Father of the Nation Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's achievement as the founder of Pakistan, dominates everything else he did in his long and crowded public life spanning some 42 years. Yet, by any standard, his was an eventful life, his personality multidimensional and his achievements in other fields were many, if not equally great. Indeed, several were the roles he had played with distinction: at one time or another, he was one of the greatest legal luminaries India had produced during the first half of the century, an `ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity, a great constitutionalist, a distinguished parliamentarian, a top-notch politician, an indefatigable freedom-fighter, a dynamic Muslim leader, a political strategist and, above all one of the great nation-builders of modern times. What, however, makes him so remarkable is the fact that while similar other leaders assumed the leadership of traditionally well-defined nations and espoused their cause, or led them to freedom, he created a nation out of an inchoate and down-trodeen minority and established a cultural and national home for it. And all that within a decase. For over three decades before the successful culmination in 1947, of the Muslim struggle for freedom in the South-Asian subcontinent, Jinnah had provided political leadership to the Indian Muslims: initially as one of the leaders, but later, since 1947, as the only prominent leader- the Quaid-i-Azam. For over thirty years, he had guided their affairs; he had given expression, coherence and direction to their ligitimate aspirations and cherished dreams; he had formulated these into concerete demands; and, above all, he had striven all the while to get them conceded by both the ruling British and the numerous Hindus the dominant segment of India's population. And for over thirty years he had fought, relentlessly and inexorably, for the inherent rights of the Muslims for an honourable existence in the subcontinent. Indeed, his life story constitutes, as it were, the story of the rebirth of the Muslims of the subcontinent and their spectacular rise to nationhood, phoenixlike.
Early Life Born on December 25, 1876, in a prominent mercantile family in Karachi and educated at the Sindh Madrassat-ul-Islam and the Christian Mission School at his birth place,Jinnah joined the Lincoln's Inn in 1893 to become the youngest Indian to be called to the Bar, three years later. Starting out in the legal profession withknothing to fall back upon except his native ability and determination, young Jinnah rose to prominence and became Bombay's most successful lawyer, as few did, within a few years. Once he was firmly established in the legal profession, Jinnah formally entered politics in 1905 from the platform of the Indian National Congress. He went to England in that year alongwith Gopal Krishna Gokhale (1866-1915), as a member of a Congress delegation to plead the cause of Indian self-governemnt during the British elections. A year later, he served as Secretary to Dadabhai Noaroji (1825-1917), the then Indian National Congress President, which was considered a great honour for a budding politician. Here, at the Calcutta Congress session (December 1906), he also made his first political speech in support of the resolution on self-government.
Political Career Three years later, in January 1910, Jinnah was elected to the newly-constituted Imperial Legislative Council. All through his parliamentary career, which spanned some four decades, he was probably the most powerful voice in the cause of Indian freedom and Indian rights. Jinnah, who was also the first Indian to pilot a private member's Bill through the Council, soon became a leader of a group inside the legislature. Mr. Montagu (1879-1924), Secretary of State for India, at the close of the First World War, considered Jinnah "perfect mannered, impressive-looking, armed to the teeth with dialecties..."Jinnah, he felt, "is a very clever man, and it is, of course, an outrage that such a man should have no chance of running the affairs of his own country."For about three decades since his entry into politics in 1906, Jinnah passionately believed in and assiduously worked for Hindu-Muslim unity. Gokhale, the foremost Hindu leader before Gandhi, had once said of him, "He has the true stuff in him and that freedom from all sectarian prejudice which will make him the best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity: And, to be sure, he did become the architect of Hindu-Muslim Unity: he was responsible for the Congress-League Pact of 1916, known popularly as Lucknow Pact- the only pact ever signed between the two political organisations, the Congress and the All-India Muslim League, representing, as they did, the two major communities in the subcontinent."The Congress-League scheme embodied in this pact was to become the basis for the Montagu-Chemlsford Reforms, also known as the Act of 1919. In retrospect, the Lucknow Pact represented a milestone in the evolution of Indian politics. For one thing, it conceded Muslims the right to separate electorate, reservation of seats in the legislatures and weightage in representation both at the Centre and the minority provinces. Thus, their retention was ensured in the next phase of reforms. For another, it represented a tacit recognition of the All-India Muslim League as the representative organisation of the Muslims, thus strengthening the trend towards Muslim individuality in Indian politics. And to Jinnah goes the credit for all this. Thus, by 1917, Jinnah came to be recognised among both Hindus and Muslims as one of India's most outstanding political leaders. Not only was he prominent in the Congress and the Imperial Legislative Council, he was also the President of the All-India Muslim and that of lthe Bombay Branch of the Home Rule League. More important, because of his key-role in the Congress-League entente at Lucknow, he was hailed as the ambassador, as well as the embodiment, of Hindu-Muslim unity.
Constitutional Struggle In subsequent years, however, he felt dismayed at the injection of violence into politics. Since Jinnah stood for "ordered progress", moderation, gradualism and constitutionalism, he felt that political terrorism was not the pathway to national liberation but, the dark alley to disaster and destruction. Hence, the constitutionalist Jinnah could not possibly, countenance Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi's novel methods of Satyagrah (civil disobedience) and the triple boycott of government-aided schools and colleges, courts and councils and British textiles. Earlier, in October 1920, when Gandhi, having been elected President of the Home Rule League, sought to change its constitution as well as its nomenclature, Jinnah had resigned from the Home Rule League, saying: "Your extreme programme has for the moment struck the imagination mostly of the inexperienced youth and the ignorant and the illiterate. All this means disorganisation and choas". Jinnah did not believe that ends justified the means.In the ever-growing frustration among the masses caused by colonial rule, there was ample cause for extremism. But, Gandhi's doctrine of non-cooperation, Jinnah felt, even as Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941) did also feel, was at best one of negation and despair: it might lead to the building up of resentment, but nothing constructive. Hence, he opposed tooth and nail the tactics adopted by Gandhi to exploit the Khilafat and wrongful tactics in the Punjab in the early twenties. On the eve of its adoption of the Gandhian programme, Jinnah warned the Nagpur Congress Session (1920): "you are making a declaration (of Swaraj within a year) and committing the Indian National Congress to a programme, which you will not be able to carry out". He felt that there was no short-cut to independence and that Gandhi's extra-constitutional methods could only lead to political terrorism, lawlessness and chaos, without bringing India nearer to the threshold of freedom.The future course of events was not only to confirm Jinnah's worst fears, but also to prove him right. Although Jinnah left the Congress soon thereafter, he continued his efforts towards bringing about a Hindu-Muslim entente, which he rightly considered "the most vital condition of Swaraj". However, because of the deep distrust between the two communities as evidenced by the country-wide communal riots, and because the Hindus failed to meet the genuine demands of the Muslims, his efforts came to naught. One such effort was the formulation of the Delhi Muslim Proposals in March, 1927. In order to bridge Hindu-Muslim differences on the constitutional plan, these proposals even waived the Muslim right to separate electorate, the most basic Muslim demand since 1906, which though recognised by the congress in the Lucknow Pact, had again become a source of friction between the two communities. surprisingly though, the Nehru Report (1928), which represented the Congress-sponsored proposals for the future constitution of India, negated the minimum Muslim demands embodied in the Delhi Muslim Proposals.In vain did Jinnah argue at the National convention (1928): "What we want is that Hindus and Mussalmans should march together until our object is achieved...These two communities have got to be reconciled and united and made to feel that their interests are common". The Convention's blank refusal to accept Muslim demands represented the most devastating setback to Jinnah's life-long efforts to bring about Hindu-Muslim unity, it meant "the last straw" for the Muslims, and "the parting of the ways" for him, as he confessed to a Parsee friend at that time. Jinnah's disillusionment at the course of politics in the subcontinent prompted him to migrate and settle down in London in the early thirties. He was, however, to return to India in 1934, at the pleadings of his co-religionists, and assume their leadership. But, the Muslims presented a sad spectacle at that time. They were a mass of disgruntled and demoralised men and women, politically disorganised and destitute of a clear-cut political programme.
Muslim League Reorganized Thus, the task that awaited Jinnah was anything but easy. The Muslim League was dormant: primary branches it had none; even its provincial organizations were, for the most part, ineffective and only nominally under the control of the central organization. Nor did the central body have any coherent policy of its own till the Bombay session (1936), which Jinnah organized. To make matters worse, the provincial scene presented a sort of a jigsaw puzzle: in the Punjab, Bengal, Sindh, the North West Frontier, Assam, Bihar and the United Provinces, various Muslim leaders had set up their own provincial parties to serve their personal ends. Extremely frustrating as the situation was, the only consultation Jinnah had at this juncture was in Allama Iqbal (1877-1938), the poet-philosopher, who stood steadfast by him and helped to charter the course of Indian politics from behind the scene.Undismayed by this bleak situation, Jinnah devoted himself with singleness of purpose to organizing the Muslims on one platform. He embarked upon country-wide tours. He pleaded with provincial Muslim leaders to sink their differences and make common cause with the League. He exhorted the Muslim masses to organize themselves and join the League. He gave coherence and direction to Muslim sentiments on the Government of India Act, 1935. He advocated that the Federal Scheme should be scrapped as it was subversive of India's cherished goal of complete responsible Government, while the provincial scheme, which conceded provincial autonomy for the first time, should be worked for what it was worth, despite its certain objectionable features. He also formulated a viable League manifesto for the election scheduled for early 1937. He was, it seemed, struggling against time to make Muslim India a power to be reckoned with.Despite all the manifold odds stacked against it, the Muslim League won some 108 (about 23 per cent) seats out of a total of 485 Muslim seats in the various legislature. Though not very impressive in itself, the League's partial success assumed added significance in view of the fact that the League won the largest number of Muslim seats and that it was the only all-India party of the Muslims in the country. Thus, the elections represented the first milestone on the long road to putting Muslim India on the map of the subcontinent. Congress in Power With the year 1937opened the most mementoes decade in modern Indian history. In that year came into force the provincial part of the Government of India Act, 1935, granting autonomy to Indians for the first time, in the provinces.The Congress, having become the dominant party in Indian politics, came to power in seven provinces exclusively, spurning the League's offer of cooperation, turning its back finally on the coalition idea and excluding Muslims as a political entity from the portals of power. In that year, also, the Muslim League, under Jinnah's dynamic leadership, was reorganized de novo, transformed into a mass organization, and made the spokesman of Indian Muslims as never before. Above all, in that momentous year were initiated certain trends in Indian politics, the crystallization of which in subsequent years made the partition of the subcontinent inevitable. The practical manifestation of the policy of the Congress which took office inJuly, 1937, in seven out of eleven provinces, convinced Muslims that, in the Congress scheme of things, they could live only on sufferance of Hindus and as "second class" citizens. The Congress provincial governments, it may be remembered, had embarked upon a policy and launched a PROGRAMME in which Muslims felt that their religion, language and culture were not safe. This blatantly aggressive Congress policy was seized upon by Jinnah to awaken the Muslims to a new consciousness, organize them on all-India platform, and make them a power to be reckoned with. He also gave coherence, direction and articulation to their innermost, yet vague, urges and aspirations. Above all, the filled them with his indomitable will, his own unflinching faith in their destiny.
The New Awakening As a result of Jinnah's ceaseless efforts, the Muslims awakened from what Professor Baker calls (their) "unreflective silence" (in which they had so complacently basked for long decades), and to "the spiritual essence of nationality" that had existed among them for a pretty long time. Roused by the impact of successive Congress hammerings, the Muslims, as Ambedkar (principal author of independent India's Constitution) says, "searched their social consciousness in a desperate attempt to find coherent and meaningful articulation to their cherished yearnings. To their great relief, they discovered that their sentiments of nationality had flamed into nationalism". In addition, not only had they developed" the will to live as a "nation", had also endowed them with a territory which they could occupy and make a State as well as a cultural home for the newly discovered nation. These two pre-requisites, as laid down by Renan, provided the Muslims with the intellectual justification for claiming a distinct nationalism (apart from Indian or Hindu nationalism) for themselves. So that when, after their long pause, the Muslims gave expression to their innermost yearnings, these turned out to be in favor of a separate Muslim nationhood and of a separate Muslim state.