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“I don’t really think Jinnah is anyone’s hero”

Author and journalist Mohammed Hanif speaks his mind about how the idea of a hero is conceived in our society

“I don’t really think Jinnah is anyone’s hero”
Photo by Rahat Dar

The News on Sunday: Nations tend to pick their heroes. How important are heroes for nation-building? What goes into the making of a hero?

Mohammed Hanif: I don’t know if heroes are important for nation building or not. All I know is that we have had too many heroes lately, we are fast running out of honours, medals, and clichés to bestow upon them. It seems you have to get gang raped, get shot in the head, or die at the hands of a state-employed torturer to become a hero. Why can’t we just have people who turn up for work? Why can’t we just stop thinking that we are god’s gift to this universe?

TNS: Why can’t we agree on our heroes — Jinnah or Maududi, Hakimullah or Malala? And then, each side claims its hero defines the national narrative.

MH: I don’t think there are many nations which agree on their heroes. I don’t really think Jinnah is anyone’s hero. I think a lot of people in this country don’t even know who he was and the ones who know will never agree what he said let alone what he meant by what he said. I don’t think there are many people who are going to consider anybody a hero who says: get disciplined, work hard, stand united. Sounds like your PT teacher, doesn’t really inspire anyone. Now if someone comes along and says let’s fight to liberate the Ummah, let’s go and take over the world or die trying, there is more to life than office slavery, that is the kind of stuff we expect our heroes to say. And can the national press stop using the term national narrative? Any editor who can achieve that will be my hero.

TNS: In our country, the search for heroes is unending it seems. This is often done without understanding or discussing the society that needs such heroes. Is it not important to understand why did we need a Chaudhry Aslam-like figure in the first place?

MH: Everyone knows why we needed Ch Aslam. But the guy is dead, fighting, while many others have died saying no no, we don’t want to fight. He was also photogenic, and there was a lot of footage around. Also we don’t expect our heroes to go by the book, we don’t expect them to sit in offices and pay taxes.

TNS: There is also a clash between the politician and the religious heroes outside the political sphere, from Taliban to sectarian leadership to Tahirul Qadri, who seem to have prevailed. Where do these religious leaders draw their strength from?

MH: I think they draw their strength from God Himself. There is no clash between politicians and religious heroes because the politicians are trying to outdo religious and sectarian leaders. If you look at it closely, there are sectarian leaders vs other sectarian leaders. Someone like late Haq Nawaz Jhangvi can say that Maududiat is the biggest curse this country ever faced. No non-religious political leader is allowed to say that. In fact, even Pak army says that Maududi was the best thinker we ever had. It’s a fight not between seculars and religious people, it’s a fight between good Muslims vs better Muslims. And obviously, the best Muslims will win.

TNS: It seems that apart from a few national-political heroes, like Iqbal and Jinnah, who talked in communal terms, we draw our heroes largely from within the religious framework, like Mohammad bin Qasim and Mehmood Ghaznavi. Will we ever be able to question that?

MH: You can question all you want but our collective memory has been erased. Last year, I did a thought experiment while I was visiting half a dozen universities in Sindh. I asked students what did they know about Mohammed Bin Qasim? Everybody knows what we are supposed to know that besieged Muslim women cried for help, this seventeen-year old came and conquered and, hence, became the first Pakistani. Ask them what happened to him then? Everybody seemed to think that he ruled India and lived happily ever after. Nobody seemed to know that he had been recalled and executed by his commander-in-chief and, obviously, a better Muslim.

TNS: The status of army as hero is non-controversial it seems. Here we have an institution that’s a hero and we have no problems with it. How did that come about?

MH: Only someone who has never stepped out of a Punjab cantonment is likely to believe that army is a non-controversial hero. Try that line with someone in Turbat, or Dadu, or Wana. Okay let’s not go that far, walk into Mansoora and ask the person on duty if he considers Pak army a non-controversial hero?

TNS: What about writers who do get a lot of attention? What stops them from becoming heroes?

MH: We have lots of writer heroes. A whole generation worships Mustansar Hussain Tarar. Another generation finds all they need to know about life and after-life in Ashfaq Ahmed and Umaira Ahmed’s novels. Some literary types might even suggest that the hell we live in was conceived by another famous writer Qudrat ullah Shahab.


  • Hanif is a very clearheaded journalist. His analysis of subjects he talks about is always crispy and persuasive. I enjoyed reading this short interview.

  • In Homeric Greek, “hero” (heroes, ἥρως) refers to a man who was fighting on either side during the Trojan War. By the historical period, however, the word came to mean specifically a dead man, venerated and propitiated at his tomb or at a designated shrine, because his fame during life or unusual manner of death gave him power to support and protect the living. A hero was more than human but less than a god, and various kinds of supernatural figures came to be assimilated to the class of heroes; the distinction between a hero and a god was less than certain, especially in the case of Heracles, the most prominent, but a typical hero.[1]

    Hero in Hindi is Bahadur, Abhineta.

    Heroic – in Urdu – Ghaziana

    • Dear Friend,

      Hero in Hindi is Nayak.
      Actor = Abhineta (Acting = Abhinay)

  • ….he is clamming that many people don’t know who is Quid e Azam….Pakistani Currency [has his] Picture….These type of people live here work here and Don’t respect the Father of this nation….

    • which nation are u talking about friend? there are many nations in pakistan and jinnah was one,,,,,

      • I have noticed one thing that it is the Pakistani media which is giving lot of hipe to such kind of writers who almost have no credibility, anyone in Pakistan can become a writer.

        These are not nations, these are ethnic groups in Pakistan and it is a nation of Pakistan.
        Aren’t their many different ethnic groups in India?Have you seen them saying that as their are different ethnic groups in India, so India has different nations?

        These are not nations, these are ethnic groups in Pakistan and it is a nation of Pakistan.
        Aren’t their many different ethnic groups in India?Have you seen them saying that as their are different ethnic groups in India, so India has different nations?

        • Dear Wallis, Don’t criticize your media. Pakistani media is most liberal and free to a large extent. Its freedom and the talent of your journos can not simply be compared with that of India. Your media, because of its capability to challenge the “national narratives” and being vociferous in its attacks on govt policies is the real strength of Pakistan. Its the people like Mr. Hanif, who give you a different picture to look. I am a strong admirer of Jinnah – The quaid’e azam of Pakistan [though I don't like the term], for his ability to foresee what other contemporar, muslim visionaries of his time could not see, but my extremely passionate admiration of Jinnah sahib cannot take away from me the aversion of a thought that he failed to get Kashmir – Nehru did, by sheer sagacity, deceit and malice – collectively called political acumen.

      • These are not nations, these are ethnic groups in Pakistan and it is a nation of Pakistan.
        Aren’t their many different ethnic groups in India?Have you seen them saying that as their are different ethnic groups in India, so India has different nations?

      • This is what we people have to understand that Quaid-E-Azam made this country for the nation not for the different ethnicity. whenever we people become nation you truly determine and hold the power among other countries.

    • did you even read the article? and you can not think that just because we know OF a person, and has seen his picture, we know him completely. it’s people like you who never go in deep study of history and make up their minds with very little information they read in school books. i pity you

    • yeah ! i agree with u

  • Mr Hanif begins by saying “I don’t know if heroes are important for nation building or not”, but goes on as if he is the most qualified person to decided upon who is a hero and who isnt.

    He himself is the true personification of the (confused) mindset he so feverishly talk about in his interview by announcing awkwardly that ‘we dont want our hereos to pay taxes’ or ‘people at Turban or Wana probably dont like the Army’.

    Wierd irony.

    P.S. The development carried out by Pak Army at places like Wana has surely made it a hero for the locals, the thing is that we are as confused as the interviewee is.

  • Jinnah is my Hero!

  • jinnah was not a hero, today students of pakistan study that jinnah born in karachi, fact is that he was born in jirk, why doesn’t pakistani write name of that city where jinnah was born?

    • Unfortunately their are some people in Pakistan who have no knowledge about anything.
      go and see what weinstein churchil said about “Quaid-e-Azam”. Even Christopher Lee praised Quaid-e-Azam and said that unfortunately very few people know this person in the history .

      the Professor of York Univ in Canada made a statue of Quaid-e-Azam in the park of that Univ and said that he did research on different personalities of 19th century but couldn’t find a personality like Jinnnah.

    • This author said that Muhammad Bin Qasim conquered Sindh and became the 1st Pakistani. Now one can imagine the level of knowledge this author has and how happily some Pakistani come here and support this author.

      Does this author even know when Pakistan was even created?

      • Fahad he is talking about what is taught to our children in school or university. read what he is saying carefully.

        • Do you have any fucking problem if anything is taught about the founding father of Pakistan in the schools and colleges of Pakistan?

    • It doesn’t really matter where the Quaid was born .It doesn’t take anything away from his achievements . Giving us Pakistan is something for which we will never be able to thank him enough. What we’ve done to this great country is our own fault , not his . With having such views published the author is just looking for his 15 min .Quite an old trick really .
      Muhammad Ali Jinnah is MY HERO .

  • Does anyone know WHO Jinnah was? Claiming he was a hero or not comes after that. He talked about secularism, he talked about religion. he wanted a separate country for muslims, but he also wanted the state to remain out of the affairs of religion. was it all confusion in his head or was he just being a good politician and playing whatever card he needed to get to the end result?

    Can someone answer me this?

    • Here, why he was asking for separate country for muslims.

      and check egypt, nigeria and syria news so you can understand that why he was not in favour to have a similar situation between muslims and other minorities in Pakistan.

      but he’s not knowing that there will be many traitors born later in Pakistan.

    • all he needed was the end result,he needed a country to rule by hook or by crook,

  • I think Mr. Hanif has a very very lopsided view about Jinnah Sb’s personality , he is utterly confused in his views
    about a leader and a hero. There are many like him who throw around half baked theories about serious historical
    facts without having any profound knowledge about their own history.

    Jinnah Sb. had a multidimensional personality which is far beyond the grasp of persons like the interviewee , he should
    refrain from making such irresponsible comments in future.

  • Jinnah was a leader of All India Muslim League. And the idea of Pakistan comes from this party. But many Muslims were against it at that time and they voted in favor of India because they were against Jinnah’s idea of a new separate country and most of them didn’t come to Pakistan after independence and preferred to live in India because they accepted their campaign against Pakistan failed, but some of them came here to disturb this newly country so may they can play a vital role in its fall. They started their struggle and still working on it through many ways. Jinnah is the hero of those who migrated and sacrificed their beloved ones after his voice and restarted their life here to built this country.

    • My family came from India on the promise of a country where we will be free. And then we were declared non-muslims and infidels and now we live in fear and threat. where is our reward to support pakistan so we could practice our faith with freedom and equality?

      • I guess your family didn’t know that Shais have been exterminated from the very beginning
        of the split.
        I guess you didn’t know British Judge had to do a case on Whether Ahmadis
        were muslims or not.

        Your family assumed wrong that this was some kind of permanent deal with God written in stone.
        If Hindus and Sikhs can be killed. Jews can leave. Christians can become maids.
        Then Ahmadis can be non-muslim too.

        If others minorities are forced to convert. Why did you think you would be spared.
        At least other ethnic minorities are fighting for their rights.

        Your family assumed wrong.

  • Unfortunately Pakistani media is ruled by some of the rascals who can even sell their daughters for US dollars.

    I was watching a program on RT channel in which an American host said that most of the Pakistani media gets millions of US dollars. Now what can one expect from such media of this country.

    Even Tony Lazario an Australian Businessmen criticised “Times Magazine” in Pakistan for giving negative image of Karachi. He himself visited Pakistan and has noticed many positive things happening in Pakistan which the rascal media of Pakistan doesnot report.

  • This author might be educated and he does have right to his own views but it doesnot mean that he should start giving his views on such sensitive topics without any prior knowledge.

    Even Gandhi liked Jinnah and told indians to behave themselves when they were misbehaving about Jinnah.

    Their are some famous quotes from different leaders and politicians about Quaid-e-Azam, if this author takes out time from his schedule, then he might be able to find them.

    If Jinnah is not what he thinks then why Jasvant Singh a politician and a former member of BJP party wrote a book on “Jinnah” and risked his life ?
    Most of the indian public criticised him for writing the book and he had to leave his party.

  • I think a lot of Readers didn’t understand what Mr Haneef really meant! That is quite apparent from some comments!!

    • Could you kindly let us know what exactly MH wants to say ; may be then our comments would be more realistic. Please confine yourself to his remarks about Father of the Nation. Thanks.

  • i think Hanif could have said something better in this interview. he has disappointed many, in-fact. he seems quite partisan who thinks about things one-sided and lack neutrality.this is the tragedy with such writers..
    the issue is not who is hero and who is not. the issue is who makes heroes, how and why and what is their impact on state and how to move ahead. some people are in a strange debate in comments to drag it.

  • JINNAH IS MY HERO n I am Pakistani! What i do not consider, is like MR. DNT-CARE-WHAT-HIS-NAME-IS!

  • Limited vision. What makes him say Jinnah was not a hero? Jinnah gave a separate homeland for muslims and this alone is enough to earn him this status. Any time you have doubts about need of separate homeland place yourself in shoes of hindu minorities in sindh or apologetic muslims in india.

  • Hassan Saleem Awan

    Muhammad Ali Jinnah is our hero.

  • JINNAH IS MY HERO n I am Pakistani! What i do not consider, is like MR. DNT-CARE-WHAT-HIS-NAME-IS!

  • Strange that someone who is perhaps known by just a few is trying to belittle and disparage someone known by the whole humanity. Is he more credible than writers like Stanley Wolpert who have eulogised Jinnah in glowing terms. Jinnah may not be a hero for the folks like Hanif but the former is definitely hero with a vast multitude of humanity, including the revered Nelson Mandela who also considered Jinnah’s life and achievements worth emulating

  • One look at the picture and I realized that only a man having the persona of a rural marasi could discuss the FATHER OF THE NATION in such a derogatory manner. Why this so-called writer/journalist wants to live in a country created with singular devotion by the greatest personality of 20th century? Why doesn’t he settle in Zimbabwe amongst the people he resembles the most ?

    • If the writer’s obnoxious remarks were not subjected to moderation , why can’t I enjoy the same freedom of expression. I beseech you to let my comments be judged by people who know Jinnah.

    • Zafar you should be ashamed of yourself for making personal attacks. If you disagree with MH’s argument, present your own argument in response. But you went down to the level of attacking his appearance and that just reflects badly on you and does nothing to weaken MH’s argument.

      While I’m at it, let me also say that from the comments it shows that MOST of you didn’t even read his interview. Hanif is not saying Jinnah isn’t a hero to him, he said that Jinnah talked about rational things such as hard work, discipline… and in our society where we make a hero out of a murderer, so many will not think of Jinnah’s concepts heroic. you all have completely misunderstood what Hanif is saying.

      He is ridiculing our society, NOT saying Jinnah isn’t a hero.

      • Only a ghost writer representing MH can claim that no one has read or understood what MH has said about Quaid-e-Azam. Have the moral courage to own your words. I am an ordinary citizen of Pakistan and yes I have personally attacked an ungrateful so- called Pakistani who has used derogatory language about a man who gave me and my family refuge from Hindu domination. MH has even obliquely challenged the literary status of great writers like Ashfaq Ahmad and
        Qudratullah Shahab in his interview. Has he read and understood what these literary giants wrote. I think he
        suffers from megalomania.

  • Hope you will let my remarks go un-censored and give an opportunity to MH to reply.

  • This is no more than a publicity-seeking tactic. Such useless blogs dont deserve any place here or anywhere else. And if you still want to seek attention then spare Jinnah at least.

  • what i don’t understand is that why do people have to make eveything so hard… if you wanna love and respect someone you MUST know every skeleton that he has his closet regardless of the fact that, that particular person is the reason you acutally have a passport and an identity to go with it…. i’ve read aloot of books on our QUIDE and i try to find as much as i can about him… but if a Pakistani loves and respects him i don’t believe he has to be an expert about him… what Pakistanis need is a pure Patriotic Spirit… And articles and interview of this sort aren’t a great help… A PERSON WHO ALTERED THE MAP OF THE WORLD IS DEFINATELY A HERO TO ME…

  • People here defending Jinnah have no information about him or any other “Hero.” Gandhi and Jinnah are British Imperialists made heroes. And these “Jinnah apologists” are still bound to the knowledge they gained from “Mutaalia Pakistan” text book!!

    • “Gandhi and Jinnah are British Imperialists”, says a man whose name doesnot even clarify whether he is a Hindu or a Muslim. In my life spanning 80 years I have known Sohan Lals and Abdurrehmans but never a Sohan Rehman. However he seems a very learned person who knows more about the genesis of Pakistan than un-educated ” Jinnah apologists” . What I fail to understand is why these ” patriots” continue to live in a country founded by a” British Imperialist”. They should have the courage of conviction and say bye-bye to this poor country.

    • When I was a student ,there was no such subject as “Mutalia Pakistan”. I invite the attention of SohanRehman, with his/her pretentions of a first rate education , to find out what Winston Churchil , Louis Mountbatten ,Stanley Wolpert , Gandhi ,Nehru , Vijay Laxmi Pundit ,Nelson Mandela, Jasvant Singh , some diehard Hindu communalists and other International personalities have said about Quaid-e-Azam. At least one should be ashamed of mentioning the name of the Father of this nation in a derogatory manner as ” Jinnah”. Does one call one’s elders’ names in such an insulting way.

  • That better muslim who killed SO CALLED great commander of islam M. bin Qsim was his uncle The Tyrant and ruthless Hajaj bin yousaf.We poor pakis consider both of them as heroes without knowing that The Real hero Is Raja Dahar

  • Muhammad Hanif is the best writer & journalist we have today

    • And you must be the best critic of Pakistani literature!!!

  • Kindly Mr.Hanif you better keep your opinions till yourself , i’ll appreciate if you don’t generalize it by saying “Anyone’s Hero”.
    Being #Pakistani I am truly honored to call Jinnah my hero.

  • For me to consider any of pakistan’s founding fathers as hero would require a total ignorance. People like Jinnah and Iqbal defended and praised the murderer of a publisher just because he had published a book that was offensive to Muslims? Where did Muslims get this right that they cannot be offended by people who do not even believe in their religion?

    • No one has the right to offend people of other religions. Ghazi Ilmuddin Shaheed in the prime of his youth did what millions of Muslims in un-divided India wanted to do but he proved to be the only one prepared to lay down his life. He accepted the charge of intentional murder in open court , did not appeal against the punishment and went to the gallows with a smile on his face.
      Please stop ridiculing people for whom majority of Pakistanis have a lot of respect and affection.

      • So I suppose Indian Hindus had every right to go hang M.F. Husain, or Ambedkar, or Periyar for offending caste Brahmin Hinduism? To give Kashmiris the death penalty in 19th cnetury for cow slaughter? You are just as bad as Maududi who said he didn’t care if India subjected its Muslims to Manusmrti. A world in which no one has the right to offend people of other religions upon death penalty will demand the peace of the grave. Should Muslims in America be executed if they call Christ not divine? That’s pretty offensive to many Christians. You want to make a ghetto out of dar-ul-Islam.

        • Ghazi Ilmuddin Shaheed was executed for killing a Hindu shop-keeper of Lahore who had published a pamphlet titled ” Rangeela Rasool” using extremely offensive language against our holy Prophet PBUH . Entire Muslim population of India protested vehemently against this outrage but no action was taken against the Hindu author of the pamphlet by the British rulers. 23 years old Ilmuddin could not control his sentiments , stabbed the man and reported his action to the Police Station himself. Muslims appealed to Quaid-e-Azam to defend Ilmuddin in the Court but the young man admitted his guilt before the judge and later refused to appeal against the sentence of death. Observer’s remark in his comment dated January 30 that ” Where did Muslims get this right that they cannot be offended by people who do not even believe in their religion” needs some elucidation to understand the logic behind this remark.

  • It is amusing that comments in favour of MH’s convoluted thinking have been offered by such luminaries as Maverick ,Adeen ,Aimen, Maryas , dr.dumb, no name ,sohanRehman and Observer. Are these the given names of present well-educated generation or an effort to hide the
    honourable status of ghost writers.

    • Yeh,, to avoid being killed like Ilmuddin by zealots follower of Jinnah…

  • Crisis is the product of mismanagement, indecision, impotence and lack of self-confidence on the part of a leader, he is at international, national or factory level. lWhen pressure mounts, there is invariably an upheaval. we have to face the storm otherwise the storm will overtake. The story of the politica upheaval of Pakistan is the story of crisis in leadership . From the first day of its birth the leader knew the problems that they had to solve they continued avoiding bold decisions in the false hope that with the passage of time these problems would get automatically solved. One should have faith in himself and the divine wisdom. Allah has made the whole world for the choicest of His Creation, the man to make use of and profit from His bounty and beneficenence. The situations throw challanges to his innovation, in genuity and resourcefulness. we believe tha twhatever does, it is for our good. If we miss an opportunity or the opportunity misfires, there is no reason for despondency. There are hundred and one openings for us. Side by side with this we know that whatever we achieve it is the result of our effort. This , in nutshell, is our faith and if we hold it firmly we will never be a prey to indecision.

  • What i say about this poor interpretation ……….. He is Taking about FATHER of NATION …..

    i think he is agenda of some so called nonsense people to be a popular in one night………

  • Only God gives Honor / Dishonor to whoever He wants.
    let them say what every they want,
    only God decides the share of honor.
    God never mistakes to give honor.

  • “There are many people who don’t even know who jinnah was”, I would ask where are these people? I have never seen any, any such person, despite coming from a rural area with a very low literacy rate.

    It is just becoming a popular hobby in a particular faction to degrade our Heroes, and the people who are reason we can eat beef today, merely for the sake of some personal joy.

    Also, as Muhammad Ahmed said above, if their ideology was adulterated by people of later times, why blame them?

    Further, Instead of arguing on such an explicitly evident topic, with sole arguments of “what they feel like”, I would urge people convinced by absurd claims and opinions of M

  • Mubashar Sharif I have read GA Allani’s book on Jinnah, Ms. Fatima “my brother”, and I am very much inspired by him, I have developed a sense of abstaining from many malpractices by reading this book, I have known what a political leader should be like, I have known how the citizens of a sovereign country should be treated, I have known what my responsibilties should be as a student, as a govt. officer, as an economist and so on. What else you want from a leader? To unite the umma, to take the world, read thoroughly about jinnah and iqbal’s pakistan, it was made with a not very different agenda.

    And still if M hanif is not satisfied, I think he needs a psychiatrist cum history teacher not a leader.

  • Our Media in the habit to give projection to such people who speak against the basics of the country….and pass negative remarks ….Mr Hanif is one of them….He always tries to speak in negative form…one can judge standard of a person whose HERO is Umera Ahmad…

  • Since we are a nation of mostly illiterates, we have fewer heroes than many others. But there are some true heroes. We have two noble laureates Dr Salam and Malala. We have humanitarians such as Edhi and Dr Adeeb Rizvi. Any nation would be proud of literary figures such as Faiz, Qasmi, Saadat Manto, Kamila Shamsi, Mohsin Hamid, Bano Qudsia, Ahmad Faraz, Mustansar Tarrar and many others. May be one area where we do have any heroes is politicians. Cannot think of any good ones except Jinnah.

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