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JINNAH MUHAMMAD ALI (1876-1948)

JINNAH, MUHAMMAD ALI (1876-1948) Muhammad Ali Jinnah was born into a Shia Muslim family that did business in Karachi In 1892, at the age of 16, Mahemdali Jinnahbai went to London to acquire business experience While in London, Jinnah decided to prepare himself for a legal rather than a business profession It was also during this time that he changed his name from Mahemdali Jinnahbai to Muhammad Ali Jinnah He was called to the bar in 1895, returned to Karachi in 1896, and in 1897 moved to Bombay to set up his law practiceIt took Jinnah some time to get acquainted with the aspirations of the Indian Muslim community because Bombay was remote from the center of Indian Muslim politics Although Jinnah was based in Bombay, it was in Delhi and Aligarh that the Muslims were seeking to be recognized politically Once he moved to the center stage of Indian politics and had to rub shoulders with the leaders of Muslim India, he began to appreciate that independence from the British rule was not the most important political objective of many of his co-religionists Their principal objective was the protection of the political, social, and economic interests of the Muslims when the British finally departed from IndiaJinnah took a long time to make the transition from being an Indian nationalist to becoming an Indian Muslim politician



It took him 20 years to cover this distance, and he did it in several small steps He joined the All-India Muslim League (AIML) in 1913 without giving up membership in the Indian National Congress As an active AIML member, he began to interest himself in Muslim issues and took advantage of his membership in the Imperial Legislative Assembly to speak on these issuesJinnah was befuddled by the rapid developments in Indian politics as Gandhi gained ground in the Congress Party, as the Congress changed its tactics to employ more confrontational means for securing concessions from the British, and as religion began to assert itself in both Hindu and Muslim politics Disenchanted by all these developments, he decided to leave the Indian political stage In June 1931, he left for England and settled in London The change in residence did not help to distance him from Indian politics He came under intense pressure to return to India Several Muslim leaders were looking for a person who could not only lead the Muslim League but also discipline the independent-minded leadership of the Indian Muslim-majority provinces Jinnah was the obvious candidate to perform this task He returned to India on 1 April 1935 and was given a warm reception by the Indian Muslim community

By now, his own political objective had been defined clearly He was no longer interested in working for Indian independence, as he had before he left Instead, he wanted to work for the protection of the social, economic, and political rights of the Indian Muslim community once India gained independenceIn the early 1940s, Jinnah persuaded the Muslim League-in particular the provinces in which Muslims were in a minority-to opt for the idea of Pakistan His own experience dealing with the leadership of the Indian National Congress had convinced him that the only way the Muslim community could protect itself once the British left was to establish an independent country for themselves Accordingly, on 13 March 1940, the Muslim League passed the historic “Lahore resolution,” demanding the establishment of a separate homeland for the Muslims of British India The Pakistan slogan won Jinnah and the Muslim League mass political support in the Muslim majority provinces Jinnah was now in a powerful position with respect to the provincial leaders, able and willing to exert his authority over them and to bring them into line with his thinking He was now the sole spokesman for India’s MuslimsThe provincial elections of 1945-1946 confirmed this position for Muhammad Ali Jinnah The Muslim League polled 75 percent of the total votes cast by the Muslims, compared to only 4 percent in the 1937 elections

This was a profound improvement Jinnah and his demand for Pakistan had struck an exceptionally responsive chord with the Muslims of British India The Pakistan bandwagon had now begun to roll On 3 June 1947, the British government in India announced a plan to partition the country along religious lines The idea of Pakistan was now a reality; the country to be created for the Muslim community was to have two wings, separated by India On 14August 1947 Pakistan achieved independence, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah was sworn in as the governor-general of the new country Karachi became the new country’s capitalBy the time Pakistan gained independence, Jinnah was a very sick man He suffered from tuberculosis, a secret that had been kept closely guarded right up to the announcement of his death on 11 September 1948 Jinnah’s death came as a great shock to the people of Pakistan They were still struggling with the aftermath of the partition of British India, and his sudden departure left a void that was never entirely filled

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