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A Biography Revisited

Kalim Bahadur

By Sharif al Mujahid
Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2007, pp. xxxii 221, Rs. 495.00


Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the father of Pakistan and had become a cult figure for most Pakistanis and therefore, it was no easy job for anyone to write an objective biography. This was illustrated by the ban imposed in the eighties on the biography, Jinnah of Pakistan, written by Stanley Wolpert in 1984 which did not conform to the official image. Till the early fifties most attempts to write about Jinnah were hagiographies with few exceptions. The earliest known work on Jinnah was the one written by India’s poetess Sarojini Naidu which was almost a poetic eulogy of the young Jinnah when he was an active and bright leader of the Indian National Congress and the national movement. Soon after the emergence of the new state in 1947 there were demands for a detailed life story of the founder of the country. Jinnah was hardly known in the West and therefore the Government of Pakistan decided to commission the writing of his biography in 1951. The person chosen was one Hector Bolitho, a writer belonging to New Zealand who had written extensively on various subjects. His name had been recommended by someone in early 1951 to Liaquat Ali Khan, the first Prime Minister of Pakistan. It was stipulated that the book would be mainly meant for western readers. Hector Bolitho was expected according to the agreement to work under the supervision of Colonel Majeed Malik, the Principal Information Officer, Government of Pakistan, who incidentally was the first Indian to be appointed a full Colonel in the British Indian Army. Hector Bolitho completed the first draft of the biography titled Jinnah: Creator of Pakistan. The book under review comprises a collection of diaries, notes, correspondence of Hector Bolitho relating to the life of Jinnah which he had collected during his work. Some portions of the first draft which were expunged have also been included in the book. The author had taken care to preserve his first draft of the book so that the future researchers while comparing it with the final printed book could find out what he was not allowed to be put in the final version of the book. The first draft is not of course included in the book under review. The compilation has been edited by Sharif al Mujahid. He was the founder director of the Quaid-i-Azam Academy in Karachi and has been working on the life and work of ...

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