Sindh takes the lead again


Quaid’s 11th August address

The greatest threat Pakistan faces at this juncture is from terrorist networks which have killed thousands of Pakistanis, civilians as well as soldiers. There is a realisation for the first time in the mainstream parties and the establishment that in order to put an end to terrorism, extremism has also to be eradicated. Pakistan as visualised by its founding father was to be a modern, pluralist democracy practising Islamic values of tolerance and social welfare.

Sindh Assembly was the first British Indian legislature to pass the resolution in favour of Pakistan. The Sindh government’s recent commitment to introduce the Quaid’s August 11 address in the school curriculum is another historic decision by the province. The address remains an unambiguous and solid counter-narrative against extremism and in support of moderation. The move should encourage the governments in other provinces to follow the example. The speech which is spread over nearly four pages has to be treated as a special chapter and taught to students when they are at the formative stage.

One had expected that the PML-N, which is never tired of claiming to inherit the mantle of Jinnah’s Muslim League, would take the first step towards popularising the founding father’s address containing the guiding principles the country needs badly in its fight against extremism and terrorism. That this was not done has compromised the party’s image and strengthened the perception that the party panders to extremist organisations and terrorist outfits. It is time the PML-N made its position clear on the Quaid’s address.

At a time when the country needs a counter-narrative to fight terrorism, the PML-N has to own the address and publicise it on a large scale besides including it in school curriculum. The party would improve is image besides doing a lasting service to the country and the nation by including important sections of the speech dealing with religious freedom in the constitution as its justiciable part. For this it should pilot a prior consensus between the political parties.