Council of Pakistan American Affairs
FATHER OF THE NATION
Muhammad Ali Jinnah (December 25, 1876 – September 11, 1948) was an Indian Muslim
politician and leader of the All India Muslim League who founded Pakistan and served as its
first Governor-General. He is commonly known in Pakistan as Quaid-e-Azam ("Great Leader")
and Baba-e-Qaum ("Father of the Nation.") His birth and death anniversaries are national
holidays in Pakistan.
Jinnah rose to prominence in the Indian National Congress expounding ideas of Hindu-Muslim
unity and helping shape the 1916 Lucknow Pact with the Muslim League; he also became a
key leader in the All India Home Rule League. Differences with Mahatma Gandhi led Jinnah to
quit the Congress and take charge of the Muslim League. He proposed a fourteen-point
constitutional reform plan to safeguard the political rights of Muslims in a self-governing India.
His proposals failed amid the League's disunity, driving a disillusioned Jinnah to live in London
for many years.
Several Muslim leaders persuaded Jinnah to return to India in 1934 and re-organise the
League. Disillusioned by the failure to build coalitions with the Congress, Jinnah embraced the
goal of creating a separate state for Muslims as in the Lahore Resolution. The League won
most Muslim seats in the elections of 1946, and Jinnah launched the Direct Action campaign of
strikes and protests to achieve "Pakistan", which degenerated into communal violence across
India. The failure of the Congress-League coalition to govern the country prompted both
parties and the British to agree to partition. As Governor-General of Pakistan, Jinnah led
efforts to rehabilitate millions of refugees, and to frame national policies on foreign affairs,
security and economic development.
Jinnah was born as Mahomed Ali Jinnahbhai in Wazir Mansion, Karachi, Sindh (now in
Pakistan). The earliest records of his school register suggest he was born on October 20,
1875, but Sarojini Naidu, the author of Jinnah's first biography gives the date December 25,
1876. Jinnah was the eldest of seven children born to Jinnahbhai Poonja (1857–1901), a
prosperous Gujarati merchant who had emigrated to Sindh from Kathiawar, Gujarat.
Jinnahbhai Poonja and Mithibai had six other children—Ahmad Ali, Bunde Ali, Rahmat Ali,
Maryam, Fatima and Shireen. His family belonged to the Khoja branch of Shi'a Islam. Jinnah
had a turbulent time at several different schools, but finally found stability at the Christian
Missionary Society High School in Karachi. At home, the family's mother tongue was
Gujarati, but members of the household also became conversant in Kutchi, Sindhi and English.[
In 1892, Jinnah went to London to work for Graham's Shipping and Trading Company. He had
been married to a distant relative named Emibai, who is believed to have been either 14 or 16
years old at the time of their marriage, but she died shortly after he moved to London. His
mother died around this time as well. In 1894, Jinnah quit his job to study law at Lincoln's Inn
and graduated in 1896. At about this time, Jinnah began to participate in politics. An admirer of
Indian political leaders Dadabhai Naoroji and Sir Pherozeshah Mehta, Jinnah worked with
other Indian students on Naoroji's campaign to win a seat in the British Parliament. While
developing largely constitutionalist views on Indian self-government, Jinnah despised the
arrogance of British officials and the discrimination against Indians.
Jinnah came under considerable pressure when his father's business was ruined. Settling in
Bombay, he became a successful lawyer—gaining particular fame for his skilled handling of the
"Caucus Case". Jinnah built a house in Malabar Hill, later known as Jinnah House. He was
not an observant Muslim and dressed throughout his life in European-style clothes, and spoke
in English more than his mother tongue, Gujarati. His reputation as a skilled lawyer
prompted Indian leader Bal Gangadhar Tilak to hire him as defence counsel for his sedition
trial in 1905. Jinnah ably argued that it was not sedition for an Indian to demand freedom and
self-government in his own country, but Tilak received a rigorous term of imprisonment.
Early Political Career
In 1896, Jinnah joined the Indian National Congress, which was the largest Indian political
organization. Like most of the Congress at the time, Jinnah did not favour outright
independence, considering British influences on education, law, culture and industry as
beneficial to India. Moderate leader Gopal Krishna Gokhale became Jinnah's role model, with
Jinnah proclaiming his ambition to become the "Muslim Gokhale". On January 25, 1910,
Jinnah became a member on the sixty-member Imperial Legislative Council. The council had no
real power or authority, and included a large number of un-elected pro-Raj loyalists and
Europeans. Nevertheless, Jinnah was instrumental in the passing of the Child Marriages
Restraint Act, the legitimization of the Muslim wakf—religious endowments—and was appointed
to the Sandhurst committee, which helped establish the Indian Military Academy at Dehra Dun.
 During World War I, Jinnah joined other Indian moderates in supporting the British war
effort, hoping that Indians would be rewarded with political freedoms.
Jinnah had initially avoided joining the All India Muslim League, founded in 1906, regarding it
as too communal. Eventually, he joined the league in 1913 and became the president at the
1916 session in Lucknow. Jinnah was the architect of the 1916 Lucknow Pact between the
Congress and the League, bringing them together on most issues regarding self-government
and presenting a united front to the British. Jinnah also played an important role in the
founding of the All India Home Rule League in 1916. Along with political leaders Annie Besant
and Tilak, Jinnah demanded "home rule" for India—the status of a self-governing dominion in
the Empire similar to Canada, New Zealand and Australia. He headed the League's Bombay
Presidency chapter. In 1918, Jinnah married his second wife Rattanbai Petit ("Ruttie"), twenty-
four years his junior, and the fashionable young daughter of his personal friend Sir Dinshaw
Petit of an elite Parsi family of Mumbai. Unexpectedly there was great opposition to the
marriage from Rattanbai's family and Parsi society, as well as orthodox Muslim leaders.
Rattanbai defied her family and nominally converted to Islam, adopting (though never using)
the name "Maryam"—resulting in a permanent estrangement from her family and Parsi society.
The couple resided in Bombay, and frequently travelled across India and Europe. She bore
Jinnah his only child, daughter Dina, in year 1919.
Forteen Points and “exile”
Jinnah's problems with the Congress began with the ascent of Mohandas Gandhi in 1918, who
espoused non-violent civil disobedience as the best means to obtain Swaraj (independence, or
self-rule) for all Indians. Jinnah differed, saying that only constitutional struggle could lead to
independence. Unlike most Congress leaders, Gandhi did not wear western-style clothes, did
his best to use an Indian language instead of English, and was deeply spiritual and religious.
Gandhi's Indianised style of leadership gained great popularity with the Indian people. Jinnah
criticised Gandhi's support of the Khilafat Movement, which he saw as an endorsement of
religious zealotry. By 1920, Jinnah resigned from the Congress, warning that Gandhi's
method of mass struggle would lead to divisions between Hindus and Muslims and within the
two communities. Becoming president of the Muslim League, Jinnah was drawn into a conflict
between a pro-Congress faction and a pro-British faction. In 1927, Jinnah entered negotiations
with Muslim and Hindu leaders on the issue of a future constitution, during the struggle against
the all-British Simon Commission. The League wanted separate electorates while the Nehru
Report favoured joint electorates. Jinnah personally opposed separate electorates, but then
drafted compromises and put forth demands that he thought would satisfy both. These became
known as the 14 points of Mr. Jinnah. However, they were rejected by the Congress and
other political parties.
Jinnah's personal life and especially his marriage suffered during this period due to his political
work. Although they worked to save their marriage by travelling together to Europe when he
was appointed to the Sandhurst committee, the couple separated in 1927. Jinnah was deeply
saddened when Rattanbai died in 1929, after a serious illness.
At the Round Table Conferences in London, Jinnah criticised Gandhi, but was disillusioned by
the breakdown of talks. Frustrated with the disunity of the Muslim League, he decided to
quit politics and practise law in England. Jinnah would receive personal care and support
through his later life from his sister Fatima, who lived and travelled with him and also became a
close advisor. She helped raise his daughter, who was educated in England and India. Jinnah
later became estranged from his daughter after she decided to marry Parsi-born Christian
businessman, Neville Wadia—even though he had faced the same issues when he desired to
marry Rattanbai in 1918. Jinnah continued to correspond cordially with his daughter, but their
personal relationship was strained. Dina continued to live in India with her family.
Leader of the Muslim League
Prominent Muslim leaders like the Aga Khan, Choudhary Rahmat Ali and Sir Muhammad Iqbal
made efforts to convince Jinnah to return to India and take charge of a now-reunited Muslim
League. In 1934 Jinnah returned and began to re-organise the party, being closely assisted by
Liaquat Ali Khan, who would act as his right-hand man. In the 1937 elections, the League
emerged as a competent party, capturing a significant number of seats under the Muslim
electorate, but lost in the Muslim-majority Punjab, Sindh and the Northwest Frontier Province.
 Jinnah offered an alliance with the Congress - both bodies would face the British together,
but the Congress had to share power, accept separate electorates and the League as the
representative of India's Muslims. The latter two terms were unacceptable to the Congress,
which had its own national Muslim leaders and membership and adhered to secularism. Even
as Jinnah held talks with Congress president Rajendra Prasad, Congress leaders
suspected that Jinnah would use his position as a lever for exaggerated demands and obstruct
government, and demanded that the League merge with the Congress. The talks failed,
and while Jinnah declared the resignation of all Congressmen from provincial and central
offices in 1938 as a "Day of Deliverance" from Hindu domination, some historians assert
that he remained hopeful for an agreement.
In a speech to the League in 1930, Sir Muhammad Iqbal mooted an independent state for
Muslims in "northwest India." Choudhary Rahmat Ali published a pamphlet in 1933 advocating
a state called "Pakistan". Following the failure to work with the Congress, Jinnah, who had
embraced separate electorates and the exclusive right of the League to represent Muslims,
was converted to the idea that Muslims needed a separate state to protect their rights. Jinnah
came to believe that Muslims and Hindus were distinct nations, with unbridgeable differences—
a view later known as the Two Nation Theory. Jinnah declared that a united India would
lead to the marginalization of Muslims, and eventually civil war between Hindus and Muslims.
This change of view may have occurred through his correspondence with Iqbal, who was close
to Jinnah. In the session in Lahore in 1940, the Pakistan resolution was adopted as the
main goal of the party. The resolution was rejected outright by the Congress, and criticised by
many Muslim leaders like Maulana Abul Kalam Azad, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Syed Ab'ul Ala
Maududi and the Jamaat-e-Islami. On July 26, 1943, Jinnah was stabbed and wounded by a
member of the extremist Khaksars in an attempted assassination.
Jinnah founded Dawn in 1941—a major newspaper that helped him propagate the League's
point of views. During the mission of British minister Stafford Cripps, Jinnah demanded parity
between the number of Congress and League ministers, the League's exclusive right to
appoint Muslims and a right for Muslim-majority provinces to secede, leading to the breakdown
of talks. Jinnah supported the British effort in World War II, and opposed the Quit India
movement. During this period, the League formed provincial governments and entered the
central government. The League's influence increased in the Punjab after the death of
Unionist leader Sikander Hyat Khan in 1942. Gandhi held talks fourteen times with Jinnah in
Mumbai in 1944, about a united front—while talks failed, Gandhi's overtures to Jinnah
increased the latter's standing with Muslims.
In the 1946 elections for the Constituent Assembly of India, the Congress won most of the
elected seats and Hindu electorate seats, while the League won control of a large majority of
Muslim electorate seats. The 1946 British Cabinet Mission to India released a plan on 16th
May, calling for a united India comprised of considerably autonomous provinces, and called for
"groups" of provinces formed on the basis of religion. A second plan released on June 16th,
called for the partition of India along religious lines, with princely states to choose between
accession to the dominion of their choice or independence. The Congress, fearing India's
fragmentation, criticised the 16th May proposal and rejected the 16th June plan. Jinnah gave
the League's assent to both plans, knowing that power would go only to the party that had
supported a plan. After much debate and against Gandhi's advice that both plans were
divisive, the Congress accepted the 16th May plan while condemning the grouping principle.
Jinnah decried this acceptance as "dishonesty", accused the British negotiators of "treachery",
 and withdrew the League's approval of both plans. The League boycotted the assembly,
leaving the Congress in charge of the government but denying it legitimacy in the eyes of
Jinnah issued a call for all Muslims to launch "Direct Action" on August 16 to "achieve Pakistan".
 Strikes and protests were planned, but violence broke out all over India, especially in
Calcutta and the district of Noakhali in Bengal, and more than 7,000 people were killed in
Bihar. Although viceroy Lord Wavell asserted that there was "no satisfactory evidence to that
effect", League politicians were blamed by the Congress and the media for orchestrating
the violence. After a conference in December 1946 in London, the League entered the
interim government, but Jinnah refrained from accepting office for himself. This was credited as
a major victory for Jinnah, as the League entered government having rejected both plans, and
was allowed to appoint an equal number of ministers despite being the minority party. The
coalition was unable to work, resulting in a rising feeling within the Congress that partition was
the only way of avoiding political chaos and possible civil war. The Congress agreed to the
partition of Punjab and Bengal along religious lines in late 1946. The new viceroy Lord
Mountbatten and Indian civil servant V. P. Menon proposed a plan that would create a Muslim
dominion in West Punjab, East Bengal, Baluchistan and Sindh. After heated and emotional
debate, the Congress approved the plan. The North-West Frontier Province voted to join
Pakistan in a referendum in July 1947. Jinnah asserted in a speech in Lahore on October 30,
1947 that the League had accepted partition because "the consequences of any other
alternative would have been too disastrous to imagine.
Along with Liaquat Ali Khan and Abdur Rab Nishtar, Muhammad Ali Jinnah represented the
League in the Partition Council to appropriately divide public assets between India and
Pakistan. The assembly members from the provinces that would comprise Pakistan formed
the new state's constituent assembly, and the Military of British India was divided between
Muslim and non-Muslim units and officers. Indian leaders were angered at Jinnah's courting the
princes of Jodhpur, Bhopal and Indore to accede to Pakistan - these princely states were not
geographically aligned with Pakistan, and each had a Hindu-majority population.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah became the first Governor-General of Pakistan and president of its
constituent assembly. Inaugurating the assembly on August 11, 1947, Jinnah spoke of an
inclusive and pluralist democracy promising equal rights for all citizens regardless of religion,
caste or creed. He famously advised the highest body in the land:
If we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and
solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the
poor... you are free- you are free to go to your temples mosques or any other place of worship
in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed that has nothing to do
with the business of the state... in due course of time Hindus will cease to be Hindus and
Muslims will cease to Muslims- not in a religious sense for that is the personal faith of an
individual- but in a political sense as citizens of one state
This address is a cause of much debate in Pakistan as, on its basis, many claim that Jinnah
wanted a secular state while supporters of Islamic Pakistan assert that this speech is being
taken out of context when compared to other speeches by him.
On October 11, 1947, in an address to Civil, Naval, Military and Air Force Officers of Pakistan
Government, Karachi, he said:
We should have a State in which we could live and breathe as free men and which we could
develop according to our own lights and culture and where principles of Islamic social justice
could find free play.
On February 21, 1948, in an address to the officers and men of the 5th Heavy Ack Ack and 6th
Light Ack Ack Regiments in Malir, Karachi, he said:
You have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic
social justice and the equality of manhood in your own native soil. With faith, discipline and
selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.
The office of Governor-General was ceremonial, but Jinnah also assumed the lead of
government. The first months of Pakistan's existence were absorbed in ending the intense
violence that had arisen. In wake of acrimony between Hindus and Muslims, Jinnah agreed with
Indian leaders to organise a swift and secure exchange of populations in the Punjab and
Bengal. He visited the border regions with Indian leaders to calm people and encourage
peace, and organised large-scale refugee camps. Despite these efforts, estimates on the
death toll vary from around two hundred thousand, to over a million people. The estimated
number of refugees in both countries exceeds 15 million. The capital city of Karachi saw an
explosive increase in its population owing to the large encampments of refugees. Jinnah was
personally affected and depressed by the intense violence of the period.
Jinnah authorised force to achieve the annexation of the princely state of Kalat and suppress
the insurgency in Baluchistan. He controversially accepted the accession of Junagadh—a
Hindu-majority state with a Muslim ruler located in the Saurashtra peninsula, some 400
kilometres (250 mi) southeast of Pakistan—but this was annulled by Indian intervention. It is
unclear if Jinnah planned or knew of the tribal invasion from Pakistan into the kingdom of
Jammu and Kashmir in October 1947, but he did send his private secretary Khurshid Ahmed to
observe developments in Kashmir. When informed of Kashmir's accession to India, Jinnah
deemed the accession illegitimate and ordered the Pakistani army to enter Kashmir.
However, Gen. Auchinleck, the supreme commander of all British officers informed Jinnah that
while India had the right to send troops to Kashmir, which had acceded to it, Pakistan did not. If
Jinnah persisted, Auchinleck would remove all British officers from both sides. As Pakistan had
a greater proportion of Britons holding senior command, Jinnah cancelled his order, but
protested to the United Nations to intercede.
Owing to his role in the state's creation, Jinnah was the most popular and influential politician.
He played a pivotal role in protecting the rights of minorities, establishing colleges, military
institutions and Pakistan's financial policy. In his first visit to East Pakistan, Jinnah stressed
that Urdu alone should be the national language which was strongly opposed by the Bengali
people of East Pakistan (now Bangladesh), for the reason that they traditionally spoke Bangla
(Bengali). He also worked for an agreement with India settling disputes regarding the division
Through the 1940s, Jinnah suffered from tuberculosis—only his sister and a few others close
to Jinnah were aware of his condition. In 1948, Jinnah's health began to falter, hindered further
by the heavy workload that had fallen upon him following Pakistan's creation. Attempting to
recuperate, he spent many months at his official retreat in Ziarat, but died on September 11,
1948 from a combination of tuberculosis and lung cancer. His funeral was followed by the
construction of a massive mausoleum—Mazar-e-Quaid—in Karachi to honour him; official and
military ceremonies are hosted there on special occasions.
Dina Wadia remained in India after partition, before ultimately settling in New York City.
Jinnah's grandson, Nusli Wadia, is a prominent industrialist residing in Mumbai. In the 1963–
1964 elections, Jinnah's sister Fatima Jinnah, known as Madar-e-Millat ("Mother of the
Nation"), became the presidential candidate of a coalition of political parties that opposed the
rule of President Ayub Khan, but lost the election. The Jinnah House in Malabar Hill, Mumbai is
in the possession of the Government of India—its future is officially disputed. Jinnah had
personally requested Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru to preserve the house—he hoped
for good relations between India and Pakistan, and that one day he could return to Mumbai.
 There are proposals for the house be offered to the Government of Pakistan to establish
a consulate in the city, as a goodwill gesture, but Dina Wadia's family have laid claim to the
Criticism and Legacy
Some critics allege that Jinnah's courting the princes of Hindu states and his gambit with
Junagadh is proof of ill intentions towards India, as he was the proponent of the theory that
Hindus and Muslims could not live together, yet being interested in Hindu-majority states. In
his book Patel: A Life, Rajmohan Gandhi asserts that Jinnah sought to engage the question of
Junagadh with an eye on Kashmir—he wanted India to ask for a plebiscite in Junagadh,
knowing thus that the principle then would have to be applied to Kashmir, where the Muslim-
majority would, he believed, vote for Pakistan.
Some historians like H M Seervai and Ayesha Jalal assert that Jinnah never wanted partition—
it was the outcome of the Congress leaders being unwilling to share power with the Muslim
League. It is asserted that Jinnah only used the Pakistan demand as a method to mobilise
support to obtain significant political rights for Muslims. Jinnah has gained the admiration of
major Indian nationalist politicians like Atal Bihari Vajpayee and Lal Krishna Advani—the latter's
comments praising Jinnah caused an uproar in his own Bharatiya Janata Party.
In Pakistan, Jinnah is honoured with the official title Quaid-e-Azam, and he is depicted on all
Pakistani rupee notes of denominations ten and higher, and is the namesake of many
Pakistani public institutions. The former Quaid-e-Azam International Airport, now called the
Jinnah International Airport, in Karachi is Pakistan's busiest. One of the largest streets in the
Turkish capital Ankara — Cinnah Caddesi —is named after him. In Iran, one of the capital
Tehran's most important new highways is also named after him, while the government released
a stamp commemorating the centennial of Jinnah's birthday. The Mazar-e-Quaid, Jinnah's
mausoleum, is among Karachi's most imposing buildings.