Sunday, April 09, 2006

Dr. Ms. Fatima Jinnah

Fatima Jinnah (فاطمہ جناح) was the sister of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and an active political figure in freedom movement against British Raj, and the vanguard of democracy against the opportunistic military rulers who had hijacked the government of this fledgling democratic country right after its inception at Partition.

Dr. Fatima Jinnah was born on July 31, 1893 in Karachi. 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. Encouraged by her brother but opposed by the rest of her family, she received excellent early education. She joined the Bandra Convent in Bombay in 1902. In 1919 she got admitted to the highly competitive University of Calcutta where she attended the Dr. Ahmad Dental College. After she qualified, Miss Jinnah went along with her idea of opening a dental clinic in Bombay in 1923.
Miss Fatima Jinnah initially lived with her brother for about eight years till 1918, when he got married to Rutanbai. Upon Rutanbai's death in February 1929, Miss Jinnah wound up her clinic, moved into Jinnah's bungalow, and took charge of his house; thus beginning the life-long companionship that lasted till her brother's death on September 11, 1948.

During the transfer of power in 1947, she was an inspiration to Muslim women. She formed the Women's Relief Committee, which later formed the nucleus for the All Pakistan Women's Association (APWA). She also played a significant role in the settlement of refugees (Muhajir) in the new state of Pakistan.

Miss Jinnah's greatest advantage was that she was sister of the Founder of Pakistan and had been detached 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 that her opponent presidential candidate, serving General (and self-proclaimed Field Marshal and President) Ayub Khan, a dictator. Miss Jinnah's line of attack was that by coming to terms with India on the Indus Water dispute, Ayub had surrendered control of the rivers over to India. Her campaign generated such tremendous public enthusiasm that most of the press agreed that if the contest were by direct election, she would have won against Ayub.
Miss Jinnah stood in national elections in 1965 against the then President of Pakistan, Muhammad Ayub Khan, but could not win due to tactics of establishment.

Although she was unfairly declared unsuccessful in the elections but she kindled the torch of democracy in Pakistan.

Her memory is held in high esteem in Pakistan. Due to her tireless services for Pakistan, the nation conferred upon her the title of Madar-i-Millat means "Mother of the Nation".

She died in Karachi on July 8, 1967.


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