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Spotlight: Fatima Jinnah

Fatima Jinnah (or Fatimah) (Urdu: فاطمہ جناح) was the sister of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan and an active political figure in movement for independnence from the British Raj. She is commonly known in Pakistan as Khatoon-e-Pakistan (Urdu: "Woman of Pakistan") and Madar-e-Millat ("Mother of the Nation.") Her birth and death anniversaries are national holidays in Pakistan, especially in Karachi.

Fatima Jinnah was born in Karachi on July 30, 1893. Jinnah's parents, Poonja Jinnah and Mithibai Jinnah had seven children, namely Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Ahmad Ali Jinnah, Bunde Ali Jinnah, Rahmat Ali Jinnah, Maryam Jinnah, Fatima Jinnah and Shireen Jinnah. 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 graduated, Jinnah went along with her idea of opening a dental clinic in Bombay in 1923.

Jinnah initially lived with her brother for about eight years till 1918, when he got married to Rattanbai Petit. Upon Rattanbai's death in February 1929, Jinnah closed her clinic, moved into her brother Muhammad Ali 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.

Quaid's companion
It is highly evident that Fatima Jinnah sacrificed the comforts and pleasures of an affluent life to help Jinnah overcome vicissitudes and bequeath a homeland to the Muslims.

Jinnah lived with her brother for about 28 years. Paying tribute to her sister, the Quaid 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".

During the Quaid's illness, she remained passionately attached to him.

Political life
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 Muhajir in the new state of Pakistan.

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 her opponent presidential candidate, Ayub Khan, a dictator. 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 Khan.

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 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". As well as known as Khatoon-I-Pakistan means "Woman of Pakistan".

Death controversy
Fatima Jinnah died in Karachi on July 8, 1967 due to heart failure. But it is believed that she was murdered by the elements who killed Liaquat Ali Khan. Recently, the nephew of the Quaid-i-Azam, Akbar Pirbhai, has reiterated that Miss Fatima Jinnah did not die of natural causes. [1] but assassinated. The military government of Ayub Khan refused to conduct postmortem of the body. Later inquiry tribunal was also rejected to start functioning.

Repercussion of Fatima's demise
The death of Fatima Jinnah in mysterious circumstances amplified the sense of isolation among people of Sindh and East Pakistan. Differences increased among the federation and provinces, that later led to the Dhaka fall.

Message to the nation
The following are excerpts from some of her statements.

1967 - Madar-i-Millat's Message to the Nation on Eid ul-Adha:
"The immediate task before you is to face the problem and bring the country back on the right path with the bugles of Quaid-i-Azam's message. March forward under the banner of star and the crescent with unity in your ranks, faith in your mission and discipline. Fulfill your mission and a great sublime future awaits your enthusiasm and action. Remember: 'cowards die many times before death; the valiant never taste death but once.' This is the only course of action which suits any self-respecting people and certainly the Muslim Nation."

1965 - Madar-i-Millat's Message to the Nation on Eid ul-Adha:
"Let us sink all our differences and stand united together under the same banner under which we truly achieved Pakistan and let us demonstrate once again that we can, united, face all dangers in the cause of glory of Pakistan, the glory that the Quaid-i-Azam envisaged for Pakistan."

1963 - Madar-i-Millat's Message to the Nation on Quaid-i-Azam's Birthday:
"The movement of Pakistan which the Quaid-i-Azam launched was ethical in inspiration and ideological in content. The story of this movement is a story of the ideals of equality, fraternity and social and economic justice struggling against the forces of domination, exploitation, intolerance and tyranny".



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