Mader-e-Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, who was born in Karachi on 30 July 1893, was a dental surgeon, biographer, stateswoman, and one of the leading Founding mothers of modern-state of Pakistan, and was also the
Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah
Mader-e-Millat Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, who was born in Karachi on 30 July 1893, was a dental surgeon, biographer, stateswoman, and one of the leading Founding mothers of modern-state of Pakistan, and was also the younger sister of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan.
Fatima Jinnah's parents, Poonja Jinnahbhai and Mithibai Jinnahbhai, had seven children: Muhammad Ali, Ahmad Ali, Bunde Ali, Rahmat Ali, Maryam, Fatima and Shireen. Of a family of seven brothers and sisters, she was the closest to Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Her illustrious brother became her guardian upon the death of their father in 1901. She joined the Bandra Convent in Bombay in 1902. In 1919, she was admitted to the highly competitive the University of Calcutta where she attended the Dr R. Ahmed Dental College. After she graduated, she opened a dental clinic in Bombay in 1923.
Fatima Jinnah lived with her brother until 1918, when he married Rattanbai Petit. Upon Rattanbai's death in February 1929, Fatima Jinnah closed her clinic, moved into her brother Muhammad Ali Jinnah's bungalow, and took charge of his house. This began the lifelong companionship that lasted until the death of her brother Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on 11 September 1948.
Paying tribute to his sister, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah once said, "My sister was like a bright ray of light and hope whenever I came back home and met her. Anxieties would have been much greater and my health much worse, but for the restraint imposed by her".
Fatima Jinnah also started taking active participation in the politics, and was an influential political figure in the movement for independence from the British Indian Empire. After the declaration of the Pakistan Resolution in 1940, Fatima Jinnah was one of the influential and founding members of the Pakistan Movement, calling for independence of independent Muslims states into one national identity.
Fatima Jinnah also played a pivotal role in civil rights and introduced the women's rights movement in the Pakistan Movement. During the transfer of power in 1947, Fatima Jinnah formed the Women's Relief Committee, which later formed the nucleus for the All Pakistan Women's Association (APWA) founded by Rana Liaquat Ali Khan. She also played a significant role in the settlement of Muhajirs in the new state of Pakistan.
In the 1960s, Jinnah returned to the forefront of political life when she ran for the presidency of Pakistan as a candidate for the Combined Opposition Party of Pakistan (COPP). She described her opponent, Ayub Khan, as a dictator. In her early rallies, nearly 250,000 people thronged to see her in Dhaka, and a million lined the 293 mile route from there to Chittagong. Her train, called the Freedom Special, was 22 hours late because men at each station pulled the emergency cord, and begged her to speak. The crowds hailed her as Mader-e-millat, (Mother of the nation).
In her rallies Fatima Jinnah argued that, by coming to terms with India on the Indus Water dispute, Ayub had surrendered control of the rivers to India. Jinnah lost the election, but only narrowly, winning a majority in some provinces. The election is suggested by journalists, as well as subsequent historians, to be rigged in favour of Ayub Khan.
Fatima Jinnah, popularly acclaimed as the Mader-i-Millat, for her role in the Freedom Movement, contested the 1965 elections at the age of 71. Except for her brief tour to East Pakistan in 1954, she had not participated in politics since Independence. After the imposition of Martial Law by Ayub Khan, she once wished the regime well. But after the Martial Law was lifted, she sympathized with the opposition as she was strongly in favour of democratic ideals. Being the Quaid's sister, she was held in high esteem, and came to symbolize the democratic aspirations of the people. The electoral landscape changed when Fatima Jinnah decided to contest the elections for the President's office in 1965. She was challenging the incumbent President Ayub Khan in the indirect election, which Ayub Khan had himself instituted.
Presidential candidates for the elections of 1965 were announced before commencement of the Basic Democracy elections, which was to constitute the Electoral College for the Presidential and Assembly elections. There were two major parties contesting the election, The Convention Muslim League and the Combined Opposition Parties. The Combined Opposition Parties consisted of five major opposition parties. It had a nine-point programme, which included restoration of direct elections, adult franchise and democratization of the 1962 Constitution. The opposition parties of Combined Opposition Parties were not united and did not possess any unity of thought and action. They were unable to select presidential candidates from amongst themselves; therefore they selected Fatima Jinnah as their candidate.
Elections were held on 2 January 1965. There were four candidates; Ayub Khan, Fatima Jinnah and two obscure persons with no party affiliation. There was a short campaigning period of one month, which was further restricted to nine projection meetings that were organized by the Election Commission and were attended only by the members of the Electoral College and members of the press. The public was barred from attending the projection meetings, which would have enhanced Fatima Jinnah's image.
Ayub Khan had a great advantage over the rest of the candidates. The Second Amendment of the Constitution confirmed him as President till the election of his successor. Armed with the wide-ranging constitutional powers of a President, he exercised complete control over all governmental machinery during elections. He utilized the state facilities as head of state, not as the President of the Convention Muslim League or a presidential candidate, and didn't even hesitate to legislate on electoral maters. Bureaucracy and business, the two beneficiaries of the Ayub Khan regime, helped him in his election campaign. Being a political opportunist, he brought all the discontented elements together to support him; students were assured the revision of the University Ordinance and journalists the scrutiny of the Press Laws. Ayub Khan also gathered the support of the ulemas who, were of the view that Islam does not permit a woman to be the head of an Islamic state.
Fatima Jinnah's greatest advantage was that she was the sister of the Founder of Pakistan. She had detached herself from the political conflicts that had plagued Pakistan after the Founder's death. The sight of this dynamic lady moving in the streets of big cities, and even in the rural areas of a Muslim country, was both moving and unique. She proclaimed Ayub Khan to be a dictator. Jinnah's line of attack was that by coming to terms with the Republic of India on the Indus Water dispute, Ayub had surrendered control of the rivers over to India. Her campaign generated tremendous public enthusiasm. She drew enormous crowds in all cities of East and West Pakistan. The campaign however suffered from a number of drawbacks. An unfair and unequal election campaign, poor finances, and indirect elections through the Basic Democracy System were some of the basic problems she faced.
Fatima Jinnah lost the election of 1965 and Ayub Khan was elected as the President of Pakistan. It is believed that had the elections been held via direct ballot, Fatima Jinnah would have won. The Electoral College consisted of only 80,000 Basic Democrats, who were easily manipulated. The importance of this election lay in the fact that a woman was contesting the highest political office of the country. The orthodox religious political parties, including the Jamaat-e-Islami led by Maulana Maududi, which had repeatedly declared that a woman could not hold the highest office of a Muslim country, modified their stance and supported the candidature of Fatima Jinnah. The election showed that the people had no prejudice against women holding high offices, and they could be key players in politics of the country.
During a lawsuit, Matloobul Hassan Syed deposed that during Fatima Jinnah's election campaign against General Ayub Khan, when some local Shia leaders told her that they would vote for Ayub, she contended that she could represent them better as she was a Shia. According to Liaquat H. Merchant, "the Court was inclined to repose more trust in the avowed non-sectarian public stance of the Quaid and his sister". Both the Quaid and his sister "carefully avoided a sectarian label."
Fatima Jinnah died in Karachi on 9 July 1967. The official cause of death was heart failure, but rumours persist that she was murdered at her house.
Fatima Jinnah remained extremely popular and is considered as one of the greatest woman Pakistan has produced. Fatima Jinnah is portrait as a source of awakening of woman rights. In Pakistan, she rose to stand as Pakistan's national symbol, and unlike Ayub Khan who died in poor health and yet no honours were given him, Jinnah received tremendous honours from the society after her death. Later, the Government of Pakistan built a monument in honour and remembrance of her.