A child was born on 25 December 1876 in Karachi, then a town (growing port of the future) and now a city of 20 million people. The child was named Mohammad Ali and he later added Jinnah to his name. He grew up as a fine young man, a Barrister par excellence and later a politician who made politics look like almost worship. He was elected and nominated to most important consultative bodies of the British Indian Empire and after the creation of Pakistan headed its Constituent Assembly for a short while. Whenever he rose to address these assemblies, he was heard with full attention even by his opponents. He never minced his words. Whatever he said he meant it and never said anything that he did not mean. His arguments were superb which went to the hearts and minds of listeners. He always spoke the truth and did not believe in playing to the galleries. His opponents could reject his arguments but never his honesty. Gandhi said of him, “Jinnah could be broken but never bent”.

Jinnah started his political life by joining Dadabhai Naroji’s Group of supporters as it fought election to the House of Commons and won it by a narrow majority. Jinnah joined the Indian National Congress and became a prominent leader of the Movement for Independence. His methods for achieving the freedom were, however, constitutional and within the orbit of law. He differed with Congress on its policy of achieving the independence by agitations. Agitation, which inevitably broke out in riots. If World War I had not intervened, Jinnah would have made considerable advance towards the Dominion Status for India, with the British government headed by Ramsey MacDonald. Jinnah wanted the British government to make a declaration to this effect: “Without delay that Great Britain is unequivocally pledged to the policy of granting to India full Responsible Government with Dominion Status” Lord Irvin, the Viceroy, suggested that this proposal thus formulated could be placed before the Parliament. MacDonald, Prime Minister of Britain, seemed inclined to Jinnah’s viewpoint. Jinnah wrote to MacDonald.

“If you carry out my suggestion with which I am glad to find that you are in accord, it will open up a bright future for India and the name of Great Britain will go down in history as one Nation that was true to its declaration”

Although the subcontinent achieved its goal of freedom from the British much later and with much hardships and bloodbath, Jinnah’s prediction that independence from British Raj could only come through constitutional means came true. Lord Louis Mountbatten, the last Viceroy of India, was flattered by Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Patel to stay on as the first Governor General of of India. Nehru could write and speak poetic English better than many Englishmen and thus charm most of them including Lord and Lady Mountbatten, though Gandhi’s peculiar ways like ‘Salt March’ always confused the British. After the Lahore Resolution the Quid-e-Azam was to fight the long drawn constitutional battle both with the British government and the Hindu Congress. There had been a change of heart in Britain since Ramsey MacDonald. The British government and its representatives in Delhi were determined to keep the subcontinent together irrespective of the fact that Pathans and Balochis had nothing to do with the people of Bombay and Karala, culturally speaking. The subcontinent has been divided for countless centuries.

Jinnah achieved freedom and created a new state of Pakistan of which he was rightly the Founder. He accepted to be the first Governor General of the Dominion of Pakistan. Jinnah’s struggle was long and tiring, firstly when he was in Indian National Congress and then when he took over the leadership of Muslim League. His health had been failing, but not his will. In the words of Mountbatten “If I knew what Jinnah was suffering from, I would have postponed the transfer of power by over a year, because one could talk to Liaquat”. Mountbatten’s statement is obviously an English understatement. In the end Congress and Nehru were also obliged to follow his footsteps by negotiating the Dominion Status for Hindustan or Bharat and deciding to remain in the Commonwealth of Nations.

In an address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam said, “with your help and co-operation, I will make Pakistan as one of the greatest nations of the world”. The country he left in our care, has not measured up to his vision. Pakistan has certainly fallen short of his ideals. We cannot pay homage to the Father of the Nation, by merely hanging his photograph in government offices or putting his image on currency notes and coins or repeating his guiding principles of Unity, Faith and Discipline? We have to work hard to live up to his expectations.

The writer is an overseas Pakistani and had been Managing Director of Industry and Business Development Consortium. Sharjah and Liechtenstein.