Fatima Jinnah was the younger sister of Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, but she is also a politician, a writer, an activist.
But most importantly, she was a highly accomplished woman who worked her whole life for the betterment of Pakistan. Today we will get to know some facts about her that are not included in our history books. She was known as Madar-e-millet or mother of the nation.
She joined the All India Muslim League and attended the annual sessions of the party. Fatima Jinnah’s contribution to the social development sector has been ignored. She along with Begum Liaqat Ali Khan made the greatest contribution in the realm of women’s awakening and participation in national affairs.
Fatima Jinnah was born in Karachi (British India) on 30th July 1893.
Jinnah had seven siblings. Mohammad Ali Jinnah was the eldest one in the family, and Fatima Jinnah was the 2nd last child of the family. In this family of seven siblings, she was the closest one to Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Her well-known and respected brother became her guardian after the death of their father in 1901. Fatima Jinnah joined the Bandara convert in Bombay in 1902 where she remained in hostels as her parents had died. In 1919 she got admitted to the highly competitive University of Calcutta where she attended the Dr. R. Ahmad dental college. After she graduated from there, she went with her idea of opening a dental clinic in Bombay in 1923.
She lived with her elder brother Mohammad Ali Jinnah until 1919. At that time Jinnah married Rattanbai. Latter on Rattenbai died after eleven years in February 1929. Fatima Jinnah then closed her clinic and winded. She took the charge of Jinnah’s house and went to his bungalow.
After that, the relation between brother and sister became an example as their companionship lasted until the death of his brother Mohammad Ali Jinnah on 11 September 1948. Fatima Jinnah lived with her brother for about 28 years.
The Quaid would discuss various problems with her sister mostly on the breakfast and dinner table. She didn’t only live with her brother but she also accompanied her brother on numerous tours. She also joined him in London when he remained there after the second round table conference in 1932.
Her political career started with the political career of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Became the ward of her elder brother Mohammad Ali Jinnah upon the death of her father; opened a dental clinic in Bombay (1923); moved in with her brother Mohammad Ali Jinnah upon the death of his wife Ruttenbai; till 1948, Fatima Jinnah along with her brother, kept working towards a peaceful and prosperous Pakistan
But after the death of her brother, she was banned from any sort of public speaking. This ban was placed by the administration of Liaqat Ali Khan. She supported and nursed Mohammad Ali Jinnah during his final illness until his death on September 11, 1948; worked to establish educational institutions, including Fatima Jinnah Medical College for Girls; worked to ease the plight of Muslim refugees entering Pakistan by founding Industrial Homes in Karachi, Peshawar, and Quetta; assisted in the funding and maintaining scholarships, schools, and hospitals in Pakistan; unsuccessfully stood for president of Pakistan (1964), challenging Ayub Khan for the leadership of the country.
She was involved in politics side by side with her brother. When the All India Muslim League was being organized, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah became a member of the working Committee of Bombay Provincial Muslim League and worked there until 1947. In March 1940 she attended the Lahore resolution of the Muslims League. It was because of her that the All India Muslim Student Federation was organized in February 1941 at Dehli. During the transfer of power, Fatima Jinnah formed a women’s relief committee, later on, it was formed as the nucleolus for the (APWA) known as All Pakistan Women’s Association founded by Rana Liaqat Ali Khan. She did a lot of job for the settlement of the Mohajireen after the creation of Pakistan. She also returned to political life when she ran for the presidency of Pakistan.
In an interview, the former secretary of Jinnah told that one day he took an issue with Jinnah, he replied that without consultation of his committee, he won’t take any decision on the respective issue. Professor Sharif writes in his article,“ people do not understand that just by accompanying Jinnah everywhere he went 1940’s, Fatima Jinnah teaching Muslim women to stand shoulder to shoulder to men during the freedom struggle”
Numerous pictures showed in history, Fatima Jinnah walking alongside Jinnah and not Behind him. The message was loud and clear and it was one both the brother and sister wished to convey to the nation.
When Fatima used to witness the governments of that time doing something against that vision. she used to raise her voice against it, neither the government of Liaqat Ali khan nor the Ayub Khan liked this. She returned to the forefront of political life in 1960. Her opponent was Ayub Khan and she addressed him as a dictator. In her early rallies, almost 250,000 people came to see her in Dhaka, and million of the people, then millions of people lined from there to Chittagong. Her train which was called Freedom Special train was 22 hours late because men at each station pulled the emergency brake and they requested her to speak to them. She was hailed as the mother of the nation. In the rallies of Fatima Jinnah said that by coming to terms with India on the Indus water dispute Ayub surrendered control of the river to India.
She had not participated in politics since Independence Day. Presidential candidates have announced the beginning of basic democracy elections, which was to constitute the Electoral College for the presidential and Assembly elections. Elections were held in January 1965. There were four candidates which were taking part in that election. Ayub Khan, Fatima Jinnah, and two other persons which were not affiliated with any other party. It was held for a short period of one month. Ayub Khan had a great advantage over all the candidates. He utilized the state facilities as the head of the state and didn’t hesitate to legislate on electoral matters. Being a political opportunist he brought all the discontented elements together to support him.
He also acted another mean action to get victory over Fatima Jinnah by having the support of ulema that were of the view that in Islam women can’t b the head of the state. This was the worst action from Ayub khan. On the other hand, Fatima Jinnah had a great advantage of being the sister of Quaid-e-Azam. The campaign of Fatima Jinnah generated the people of Pakistan’s feelings of hope. Crowds in all cities of East and West Pakistan were enormous. The campaign however suffered from a number of problems. The poor indirect elections through the basic democracy system, unfair and poor finances were some of the major problems that Fatima Jinnah was facing. Fatima Jinnah anyhow lost the election because of the unfair means used by Ayub Khan, so he became the president of Pakistan.
She died 9 July 1967 at the age of 73 in Karachi,
“Whenever Pakistan faced a political crisis,” writes Antique Zafar Sheikh, director-general of the National Archives of Pakistan, “Fatima Jinnah stood with the people. She always boldly and courageously challenged every action against people, democracy, and Islamic ideology. The people of Pakistan had great faith in her.”