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Illustration by Abro

Smokers Corner: Dressing Jinnah


DAWN.COM |

Imagine Jinnah alive in 2016. If you can do this, then it should not be hard to also imagine this: a
video statement of a cleric would have appeared on social media sites in which the pious
gentleman would have exhibited great concern about the founder of Pakistan being a Twelver-
Shia.

A verbose TV anchor would have done a whole show bemoaning the fact that Jinnah drank. His
guests would have nodded vigorously and demanded that Jinnah be disqualified from politics
under Articles 62 and 63 of our glorious Constitution.

Then, of course, there would also be those who wouldve called him a liberal-fascist and maybe
even a Western/Zionist agent.

They would have loved to call him an Indian agent as well, but Im sure at least this allegation
would not have stuck for obvious reasons.

Or maybe it would have.

Because after all, in this day and age, logic is seen as a tool to deceive innocent Pakistanis into
believing that Jinnah did not mean Pakistan to become what it gradually became after his death.
One would not be so off the mark in hypnothesising Jinnahs fate today as I have above.

Truth is, even after his death, some men who were seemingly commending and eulogising him,
did so by indirectly critiquing his modernist disposition and Westernised lifestyle.

In 1973 when the government of Zulfikar Ali Bhutto issued a special stamp on the 25th death
anniversary of the founder, I was in the second grade at a school in Karachi. Though I was just a
child, I do remember knowing well who Jinnah was. The stamp had a brilliantly painted side
portrait of Jinnahs face. An old-fashioned monocle lens rested on his right eye.

A teacher of mine wasnt too happy by this portrait (on the stamp). The school had been given
these stamps which were to be distributed among the students. The teacher was a young lady and
I think (but am not sure) taught us arithmetic.

But I do clearly remember her saying, Children, this is the picture of our Quaid-i-Azam. He was
a great man.

Then, pointing at the stamp, she announced: But this is not him. Such glasses (the monocle)
were only worn by British people. Was the Quaid British?

Us muddled six-year-olds all replied. Nooo, teacher. Of course, we were too young to realise
the irony of this teacher being an employee of a school which was set-up by the British and
closely followed the British education system.

The Quaids image has been cropped and edited by various governments to suit their
respective agendas

In July 1976, the governments of Pakistan, Turkey and Iran issued special stamps to
commemorate the 12th anniversary of the Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) an
organisation formed in 1964 by the governments of Pakistan, Iran and Turkey to help each other
propel economic growth in their respective countries.

Three stamps were issued. One had the portrait of former Iranian monarch, Raza Shah, the father
of the then sitting monarch of Iran; one had the portrait of the founder of the modern Turkish
republic, Kamal Ataturk; while the third stamp had the image of Jinnah.

Some columnists writing for an Urdu daily in Karachi and Lahore complained that Jinnah had
been clubbed together with secularists (Raza Shah and Ataturk).

Jinnahs portrait on the stamp was of him wearing a slick blue suit and a black tie.

My father who had begun publishing an Urdu weekly (in 1974) wrote an editorial in which he
asked the objectors to explain what they thought Jinnah was.

The very next day a columnist (this time in another Urdu daily) replied by writing that it didnt
matter what Jinnah was, but what he should mean to Pakistanis.
It is imperative, he wrote, to show Pakistanis a Jinnah close to their aspirations than a Jinnah
before he became the Quaid (!)

Of course, by Pakistanis he meant mostly those who felt awkward about the founders modernist
appearance and tastes and wanted to see him altered to meet their skewed understanding of the
country.

Well, since this happened during the overtly compromising period of the so-called socialist
Z.A. Bhutto regime, his government made sure to put Jinnah back into a sherwani on the special
coins that were issued to celebrate the 100th birth anniversary of the founder in December 1976.

Whats more, the Jinnah cap was placed on his head. Jinnahs famous dictum, Unity, Faith,
Discipline was inscribed underneath his image on the coins.

A concentrated effort was made to wipe out all those aspects of the founders image which
were not compatible with the idea of the republic being fostered by the dictatorship.
Nevertheless, in the last 15 years or so, many of these aspects have remerged, now more
than ever.

I used to have those coins and they were beautiful.

And Jinnah did look rather nice in his sherwani and cap.

But this image alone did not satisfy those who seemed somewhat angrily embarrassed by the
modern Jinnah.

So, one day, in April 1977, the government quietly changed Jinnahs dictum, Unity, Faith,
Discipline, to Faith, Unity, Discipline.

A majority of us still believe that the slight but potent switch happened during the intransigent
Gen Zia dictatorship.

It didnt.

The switch took place in April 1977 when the Bhutto regime was facing a violent protest
movement led by an alliance of religious parties.

Theres a photo taken by a famous photographer, the late Zaigham Zaidi, and published in an
April 1977 issue of the pro-PPP daily, Musawat.

The picture is of Z.A. Bhutto speaking at a gathering in a hall (somewhere in Karachi). Behind
him is a huge board with Jinnahs face on it.

On one side of the board the words Faith, Unity, Discipline are inscribed in bold.

Zaidi was a close friend of my fathers.


In 1985 he had told me that the idea to switch around the words of the dictum was given to
Bhutto by his military chief Ziaul Haq.

Three months later, Zia toppled him in a coup and from that day onward, the dictum has
remained, Faith, Unity, Discipline. No one has bothered to switch it back to its correct sequence.

Throughout the Zia dictatorship (1977-88), Jinnah was never shown in a suit.

He always appeared in a sherwani, proclaiming Faith, Unity, Discipline.

Burhanuddin Hasan, a former news director at the state-owned PTV, wrote in his book
Uncensored, that the channel (during the Zia regime) was under orders to only run quotes of
Jinnah which had the word Islam in them.

A concentrated effort was made to wipe out all those aspects of the founders image which were
not compatible with the idea of the republic being fostered by the dictatorship.

Nevertheless, in the last 15 years or so, many of these aspects have remerged, now more than
ever.

Gen Musharraf famously had himself photographed holding his two Pomeranians for which he
also received flak which was a direct reference to a picture of Jinnah with his dogs that
simultaneously came back in the public realm.

I wonder what this means in an environment in which Jinnah (had he been alive today) would
have been ferociously maligned.

Maybe the return of the images of the founder as a worldly man who was nothing like what he
was turned into from the late 1970s is a sign of a quiet reaction against his disfigurement? Lets
hope so.

Oh, and by the way, my second grade teacher settled in London in 1976 with her husband. Her
children are all British citizens. Why, teacher?

Published in Dawn, Sunday Magazine, December 25th, 2016

Copyright 2017