Mohammed Ali Jinnah

(b. Dec. 25, 1876, Karachi, India [now in Pakistan]—d. Sept. 11, 1948, Karachi)

Mohammed Ali Jinnah was the founder and first governor-general of Pakistan from 1947 to 1948, and is known in Pakistan as Qaid-i-Azam, or Great Leader. Early Years Born in 1876, Jinnah was the first of seven children of Jinnah bhai, a prosperous merchant. After being taught at home, Jinnah was sent to the Sind Madrasat al-Islam in 1887. Later he attended the Christian Missionary Society High School in Karachi, where at the age of 16 he passed the matriculation examination of the University of Bombay (now University of Mumbai). He studied law in London, England, from 1892 to 1896. He practiced law for 10 years before entering politics. Entry Into Politics Jinnah was elected to India’s Imperial Legislative Council in 1910. Committed to home rule for India and to maintaining Hindu-Muslim unity, he held off on joining the  Muslim League until 1913 and worked to ensure its collaboration with the Hindu Indian National Congress. Jinnah’s endeavors to bring about the political union of Hindus and Muslims earned him the title of “the best ambassador of Hindu-Muslim unity.” It was largely through his efforts that the Congress and the Muslim League began to hold their annual sessions jointly, to facilitate mutual consultation and participation. In 1915 the two organizations held their meetings in Bombay (later Mumbai) and in 1916 in Lucknow, where the Lucknow Pact was concluded. Under the terms of the pact, the two organizations put their seal to a scheme of constitutional reform that became their joint demand vis-à-vis the British government. There was a good deal of give and take, but the Muslims obtained one important concession in the shape of separate electorates, already conceded to them by the government in 1909 but previously resisted by the Congress. The emergence of Mahatma Gandhi and a series of Hindu revivalist movements drove a wedge between the two religious factions in the 1920s and 1930s. Frustrated, Jinnah moved to London in 1930. He remained there until 1935, when constitutional changes were in progress, and he was persuaded to return home to head a reconstituted Muslim League. Soon preparations started for the elections under the Government of India Act of 1935. Jinnah was still thinking in terms of cooperation between the Muslim League and the Hindu Congress and with coalition governments in the provinces. But the elections of 1937 proved to be a turning point in the relations between the two organizations. The Congress obtained an absolute majority in six provinces, and the League did not do particularly well. The Congress decided not to include the League in the formation of provincial governments, resulting in an  exclusive all-Congress government. Relations between Hindus and Muslims started to deteriorate, and soon Muslim discontent became boundless. Creator of Pakistan Jinnah had originally been dubious about the practicality of Pakistan, an idea that Sir Muhammad Iqbāl had propounded to the Muslim League conference of 1930. But before long he became convinced that a Muslim homeland on the Indian subcontinent was the only way of safeguarding Muslim interests and the Muslim way of life. He converted the Muslim League into a powerful instrument for unifying the Muslims into a nation. At this point, Jinnah emerged as the leader of a rising Muslim nation. Events began to move fast. On March 22–23, 1940, in Lahore, the league adopted a resolution to form a separate Muslim state, Pakistan. The Pakistan idea was at first ridiculed and then tenaciously opposed by the Congress. But it captured the imagination of the Muslims. Many influential Hindus were pitted against Jinnah, including Gandhi and Jawaharlal Nehru. And the British government seemed to be intent on maintaining the political unity of the Indian subcontinent. But Jinnah led his movement with such skill and tenacity that ultimately both the Congress and the British government had no option but to agree to the partitioning of India. Pakistan emerged as an independent state in 1947. Jinnah became the first head of the new state. Faced with the serious problems of a young nation, he tackled Pakistan’s problems with authority. He was not regarded as merely the governor-general but as the father of the nation. He worked hard until he was overpowered by age and disease in Karachi, the place of his birth, in 1948.

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