The Last Journey
On 11thSeptember, 1948, the man who created Pakistan left the world for good
MOHAMMAD ALI JINNAH
DR. JAVID IQBAL
An Extraordinary Gazette notified the last journey: “The government of Pakistan regrets to announce the death of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah from heart failure at 10:25 pm on Saturday, September 11. The funeral procession will start at 3 pm on Sunday from the Governor General’s House. The Namaz-i-Janaza (funeral prayer) will be held at the Exhibition Grounds in Karachi. Maulana Shabbir Osmani will lead the prayer. The Quaid will be buried within the compound of proposed Jumma Mosque near Exhibition grounds”.
The journey had in fact started from Ziarat…a hill station near Quetta, where Jinnah had gone for rest and recuperation. The fact that he was suffering from Pulmonary Tuberculosis was a well guarded secret. As he left India on 7th August, 1947, never to return, the diagnosis stood established. He took oath of office as the first Governor General of Pakistan, a week later on Pakistan’s Independence Day…August, the 14th. The disease galloped, and in Ziarat, he was attended by his life long companion—sister, Miss Fatima Jinnah and his personal physician—Dr. Illahi Bux. As his condition worsened with hardly a hope for recovery, he was reluctant to get back to the capital—Karachi, the city he was born in on December, the 25th 1876. On 11th September, he ultimately relented. His personal physician has left a poignant account of the last journey in ‘With Quaid-i-Azam During his Last Days’.
Dr. Bux had in his care a patient, who needed respiratory support and continuous monitoring of vital signs. He had everything worked up. Governor General’s Viking had been ordered from Karachi, an ambulance with a nurse would be waiting at Mauripur Aerodrome, Karachi. By 1.20 packing was done and the doctor, as suggested by Fatima Jinnah went to inform his high profile patient. A faint smile from weak, exhausted Jinnah greeted him; the doctor noted the toxic look in his eyes. He was relieved when Jinnah in a weak tone replied ‘All right’ as the move to Karachi was suggested. Quaid was placed in the ambulance. The enormity of the task in hand dawned on the doctor, prayer being his only refuge…Viking glittering like silver bird in the sun, seen from a distance provided relief. Quaid was transferred on a stretcher from the ambulance to the airplane. To everyone’s surprise, a sinking Jinnah promptly returned the salute of the crew. And the entourage boarded at 2 p.m.
Dr. Bux had other worries…it was fairly warm, September being the month of withdrawing monsoon. The time of the day was worst for thermal turbulence. He had however the comfort of having another doctor to relieve him from strenuous work. Dr. Mistry took over from him, looking after Quaid with Miss. Jinnah and the nurse in attendance in the front cabin. Dr. Mistry was soon asked by Miss. Jinnah to take rest. She had learnt to administer oxygen in Ziarat, moreover the nurse was present. The nurse unfortunately developed air sickness, and the doctors were informed by Miss. Jinnah of Quaid’s refusal to take oxygen from her. Dr. Bux joined her and started administering oxygen. The rapport that he had developed with the patient elicited cooperation, though a drowsy Jinnah tended to push away the mask a few times. Dr. Bux was prompted to explain that it was needed to prevent damage to his system; explanation was greeted with a faint smile. The doctor was constantly watching the pulse and the colour of his nail beds to detect any evidence of low oxygen level. The front cabin had space crunch. Miss Jinnah noticing the discomfort of Dr. Bux offered to administer oxygen. Noting that his patient is stable, he left to take some rest.
Dr. Bux notes that leaving the hills of Quetta behind, a look deep down set him thinking, what is the direction the budding republic is heading to. Patriotic fervour over, his thinking wavered back to the task in hand, as the safe landing was made at Mauripur Aerodrome, Karachi at 4.15 p.m…an ambulance with military secretary to governor general, Col. Knowles stood waiting for them. It continued to be warm, notes Dr. Bux, but not uncomfortable as there was a strong breeze. Quaid was placed in the ambulance for a drive of 9 to 10 kms to Governor General’s House. While Miss Jinnah and the nurse attended him, others got accommodated in governor genera’s Cadillac, a truck carried the luggage. The drive however did not prove as smooth as anticipated. A few kilometers ahead, the ambulance broke down. The driver failed to fix the engine trouble. While Fatima Jinnah asked the military secretary to get another ambulance, Dr. Bux found his patient getting into a critical state. The weak and irregular pulse worried him. Quaid was perspiring profusely and his clothes were wet, in spite of continued fanning.
Dr. Bux thought of options available. The Cadillac would have space crunch, moreover he was too weak to be propped-up. The passing by trucks and buses would hardly be appropriate. Moving the sweating patient in strong breeze might result in exposure. One by one the options were being ruled out, and there was no sign of another ambulance. Dr. Bux rushed to get the thermos flask with tea, and Quaid was given sips of it…the first nourishment he had taken during the day, apart from some fruit juice. The nourishing tea had the effect of stabilizing his pulse. Dr. Bux shivered to think of loosing his patient on the roadside. The ambulance eventually did come; as Quaid’s entourage ultimately reached his official residence at 6.10 p.m. The distance of 9-10 kms from aerodrome to Governor General’s House had taken approximately two hours. He died the same evening, saving the Pakistan officialdom the blushes of loosing the Quaid on Karachi roadside.
Karachi roadside, a sinking governor general, broken down ambulance, official unconcern appears to be a bizarre combination of events. But the truth stands recorded that the man who created a nation was sinking on the streets of the very republic, he had created—deserted and forlorn. Power may be an elixir; however it often makes people who exercise it oblivious of ground facts and looking after prime concerns. Thus leadership in India in the aftermath of independence was as unmindful of Mahatma Gandhi’s security, as leadership in Pakistan was of Quaid Azam’s state. Jaswant Singh notes in his book on Jinnah that India would not get another Mahatma Gandhi or Pakistan another Jinnah. “The Indian subcontinent is poorer for that,” concludes Jaswant. They might not have lasted long, but the manner in which they breathed their last bode ill for those who prospered because of their patronization.
Yaar Zinda, Sohbat Baqi [Reunion is subordinate to survival]
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Lastupdate on : Mon, 10 Sep 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Mon, 10 Sep 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Tue, 11 Sep 2012 00:00:00 IST
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