A banker by profession, Salim Ansar has a passion for history and historic books. His personal library already boasts a treasure trove of over 7,000 rare and unique books. Every week, we shall take a leaf from one such book and treat you to a little taste of history.
BOOK NAME: With the Quaid-i-Azam During His Last Days
AUTHOR: Lt. Col. Ilahi Bakhsh
PUBLISHER: Maktaba-Tul-Maarif — Lahore
DATE OF PUBLICATION: 1949
The following excerpt has been taken from Pages: 59 — 66
This booklet contains an account of reminiscences of Col. Ilahi Bakhsh, who treated the Quaid-i-Azam during his last days. He has depicted this account of his conversations with the Quaid-i-Azam, together with his diagnosis and treatment. Col. Ilahi Bakhsh was sent for during the second half of July 1948 when the Quaid-i-Azam’s health suddenly took a turn for the worse. Ever since he came to Ziarat, Col. Ilahi Bakhsh toiled ceaselessly and left nothing to be desired in his treatment of the Quaid-i-Azam. The recovery that manifested itself during the initial stages of his treatment did not endure for long. But as far as the medical experts were concerned, they rendered sincere and yeomen services and did everything to arrest the disease, but God willed otherwise.
This book was banned from 1949 till 1976.
“Quaid-i-Azam never accepted anything from anybody without paying for it. I remember when I returned from Lahore on the 6th of August, Begum Muhammad Akbar Khan sent some grapes for him from Quetta with me. He liked them very much and asked where I had bought them. I told him they had been sent by Begum Muhammad Akbar Khan who could send some daily if he cared for them, but while appreciating the Begum’s kindness, he politely declined to accept any more. I can recall another incident of the same kind. One day I went to a private garden with General Muhammad Akbar Khan. There I was shown some green roses not known to me. The General plucked some and asked me to present them to the Quaid-i-Azam and tell him if he liked these and other flowers he could arrange to have them sent daily. He accepted the roses thankfully, but said that he did not wish to give the General the trouble of sending him anymore.
“On the 26th of August, I again pleaded with the Quaid-i-Azam to go to Karachi where he could recuperate much more quickly. He curtly enquired why I was so keen to go to Karachi. I told him I had no particular desire to go, but felt worried on his account as the height of Quetta was hindering his progress and I was anxious to put him on his feet again but could not do so at Quetta where he became breathless with a slight exertion. Karachi had the advantage of being fairly cool during August and September and of being on the sea level. To avoid Karachi, the Quaid-i-Azam suggested Sibi. I objected on the ground of its high temperature during the months of August and September and its out of the way situation. But as I could not give him the exact temperature of the place, he asked me to find it out before dismissing it as unsuitable. I made enquiries from Mr. A. R. Khan, the Commissioner and General Muhammad Akbar Khan, both of whom said it would be unpleasantly warm and dusty at that time of the year. In the light of what I had gathered about Sibi, I told Miss Jinnah that it was out of the question and requested her to prevail upon her brother to give it up in favour of Karachi but she said he did not wish to return to the Governor General’s house as an invalid. She spoke more favourably of Malir, which was quieter than Karachi and had a drier climate; in addition, the Quaid-i-Azam liked it. But when we had approved of it she pointed out a difficulty: the only suitable house at Malir belonged to the Nawab of Bahawalpur and was then occupied by the heir-apparent. I informed her that if the Quaid-i-Azam decided to go to Malir, General Muhammad Akbar Khan could arrange with the heir-apparent to have it placed at the Quaid-i-Azam’s disposal.
“After this talk we met the Quaid-i-Azam and dwelt on the drawbacks of Sibi and after some discussion succeeded in making him drop it. He then asked me where we intended to take him and I again expressed my preference for Karachi and recapitulated its advantages. He said, ‘Don’t take me to Karachi on crutches. I want to go there when I can walk from the car to my room. You know, from the porch you have to pass the ADC’s room and then the Military Secretary’s before you reach mine. I dislike being carried on a stretcher from the car to my room.’ I was deeply affected by the imploring manner in which he had spoken. This masterful man, used to having his own way, was now beseeching his doctors for a favour. How could one have the heart to refuse? I had almost given in, but, realizing the risk of keeping him any longer in Quetta, I pulled myself up and put forward Malir as an alternative.
“The Quaid-i-Azam expressed his readiness to go there and told me to make the necessary arrangements. We felt greatly relieved and decided to shift him without further delay. I went straight to the G.O.C’s Office and sought General Muhammad Akbar Khan’s help in securing the Bahawalpur House at Malir within a few days. When I met the General in the evening, he informed me that the heir-apparent was vacating the house but his father was returning from England on the 20th of September. The heir-apparent had, therefore, advised us to get in touch with him in London. On the morning of the 28th when we visited the Quaid-i-Azam, I gave him all this information and requested him to approach the Nawab for the loan of the house.
“He said, ‘You know, in the old days when any practicing lawyers was appointed a Judge of the High Court in Bombay he gave up going to clubs and social functions, in fact some of them did not even read the local newspapers in case they might be prejudiced against any individual who was going to be tried before them.’ As Governor-General of Pakistan I cannot ask His Highness the Nawab of Bahawalpur for the loan of the house, I am afraid this is impossible. We admired the Quaid-i-Azam’s great sense of justice, propriety and unselfishness.
“Nevertheless, the paramount consideration at the moment was his health, which required that he should be shifted at once from Quetta and we felt that nothing should be allowed to stand in its way. While appreciating the delicacy of the situation I requested Miss Jinnah to approach the Nawab. We thought our difficulties would now be over and within a few days the Quaid-i-Azam would be at Malir recuperating rapidly. Miss Jinnah was also very pleased with the idea and asked to find out from Mr. Amin the address of the Nawab in London. He, however, did not know it but proposed that the cable he sent through the High Commissioner for Pakistan in London. I urged him to lose no time. When we visited the Quaid-i-Azam in the evening we learnt that the cable had not been dispatched. Next day, the 29th, I asked Miss Jinnah and was disappointed to find that it had not yet been sent. I again pressed her not to delay it. It was ultimately sent on the 30th of August. We expected to get a reply within 24 hours, but it took about three days for the reply to come and by that time the Quaid-i-Azam had had a relapse of fever and the move to Malir had to be postponed.
“I have often thought over this delay and wondered whether he would have lived longer if he had agreed to go to the Governor-General’s House when we first suggested it at the end of August. We might have succeeded in persuading him if we had been firm. But what made us hesitant was the adverse psychological effect the unwilling move might have on his illness. He had plainly told us that he hated the idea of being taken to Karachi as an helpless invalid. We thought the delay of a few days would not make much difference and it would be wise to wait until arrangements had been made at Malir. If we could have anticipated a recurrence of his fever, we would certainly have shifted him at once, whether he liked it or not. But there were at the time on premonitory signs of a relapse.