Pakistan today finds itself at the crossroads

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The dream lives on

Mohammad Jamil:

Today is, indeed, the day to rejoice as Pakistan Resolution was passed on 23rd March 1940, which was implemented on 14th August 1947. But it is also the day for introspection, self-accountability and evaluation as to how far we have been able to live up to the ideals set by the founding fathers. Quaid-e-Azam had envisaged a free, progressive, humane, and modern Pakistan, ruled by just laws, where everybody irrespective of religion, colour, creed or cast would be equal before law. Unfortunately, efforts were made to distort his speeches even when he was alive, and vested interest had tried to remove his 11th August 1947 speech before the Constituent Assembly from the record with a view to keep the nation in the dark, as it was the first official version of the Quaid.

In Pakistan, different schools of thought interpret Quaid-i-Azam’s speeches to serve their ends, but Quaid-i-Azam had envisioned Pakistan to be a modern progressive state, rooted in the eternal values of Islam, and at the same time responsive to the imperatives of constant change. President Pervez Musharraf, with the concept of enlightened moderation and by persuading the assemblies to pass laws for the empowerment of women and bringing the minorities into mainstream is emulating the Quaid, which his distracters do not like. In his Presidential address at the All India Muslim League session at Delhi on 24th April 1943 he outlined his vision about Pakistan: “I have visited villages; there are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilization? If that is the idea of Pakistan I would not have it”.

In the same speech he said: “A lot of mischief is being created. Is it going to be Islamic Government? The constitution and the government will be what the people will decide”. By going through the full text of speeches of the Quaid delivered on 24th April 1943 and 11th August 1947, one could find the guidelines and the parameters within which constitution of Pakistan was to be framed by the representatives of the people. The Quaid while giving reference of Islam and the Holy Book had wished to convey that he stood for an economic system based on true Islamic concept of equality, social justice and categorically stated: “Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state”. Those religious parties that had opposed Pakistan wanted to implement their version of Islam which was at variance with the great majority of the Muslims.

Pakistan has all the ingredients to make it a modern progressive state. But where did we go wrong? Unfortunately, Pakistan lost its Quaid and other founding fathers too soon, and conglomerate of privileged few, feudals, bureaucracy and new-rich industrial robber barons devoid of political acumen and vision took over the state. The only redeeming feature is that Pakistan is now an atomic power, and its people and armed forces have the ability and guts to meet any challenge posed by internal and external enemies of Pakistan, and have the capability and the will to defend the integrity of Pakistan. But the problem is that many an element is out to create confusion. Though Pakistan has completed 63 years of its existence, we still are obliged to listen to the debate as to the purpose for which it was created.

In fact, the issue was debated for decades during the struggle for independence, and founding fathers were absolutely clear in their minds about the objectives for attaining an independent state for Muslims of the sub-continent. Quaid-i-Azam was a democrat, and he did not even think of imposing his will on people. When asked about the type of constitution Pakistan would have, he replied that the people’s representative would frame the constitution on the basis of guiding principles of Islam. Unfortunately, leaders of the religious parties that had opposed Pakistan were now exploiting masses in the name of religion, and insisted that everybody should accept their interpretation of Islam. In the words of President General Pervez Musharraf, the minority has taken the majority as hostage.

On 14th August 1947, we got rid of the colonialism but became fell a prey to neo-colonialism due to flawed policies of the various governments in the past, and had to depend on the West for our development and defence. The dependency syndrome was evident after 11th September 2001 events when Pakistan was coerced into altering its foreign policy. The internecine conflicts amongst political parties and lust of power of the politicians had resulted in three martial laws in 1958, 1968 and 1977, and another military dispensation in 1999. Unfortunately, the people were not treated any better during the tenures of democratic governments, and it was because of their conflicts that army had moved in. The reason being, degeneration had crept in every stratum of society, but the redeeming feature is that people of Pakistan have not lost hope; their spirit is alive and kicking, and their dream lives on. The question arises as to what should be done to rid the society of inertia and corruption? Can Plato’s managerial meritocracy help? It may hold good in services but political exigencies demand far greater than what is provided in that discipline. Leading the people in their pursuit of political freedom, self-governance, economic independence, evolution of a vibrant society and progress in the fields of science and art requires different category of leaders. Pakistan needs a type of leader that first believes in certain principles; he practices what he believes; he upholds those principles and is accepted as an exemplar for others. Such leadership reaches the hearts of the people and brings about psychological changes in their outlook towards life. It inspires them to unite with a view to transforming the society and changing the system for their social, material and spiritual well-being.

In Pakistan, barring a few honourable exceptions, most of the leaders lacked political acumen, leadership qualities and sense of direction that brought the country to the present pass. Pakistan today finds itself at the crossroads. To meet the internal and external challenges to its security, it is imperative that the nation is united. All and sundry should work to convert moribund society plagued by corruption, immorality, inertia, factionalism into a progressive, vibrant and dynamic organism brimming with vitality and creativity.

Allama Iqbal had given the clue as to how to go about it, and underscored the need to reinterpret Islamic thought and assimilate its eternal principles to overcome centuries-old stagnation with a view to launching the nation on the path to revival and build a future worthy of its glorious past. He had dreamt of Pakistan, and his dream became a reality when the nation found a leader like Quaid-i-Azam.

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