Mr. Jinnah As “The Hindu” Saw Him

This extraordinary article from the Indian Newspaper The Hindu was forwarded to us by the blogger Red Diary from Lahore.  While we obviously don’t agree with everything that was said,  but this shows a magnanimity that is generally absent now.   I wonder if The Hindu would have been described as treacherous for pointing out the obvious qualities of head and heart that Mr. Jinnah possessed.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah as The Hindu saw him In the light of the controversy generated by Jaswant Singh’s book, Jinnah: India-Partition-Independence (Rupa & Co., New Delhi, 669 pages),we reproduceThe Hindu’s editorial of September 13, 1948 titled ‘Mr. Jinnah.’It was published two days after the death of the founder of Pakistan. ’ —

2009082155840901At his bitterest he never forgot that firm friendship between India and Pakistan was indispensable

The news of the sudden death of Mr. Jinnah will be received with widespread regret in this country. Till barely a twelvemonth ago he was, next to Gandhiji, the most powerful leader in undivided India. And not only among his fellow-Muslims but among members of all communities there was great admiration for his sterling personal qualities even while the goal which he pursued with increasing fanaticism was deplored. For more than half the period of nearly forty years in which he was a towering figure in our public life he identified himself so completely with the struggle that the Indian National Congress carried on for freedom that he came to be as nearly a popular idol as it was possible for a man so aristocratic and aloof by temperament to be. During the last years of his life, as the architect of Pakistan, he achieved a unique authority in his own community by virtue of the blind allegiance which the mass, dazzled by his political triumphs, gave him though the sane and sober elements of the community became more and more doubtful of the wisdom of his policies.

In an age which saw centuries-old empires crumble this Bombay lawyer began late in life to dream of founding a new Empire; in an era of rampant secularism this Muslim, who had never been known to be very austere in his religion, began to dally with the notion that that Empire should be an Islamic State. And the dream became a reality overnight, and perhaps no man was more surprised at his success than Mr. Jinnah himself. Mr. Jinnah was an astute lawyer. And his success was largely due to the fact that he was quick to seize the tactical implications of any development. His strength lay not in any firm body of general principle, any deeply cogitated philosophy of life, but in throwing all his tremendous powers of tenacity, strategy and dialectical skill into a cause which had been nursed by others and shaped in many of its most important phases by external factors. In this he offers a marked contrast to the Mahatma with whom rested the initiative during the thirty years he dominated Indian political life and who, however much he might adapt himself to the thrusts of circumstance, was able to maintain on a long range a remarkable consistency. Pakistan began with Iqbal as a poetic fancy. Rahmat Ali and his English allies at Cambridge provided it with ideology and dogma. Britain’s Divide and Rule diplomacy over a period of half a century was driving blindly towards this goal. What Mr. Jinnah did was to build up a political organisation, out of the moribund Muslim League, which gave coherence to the inchoate longings of the mass by yoking it to the realisation of the doctrinaires’ dream. Two world wars within a generation, bringing in their train a vast proliferation of nation-States as well as the decay of established Imperialisms and the rise of the Totalitarian Idea, were as much responsible for the emergence of Pakistan as the aggressive communalism to which Mr. Jinnah gave point and direction. We must not forget that Mr. Jinnah began his political life as a child of the Enlightenment the seeds of which were planted in India by the statesmen of Victorian England. He stood for parliamentary democracy after the British pattern and with a conscientious care practised the art of debate in which he attained a formidable proficiency. At the time of the Minto-Morley Reforms, he set his face sternly against the British attempts to entice the Muslims away from their allegiance to the Congress. For long he kept aloof from the Muslim League. And when at last he joined it his aim was to utilise it for promoting amity between the two communities and not for widening the gulf. But Mr. Jinnah was a man of ambition. He had a very high opinion of his own abilities and the success, professional and political, that had come to him early in life, seemed fully to justify it. It irked him to play second fiddle. The Congress in those early days was dominated by mighty personalities, Dadabhai Nowroji, Mehta and Gokhale, not to mention leaders of the Left like Tilak. That no doubt accounts for the fact that Mr. Jinnah gradually withdrew from the Congress organisation and cast about for materials wherewith to build a separate platform for himself. At this time the first World War broke out and the idea of self-determination was in the air. It was not a mere accident that Mr. Jinnah came to formulate the safeguards which he deemed necessary for the Muslim minority in his famous Fourteen Points so reminiscent of the Wilsonian formula. But in those days he would have pooh-poohed the idea of the Muslim community cutting itself off from the rest of India. He was so little in sympathy with the Ali Brothers’ Khilafat campaign because it seemed to him to play with fire. He was deeply suspicious of the unrestrained passions of the mob and he was too good a student of history not to realise that once the dormant fires of fanaticism were stoked there was no knowing where it might end. He kept aloof from the Congress at the same time. Satyagraha with its jail-going and other hardships could not appeal to a hedonist like him; but the main reason for his avoiding the Gandhian Congress was the same nervousness about the consequences of rousing mass enthusiasm. The result was that he went into political hibernation for some years. But he remained keenly observant; and the dynamic energy generated by a successful policy of mass contact deeply impressed him. He came to see that a backward community like the Muslims could be roused to action only by an appeal, simplified almost to the point of crudeness, to what touched it most deeply, its religious faith. And a close study of the arts by which the European dictators, Mussolini, Hitler and a host of lesser men rose to power led him to perfect a technique of propaganda and mass instigation to which ‘atrocity’-mongering was central. But Mr. Jinnah could not have been entirely happy over the Frankenstein monster that he had invoked, especially when the stark horrors of the Punjab issued with all the inevitability of Attic tragedy from the contention and strife that he had sown. He was a prudent man to whom by nature and training anarchy was repellant. At the first Round Table Conference he took a lone stand in favour of a unitary Government for India because he felt that Federation in a country made up of such diverse elements would strengthen fissiparous tendencies. It was an irony that such a man should have become the instrument of a policy which, by imposing an unnatural division on a country meant by Nature to be one, has started a fatal course the end of which no man may foresee. Mr. Jinnah was too weak to withstand the momentum of the forces that he had helped to unleash. And the megalomania which unfortunately he came to develop would hardly allow him to admit that he was wrong. Mr. Jinnah has passed away at the peak of his earthly career. He is sure of his place in history. But during the last months of his life he must have been visited by anxious thoughts about the future of the State which he had carved. Pakistan has many able men who may be expected to devote themselves with wholehearted zeal to its service according to their lights. And India will wish them well in a task of extraordinary difficulty. But it is no easy thing to don the mantle of the Quaid-i-Azam. No other Pakistani has anything like the international stature that Mr. Jinnah had achieved; and assuredly none else has that unquestioned authority with the masses. The freedom that Pakistan has won, largely as the result of a century of unremitting effort by India’s noblest sons, is yet to be consolidated. It is a task that calls for the highest qualities of statesmanship. Many are the teething troubles of the infant State. Apart from the refugee problem, which is Britain’s parting gift to both parts of distracted India, the Pakistan Government has by its handling of the Kashmir question and its unfortunate attitude towards the Indian Union’s difficulties with Hyderabad, raised in an acute form the future of the relations between Pakistan and India. Mr. Jinnah at his bitterest never forgot that firm friendship between the two States was not only feasible but indispensable if freedom was to be no Dead-Sea apple. It is earnestly to be hoped that the leaders of Pakistan will strive to be true to that ideal.



Filed under Pakistan

8 responses to “Mr. Jinnah As “The Hindu” Saw Him

  1. Ahmed Chowdhry

    The editorial reflects a grudging respect but the bias is all too evident.

    A typical response which lays all the blame of the partition on Jinnah without ever mentioning the feeling of marginilaztion in the muslim community.

  2. stuka

    Flip side is that the Hindu is a south indian paper and the south did not experience partition. Had the Muslim concentration been in the south and partition taken place there, I doubt it would have been as magnanimous. So don’t think that north indians are savages and south indians are civilized going by the Hindu versus Hindustan times.

  3. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Stuka,

    Very presumptuous of you to think that the Hindustan Times thought any differently.

    I remember reading that obituary …
    the famous line from which is quoted by many Jinnah biographers I think… “he crossed swords with the best of us and he won”.

    Also… in the next session after Jinnah’s demise, the Indian Constituent Assembly started its proceedings by holding a minute’s silence for the memory of the Quaid-e-Azam …

  4. bonobashi


    That may not be an entirely fair assessment. It is true that the south and the north are culturally further apart than, for instance, the north and the Indus civilisation, but there has been regard for Jinnah among educated circles right through the last two generations. Many of us held aloof from this because of grave doubts regarding the consequences of what he caused to happen, also of the Two Nation Theory itself and of an unconscious association of this with the statesman, but the doubts were not attached to his person.

    Many of us have since then confirmed a suspicion that he was closer to our ideals and civics than our own leaders. I speak for myself, of course, but he in a way represents the respect for law and order, and the belief in the utility of western methods and practices, without necessarily abandoning our ethnic and national bonds. It has been increasingly painful to contemplate the consequences of Gandhi’s religiosity (thanks, Usman) as well as his subtly dangerous training of politicians and political circles in India in the gentle art of destroying an elected government without (resorting to much) violence. It has been almost equally painful to reflect on Nehru’s muddle-headed behaviour on vital occasions; he should have had his ‘managers’ and stayed away from contact with human beings in small numbers. Only a large number of Indians waiting patiently in the Sun brought out the good parts of him.

  5. Bloody Civilian

    gandhi did ‘outlaw’ satyagrah being used by indian against indian. and how there would be no room for it in swaraj. he made three exceptions to it, i guess. one, he used it to bring calm, as far as possible (a complete one in delhi), save thousands of lives, during the partition riots. two, his fast unto death to get ambedkar’s attention before the poona pact. three, again post-swaraj, to get the GoI to give GoP its due share.

  6. Gorki


    “It has been increasingly painful to contemplate the consequences of Gandhi’s religiosity (thanks, Usman) as well as his subtly dangerous training of politicians and political circles in India in the gentle art of destroying an elected government without (resorting to much) violence.”


    I admit that most days, I admire your logic, your reasoning and remain an unabashed follower but regretfully must dissent against the above statement this once.

    Elected government being opposed non-violently is dangerous? Then what are the options available to:
    1. An MLK?
    2. To anti Vietnam protesters?

    An then there is that little pesky voice from that grand father of democracy, America’s own founding father, who repeated the same theme from time to time in the following words. Enjoy:

    1.A little rebellion now and then is a good thing.
    2.God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
    3.The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions, it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. … And what country can preserve its liberties, if it’s rulers are not warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of resistance?
    4.The democracy is nothing more than mob rule, where fifty-one percent of the people may take away the rights of the other forty-nine. I think we have more machinery of government than is necessary, too many parasites living on the labor of the industrious.
    5.Experience hath shewn, that even under the best forms [of government] those entrusted with power have, in time, and by slow operations, perverted it into tyranny. The people are the only censors of their governors: and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. Cherish therefore the spirit of our people, and keep alive their attention. Do not be too severe upon their errors, but reclaim them by enlightening them. If once they become inattentive to the public affairs, you and I, and Congress, and Assemblies, judges and governors shall all become wolves. …..
    (All quotes by Thomas Jefferson)

    So in summary, not everyone agrees that elected government and its actions are a divine right. It can and must be opposed from time to time; the question is how? One method is that of the ill clad man you mentioned above; the second is by the solution proposed by the man I quoted before; who also wrote the following.
    1.“For a people who are free, and who mean to remain so, a well organized and armed militia is their best security.” And also
    2.“The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants. It is its natural manure”.

    You can take your pick.


  7. bonobashi@59


    You have a short memory.

    With great respect, and with the utmost regard for my style and my sound beliefs, you have belaboured me, no doubt for the betterment of my hypothetical soul, more than once. The stripes are available for display. In this connection, I dissociate myself from the Roman practice of candidacy, which might amuse you if you look it up, simply because there is no position to which I aspire at the moment.

    Thus much for defensive writing, the literary equivalent of defensive driving.

    For the rest, I will crave your indulgence to reply at leisure in some little time, perhaps a day or two.

  8. Gorki

    Dear Bonobashi:

    Oh come on now; all that background noise that I generate is just that; stage effect to bring the best out of you; 😉
    I only set the proper mood, the lighting and sound system so that the maestro can give one great performance after another; with his pnemanship. 🙂

    Seriously, I admire your line of reasoning when it comes to a political and social science philosophy and have very little to quibble with you in that regard.