10 January 2013

Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah's Passport: Setting the Record Straight

Self-exiled MQM leader, Altaf Hussain, in a telephonic address to his party workers from London on 10 January 2013, tried to justify his British nationality and passport by claiming that Pakistan's founder, Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah, also had a British passport.

This is factually incorrect since Quaid-e-Azam had a British Indian passport, not a British passport. There's a difference: a British passport denotes British nationality whereas a British Indian passport denoted that the holder was a subject (as opposed to national) of the British Indian Empire. Quaid-e-Azam's British Indian passport was issued at Karachi in 1946 when Pakistan did not exist and Karachi was part of the British Indian Empire. Before the independence of Pakistan and India in August 1947, all citizens of British India were considered British Indian subjects and were issued British Indian passports for travel purposes.

Also, Quaid-e-Azam did not have the option of choosing his nationality in 1946, whereas post-1947, Pakistani politicians do have a choice. Quaid-e-Azam was born a British Indian subject, like all others born in British India at that time, whereas Altaf Hussain was born a Pakistani national and voluntarily applied for and acquired British nationality. On page 1B of Quaid-e-Azam's British Indian passport, under the "National Status/Nationality" section (see below), it clearly reads "British Subject by Birth" (not "British National"), as he was born in Karachi, which was then part of the British Indian Empire), whereas Altaf Hussain is a British national by choice.

Furthermore, even after Pakistan's independence, Pakistani nationals continued to use British Indian passports until Pakistan began printing its own passports, which was not until the early-1950s. Indeed, there was no such thing as a "Pakistani passport" from the time of Pakistan's independence on 14 August 1947 until Quaid-e-Azam's death on 11 September 1948. It may be pertinent to mention that Pakistan was a Dominion under the British Crown until 23 March 1956, when it adopted its first Constitution and became the "Islamic Republic of Pakistan." In fact, the Islamic scholar and Austrian Jewish convert to Islam, Muhammad Asad (formerly Leopold Weiss), who was not a British Indian citizen, became the first Pakistani passport holder in 1951 when he was issued with a travel document by the Government of Pakistan marked "Citizen of Pakistan" to enable him to tour the Middle East in his capacity as the Pakistani Foreign Ministry's Deputy Secretary in charge of the Middle East Division.

Finally, in the same manner in which he gave up wearing his Savile Row suits in favour of the achkan and sherwani after Pakistan's independence, Quaid-e-Azam never used his British Indian passport after Pakistan came into being on 14 August 1947.

Therefore, Altaf Hussain's comparison of his acquired British passport with Quaid-e-Azam's historical British Indian passport, apart from being unwarranted and inappropriate, is misplaced and misleading.

Quaid-e-Azam's last passport, issued by the Passport Office, Government of Sind, at Karachi, British India, on 28 November 1946, is reproduced below:


  1. i like your article its interesting and wonderful as well as good collection.

  2. great info and even greater zeal

  3. nice defenece, keep up your pace we r with u, PAKISTAN ZINDABAD