Her life, post Mohammad Ali Jinnah
Fatima Jinnah was a woman of high stature. Being the sister of the convener of Pakistan, she possessed great nobility. She served political and moral support to her brother. During her life, her voice was often curbed for various reasons. She was deprived opportunities to talk about the freedom she personified. Her death demonstrates a tragedy unlike any other. Years later, people still remember her for what she stood for and how she was penalized for her principles.
After Quaid’s death, she was asked to give sermons to commemorate him. However, the administration in charge always demanded to see the script of her speech in the flesh before granting her the platform. This notion stood against the ideology Fatima Jinnah represented and therefore, she was never allowed the right to honor Quaid on his death anniversaries. This was true until 1951 – three years after her brother’s death. Her speech was broadcasted in snippets. The reasons were released later. And the most prominent cause of the hindrance in her speech, was the fact that she had overtly critiqued the government of the time.
What the government of the time failed to register was that their inability to allow Fatima Jinnah her freedom of expression merely magnified their insecurities. The radio was scrutinized for honing and promoting the spinelessness the government felt.
In 1958 when the martial law was enforced in Pakistan under Ayub Khan, all forces of power were overruled and military control was established. Khan was nominated as a candidate in the running for president and to contest the conservative and adverse nature of his beliefs, Fatima Jinnah was nominated by the opposing parties. Despite popular faith that she would win, Fatima Jinnah was defeated. This political loss of the sister of Pakistan’s creator and first president came as a complete surprise to the nation as Ayub Khan took charge.
Jinnah represented hope for the masses during her opposition to Ayub Khan. People saw her life as a commitment to egalitarianism. On the contrary, she threatened those who were in power, and was also seen as unruly. As a result, the power driven rulers intended to rid the country of her by whatever means it took.
Amongst reasons like rigging, her loss during the 1964 elections was the direct result of animosity. This distress was created when Jinnah demanded to be buried next to her brother. The government was threatened political turbulence if Jinnah’s demands were met. Evidently so, her demands were met. She was granted a space more than 100 feet away from her brother. Her grave was dug by 20 diggers over the course of an entire day.
Her Death; A Mystery Unheeded
Pakistan was deprived of this soul on July 9th 1967. Her death still remains mysterious as reports claim she was witnessed attending a wedding in rigorous health, just two days before her demise. Strangely, no individual was allowed to pay their respects to the body, unless from a certain distance. They were not allowed to witness her face or her body. Individuals who struggled to do so had to pay a hefty price of being punished with tear gas or by being beaten.
It was believed that there were marked lesions found on her.
Four years prior to the event, news was published about her death being a murder. This claim was supported by evidence provided by people in charge of the ceremonial bath given to her corpse. The individuals stated that her body had visible gashes. More so, her stomach seemed to have been cut open causing blood and fluid loss. These insights were never talked about. Even though the claims were confirmed. Ghulam Sarwar made the above statements, and Akhtar Ali Mehmood was hired to look into the matter. However, no tangible conclusion was ever met – to date.
Years after her death, in 2003 her nephew, Akbar Pirbhai repeated the same notion; her death was, in fact, a murder.
History is one aspect of any and every country that continues to reveal newer facets and ideologies upon research. Our country is the product of sacrifice and wars fought at physical, personal, moral and intellectual levels. Prying into the life of one of the strongest minded women in Pakistani politics, a lot remains either veiled or unexplored in both the life and death of Fatima Jinnah.
She was a woman who knew her mind. Jinnah openly voiced her opinions against the repression executed by the British rule. She was amongst the early advocates of theories that declared the need for Muslim independence. The mother of the nation stood for all the notions that scared people and pushed them to demanding autonomy as a religious race. Her death represents the fear Pakistani government continues to feel against all those who threaten those in power and are ambitious enough to challenge and change the system.