Politics

Jinnah’s house: A symbolic hit in Pakistan

Pakistani firefighters extinguish a blaze which gutted a historical building in Ziarat, southeast of Quetta, on June 15, 2013
Pakistani firefighters extinguish a blaze which gutted a historical building in Ziarat, southeast of Quetta, on June 15, 2013

News this morning from Balochistan is not so great. The home of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the founding father of Pakistan, has been attacked and pretty much destroyed by extremists. CNN reports:

Assailants bombed the home of the Pakistani founding father early Saturday, killing a police officer who fought back and injuring an employee, authorities said.

The home of founding father Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah is in the country’ s militant-hit Balochistan province.

Four attackers entered the home in the dead of the night, planted the timed bombs and fled, said Tahir Nadeem, the local deputy commissioner.

All memorabilia in the home was destroyed by the fiery blaze that engulfed the wooden areas, Nadeem said.
The items included chairs, beds and historic photographs of the founder.

The attack occurred in Ziarat, one of the country’s top tourist points. It is 150 km from the provincial capital of Quetta.

Jinnah spent the last days of his life at the home.

To put the attack in context, imagine extremists attacking Mount Vernon, the residence of George Washington, or bombing Monticello, the magnificent home of Thomas Jefferson.

Washington and Jefferson are two of America’s founding fathers. Both men helped bring Americans through their independence struggle and into their life as a bustling young nation.

Jinnah basically did the same thing for Pakistan, except he was not necessarily one of many founding fathers. He was the founding father.

As Akbar Ahmed commented, Jinnah’s legacy is much like Thomas Jefferson’s. Both men were experts of the law and strong proponents of pluralism and religious freedom. Ahmed notes:

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship. . . . We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state.”

These are the words of a founding father — but not one of the founders that America will be celebrating this Fourth of July weekend. They were uttered by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, founder of the state of Pakistan in 1947 and the Muslim world’s answer to Thomas Jefferson.

Jinnah’s home being hit is a symbolic attack on the foundation of the pluralist state laid out by Jinnah. His home is not the only thing suffering today. So too is Pakistani identity.

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2 thoughts on “Jinnah’s house: A symbolic hit in Pakistan

  1. I hadn’t heard about this. – I actually first learned about Jinnah many years ago while looking further into the life of Gandhi. I wonder what they would think of all that is going on today.

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  2. I just returned from a Shia mosque of predominantly South Asians. I asked this question several times. Moreover, during my focus group this afternoon at Boston Common, I also posed this question at the very beginning of the discussion. I’m very bothered by it and I’m not even Pakistani. I can’t imagine how I would feel if Jefferson’s Monticello or Washington’s Mount Vernon were bombed.

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