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Jinnah: The First Dictator of Pakistan?

Most of the readers would believe that Pakistan reeled under dictators only after Jinnah's death or while Jinnah died too soon after the formation of Pakistan, thus, not having had enough time to build democratic institutions.

The following piece of information, excerpted from the famous and authoritative source Freedom at Midnight, a masterpiece on the sub-continent's history written by Larry Collins and Dominique Lapierre, suggests otherwise. Jinnah assumed full executive powers in Pakistan without waiting for any democratic elections to take place all this while officially taking over a public office that should have had nothing but ceremonial value.

In the follwoing we excerpt the tale.

"For the other great dominion born on the sub-continent, 15 August was a particularly auspicious day. It was the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan. The festivities were almost as much a celebration of the state's founder as they were of the state itself. Jinnah's photo and name were everywhere: in windows, bazaars, stores, on enormous triumphal arches spanning city streets. The Pakistan Times even proclaimed that, through the voice of their caretakers, the camels, monkeys and tigers of the Lahore zoo joined in sending their wishes to the Quaid-e-Azzam and trumpeting 'Pakistan Zindabad'. There may have been no flags of the new state in Dacca, capital of its eastern wing, but everywhere there were pictures of the leader, who'd never visited its soil."

"Jinnah himself celebrated the day by assuming full powers for his supposedly ceremonial office. In the year of life remaining to him, the London-trained lawyer who for years had not ceased to proclaim his faith in the constitutional process, would govern his new nation as a dictator."

"He would do it without the comforting presence of his closest living relative. 500 miles from Karachi, on the balcony of a flat in Colaba, one of Bombay's most elegant suburbs, a young woman had decorated her balcony with two flags, one for India and one for Pakistan. They symbolized the terrible dilemma Independence Day posed for her, as well as for many others. Dina, the only child of Mohammed Ali Jinnah, had been unable to decide to which country she wished to belong, the land of her birth, or the Islamic nation created by her father."

"Conscious of the terrible dilemma lurking behind this euphoric Independence Day, many an Indian was unable to share in the ecstasy of his celebrating country man. In Lucknow, Anis Kidwai, would always remember the incongruous spectacle of a group of cheering, laughing people waiving flags, next to others in tears because they's just learned of the death of close relatives in the Punjab."

"Khushwant Singh, a Sikh lawyer from Lahore, was totally indifferent to the gay crowds around him in New Delhi. 'I had nothing to rejoice about,' he would bitterly recall. 'For me and millions like me, this Independence Day was a tragedy. They'd mutilated the Punjab, and I had lost everything'." (Freedom at Midnight, Delhi, Reprint 1996, pp. 269-270)

Jinnah's daughter in fact decided to stay back in India and did not join his father in Pakistan. Here a small tale of her, quoted from an official Pakistan government site (

"The relationship was marred by the fact that Dina wanted to marry a Parsi-born Christian, Neville Wadia. Jinnah tried to dissuade her, just like Sir Dinshaw had tried to influence his daughter many years ago, but to no avail. Justice Chagla recalls, " Jinnah, in his usual imperious manner, told her that there were millions of Muslim boys in India, and she could have anyone she chose. Then the young lady…replied: 'Father, there were millions of Muslim girls in India. Why did you not marry one of them?' "

"The relationship became formal after she married. They did correspond, he addressed her formally as 'Mrs. Wadia'. Dina and Neville lived in Bombay and had two children, a boy and a girl. Shortly after that they separated."

This much about the alleged and often-praised secular character of Mr. Jinnah.

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