Nation in Ruins, Cadillac, Aircraft, and Lincoln in View: Jinnah’s Leadership Examined
By Nasim Yousaf
Since 1947, Pakistan has faced a tumultuous history marked by political upheavals, economic difficulties, corruption, and instability, with Muhammad Ali Jinnah serving as the inaugural Governor General. The nation was not given a sound foundation, and its challenges can be attributed to Jinnah’s lack of foresight, limited governance experience, dictatorial tendencies, and the suppression of opposition figures like Allama Mashriqi. Furthermore, Jinnah’s extravagant choices set a lasting precedent in the political landscape. Early communications between the newly appointed Pakistani Ambassador, Mirza Abol Hassan Ispahani, and Governor General Jinnah underscore a stark contrast between personal indulgences and the critical needs of the state.
The letters reveal Jinnah’s pursuit of a Cadillac super-limousine, a Lincoln, and a Beechcraft Model 34 airplane, indicating a disconnect with the nation’s crisis. Ispahani wrote to Jinnah on September 19th, 1947: “My dear Quaid-e-Azam, I reached New York on the 11th and spent a day in Washington on the 13th…I met the top executives of General Motors Company who have taken prompt note of your requirement of a Cadillac super-limousine. Their representative, who is in Bombay at present, will be visiting Karachi shortly, and will finalize the order after knowing your special requirements…I have not been able to see the Lincoln people yet. I hope to do so in the course of the next week. In regard to the special aeroplane, my friends and I have contacted some leading manufacturers in this country. I shall be in a position to report finally on the progress I have been able to make, positively by the end of next week. I hope to present my Credentials to the President of the United States some time next week and enclose, for your private information, a copy of the speech that I shall deliver at the time I present my credentials…”
Instead of urging the Ambassador to focus on the interests of the newly formed state, which was only about a month old, Jinnah was preoccupied with procuring luxury items even before the Ambassador presented his credentials. This reflects Jinnah’s desperation to obtain both vehicles and an aircraft.
In response to the Ambassador’s letter, on October 1, 1947, Jinnah replies: “…Thank you so much for your letter of September 19… I have noted that you say about the General Motor Company. You have been good enough to try and get me a Cadillac car. When their representative comes to Karachi, I shall be very pleased to meet him, and will finalize the order after settling my requirements. Please convey my thanks to the Executive of General Motors Company for their agreement to do all they can and even override all other prior bookings in order to let me have the car without delay. As regards the Lincoln, you will let me know when you are able to do so; and also with regard to the special aeroplane, I shall await your report… Yes, I am keeping well, but facing terrible, grave and dangerous issues and developments that are taking place from day to day, so rapidly and so dangerously…”
Jinnah acknowledges the alarming situation, but lavishness and Grandeur takes priority. Moreover, Jinnah wants the best and most luxurious car, evident from the Ambassador’s letter dated October 14, 1947, to Jinnah: “…The automobile ordered for you is the Super Cadillac 75, the last word in Cadillac limousines. During the year 1947, only 41 cars of this model were assembled, yours being the 41st and the last… I have already written to you about the aeroplane and shall be writing very shortly about your second car, the Lincoln.”
On October 22, 1947, Jinnah wrote to the Ambassador: “…With reference to your letter of the 14th, I do not mind the left-hand drive, but please try as to the color and get me the sample I have sent you, namely the picture of the Cadillac 60 Special. I note that you are pursuing your efforts about the aeroplane and Lincoln.”
On December 20, 1947, the Ambassador informed, “Your Cadillac has reached New York from Detroit, and will be placed on board a ship before the end of next week. I am sure you will like the automobile.” The ultimate luxury reached Karachi in early 1948.
Facing Pakistan’s financial crisis and a scarcity of parts and servicing facilities, the planned acquisition of aircraft and a Lincoln car had to be abandoned. Jinnah acknowledged this in a letter to the Ambassador, noting, “It is very kind of the Beechcraft Corporation to help us in every way, but although it may cost a quarter of a million dollars, the difficulty with these aircraft will be servicing.” Despite the country grappling with severe crises—abductions, rapes, killings, mass migration, and economic instability, hindering even basic purchases like paper and pencils—Jinnah’s prioritization of personal comfort amidst widespread suffering was lamentable. In light of the nation’s dire situation, he should have demonstrated modesty and avoided practices akin to those of the Viceroy of India.
Jinnah’s opulent lifestyle, devoid of personal sacrifice, inspired a societal pursuit of wealth among politicians and the public. This emulation resulted in corruption, a lack of national dedication, and high-end vehicles like BMWs symbolizing political elites, rendering progress assurances hollow.
Since its inception, Pakistan’s persistent adherence to British-style administration, including the use of Private Secretaries and Personal Assistants, despite financial constraints, sets a troubling precedent. The British approach prioritized authority over cultivating public servants dedicated to addressing people’s needs. This practice should cease, promoting a culture of self-help.
As a leader, Jinnah could have made a significant impact by adopting a simpler lifestyle and promoting self-reliance. Embracing humbleness and emphasizing values of simplicity and self-help could have inspired people throughout the community. Leaders serve as role models, and if Jinnah had chosen humility, the nation would have prioritized integrity and honesty over materialism, fostering a more ethical society.
The portrayal of Jinnah in Pakistani history often idealizes him, elevating him to an uncriticizable status. This narrative involves the distortion and fabrication of facts, glossing over his flaws and unethical political maneuvers. Even not wearing the same suit twice is presented as a remarkable achievementEven not wearing the same suit twice is presented as a remarkable achievement. Despite the common belief that Jinnah’s impact on Pakistan was limited due to his untimely death, he had a significant period, from 1940 when the Pakistan Resolution was adopted until his passing in 1948, to shape the nation’s vision and constitution.I have emphasized, and many now agree, that the creation of Pakistan, from the Two-Nation Theory to the partition of India, was orchestrated by British rulers. If Jinnah were powerful enough to create Pakistan, he would not have allowed the partition of Punjab and Bengal.In my published works, such as the documentary “The Road to Freedom: Allama Mashriqi’s Historic Journey from Amritsar to Lahore,” and the article “The British Chessboard: Jinnah, Gandhi, and the Strategic Divide of India,” I have delved into unknown aspects of Jinnah’s (and Gandhi’s) politics.
Pakistan urgently requires a selfless figure akin to Allama Mashriqi, an exceptionally educated and unmatched personality in the world. Unlike leaders such as Jinnah, Mashriqi chose unpretentiousness over personal comfort, owning only a couple of Khaki Shalwar and Pyjama sets, repeated after self-washing. Despite his status as a world-famous mathematician and with plenty of Khaksars at his disposal, he personally handled tasks like typing letters and cleaning his office, which was in a tent. Mashriqi’s commitment to a modest lifestyle reflected his values and dedication to uplifting the nation. In today’s ostentatious realm of power, Mashriqi’s example gains relevance. A figure prioritizing people’s welfare over personal luxuries is vital for Pakistan’s future marked by equality, justice, and genuine progress. As someone influencing millions, he inspired people to adopt simplicity as a way of life.
To sum up, the ambassador and Jinnah’s letters serve as poignant reminders that reversing the challenging conditions in the nation requires a departure from opulence and a demand for leadership accountability. Ceasing dependence on loans and charity is crucial to prevent the country’s tarnished global reputation. Amidst the challenges and stark social and financial disparities, a critical examination of Jinnah’s legacy is imperative. The populace must insist that politicians, men in power across sectors, embrace simplicity or relinquish governance responsibilities. Not only those in authority but also citizens must, for the love of their homeland, forsake extravagance and exhibit empathy. Expressions of patriotism ring hollow without self-sacrifice and concrete actions for its betterment. This shift can combat corruption and address the correlation between a lavish lifestyle and increased fraudulent practices. Advocating for humility, altruism, and aligning with Mashriqi’s virtues becomes vital in fostering a culture defined by integrity and answerability, especially in the face of the overall pathetic situation in the land.
Scholar Nasim Yousaf, a grandson of Allama Mashriqi, has authored 18 books and digitized 19 rare works, including Mashriqi’s historic journal “Al-Islah.” His global impact is evident, with “88,097 papers on Academia discussing the Khaksar Movement” and readers from at least 60 countries. His online works consistently attract a substantial audience, exemplified by noteworthy engagement, including 101,764 visitors recorded on a Facebook fan page and activity across various platforms.
Copyright © 2023 Nasim Yousaf
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