Nobody benefits if Pakistan weakens


We need to look at the pitiful state of affairs in which Muslims, who chose to live in India and believed in a secular state that the likes of Maulana Abul Kalam Azad promised, are today devoid of basic human rights, freedom of movement and even the right to practice their faith. Pakistan was created by the founding fathers of this country led by the Quaid-e-Azam and Allama Iqbal so that the Muslim majority could live in peace and harmony with members of other faiths, as equal citizens, free from exploitation by Hindu supremacists.

It is a tragic reality that the history of our freedom movement has been distorted by a few who chose to derail this country from the Quaid’s vision of Pakistan. Few people are aware that the first Law Minister of Pakistan was a Hindu Dalit, Jagan Nath Mandal, who made common cause with the All-India Muslim League and supported the Quaid to free his community from oppression by upper-caste Hindu supremacists. This country was not created through an armed struggle but a constitutional political movement led by politicians of integrity and commitment. It will survive and flourish only if the democratic process is strengthened and all individuals and institutions submit to the supremacy of the Constitution and rule of law, each working within their defined spheres.

The ruling elite of this country must learn from the fate of the Shah of Iran who accumulated billions but once driven from power found it hard to get a burial plot. Pakistan is the sole identity and hope of 200 million citizens, almost 95 percent Muslim, where they can live and breathe without fear of being harassed. Every citizen of Pakistan has the right acquire wealth through legitimate means, as long as he pays all taxes due. The whole concept of a modern state is built on an edifice of rule of law and tax collection, to enable it to fulfill its constitutional obligations of welfare and protecting it from foreign aggression and ensuring citizens justice and security from abuse, harassment and threats. It is only a stable political environment, good governance, adherence to principles like No-Conflict-of-Interest by paid or elected public office holders and supremacy of law, which creates an environment to boost foreign and local investment and make a country achieve economic self-sufficiency. Without a sound economy, neither state sovereignty nor national security can be guaranteed. The foreign policy of a country must be based on long-term objectives and not short-term gains. Pakistan has suffered enough from being a client state serving security and strategic interests of superpowers. Today we are on the verge of continued economic bankruptcy because of the adventures of a few dictators like Ayub, Zia, Musharraf and the corrupt politicians they bred to perpetuate their illegal rule.

There was no armed militant wing, associated with the All-India Muslim League. The RSS existed as a Hindu militant party which stood for the concept of Hindutva and opposed Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of a secular India, while Khaksars, a Muslim militant party led by Allama Mashriqi, opposed the creation of Pakistan. It was Nathuram Godse, a member of the Hindu Mahasabha and an activist of RSS, who assassinated Mahatma Gandhi on 30 January 1948, whilst the Quaid, who advocated the Two-Nation Theory, survived an attempt on his life on 26 July 1943 by a Khaksar sympathizer.

In July 1942, the Quaid in an interview to American Press International, stated in reply to a question that “We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of values and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and traditions, aptitudes and ambitions, in short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life. By all cannons of international law, we are a nation”.

A nation does not become Islamic by merely calling itself an Islamic State or Medina Welfare State. It is equality of all men before laws in existence and basic mandatory functions which the State must perform and enforce strict regulatory controls, to protect life and property of all citizens, invest in promoting human resource development, provide them basic necessities of life and so on, which qualifies a nation to be equated with the Medina Welfare State concept. There is no concept of monarchy or dictatorship in Islam because it emphasizes the sole sovereignty of Almighty Allah SWT. The closest concept to the Islamic system of governance is the democratic form of government by representatives chosen through free and fair elections, who are answerable to people, and in which public office holders do not enjoy any immunity for transgressions of law. Adoption in letter and spirit sense of values and morals that the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him) stressed upon and practiced in his lifetime and justice from exploitation and abuse, qualify a nation to be equated with the Medina Welfare State concept. A country, where despit laws in existence, state and private land can be illegally occupied by powerful Land Mafias is a state that cannot claim to be Islamic. Nor if, instead of providing welfare and subsidized housing to the most deprived, the government lavishly showers multiple plots, grants waivers to paid servants of state and the super-rich, with loopholes built in to facilitate transfer of wealth to foreign countries whilst the Pakistani state is on the verge of bankruptcy.

The British Raj ruled India for almost two hundred years, with connivance of natives, whose loyalty they bought with land deeds and titles, solely at the pleasure of HM government. The soldiers who fired and brutally killed unarmed innocent citizens at Jallianwala Bagh in 1919 were natives who pulled the trigger when ordered by British commanding officers. It is in this background that the Quaid elaborated on 11 August 1947 to the first Constituent Assembly to draft a constitution on which foundations of a modern democratic welfare state was to be built.

Almost 71 years ago the Quaid, while addressing the Staff College Quetta on 14 June 1948, expressed his alarm at the casual attitude of “one or two very high ranking officers” and warned them to be aware of implications of their oath to Pakistan. He reminded them they “owe allegiance to the Constitution” and that “executive authority flows from the Head of the Government, who is the GG/PM and, therefore any command or orders that may come to you cannot come without the sanction of the Executive Head. That is the legal opinion”.

It is unfortunate that after his death those who were at helm moved away from his vision and the modern democratic welfare state became a dream not realized. While the Quaid emphasized that “the Defense Forces are the most vital of all Pakistan services” as “custodians of the life, property and honor of the people of Pakistan”, they had no role in running the affairs of the state, nor any involvement in politics.

Pakistan should have had a constitution by 1949-50 and become a republic. There would have been no role for Maj Gen Sikandar Mirza as Interior Minister, nor could Gen Ayub Khan been Defence Minister while in uniform, indulging in intrigues to derail the democratic process  The Kashmir issue would have been resolved either in 1948 or in 1962 when the Chinese advised Pakistan to capture it while the whole Indian Army was stationed on the Sino Indian border. Instead the military dictator in his wisdom chose to listen to the US President and British PM and let this opportunity pass.