of Kamal Ataturk, a man Jinnah admired immensely and would talk about for hours.  

In 1934 Dina moved back to India with her father. According to a description by one of the drivers employed by Mr Jinnah Dina at 15 was a bright, generous and refined young woman. Yet like her father she was stubborn and would always have her way, even with Mr Jinnah who would give in to her demands.

As Jinnah was often away from home, Dina spent a lot of time with her maternal grandmother Lady Petit who introduced her to Neville Wadia, a wealthy young man who was born a Parsi but had converted to Christianity. Apparently Lady Petit had never forgiven Jinnah for marrying her daughter and in a possible ploy for revenge encouraged Dina to fall in love with Neville. Jinnah was bitterly opposed to this romance and told Dina that if she marries Neville she will no longer be his daughter. By this time Jinnah had been given the title of the Quaid-a-Azam (The Great Leader) by a large section of the Muslim community of India. I am not sure how much of his opposition to the match was due to his personal beliefs and how much due to the affect it will have on his position as a leader of Muslims.

Dina however did what her mother did and married Neville in a Christian ceremony in 1938. Jinnah did not attend but he did send a bouquet of flowers. It is said that he was so heartbroken that he did not meet anyone for two weeks. Everything in the house that would remind him of Dina was put away.

Little is known of the relationship between Jinnah and Dina after that. The prevalent belief is that he never spoke to her, even though she did visit her father's house. It is said that he would mention her in conversation as Mrs Wadia and would tell people that he has no daughter. On the other hand it looks as the relationship was not as broken as it is portrayed.

Dina herself describes her last meeting with her father in 1946 when he invited her over for tea along with her two children. Jinnah took of the cap he used to wear in those days (since named Jinnah cap) and put it on 5-year-old Nusli's head. Even to this day Nusli who is one of the richest men in India prizes this cap greatly.

It looks as though the relationship between Jinnah and Dina improved further after Jinnah left Bombay for Karachi. There are many examples of correspondence between the two though all of these are letters written by Dina to Jinnah and no letter written by Jinnah is available. In her letters she addresses Jinnah with great affection and mentions contents of his letters to her. She also seems to be proud and supportive of his achievements.                                

When Jinnah passed away Dina came to Karachi to attend his funeral. By that time her marriage to Neville was already over and they separated a few years later. Dina moved to New York early in 1950s and is most likely still living there.  She did visit Pakistan in 2004 and since 2008 she has been involved in a bitter dispute with government of India for ownership of her father's house in Mumbai. She wants the house to be given to her as the rightful inheritor to her father's property. The house is estimated to be worth $100 million+!

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