JINNAH FATIMA (1893-1967)

JINNAH, FATIMA (1893-1967) Fatima Jinnah was the youngest sister of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan She was born in Karachi and was educated in Bombay and Calcutta After graduating in dental science, she started clinical practice in 1923 but did not stay in the profession for very long She moved in with her brother in 1929 when he lost his wife, and she stayed by his side for nearly 20 years, right until his death on 11 September 1948 She provided invaluable support to him as he redefined his political objectives Jinnah had initially worked for Hindu-Muslim unity within the context of one independent India Once he decided to campaign for Pakistan, however-an independent Muslim country to be established in India, once the British left the subcontinent of South AsiaFatima Jinnah’s untiring support proved critical for his success She was always with him as he traversed India, persuading the Muslim community to join his efforts to establish Pakistan She played an active role in organizing Muslim women to support Jinnah’s efforts In 1938, she was instrumental in getting the Muslim League to create a women’s subcommittee headed by her, which would include 30 women from every province, as well as from Delhi

After her brother’s death, Fatima Jinnah maintained an interest in politics She opposed the imposition of martial law by General Muhammad Ayub Khan, arguing that her brother had fought for the establishment of a country that would be governed by democracy rather than by the military She had little use for Muhammad Ayub Khan’s political philosophy of guided democracy, which curtailed what she viewed as fundamental human rights-the right to vote for a parliament, the right to freely express oneself, and the right for free political association Muhammad Ayub Khan became weary of her constant opposition to his rule That notwithstanding, he was surprised when she accepted the offer of the Combined Opposition Party to oppose him in the presidential elections of January 1965 Despite her advanced years and frail health, she campaigned vigorously and might have upset Muhammad Ayub Khan in the polls had not the government thrown its entire weight into getting the president reelected The margin of her defeat was narrow, particularly in East Pakistan She died in Karachi, and was buried in the compound of the mausoleum built in the city to honor her brother

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