The Death of Jinnah, The New York Times Obituary

Posted on May 25, 2010 by

5



First published at the Pak Tea House

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.

The Death of Jinnah

Published: September 13, 1948
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.

About these ads
Posted in: History