On December 25 each year, Pakistan celebrates the birth anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He was an Indian politician who campaigned for an independent Pakistan, becoming its first leader. Quaid-e-Azam translates to “Great Leader” in Pakistani.
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About Muhammad Ali Jinnah
Jinnah was born on December 25 1876 in Karachi which was then part of British-controlled India but is now part of Pakistan, the son of a prosperous merchant. He studied at Bombay University and Lincoln’s Inn in London.
After graduation, Jinnah opened a successful law practice in Bombay as well as serving as a member of the Indian National Congress. He joined the Muslim League in 1913, a group that formed to represent the interests of Indian Muslims and was elected president of the organization in 1916. In 1920, the group launched a boycott of British rule which Jinnah opposed, leading to his resignation from the Muslim League.
In 1937, the Indian National Congress refused to form coalitions with the Muslim League in areas where the population was mixed Hindu and Muslim. In 1940, an official demand was made to create a Muslim state of Pakistan. Jinnah hoped that Hindu-Muslim unity could be achieved without the separation of Pakistan, but came to the realization that partition was the only way to protect the rights of Indian Muslims.
He negotiated with the British resulting in a partition of India which formed Pakistan in 1947. Throughout the fight for Pakistan, Jinnah dealt with widespread violence between Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs that resulted in significant destruction and death prior to the formation of the country. He became the first governor general of Pakistan but died of tuberculosis in September 1948.
Celebrations and Traditions
Special programs are held throughout Pakistan in celebration of Jinnah’s birthday. Many of the programs provide a history of his struggle to create Pakistan while attempting to guide people with unity, faith and discipline. The national flag is prominently displayed on all private and public buildings in his honour.
Many Pakistani citizens visit Jinnah’s tomb to pay tribute to his service. Country leaders speak, often asking the country to seek the guidance of Quaid-e-Azam in order to transform Pakistan into a country of peace, brotherhood, patience and to protect the rights of minorities throughout the country. Schools, government offices and many businesses are closed in order to celebrate the life and legacy of Quaid-e-Azam. Leaders offer fateha and lay wreaths at his mausoleum while school children often perform ceremonies in his honor throughout the public holiday.