Mian Ata Rabbani was born in Jallundhur, graduated from Aligarh University in 1940 and got commission in British Indian Air Force in 1941. He was selected as the first Aide de camp to Quaid e Azam and served him from August 1947 to March 1948.
Purpose of writing the book
In the preface, Mr . Rabbani writes that his purpose of writing the book is to correct some mis-statements about Jinnah which have been quoted by various books. One such was "The History of Pakistan Air Force" which prompted him to 'speak'.
The writer says that this book is the narrative of the events that happened during his ADC-ship of the great leader. The intended audience of the writer is the youth of Pakistan in whose hands is the future of the country.
Following are the contents of the book:
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Past to present
I had a dreamâ€¦
The dream comes true
Farewell to Delhi and Arrival in Karachi
The beginning of a new era
Tryst with Sovereignty
The days go by
Trials and tribulations
Independence and princely states
Indian occupation of Kashmir
Quaid-i-Azam as Plain Mr. Jinnah
The book consists of fifteen chapters. In the start, Ata Rabbani writes about the post 1857 condition of the muslims in the sub-continent and then comes to the present i.e. in the 1930s wherefrom vibrant role of the Quaid starts. Visit of Jinnah at Aligarh was given special emphasis in the first and second chapter. In third chapter, he mostly dwells on his native city Jallundhar and his liking of Mr. Jinnah. In fourth chapter, an important incident of saving of Aligarh from a hindu mob's attack has been described. We are told in the fifth chapter how the author was made the ADC to Quaid-i-Azam. In the sixth chapter, Mian Atta Rabbani describes his leader's arrival at Karachi on 7th August 1947. His departure from Delhi was also given some space. In seventh chapter, the first illustration to demonstrate Quaid's arrival at the Governor General's house is given. Working of his Secretariat and the shortage of staff members there has been elicitly described. In eighth chapter, the acronym ADC, his duties and functions are explained in an elaborate way. Meetings of Sir Archibald Rowlands, Mr. Ghulam Muhammad and Liaqat Ali Khan with the Quaid are also added here. Chapter nine, which is the longest chapter, highlights the events of life of the Quaid from 8 August to 26 September 1947. Eleven illustrations are given here out of which ten are from Quaid's life. In chapter ten, we are told that Mr. Jinnah introduced austerity measures in his kitchen and office. He worked hard for the betterment of the country. An incident of Ms Margaret Bourke-White who wants to interview the Quaid but cannot, has been of some interest. The sufferings of the muslims which started after the independence are described in the eleventh chapter. In twelfth and thirteenth chapter, some historical facts about the princely states are mentioned. Special emphasis is given to Kashmir. Fourteenth chapter dilates upon the forced merger of Hyderabad with India. In the last chapter, Atta Rabbani describes some personal characteristics of Mr. Jinnah, and in doing so he also quoted some incidents from Jinnah's life. In the epilogue, the writer shares his last meeting with Mr. Jinnah, the parade ceremony of 13 April 1948 and some of his meetings with Miss Fatima Jinnah.
It was not possible for the author to cover every incident of his seven months stay with the Quaid. So he majorly dwelt on the attitude of the Quaid towards political events, his feelings on different issues and his personal qualities.
There are some facts about Jinnah in the book which are not found in ordinary books like his refusal to ride on an elephant when he visited Kapurthalla in 1942 (page 20) and the one mentioning Quaid's behaviour over a mistake regarding ordering of Viking Aircraft from Vickers Armstrong (page 176).
The author's style is neither strictly formal nor loosely informal, rather it is somewhat semi-formal. The thoughts are coherent and are clearly described but they went lengthy sometimes thus becoming prolix. The sentences are not concise like K.K. Aziz's, however they don't give monotonous effect; they keep the interest of the reader maintained through the content. For example:
Always on Time
Marked to Standard
"My story begins here. The place is Karachi, the capital of the province of Sindh. The time is an early morning in August and the year is 1947. A gentle, cool and somewhat humid breeze is blowing from the sea. There is an air of expectancy, an unusual mirth and happiness in the very glow of the dawn. Some thing very out of ordinary, some thing wonderful is about to happen. It is Karachi at its best." (chapter 1, page 7, lines 24-30)
The language is of daily usage and there are used no technical word in the book as such. This quality has made the book easy to understand for an ordinary reader.
Mr. Atta Rabbani staunchly defended the Quaid-i-Azam in his book with strong arguments which will no doubt help the young people to understand his personality. The last para of page 17 and the whole of page 18 is all praise about Mr. Jinnah.
"The mightiest of pens failed to tarnish the image of Mr. Jinnah." (page 18, line 15)
There is a problem with the book that the author gave too much space to his own feelings and inclinations in different chapters. In doing so, sometimes he went far away from the target. For example, in chapter 3, importance of Jallandhar was over-emphasized. Time and again, Mr. Rabbani expressed his desire to be the Quaid's ADC in the book. This increased emotionalism over impartiality. It seems that the writer was so overpowered by the mesmerizing personality of the Quaid that he couldn't mention any of his controversial decisions impartially.
At some places, he gave emotional statements with considerable bias in it. For example:
"The Hindu is clever, shrewd and rational." (chapter 12, line 1)
"Muslims are restive by nature." (page 2, line 10)
The author made a few factual mistakes in the book. For example at page 5, he writes that Sarojini Naidu was the first to call Mr. Jinnah, the Ambassador of Hindu-Muslim Unity (lines 36-40) whereas actually it was G. K. Gokhale who said so for the first time (Ayesha Jalal - The Sole Spokesman). At another occasion, the author says that "the hindus had made unsuccessful attempts to oust muslims" in Panipat (page 2, lines 36-40) whereas it was Nadir Shah who attacked them; and the hindus didn't make such attempts (Stanley Lanepoole - Medieval India). These factual mistakes lower down the currency of the rest of the content.
There is no Bibliography at the end to corroborate the facts of the history mentioned at some places in the book. Also, there are no references or citations besides a couple. In addition, there are some typing mistakes as well e.g. Suzeranity instead of Suzerainty (page 2, line 4).
The book has achieved its purpose by highlighting some important aspects of Mr. Jinnah's life and clearing off some very popular misperceptions about the Quaid-i-Azam which according to the author do no good to Mr. Jinnah e.g. the Quaid used to work till 3 a.m. This book is an eye-opener for the youth and the target readers would find it very informative. "I was the Quaid's ADC" is recommended to the readers of history and Pakistani youth by all means.