Jinnah — lessons for our politicians

Published: December 25, 2010
The writer is a Rhodes Scholar from Pakistan at Magdalen College, University of Oxford 

The writer is a Rhodes Scholar from Pakistan at Magdalen College, University of Oxford mohammad.rai@tribune.com.pk

Jinnah has left an enduring legacy in the shape of Pakistan. However, if his vision and aspirations for Pakistan are to be attained, a lot still reckons to be accomplished. And today our politicians, instead of just giving statements praising Jinnah, need to emulate him in words and actions.

Right from his childhood, Jinnah was head and shoulders from the crowd. His childhood friend Nanji Jafar remembers, “once Jinnah, only fourteen, came to me and said don’t play in the dust; it spoils your clothes and dirties hands. We must stand up and play cricket.” It was this sense of personal dignity and self-confidence that defines Jinnah right from his early life. Sadly, stateliness and honour have long been lost in our political elite.

Jinnah’s earliest influences focus around Dadabhai Naoroji and Pherozeshah Mehta, both political mountains in their own might. However, the person who influenced Jinnah the most was Gopal Krishna Gokhale. I seriously doubt the current leadership of the Peoples Party or the Muslim League has any inkling whatsoever about studying and using history to learn and dictate future decisions. Our politicians have only mastered one art: that of giving emotional and gut-wrenching speeches. And here lies another lesson for them: Jinnah once said to his right hand, Liaquat Ali Khan, “I don’t care for beautiful language: I only wish to see my idea through.”

Jinnah initially joined the Congress in Gokhale’s footsteps. However, Jinnah’s legal and methodical mind contrasted from that of Gandhi’s and he resigned from the Congress in 1920 with a protest against Gandhi’s extreme measures, “your way is the wrong way: mine is the right way — the constitutional way is the right way.” I wish our political class could understand the gravity and morality of principles and ideologies, only then could the Constitution of Pakistan ever attain its sacrosanct status.

Meticulousness and singularity of purpose were Jinnah’s binding principles, and he never strayed far from his ideals — however lofty they appeared. Many believe the reason Jinnah did not feature in the public discourse as much as Gandhi and Nehru was not because of his limitations; in fact it would have made more heady news given his accomplishments. The reason was his brusque and curt behaviour with reporters. Jinnah was always indifferent to the values, or the pleasure, of popularity. Journalists respected him and one of them recalled, ‘he would summon us to his house, but he would never offer us a cup of tea or a cigarette. He was above even such trivial bribery as this.” Our politicians, however, seem to breathe and live in the media limelight.

As early as 1941, Jinnah was reported as being ‘unwell’. But it was not in his nature to rest, and he marched on. Once, when asked what Jinnah’s chief recreations were, he responded that “my profession is such that it never allows time for recreation.” And contrast this to our politicians who seem to be in a perpetual state of vacation and leisure.

Even till his end, the command and control that defined Jinnah did not wane. Minutes before his death, his physician Col Dr Ilahi Bakhsh leaned over and whispered, “Sir, we have given an injection to strengthen you, and it will soon have effect. God-willing, you are going to live.” Jinnah moved and spoke for the last time, “No, I am not”.

It is never too late to mend ways. Let’s all make Jinnah and Pakistan proud by actually following and believing in what Jinnah said. For starters, let’s remove the veil that covers our eyes and start tackling all our problems in earnest, pumped by pure passion for Pakistan. Let us not destroy Jinnah’s legacy.

Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2010.

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Reader Comments (5)

  • Dec 25, 2010 - 7:30AM

    Its ironic how a group of people including Jinnah who were highly educated, constitutionalists who believed in, and also took part in democratic practices to help justify the creation of Pakistan; are today remembered by coups, constitutional amendments and the whims of the “establishment”. Just look at the number of factions claiming to be the real PML and heirs to Jinnah’s legacy, talk about unity. Think of how so many people who contributed to, and were actively involved in the creation of Pakistan who were members of various minorities (Parsi’s for example) who have today all but abandoned the country. Are perceptions are formed by our surroundings and a distorted reading of history. That our rulers would corrupt the legacy of Jinnah and the founders of Pakistan to maintain their political hegemony speaks volumes for the disdain and contempt with which our ruling elite treat the Pakistani citizenry. Recommend

  • Amaar
    Dec 25, 2010 - 9:59AM

    True: Despite his western lifestyle, Jinnah had a real sense of honour which was so different from the so-called ‘honour’ for our elite. Recommend

  • Dec 25, 2010 - 3:26PM

    Good tribute!
    His enduring legacy, his selflessness, high self-esteem, integrity & dignity- the fundamental traits he designated for his nation and future leaders are nowhere to be seen today. It is rather alarming to see how much social values and probity has gone downhill, that you could hardly find a leader of his stature.

    Also, unfortunately, Jinnah ,s Ideology has been unwantedly muddled between secular & Islamic. I don,t want to get into that debate, but, one thing is certain,he was definitely never a Sycophant!Recommend

  • Ajay
    Dec 25, 2010 - 7:40PM

    Pakistan just needs to do the right things but they are afraid of the monsters they have created. Start anywhere- disband blasphemy law and there is going to be anarchy in the country. Is militray ready to fire on progresses? Change comes at a price. Can PM cut all perks and reduce MNA salaries by half? Move to small houses as symbolic measure. Then they will hav the moral authority to levy agriculture tax and enforce tax collections.Recommend

  • Anoop
    Dec 26, 2010 - 2:02AM

    Pakistani politicians ARE emulating Jinnah, dude. They are using Religion to achieve their means. Recommend

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