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1947 Partition|The Legacy of Fatima Jinnah, Mother of the Nation


The “Mother of the Nation” (Maadar E Millat), “The Lady of Pakistan”(Khatoon E Pakistan) are given titles to one of the finest Pakistani women who lived in history. Yes, I am speaking of Fatima Jinnah, the younger sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and an active political figure in the movement for independence from the British Rule.

She was a leading, founding and instrumental figure in the Pakistan movement and the primary organizer of the All India Muslim Women Students Federation. Fatima Jinnah like her brother dedicated her whole life to the cause of Pakistan’s birth and its nation building. The Father of Nation Quaid E Azam was always accompanied by Fatima Jinnah, at each public appearance he made before and after partition. It is said that this siblings legacy, in particular of Fatima Jinnah’s unwavering support is the key to his success. When the All India Muslim League was being organized, she was taken on as a member of the Working Committee of the Bombay Provincial Muslim League, and worked in that capacity until 1947.  Paying tribute to her sister, the Quaid once said, “My sister was like a bright ray of light and hope whenever I came back home and met her. Anxieties would have been much greater and my health much worse, but for the restraint imposed by her.”

quaid-e-azam-and-fatima-jinnah-outside-the-pakistan-constituent-assembly

By profession she was a dental surgeon, biographer and stateswoman. After the untimely demise of Quaid E Azam, Fatima Jinnah despite her personal loss continued struggling for the betterment of the newly born country. She played a significant role in the settlement of Muhajirs in the new state of Pakistan. In those years, she focused on her literary projects, “Brother” is the name of the biography she wrote on the life of Quaid E Azam, but was held from publishing for many untold reasons. By the time it was published, pages from the book’s manuscript had vanished.

“If there was another leader in Pakistan today like Quaid and Fatima Jinnah Pakistan would be a heaven on earth. I had the good fortune to meet Miss Jinnah in February, 1959 when she very kindly attended a N.E.D. College sports function in Karachi. I found her to be a delightful personality with a lovely smile and full of positive encouragements for the young people.  How can one forget those moments when you are congratulated and asked to serve Pakistan well, now that is real leadership.”  A Pakistani engineer A.K accounts.

Late 1960s was an era when dictators and religious zealots had gained power over political scene in Pakistan yet this noble, gracious and courageous lady did not hesitate to take on a military dictator in her later years. She returned to forefront of political life when she ran for the presidency of Pakistan as a candidate for the Combined Opposition Party of Pakistan (COPP). This had her opponent Ayub Khan furious whose dictatorship was in full swing.

He labeled her being pro-Indian and pro-American and accused her of an being an enemy of Pakistan.“They call her the Mother of the Nation,” sniffed Pakistan’s President Mohammed Ayub Khan. “Then she should at least behave like a mother.” What upset Ayub was that Fatima Jinnah looked so good in pants. The more she upbraided Ayub, the louder Pakistanis cheered the frail figure in her shalwar (baggy white silk trousers). By last week, with Pakistan’s first presidential election only a fortnight away, opposition to Ayub had reached a pitch unequaled in his six years of autocratic rule.”

Fatima Jinnah responded by proclaiming him to be a dictator. She started her rallies where it is said nearly 250,000 people turned out to see her in Dhaka, and a million lined the 293 mile route from there to Chittagong. Her train, called the Freedom Special, was 22 hours delayed to arrival because south Asian men hailed by  crowds at each station pulled the emergency cord and begged her to speak impromptu. It is said people waited hours on foot to catch a glimpse of Fatima Jinnah. Her greatest advantages were her legacy as a politically active founding member of the nation and being the Quaid’s sister who had detached herself from the political conflicts that had plagued Pakistan after its Founder’s death. But the sight of this dynamic lady moving in the streets of big cities, rural towns and on train stops of a Muslim majority country was both moving and unique. The crowds hailed her as their leader and called her the rightful heir of Quaid; the chantings of Mother of The Nation were heard far and wide. Her campaign generated tremendous public enthusiasm. She drew enormous crowds in all cities of East and West Pakistan In her rallies Jinnah argued that, by coming to terms with India on the Indus Water dispute, Ayub had surrendered control of the rivers to India. Fatima Jinnah lost the election but it was a narrow win for Ayub Khan attained by vote rigging. More over, it’s believed that had the elections been held via direct ballot, Fatima Jinnah would have won. The Electoral College consisted of only 80,000 Basic Democrats, who were easily manipulated. These have been the findings of historians, investigative media reports and this election did not conform to international standards.

Interestingly Fatima Jinnah defeated Ayub Khan in two of Pakistan’s largest cities, Karachi (Pakistan) and Dhaka (now Bangladesh). During the election campaign, Ayub Khan gathered support of “those Muslim Ulema who were of the view that Islam does not permit a woman to be the head of an Islamic state.” This sort of propaganda against a woman leader of her stature was uncalled for, but very commonly used resort by patriarchal and insecure men throughout history.

01isbs-PAK-JINN_01_1976420e

Despite the fact that she lost the election, the importance of this election lay in the fact that a woman was contesting the highest political office of the country. The orthodox religious political parties, including the Jamaat-i-Islami led by Maulana Maududi, which earlier had repeatedly declared that a woman could not hold the highest office of a Muslim country also had modified their stance to support her Presidency candidature.

Through her life’s example and her battles with power hungry men, Fatima Jinnah laid the foundation for the women of Pakistan to aspire and follow into her footsteps.

There are three things common between this iconic lady and myself.

We both have been born in the city of Karachi.

We both aren’t scared to speak our mind.

We both believe sincerely in working for the glory of Pakistan.

Pakistan Zindabad!

First published on August 17.2015

South East Asia News

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6 comments on “1947 Partition|The Legacy of Fatima Jinnah, Mother of the Nation

  1. philipfontana
    August 22, 2015

    Ian, Thanks you for the in-depth history of Fatima Jinnah!!!! What a magnificent leader!!! I have recently made a Pakistani friend. I have taken interest in the formation of Pakistan as India received independence from the UK in 1947. These people suffered so for their political & religious independence. And it saddens me how Americans stereotype Pakistanis & Muslims while knowing NOTHING about their history. And that goes for the countries & peoples of the entire Mid-East! Keep up the excellent reporting, Ian! Phil

    Liked by 2 people

    • Ace Worldwide News Group
      August 23, 2015

      I spent time in Pakistan back in the late 80’s helping stop a man from defrauding his people out of money for an education scam. He threatened my life and l had an armed guard outside my bedroom to protect me arranged by a colleague who was the accountant at the time, living and working there. Left country next day after, sorry could not stay longer.

      Some time later same colleague helped me out again when some money was offered to me to arrange into shekels he checked through his contacts and found out its source and advised leave well alone.

      I have many such stories but many cannot be told due to names and pact drill as they involved cases in high office – so to speak.

      That’s what 30 plus years in the finance industry did for me virtually a millionaire and made half of it and lost it all in property crash of 1990’s and was just in wrong place at wrong time – l was 36 at time and had nervous breakdown – ended up in healthcare industry – too many crooks and left and ended up building a property and maintenance team of real tradesmen and setup a management consultancy agency providing contracts – too many crooks and now l contract to help people in need but on my own with expenses provided by such – so little of my life story from 16 to 61 a mere 45 years.

      Liked by 2 people

      • philipfontana
        August 23, 2015

        Ian, Everyone thinks they are an author but your bio with the right title sounds like a best seller!!! From Pakistan ( no wonder your interest/focus) to the financial world & your exit to the healthcare industry to maintenance & consulting, you possess the experiences of many lives in one!!! –Admiration. Phil

        Liked by 1 person

    • A writer from the East
      August 23, 2015

      Thanks to Ian for sharing my work on his valuable sites where it gets me such motivating feedback such as your’s. If you wish to see more stories, I am running an online series “1947 Partition on my wordpress site and will gladly welcome you to review it. I believe in history and I am happy to hear that you have found a friend into a fellow Pakistani, we are probably the most misunderstood nation.
      Partition important for me because my forefathers were part of the Liberation Movement that led to my birth on a free land, otherwise called Pakistan 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Ace Worldwide News Group
        August 24, 2015

        I take people as l find them l treat them right l expect to be treated the same colour, creed or ethnicity do not come into the equation. Great writers need to be highlighted and news room is for that purpose and anyone who writes from their heart – as you do should be heard.
        I agree with the misunderstood as the Brits who I really detest in so many ways who consider Pakistan as a country to rape and pillage for their resources and to hell with the people.
        Now l have had my rant – l am English and proud to be so when honour and men of honour ruled with a rod of iron and had hearts of oak – now we have the opposite with corrupt leaders and politicians who will say anything to get votes.
        Time for a change and for people to realise how lucky they are – or should l say where to have such freedoms – it’s coming in the clouds of the mind. Amen. 🌹

        Liked by 2 people

  2. A writer from the East
    September 16, 2015

    Hi Ian, some more news related to labor trafficking,you can disregard the message but sharing the link if you wish to add to the site, http://wp.me/p2Mxgu-14I.
    Thanks a lot.

    Like

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