Journalism shouldn’t be taken lightly. I will like to include more of serious journalism in my posts from now on. Just like you, I’ve also grown up reading history course book and believing in all the positive side of our nation. Unfortunately, the darker side doesn’t go in the history books unless it is related to any minority or neighbour enemy. I was university going when I first stumbled upon an article stating events of Fatima Ali Jinnah’s death. It was shocking and excruciatingly saddening. Thankfully, we’ve the internet and social media today to explore and express better. Here’s what I found.
Fatima Ali Jinnah: Sorry we failed you as a nation
We all know that Fatima Ali Jinnah was very much involved in the politics of Pakistan, even before the independence we cherished later. She was next to her brother, Quaid-e-Azam throughout the struggle so when Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah passed away, she was in the front. Nation looked upon her as a natural successor but it’s far easier to tame a women for men in our society right? The government at that time actively started keeping her away from expressing her views. Perhaps, she was wiser than the government especially as she shared the same principles as of Quaid e Azam himself.
Radio Pakistan once ceased broadcasting while Ms Jinnah made her speech on Quaid-e-Azam’s death anniversary. Qudratullah Shahab writes on page 432 of his book Shahabnama (1986):
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 criticise 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 criticising the government were censored and she did not get to know this during her speech.”
Radio channel’s director-general, Z A. Bokhari was pressurized by government official to switch off Miss Jinnah’s speech the moment she began criticizing the government’s.Z.A. Bukhari later wrote an apology letter to Miss Jinnah, to which the latter gave a sharp response:
“On the 11th of September, you had requested the copy of the broadcast which was duly sent to you at 7:00pm. At 8:00pm you had called on 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 for 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 apologise.
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.”
There was outrage after this statement. The newspapers were filled with criticism to which Radio Pakistan responded by sticking with the technical issue – power outages. Of course, nobody believed them. Nation was still rooting for Fatima Ali Jinnah. As we all know, Ayub Khan won the presidential elections against her. Miss Jinnah was also accused of being an Indian and American agent by the Military dictator Ayub Khan. There were several factors; most important ones were defaming of her character, elections were rigged, association with Ghaffar Khan’s Khudai Khidmatgars, who had historically opposed partition of India, the fact that female democrat can lead the nation.
Time magazine reported on how Ayub Khan had become a headless chicken,
“Nonetheless, he is running scared, because candidate Jinnah has managed to focus every form of discontent in the country. To brake her bandwagon, he abruptly decreed that elections would be held January 2nd, instead of March, as originally scheduled. Explaining lamely that the situation is “a little tense,” the government also rescinded a law specifying that political rallies must be open to the public. At closed meetings with groups of electors, Ayub answered practical questions sensibly enough, but kept lashing out at the opposition with growing anger. Countering Miss Jinnah’s repeated charge that he had been unable to restrain the US from helping Pakistan’s No 1 adversary, India, Ayub’s campaign, in fact, was turning increasingly anti-American.”
It was not long after elections that , Fatima Jinnah was mysteriously found dead in in her house on 9th July, 1967. She had attended a wedding on 7th July, few days earlier and was seen in a good spirit. There were rumors that the mother of the nation had visible marks of wounds on her body. Her dead body was kept covered and no one was allowed to come even near it. The crowd was unstoppable. It was like entire Pakistan was mourning her death, with even women and children in the crowd. It got so out of control that one man died and many got injured.
No one was allowed to go near her dead body. No one was allowed to look at her face the last time. Why? She was the mother of nation afterall.
In January 1972, a man named Ghulam Sarwar petitioned a court regarding the matter. Although nothing was found in the investigation. Fatima Ali Jinnah’s last wish was to be buried next to Quaid e Azam. Maadar-e-Millat Fatima Jinnah (2000), by Agha Ashraf (page 184):
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 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.
On August 2, 1971, a local Urdu newspaper wrote about Miss Jinnah’s murder. They included interviews from the people involved in the ghusl – a ritual of bath given to the dead before burial in Islam. The hired men for performin ghusl said that it looked like a murder. One
of the man came forward as Hidayat Ali aka Kallu Ghusl who said that “The corpse of Miss Fatima Jinnah had visible wounds on it, and there was an opening in her stomach which oozed blood and other fluids. Her bloodstained clothes were also an evidence. However, no one from the administration paid any attention to requests of inquiry, nor was the matter ever made public”
How can we do this to the mother of our nation? Is the how you deal with those who give their lives in independence of Pakistan? I believe that these political games and agendas are still prevailing in Pakistan. The assasination of Benazir Bhutto can be just one of another mystrey still unsolved.