14 June | 2024

Lahore, Pakistan

Tale of Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s connection with Peshawar’s Islamia College

Paying tributes, Quaid-e-Azam advised students in 1948 to develop a sense of discipline, character, and solid academic background and devote themselves towards their studies

Islamia College Peshawar is the only educational institution of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa which has the honor of being visited by Pakistan’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah thrice to acknowledge historic role of its students during the national independence movement.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah first visited the Islamia College in 1936, then in 1945 and lastly as Pakistan’s first Governor General in 1948 where he highly praised the patriotism, commitment and devotion of its students in completion of his mission for Pakistan. The college was established by Muslim League leader Sir Abdul Qayyum Khan in 1913 and today it has attained the status of a public sector university.

“Quaid-e-Azam received a rousing welcome from the people of Peshawar in 1945. The Islamia College students and the Muslim Students Federation (MSF) presented the financial support for the Pakistan Movement,” said Muhammad Younas Khan, Chairman of the Pakistan Studies Department of the Islamia College. He said that it was a historic occasion when the student union committed to present educated workers during the Quaid’s next visit to the institution.

He said that the people had wholeheartedly heeded to the great leader’s call for a separate homeland as evident from hoisting of their homes, bazaars, markets, villages, towns and vehicles with the Muslim League flags, besides placards inscribed with slogans of Pakistan Zindabad and Quaid-i-Azam Zindabad. “The spirit and enthusiasm of our people was historic. Peshawar was beautifully decorated with the Muslim League flags hoisted atop of all major buildings and vehicles wearing a festive look,” he added.

‘Quaid-e-Azam laid great emphasis on education, character building and constructive criticism for the sake of improvement and reformation’

All markets, including Qisa Khwani, Hashtnagri, Cantonment, Firdows and Khyber, were gave a festive look with the Muslim League flags and portraits of the Quaid-e-Azam. “I can recall ‘a sea’ of people with national flags and portraits of Quaid-e-Azam arrived from all districts and erstwhile tribal agencies to see a glimpse of their beloved leader when he came here in 1945 and later as the Governor General on April 12, 1948,” said Misal Khan, a retired information officer.

He said that the people showed immense love for Quaid-e-Azam and that was why the All India Muslim League secured a maximum number of seats in the province in the 1946 elections, which was a turning point in the national independence movement. During his last visit to the Islamia College as the Governor General on April 12, 1948, Muhammad Ali Jinnah paid tributes to the services of its students for making Pakistan in these words: “I am indeed very happy to be present here today and to have the privilege of addressing students of this great institution who are the future builders of Pakistan.”

He advised the students to develop a sense of discipline, character, and solid academic background and devote themselves towards their studies. “Remember your government is like your own garden. Your garden flourishes by the way you look after it and efforts that you put towards its improvement. Similarly, your government can only flourish by your patriotic, honest and constructive efforts to improve it,” he told the students. He expressed his desire for setting up a university in Peshawar so that the students could get higher education. In line with his vision, the government established the University of Peshawar near the Islamia College in 1949.

The Quaid’s love for the Islamia College could be judged from his will written on May 30, 1939, in Mumbai in which he declared the Islamia College, the Muslim University of Aligarh and Sindh Madrassatul Islam in Karachi, as among the inheritors of his property. Later, the Quaid Trust paid Rs 10.81 million in different installments to the college. The amount was spent on the establishment of Quaid-e-Azam College of Commerce, University of Peshawar, construction of Jinnah Residential Quarters for the college employees, and Jinnah College for Women and the newly-constructed Takbeer block.

The Quaid-i-Azam had an immense love for tribesmen of merged tribal districts for their strong loyalty, supreme sacrifices and consistent support during the Pakistan Movement. Despite hectic official engagements as the Governor General, he addressed a Grand Tribal Jirga at the Governor’s House in Peshawar on April 17, 1948. During his address to the Jirga, the Quaid highly praised the commitment, patriotism and support of the tribesmen in the completion of his mission for Pakistan.

“Quaid-e-Azam’s speeches to the students and tribal elders were historic. We can achieve every goal in life by strictly adhering to those,” Manzoorul Haq, a former ambassador, said. He said that the Quaid knew that the students were future builders of Pakistan and that was why he made repeated visits to the Islamia College despite his hectic engagements and poor health condition. He said the Quaid had always laid great emphasis on education, character building and constructive criticism on the government for the sake of improvement and reformation rather than making point-scoring for political and personal gains.

He said that by strictly following the Quaid’s principles of unity, faith and discipline, one could achieve succeed in every filed of life. He said that it was high time to revitalize the legacy of Muhammad Ali Jinnah by imparting education and supporting the government to adopt a culture of constructive criticism for the sake of improvement to make the country move forward towards prosperity. On Jinnah birthday anniversary, students from various educational institutions always visit the Islamia College to pay tributes to the late charismatic leader.