The Death of Jinnah, The New York Times Obituary

In this post, we take a trip down the memory lane. Below we are reproducing the obituary of Quaid Muhammad Ali Jinnah that was published in the New York Times on September 13, 1948.

In a first glance, there is nothing in this obituary that we don’t know of today. The narrative may seem slightly odd for many among us who have gotten used to a fast paced narrative in the internet blog age. Yet, this narrative sheds light on Jinnah as the West saw him in the years immediately post partition of the Sub Continent. For starters, it seems that Jinnah’s death was quite an unexpected event for many observers at that time.

The obituary speculates on a succession struggle for Jinnah, the brain and the heart of the “Moslem” League. Unfortunately, the void that Jinnah left behind was never filled by any of his successors, or their successors, or the ones afterwards. That succession struggle did not play out on the political lines that the author had outlined. The struggle for Jinnah’s mantle assumed ideological proportions in the newly established state of Pakistan; a struggle that still plays out in the hearts and minds of Pakistanis. How Jinnah’s mantle will be inherited will define the course of Pakistan itself.

The obituary refers to the emerging India-Pakistan enmity that still haunts these nations to this day. As the author said:

“How far the associates and disciples of each are prepared for compromise and adjustment cannot yet be seen. India can hardly be said to be devoted to the Mahatma’s doctrine of non-violence when Kashmir and Hyderabad are involved. All embracing love is not the keystone in the arch of Indian policy. On the other hand, what India calls “realism” may evoke a corresponding “realism” in Pakistan. There may be a greater disposition than previously toward the composing of differences”.

63 years is a long time, and Pakistan still hasn’t shaken off the wrongs that were done by its larger neighbour in the formative years of our nation. These two nations have to live together; find the “realism” that will allow the peaceful coexistence of two of the most populous nations on earth. These words were said 63 years ago and to this day are still unfulfilled wishes of a reporter looking at the newly formed independent nations of Pakistan and India. We hope these words will not wait another 63 years to come true.

“Today, as millions mourn Mr. Jinnah, there is also the hope that somehow there can be found some way of calm out of turbulence, of peace out of strife. But that miracle, like the other, cannot be worked in abstractions. It is not a matter of successions, or slogans, or positions, or policies. It is a matter of individual human beings who want peace and justice and brotherly love”.

So here it is, “The Death of Jinnah”, Jinnah’s obituary published just two days after his death. It is a frozen-in-time glimpse into the giant of a man, who was “the brain and the heart” of his party and the new nation. He is missed to this day by many of us in the nation that he singlehandedly helped create. His message still resonates with all of us, the message for a nation that will provide for all of its citizenry, where rule of law reigns supreme, and where the state of Pakistan is a state for all Pakistanis, irrespective of their caste or creed. He was a man ahead of his era, a visionary leader that we affectionately call the Quaid-e-Azam (the greatest of the leaders). May his soul rest in eternal peace.

(AZW)

The Death of Jinnah

Published: September 13, 1948

Copyright: The New York Times

The sudden death of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, Governor General of the Dominion of Pakistan, adds a further complication to the complex situation on the Indian sub-continent. Pakistan has been left leaderless. Mr. Jinnah had resigned his presidency of the Moslem League (which actually governs Pakistan), holding that it was inappropriate for the Governor General to be also the titular head of a political party. But Mr. Jinnah had always been more than that, in any case. He was the Qaid-e-Azam, the real leader of India’s Moslems. He was usually the brain, always the heart, of the Moslem League.

It is not clear who will replace him, or, indeed, if he can be replaced. His chief deputy in the League, Liaqat Ali Khan, is Pakistan’s Premier. He does not presume to the mantle of leadership long worn by his chief. There is a group of “Young Moslems” in Pakistan, aspiring to political advancement. Some of them are very able. None stands out yet as a potential Jinnah. It seems inevitable that there will be a struggle for leadership and control and the form that struggle takes may well determine the course of events in that part of the world for the next decade.

On a broad policy basis there are two courses open to Pakistan. The Moslem Dominion may seek to minimize the breach with predominantly Hindu India and to effect closer rapprochement wherever that is possible. Or it may determine to make the separation even more rigid, to find and defend an absolute nationalism for Moslem India.

M. Jinnah had successively embraced both points of view. He was first and enthusiastic proponent of Indian federalism and was convinced that the differences between Moslems and Hindus could be composed. In his later years he was an intransigent separatist, holding that a common ground with the Hindu majority could not be found. The basic Indian impasse was reached in the celebrated Gandhi-Jinnah correspondence of 1941. Each stated his ultimate position. In the end, neither would give ground. Now each of those great protagonists has been removed, within one year.

How far the associates and disciples of each are prepared for compromise and adjustment cannot yet be seen. India can hardly be said to be devoted to the Mahatma’s doctrine of non-violence when Kashmir and Hyderabad are involved. All embracing love is not the keystone in the arch of Indian policy. On the other hand, what India calls “realism” may evoke a corresponding “realism” in Pakistan. There may be a greater disposition than previously toward the composing of differences.

It was hoped that the martyrdom of Gandhi might somehow work a miracle in the hearts of men; that there might be, under this inspiration, some metamorphosis of hatred into love, of mistrust into confidence, of violence into serenity. That hope has not been fully realized.

Today, as millions mourn Mr. Jinnah, there is also the hope that somehow there can be found some way of calm out of turbulence, of peace out of strife. But that miracle, like the other, cannot be worked in abstractions. It is not a matter of successions, or slogans, or positions, or policies. It is a matter of individual human beings who want peace and justice and brotherly love.

10 Comments

Filed under Identity, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, Pakistan, Partition, south asia, USA

10 responses to “The Death of Jinnah, The New York Times Obituary

  1. Pingback: The Death of Jinnah, The New York Times Obituary « Secular Pakistan

  2. YLH

    Great find AZW.. And for NYT to have seen things so clearly then is just amazing.

  3. Zulfiqar Haider

    An excellent read that reminds us of the times when Quaid-e-Azam saved the whole nation in those difficult times; we certainly need a leader like Quaid-e-Azam, who can save us from this multitude of problems.

  4. Nusrat Pasha

    “…….Pakistan has been left leaderless…….”

    Pakistan has been left leaderless and remains leaderless till this day. The so-called quaids the came after him, such as quaid-e-millat, quaid-e-awam and quaid-e-tehrik do not even fleetingly remind us of Quaid-e-Azam.

    The void continues.

  5. M. Kumar

    The Quaid made history in his life time. Not many are privileged or blessed to do so.The new Nation , however,was privileged to have a towering personality in Nawabzada Liaquat Ali Khan as a worthy successor although not of the same or near stature. The Nawabzada was young . He possessed good health and had impeccable integrity. His sudden death in 1951 at almost the same location where Benazir attained martyrdom in 2007 denied Pakistan the leadership which India, fortunately,had till 1964 in shape of Mr. Nehru.

  6. M. Kumar made a useful interjection. We do not take into account the extent to which blind chance worked against the new nation of Pakistan.

    It was not just untimely and violent death that intervened; at a very early stage, manipulators and ego-maniacs with not a shred of democratic conscience made their appearance. Some analysts identify the adverse turn in national politics with the coming to prominence of Ghulam Mohammed. Had it not been for his departure to Karachi, the greatest harm he might have done to the sub-continent would be through the damage caused to several generations of Indian military personnel, district administrators, minor government functionaries and politicians.

    Regrettably, he was followed by another autocrat in barely-contrived disguise. Iskandar Mirza marked yet another step downwards, and paved the way for the first military dictatorship, thereby setting the tone for years to come, and for almost exactly half of Pakistan’s history to be the annals of unwanted military rule.

    In contrast, whatever his record before partition, the role of Nehru after partition was largely beneficial. This is without discounting his role in building a dirigiste economy, his disastrous foreign policy, and his even worse management of the military, directly or indirectly. On the matter of liberal values, secularism or democracy, his heart was seen to be in the right place. He offered independent India the best chances of success as a democracy, and the country took full benefit from this opportunity. We were lucky. Pakistan was not.

  7. YLH

    I agree … Nehru as India’s Prime Minister managed to steer India in a direction which leaderless Pakistan could not. Liaqat would have I believe despite the Objectives Resolutions.

  8. Bin Ismail

    Liaqat would indeed have emerged as an honest leader and would certainly have passed the test of integrity, but I doubt whether he would have succeeded in keeping alive Jinnah’s dream of a secular state.

    But then again, it would not be of much benefit to think along the lines of:

    “na yeh hota to kya hota na vo hota to kya hota”.

    Let us think along the lines of fulfilling Jinnah’s beautiful dream. We owe him that.

  9. M. Kumar

    It may be worthwhile if PTH brings out what the NYT had to say on Sept 12, 1948 after death of the Quaid

  10. YLH

    AZW can tell us better but my feeling is that the said article would be uncharitable referred as it is by Sadna/Arun Gupta – the fountainhead of Hindutva in New Jersey.

    That would hardly be surprising. The general American view was one of at best indifference towards the Pakistan movement. Some recognized him as an able leader but almost all disagreed with what they felt was a counter-current to Gandhi.

    Indeed you see a reflection of that thinking even in this balanced piece.

    I think we’ve also produced The Time magazine’s obituary.