Remembering Jinnah Papers Editor in Chief Dr Zawwar Hussain Zaidi  

By rehana Bukhari

April 1, 2023 09:57 PM

I am recalling on this occasion the memorable time of my stay in the Jinnah Papers Project, attached and located in the National Archives of Pakistan from 1993 to 2004.

He was the Editor in Chief of the Quaid e Azam Jinnah Papers project while we were dealing with the editing and researching work on the Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah's life and achievements.

By dint of his sheer hard work, commitment and dedication, he was able to produce almost 25 Volumes both in English and Urdu and Persian languages. It was mainly a collection of letters, correspondence and memorandums of founding father MA Jinnah with the top leadership of Hindus, Sikhs, and British for the creation of a separate, sovereign and independent state of Pakistan for Muslims of the subcontinent.

Dr Zaidi was the most revered and respected historian who was more a genius teacher than a boss for the juniors like me who had the honour to work with him. Dr Zaidi had rendered a great and enviable service by rewriting the history of the Pakistan movement into the shape of a series of Jinnah Papers volume collections.

After saying goodbye to his teaching career in School of Oriental and African Studies (SAOS), London, United Kingdom, Dr Zaidi took early retirement from SOAS and in 1991/92 he proceeded directly to start work on what would later be called the QAPP project, until December 2008.

Dr Zaidi remained associated with the Quaid e Azam Academy for some time and collected the original documents and first-hand information about the political and private life and founding father Quaid e Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. 

Dr Zaidi is presenting Jinnah Papers Volume copy to Ms Dina Wadia, the only daughter of M.A.Jinnah.

Dr Zaidi was accompanied in this strenuous task of producing the original Jinnah Papers with the company of his great partner Mrs Parveen Zaidi who herself was a conservationist and preservationist of the old and torn documents after getting training from abroad.

Dr Zaidi was also blessed with a dedicated editorial team whom he trained also to be able to serve in crucial fields in their future careers.

By the grace of almighty Allah we all eight to nine research officers are settled in our good jobs at important posts/fields.

Dr Zaidi also presented a copy of Jinnah Papers in Lahore on March 23, 2004, to Dina Wadia, daughter of M.A. Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, on her visit to Pakistan. Dina Wadia later wrote a letter to Dr Zaidi thanking him for the gigantic task of publishing Jinnah Papers and keeping the memory of his father alive.

Dina, in one of his letters to the Editor-in-Chief, Jinnah Papers, remarked: “To Zaidi, thank you for keeping my father’s memory alive, affectionately, Dina”.

While talking to Mrs Zaidi just a day earlier to his anniversary, I was persuaded by her to share my memories in the shape of articles, photos, videos, and illustrations and regarding working experience in the project on this day.

So I rushed to my records to get images to take and available material to consult for writing on Dr Zaidi’s achievements. I must confess this fact that I never ever found a sincere and diligent personality like Dr Zaidi was that he sacrificed all comforts of life and migrated to Pakistan from England to launch Jinnah project and compilation of his personal, private as well as public papers at one place. 

He had with him huge collection of original documents such as the transfer of power, Sharif Uddin Peerzada collection, Mirza Isphani collection, Quaid Azam Jinnah collection, Fatima Jinnah collection etc.

He was not short of material to write about founding father except for that he needed the government’s financial and material support. He fought Jinnah papers case very bravely and thus be able to produce a series of 25 Volumes.

I also wish that these papers should also be published in other regional and international languages too.

I am so highly impressed with the devotion of Mrs Parveen Zaidi who is always enthusiastic to talk to me and this way we share innovative ideas as to how differently we can remember his selfless service for which he never took a penny from government and preferred to work without any salary.

He died on March 31, 2009 in Lahore at the age of 81. His demise was a great loss of a selfless personality.

The great historian Stanley Wolpert acknowledged him as “great authority” on M.A. Jinnah and the subject of history.

May Allah rest his soul in peace in his eternal abode. Ameen!

Written By

rehana Bukhari

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