Jinnah the actor & Quaid the Performer

Tomorrow is the Royal Wedding and the rumour is that Priyanka Chopra may be a bridesmaid, which would be huge.

At any rate on our Pakistani Literati group this was circulated around and I found the initial bit about Quaid e Azam (personally using Jinnah is like using Holy Prophet without the PBUH; there is a sliver of me that is a parochial Paki) about wanting to be an actor is fascinating.

I find the trope of QeA not wanting Partition to be a tiring; then why didn’t the Master Negotiator back down from his demands if he found them so unreasonable. If QeA and his ilk hadn’t messed it up; the HM the Queen’s Bahu would have probably been a desi and Harry would have been short for Harinder!

How Pakistan ended up trapping Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Jinnah’s close friend Kanji Dwarkadas agreed that Jinnah was not in earnest in his demand for Pakistan. After a 90-minute talk with Jinnah on August 28, 1942, Kanji wrote: “Jinnah was not thinking in terms of Pakistan. Nor did he think of becoming the head of a new state of Pakistan. In fact, Jinnah never imagined that Pakistan would ever come into being.”

When Kanji asked Jinnah about Pakistan, the latter replied: “My dear Kanji, one gesture, one friendly gesture was all that I was asking for and it was not forthcoming from the Congress. If the Congress would make this gesture, the whole problem would not be difficult to solve.”

Feeling trapped into accepting a Pakistan he had no intention of creating, Jinnah was yet too proud to call it off. Instead, he put up a brave front, as he told a Hindu friend in Karachi, Hashoo Kewal Ramani, an industrialist: “Look here, I never wanted this damn Partition! It was forced upon me by Sardar Patel. And now they want me to eat humble pie and raise my hands in defeat.”

The Quaid-i-Azam was the role of a lifetime that Jinnah found hard to turn down. But once he took on and played the part so convincingly, the “mad mullahs and extremists”, as Jinnah disdainfully called them, made sure he would never slip out of it again, keeping him a “virtual prisoner in his palace” and censoring all lines that went contrary to the script they had in mind.

10 thoughts on “Jinnah the actor & Quaid the Performer”

  1. “Pakistan” was a vague concept and no one (not even QeA) knew what it meant. He accepted the Cabinet Mission Plan in 1946 which would have left India united (yes I know there were some issues with “grouping” which are all too tedious to get into here). It was after Nehru implied that the CMP could be renegotiated in 10 years that QeA said “OK, let’s just get out of here.” So it was only in 1946-1947 that the thought of Pakistan as a sovereign nation really entered anyone’s mind.

    But definitely there was a conflict between the public QeA and the private Mr. Jinnah. He wanted to live in Bombay even after Partition (which makes very little sense on any level).

  2. So the royal wedding was playing on Pakistani national news while I was in the gym. I find it interesting that even 70 years after Independence, Pakistanis have very strong opinions about “our” prince and who he should have married. The female trainer at the gym is not a Megan fan (HRH the Duchess of Sussex now). She said she doesn’t have good “dress sense”, that the older daughter-in-law is OK but no one can compare to Lady Di (I suspect some soft racism though she denies it).

    It’s amazing that in the middle of Ramazan and with numerous daily crises of our own, the nation stopped to look at our former monarchs, the House of Windsor, and participate in the Soap Opera that is their life.

    1. We should start a Windsor offshoot
      Vidhi didn’t like Meghan’s dress
      I’m a big fan of Meghan vis a vis Kate since she’s a Wakandan like me

      1. The Duchess of Sussex’s dress was made by a lady who works for Givenchy, if I’m remembering it right.

          1. Sorry, you are right. Her Royal Highness the Duchess of Sussex. Or as the British public calls her “Princess Megan”.

            Am I correct in understanding the only people actually allowed to be called “Princess” are daughters of the monarch? So we have Anne, the Princess Royal. But Lady Diana Spencer became Princess of Wales upon marrying the Prince of Wales. Logically, one would think that Prince William’s and Prince Harry’s wives would also be Princesses. But I guess that’s why the Dukedoms are given on the wedding days.

            Maybe the thought of HRH Camilla, Princess of Wales just made the Queen lose her mind so she said “No. Duchess of Cornwall is it”.

            I also remember on Season 2 of “The Crown” how much of a big deal it was for Philip, Duke of Edinburgh to be named “The Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh”.

  3. There was more than Jinnah involved in the ‘Pakistan Movement’ even if it was a one man show when it came to actual negotiations with the British.

    Maulana Shabbir Ahmad Usmani was instrumental in mass mobilization (using Islam khatray mein heh! naturally) and countering Congress’s anti-Jinnah propaganda campaign orchestrated by Maulana Husain Ahmad Madani of the JUH. This was the so called Muttahida Qaumiat movement that held that Jinnah and Aligarh Islamic Modernism was more dangerous than an independent India dominated by the Hindus.

    In a nutshell, the insurmountable problem was simply this. Jinnah and some others (non-caste Hindus) wanted absolute safeguards for minorities before independence; Congress and caste-Hindus wanted independence first and then would decide whatever safeguards the minorities would get. As a part of this, Jinnah and others wanted a weak Centre and power devolution to the provinces/groupings while Congress (Nehru and Patel but not Gandhi, who was a hopeless romantic when it came to actual politics anyway) wanted a strong Centre and the provinces to have whatever powers the Centre didn’t want.

    If you look at the Cabinet Mission Plan, that is EXACTLY what is being offered: a weak Centre. Of course Congress rejected it and Jinnah embraced it.

    What must always be remembered is that the Pakistan Movement meant many different things to many different people.

    1. Congress also accepted the CMP. It is only when Nehru said that it could be open to renegotiation that Jinnah decided that he couldn’t trust Congress and then called for Direct Action Day.

  4. I am not aware of any one regretting partition once it happened. Porous borders with easy travel and free trade between the units would have made all the difference. Not to speak of spending the last penny on expensive nuclear arms. No other two countries except Palestine and Israel, have a 70 year undeclared war going. Doesn’t speak much of their humanity.

    1. Palestine is not a country and that is the whole problem. The Palestinians are a Stateless Population. The West Bank is a bunch of Bantustans. Gaza is a prison. The situation doesn’t even compare to Pakistan and India.

      Lots of people regretted Partition. Those whose homes were left behind, those who were made refugees. Mr. J wanted to retire in Bombay (I’m serious) which seems really misguided now.

      Two countries with a huge territorial dispute are never going to be friends. That’s why the Kashmir issue must be resolved, one way or the other. Not to mention the bloody legacy of 1947, 1965, 1971 etc.

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