Jinnah — lessons for our politicians

By Mohammad Rai

Jinnah has left an enduring legacy in the shape of Pakistan. However, if his vision and aspirations for Pakistan are to be attained, a lot still reckons to be accomplished. And today our politicians, instead of just giving statements praising Jinnah, need to emulate him in words and actions.

Right from his childhood, Jinnah was head and shoulders from the crowd. His childhood friend Nanji Jafar remembers, “once Jinnah, only fourteen, came to me and said don’t play in the dust; it spoils your clothes and dirties hands. We must stand up and play cricket.” It was this sense of personal dignity and self-confidence that defines Jinnah right from his early life. Sadly, stateliness and honour have long been lost in our political elite.

Jinnah’s earliest influences focus around Dadabhai Naoroji and Pherozeshah Mehta, both political mountains in their own might. However, the person who influenced Jinnah the most was Gopal Krishna Gokhale. I seriously doubt the current leadership of the Peoples Party or the Muslim League has any inkling whatsoever about studying and using history to learn and dictate future decisions. Our politicians have only mastered one art: that of giving emotional and gut-wrenching speeches. And here lies another lesson for them: Jinnah once said to his right hand, Liaquat Ali Khan, “I don’t care for beautiful language: I only wish to see my idea through.”

Jinnah initially joined the Congress in Gokhale’s footsteps. However, Jinnah’s legal and methodical mind contrasted from that of Gandhi’s and he resigned from the Congress in 1920 with a protest against Gandhi’s extreme measures, “your way is the wrong way: mine is the right way — the constitutional way is the right way.” I wish our political class could understand the gravity and morality of principles and ideologies, only then could the Constitution of Pakistan ever attain its sacrosanct status.

Meticulousness and singularity of purpose were Jinnah’s binding principles, and he never strayed far from his ideals — however lofty they appeared. Many believe the reason Jinnah did not feature in the public discourse as much as Gandhi and Nehru was not because of his limitations; in fact it would have made more heady news given his accomplishments. The reason was his brusque and curt behaviour with reporters. Jinnah was always indifferent to the values, or the pleasure, of popularity. Journalists respected him and one of them recalled, ‘he would summon us to his house, but he would never offer us a cup of tea or a cigarette. He was above even such trivial bribery as this.” Our politicians, however, seem to breathe and live in the media limelight.

As early as 1941, Jinnah was reported as being ‘unwell’. But it was not in his nature to rest, and he marched on. Once, when asked what Jinnah’s chief recreations were, he responded that “my profession is such that it never allows time for recreation.” And contrast this to our politicians who seem to be in a perpetual state of vacation and leisure.

Even till his end, the command and control that defined Jinnah did not wane. Minutes before his death, his physician Col Dr Ilahi Bakhsh leaned over and whispered, “Sir, we have given an injection to strengthen you, and it will soon have effect. God-willing, you are going to live.” Jinnah moved and spoke for the last time, “No, I am not”.

It is never too late to mend ways. Let’s all make Jinnah and Pakistan proud by actually following and believing in what Jinnah said. For starters, let’s remove the veil that covers our eyes and start tackling all our problems in earnest, pumped by pure passion for Pakistan. Let us not destroy Jinnah’s legacy.

Source: The Express Tribune

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