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Safar 11, 1440

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Pakistan Standard Time 9:47 am


Jinnah and some thoughts

Daily Times (Sir Cam, Cambridge, England} - August 13, 2002

Far from being "handsome", the Mazaar can seem to take on the appearance of a nuclear reactor. In the intense Karachi sunshine, the glowing white marble seems radioactive and the whole structure is barren and characterless .

Jinnah's Bagh

"You can't enter this way," said the security guard sternly. His khaki colleague, brandishing a gun menacingly at us, moved forward and told us to buzz off. The shortest approach to Jinnah's Mazaar (mausoleum) from the road was closed to ordinary folk. When told that the entry point was now only for VIPs, my host, Shafiq Sr., teased the guards with, "What is VIP?" Instead of shoving their guns up our nostrils and angrily saying, "Get the hell out of here before we..." the fools blurted out a tafsir of "VIP". The first one said, "Bardai log" (big people); the other one elaborated, "Generals, Brigadiers, that sort". Say no more...say no more.

Entering via the new Jinnah Garden approach gives one a greater view of both the Mazaar as well as the garden around it. Inaugurated in December 2000, the Bagh-e-Quaid marks a significant step to beautify the area. A great idea, the bagh compliments the Mazaar and enhances the public area. However, I am no fan of the key-rings, t-shirts and other gifts available there, which are all marked with "I visited Bagh-e-Quaid". Sure I did. I have a pen inscribed with Jinnah's signature to prove it. (Still in its gift box, it sits by my PC monitor and urges me to scribble away.)

Jinnah's Mazaar

Stanley Wolpert, Jinnah's biographer, called it a "handsome domed monument". Designed according to the sultanate-period architecture, the white marble structure is to Karachi what St Peter's is to Rome or even Buckingham Palace to London (a regular changing of guards ceremony takes place at the Mazaar). On this secular-religious role of Jinnah, Alan Campbell-Johnson, Mountbatten's Press Attaché, appropriately said, "Here indeed is Pakistan's King Emperor, Archbishop of Canterbury, Speaker and Prime Minister concentrated into one formidable Quaid-e-Azam".

Far from being "handsome", the Mazaar can seem to take on the appearance of a nuclear reactor. In the intense Karachi sunshine, the glowing white marble seems radioactive and the whole structure is barren and characterless. Fingers point at Jinnah's sister, Fatima, for she is the one who selected the design of the Mazaar. But, then, she knew him best. Alan Campbell-Johnson wrote in his diary of August 14, 1947, "If Jinnah's personality is cold and remote, it also has a magnetic quality-the sense of leadership is almost overpowering". Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a nuclear bomb of a man.

Jinnah's Museum

Flagstaff House, which is now the Quaid-e-Azam House Museum, is what you call a stunning piece of colonial architecture. Built in the last decade of the nineteenth century, the two-storey mansion has a pleasing symmetrical frontage, a lovely stone facade, and semi-circular balconies reminding one of Romeo and Juliet. No wonder Jinnah fell in love with it. He bought it in 1944 and transferred his Delhi and Bombay belongings to it with the hope of retiring there. With the creation of Pakistan in 1947 he stayed in official residence and died almost a year later, without ever moving to his new home in the new homeland.

It is Fatima Jinnah who actually lived in the house from 1948 to 1964 and then used it as the office of her presidential election campaign against Field Marshal Ayub Khan. The Karachi Heritage Guidebook by Yasmeen Lari mentions that, "During the general elections of 1965, Flagstaff House served as the headquarters of the Combined Opposition Parties (C.O.P.) which included many prominent political figures including Khwaja Nazimuddin, Maulana Maudoodi and Justice Z.H. Lari". That is, Jinnah's beloved house became a centre for opposing the generals.

Jinnah's Dream

Visiting Jinnah's museum is like going back in time, living history. You can just about imagine seeing Jinnah relaxing on his high-armed, leather sofa (brought from his Delhi home) or working at his study table. You can touch history at the museum. While sitting on Jinnah's sofa, I recalled his speech of August 15, 1947. The first day of freedom also happened to be Jummat-ul-Wida, the last Friday of Ramadan.

Pakistan marked "the fulfilment of the destiny of the Muslim nation which made great sacrifices in the past few years to have its homeland." He continued, "Our objective should be peace within and peace without. We want to live peacefully and maintain cordial and friendly relations with our immediate neighbours and the world at large". He prayed for Muslims to "bow in all humility before the Almighty and thank Him for His eternal kindness and generosity, seeking His guidance and assistance in the task of making Pakistan into a great State and themselves into its worthy citizens". Finally, "Pakistan is a land of great potential resources. But to build it up into a country of a Muslim nation, we shall require every ounce of energy that we possess". Today, even a few grams of effort would do.

DISCLAIMER: The public material presented here is taken from various sources as it becomes available. It is presented without any bias to, or interpretation of, the contents whatsoever. We would be grateful for any help anyone can provide in obtaining other such public material of national importance to Pakistan in order to aid intellectual discourse and debate.

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United Kingdom

Not even his political enemies ever accused Jinnah of corruption or self-seeking. He could be bought by no one, and for no price. Nor was he in the least degree a weathercock swinging in the wind of popularity or changing his politics to suit the chances of the times. He was steadfast idealist as well as a man of scrupulous honour. The fact to be explained is that in the middle of life he supplanted one ideal by another and having embraced it clung to it with fanatic's grasp to the end of his life.

The Great Divide, pp.38-39
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