As a nation, we are accustomed to distorting and romanticizing the history according to the ideological aspirations and desires. Due to the influence of powerful and corrupt mafia, the history has been manipulated and this tendency is because of the societal consequences which affect the stature of the certain historical figures. Fatima Jinnah is one of the most inspiring and central figures in the creation of Pakistan. She was not only Jinnah’s guardian and political sidekick amid the Pakistan Movement but was also an ardent political worker. She was an undaunted women’s right activist, qualified dentist, biographer and stateswoman of her time.
Publicly acknowledged as the natural successor of her brother Muhammad Ali Jinnah, she was adored and respected by the majority. But despite being the sister of the Pakistan’s founder and holding significant political prestige, her life to a great extent remained mysterious and suffused with many controversial and intriguing episodes.
Although Fatima Jinnah is a national heroine still her life has always been speculated rather than studied. After the independence of Pakistan, Miss Jinnah as a Pakistani had to deal with disillusionment and isolation. The forces against her ensured to suppress her voice through all means.
One of the most authentic book (My Brother) written by Miss Fatima Jinnah in 1955 that depicts her disappointments was published 32 years later. Was it because of pressure from the establishment? At the age of 71, she contested general elections against General Ayub Khan, the military dictator who also accused Miss Jinnah as an American and Indian Agent. The pinnacle of idiosyncrasy can be witnessed in General Ayub’s greed for power.
Qudratullah Shahab writes in his book ‘Shahabnama‘:
“After Quaid-e-Azam’s demise, rulers of the time did not give the deserved respect and status to Miss Fatima Jinnah. Two death anniversaries of the Quaid had passed, but Fatima Jinnah would not address the nation only because the administration would ask for her speech to be reviewed before broadcasting. This she never accepted. The rulers were afraid she would criticize the government or say things which shouldn’t be said.
Finally, in 1951, when the administration agreed to her demand, she went on air. It was Mr. Jinnah’s third death anniversary. During the speech, at one point, the transmission was stopped for some time. It then resumed after a while. It was later known that the parts of her speech in which she was criticizing the government were censored and she did not get to know this during her speech.”
Renowned attorney, Sharifuddin Pirzada who was a secretary to Jinnah, once stated that Miss Jinnah’s speech was switched off when she showed up on Radio Pakistan to announce his brother’s demise. The radio channel’s director general, Z.A Bokhari was pressurized by the government to cut off the transmission the minute Miss Jinnah started criticizing the administration’s inhumane attitude towards the founder of the country and how he was left to die in an old ambulance on the road.
There were some letters exchanged between Z.A Bokhari and Miss Jinnah from the book Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah: Speeches, Messages, and Statements (1947-67). The book clearly supports the fact the way Miss Jinnah was deliberately censored for political reasons. In response to one of the letters Miss Jinnah stated:
“On the 11th of September, you had requested the copy of the broadcast which was duly sent to you at 7:00 pm. At 8:00 pm you had called me at my residence in a stressful condition. With sad expressions, you had requested that I omit certain parts of my speech. To which I had replied, sans any emotional aspiration, that if one does not enjoy the freedom of expression in a democratic country, I would like to withdraw my speech instead of changing it, as it was on your request that I had agreed for the speech in the first place. As usual, you asked me to listen to the recorded speech after the broadcast, which sounded perfect. It is astonishing that neither you nor anyone from your staff even mentioned the technical problem in the transmitters at that time. I came to know about the technical problems while I was on my way to my residence.
It is also a matter of wonderment to me that the very sentences that you requested to omit from the speech were the ones which could not be broadcast due to the technical problem. It seems your transmitters are very obedient and submissive as they are always ready to create technical problems in order to facilitate you. The people who tried to create problems in my original speech, and stopped my voice from reaching the people, and tried to omit certain sentences of my speech, have in fact highlighted the importance (of these sentences) to the people. You mentioned in your letter that your regional stations reported about the flow of my speech. Had it been so, you would not have taken the trouble to apologize. As far as complaints by the people are concerned, it is your duty to satisfy them. Your explanation is neither satisfying nor assuring. In such a case, an apology is merely a soft version of pleading guilty and admitting to one’s crime.”
A lot of condemnations and criticism was directed at the broadcaster as many people didn’t believe the statement of Radio Pakistan which justified that the pauses in the speech of Miss Jinnah were due to the technical problems. Most people believed that it was censored from the issues she wanted to bring attention to. The book written by Miss Jinnah which was published after more than three decades was still fabricated and several pages were torn out by Mr. Sharif-ul-Mujahid of Quaid-e-Azam Academy. According to his assumption, Miss Fatima Jinnah wasn’t aware of the ideology of the Pakistan for which she struggled. He said, “Those pages were against the ideology of Pakistan and I had to take care of it.” How foolish can Mr. Mujahid be?
Hats off to Mr. Qudratullah Shahab who published those pages in his book.
I’m so disappointed in the doctrine of Sharif-ul-Mujahid according to whom these pages were against the Pakistan’s Ideology. There are many other claims in Miss Jinnah’s book (My Brother) which are very hard to digest. According to her Jinnah’s health deteriorated more rapidly after the independence and she believed that it was only because of the betrayal by some of his closest companions. The bitterness for the First Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan can be smelled in the excerpts of the book.This would be even more hard to believe that Mr. Jinnah revealed to her that many of his former colleagues that were coming to meet him were waiting anxiously for his demise.
The official death cause of Miss Fatima Jinnah was reported as a ‘heart attack’ but the evidence suggests that she was murdered in her house. It was also claimed by Karachi Police officials that her body was found beheaded in the drawing room. This still remains an unsolved murder case of the national heroine in the history of Pakistan. Nobody was allowed to go near her dead body or even see the face for last time at the time of her funeral till she was buried. Some people were baton-charged and treated harshly with tear gas who tried to do so. Some have claimed to see the visible wound marks on her body too.
The administration made efforts to oppose Miss Fatima Jinnah’s will in which she insisted to bury her right next to her brother. Instead she was buried in Mewashah Graveyard of Karachi where she rests today.
Mr. Agha Ashraf in his book writes:
“Miss Fatima Jinnah had expressed it while she was alive that after her death she be buried next to her brother. Now the problem was where to bury her, since according to Mr. Abul Hassan Isfahani Sahib, the government did not want to bury her next to Mr. Jinnah (M. A. H Isfahani’s interview, January 14, 1976). The government had to face tough opposition over the idea. Commissioner, Karachi was intimated that if Fatima Jinnah was not laid to rest next to the Quaid-e-Azam there will be unrest.The Maadar-e-Millat was to be buried 120 feet on the left to the Quaid-e-Azam’s grave. It was to be a 6 foot deep, 3 feet wide grave. The surface was rocky, and so the gravediggers had to work for 12 hours straight to get the job done. Led by 60-year-old Abdul Ghani, a team of 20 gravediggers was working on Fatima Jinnah’s grave. Ghani had previously dug graves for Quaid-e-Azam, Liaquat Ali Khan, and Sardar Abdul Rab Nishtar.
It was noon. The number of people now had increased to more than 600,000. The government had announced a public holiday, so more and more people were joining the procession in Karachi. Unrest in such a huge crowd seemed inevitable.Suddenly, some people tried to come closer to the dead body. The police tried its best to handle the situation peacefully. However, there was a little ruckus. Soon after, baton charge began, followed by tear gas shelling and with people hurling stones at the police. A man died, while hundreds were injured in the episode. By 12:55 pm, the burial had ended.”
Mr. Jinnah’s nephew Akbar Pirbhai insisted that Fatima Jinnah was murdered and many respected individuals of the time also claimed the same. Who killed Fatima Jinnah? Did we justify with the Mother of Nation? Did she deserve this treatment by the citizens of Pakistan for which she and her brother sacrificed their lives? Was the disdain (perhaps the reality) expressed in her book resulted in vengeance by the establishment of the time? These questions are yet to be answered!
Featured Image Credits: Sunday Guardian