By Sardar T. Shahid
The 25th December is knocking at our doors. So, what glittering, sparkling, inspiring and shining present-pack we have wrapped up to jubilate the 144th birthday of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, we revere as Quaid-e-Azam (the great leader), the father of the nation-state of Pakistan? What stock of our national triumphs, as a nation, we are proudly carrying to the founding father of the nation-family of our homeland? Certainly, a lot to be proud of where we have spiraled up since September 11, 1948, the heartrending day baabaye-qom left us for the eternal abode. He would be watching us from the galaxy of eminent, illuminating, bold, visionary spirits; he being distinct one in that cluster of the fraternity of world leaders. Being a man of intelligence, wit, courage, humane brilliance and political vision, a man of principles, our founding father would evaluate our performance-gift with the guiding vision, cardinal principles and political and social ideals he professed for his sons & daughters of coming generations. What is our scorecard?
Let’s do some self-reflection.
It would broaden Quaid’s smiles to know how fervently Pakistan celebrates his birthday each year. He would recall stating his vision of Pakistan in Chittagong on March 26, 1948, and in Peshawar on April 12, 1948. His vision circumscribed a democratic state, an untheocratic one, which must reflect “the great ideals of human progress, liberty, equality, fraternity, and Islamic values of equality of manhood, fairplay, brotherhood and social justice…galvanizing not only (as) the state but also as a unified and strong nation... founded on patriotism, and not provincialism, religious and sectarian diversions, or racism”. He might ask how far we succeeded in manifesting his vision in the true sense. He in fact would desire to stand tall because of his nation amongst other leaders-galaxy up there boasting of theirs.
Hold on. Beware as we would stroll to Jinnah with our gift-pack; be warned that first thing he shall notice and be annoyed about our compliance of NCOC-promulgated COVID-SOPs. So, put on masks, keep the social distance, and sanitize your hands. He would not also like unnecessary people crowding up so stick to essentials. I say it because he would want us to be law-abiding citizens, compliant to the government, in all good faith, as they represent us. In a public gathering on February 14, 1948, he asserted that all Pakistanis ought to, “work honestly and sincerely, and be faithful and loyal to Pakistan Government…”
Quaid-e-Azam is going to be all-proud of his nation to have grown from around 33.7 Million in 1947 to 208 Million in 2020, making us the 5th largest in the world. He might ask about his 42 Million sons & daughters of East Pakistan; so, better have a good explanation for that – all those who chipped in their own fashion. The thing that may disturb him more would be our 154th ranking among 189 countries on the UN’s Human Development Index (HDI) – indicating where we are struggling still in health, education, and standards of living, pollution and climate. More unnerving would be comparing Pakistan with other South Asian countries. In UN HDI 2020, India ranks 131; Bangladesh 133rd; Sri Lanka 72nd; Maldives 95th; Nepal 142nd and Bhutan ranking 129. He would definitely remind us of his addresses to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan in Karachi on August 11, 1947, and Dhaka address on March 21, 1948. Words would echo to him that he asked governments to act “so that the life, property, and religious beliefs of its subjects (masses) are fully protected by the State…wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of people…the government can only have for its aim one objective – how to serve people, devise ways and means for their welfare and their betterment…”
Jinnah’s joys would be visible to see us as a nuclear power, 6th largest military of the world, 33rd largest area (despite losing East Pakistan), 4th largest irrigated land, 1st in the sports and surgical industry, 5th largest human capital. Sadly, his joys are likely to fade to see we are still struggling with necessities – education, food, housing and the health of his children in Pakistan. COVID-19 may be a pretext to round away as it is adding to the human predicament in the country. He may give a little credit to the government of handling it yet the overall status of his people would sadden him. Don’t let him know about Pakistan’s poverty statistics spelled by the Ministry of Planning & Development to be 29.5% translating as 55 Million people, which the UNDP and World Bank says rising to level of 40%. Also, do not boast of your Langar-Khana, Ehsaas, loan schemes and Panah-gaah etc. for two reasons. Firstly, he would dislike the nomenclature you chose which imply negative, dejected, undignified, and begging connotations for own people, rather for humans; secondly, he wanted his sons & daughters of the nation to be honourable, self-sufficient and proud Pakistanis contributing to the affairs of the state rather than making them too dependent and needy. Quaid would ask you to remember what he said during All Pakistan Educational Conference in Karachi on November 27, 1947, “…build up the character of our future generations which means highest sense of honour, integrity, and sense of responsibility,…fully qualified and equipped to play their part in…economic life… to do honour to Pakistan.” So, Quaid would be urged to advise to change the spirit and nomenclature of your otherwise commendable short-term initiatives; and focus on well-being and honourable living of Pakistani nation, exponentially improving HDI and lowering poverty levels until next 25th December.
Religious equality has been the hallmark of Quaid’s vision; so, it is important we tell him that we have been doing well in these areas. History reminds us that on 23 June 1947, the Hindu Unionist party was supported by 88 seats of the All India Congress; and All-India Muslim League also got 88 seats and it did not have enough Muslim majority territories in Punjab. So, it were the three deciding votes of the Christian politicians, Mr Dewan Bhadar, SP Singa, C E Gibbon and Choudhry Fazal Elahi, which realized the creation of West Punjab, Punjab of Pakistan. During a press conference in New Delhi on July 14, 1947, talking of Islamic brotherhood, he stressed, “Their religion of faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference… they will have their protection to their religion, faith, life and culture. They will be all citizens of Pakistan without any distinction…” While talking in the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, he stressed that one’s religion seizes to play when it comes to nationhood, “…You may belong to any religion or caste or creed – that has nothing to do with the business of the state… With this fundamental principle, we are all citizens and equal citizens of one state…” Let’s not marginalize any religious faction adding any religious dimension to the criterion of any state business. He would advise us to cease isolating non-Muslim Pakistanis with the use of the word “minority or Aqliyyat”, Christian community, Hindu community, or Sikh community; rather, it is apt to adopt an inclusive approach and call them as Pakistani Christians, or Pakistani Hindus or Pakistani Sikhs. Disallow such words as we have been thoughtful and banned using the words “disabled”, “physically handicapped”, and “mentally retarded” in official correspondence, to prevent violation of a person’s dignity, using “persons with disabilities” or “persons with different abilities.” Baabay-e-Qom would be happy to further applaud you. He has already liked the government taking up the case of the killing of 11 Hindus in India, and allowing Hindu temple in Islamabad.
Quaid-e-Azam was a candid and genuine advocate of gender equality and the role of Pakistani women in national affairs and development, which make 49% of the Pakistani population. Imagine if this half of the nation does not contribute to the socio-economic buildup of our nation. Quaid would be happy that to large extent his vision has manifested into affairs of the state. Today Pakistani women have excelled in every dimension of life, and he would want to be physically here to further encourage and appreciate them; but the state and government officials symbolize his presence here within us. Jinnah would advise us to capitalise on this direction of growth and want us to always remember his words he stated in Muslim University Union in Aligarh on March 10, 1944, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses…I do not mean that we should imitate the evils of western life…raise the status of our women according to our own Islamic ideas and standards…take your women along with you as comrades in every sphere…”
Much of the debate today is about the functions of bureaucracy and our Armed Forces, of whom we all are proud of. However, if we take this issue to him, the Quaid would reprimand us and question us that has not he chalked out his clear and cardinal principles for the role of both entities. Addressing civilian officers in Chittagong on March 25, 1948, he said, “Those days have gone when the country was ruled by the bureaucracy. It is people’s Government, responsible to the people more or less on democratic lines and parliamentary practices…make the people feel that you are their servants and friends.” He further clarified to bureaucrats, “You have to do your duty as servants; you are not concerned with this or that political party; that is not your business…..You do not belong to the ruling class; you belong to the servants.” For Armed Forces too, addressing at Army Command & Staff College Quetta on June 14, 1948, he directed Armed Forces to “owe allegiance to the Constitution and the Dominion of Pakistan and… honestly and faithfully serve.” At another occasion, addressing to the troops in Malir, on February 21, 1948, the Quaid further define role of our bold, valiant and professional Armed Forces, “Stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and the equality of manhood in your own native soil.” Thus, Quaid was very succinct, clear and candid that center and origin of power does lie in the people of Pakistan and their representatives; and not with bureaucrats or other servants of the state.
Looking above from the heavens, rallies, sit-ins, belittling, cheap slogans, and undignified personal attacks amongst the political parties would not be appearing and sounding well to the founding father. He would be certainly unhappy to see how political rivalries are being used to term fellow Pakistanis as traitors; and we amongst ourselves are stamping and maltreating each other, blaming, disparaging each other. It would certainly sadden him that despite travelling so ahead since 1947, we are seemingly failing to galvanize ourselves as a unified and strong nation, one nation. Our inability to resolve our political issues would give him pain. Let us not commit that undesirable act. Two wrongs do not make a right. Thus, a political party should not indulge in a debate of comparing its ills and wrongdoings with those of the other party, trying to prove to be a lesser evil rather a party. A party, especially one entrusted by the people of Pakistan in government, should evaluate it only and only with the ideals of Quaid-e-Azam, the Constitution of Pakistan and one’s own manifesto. Remember what he advised us, to both the treasury and opposition, to all provinces, all ethnicities. On June 15, 1948, talking at Quetta Municipality, he outlined the code of conduct for any government, “Representative governments and representative institutions… when people want to reduce them merely to channels of personal aggrandizement, they not only lose their value but earn and bad name. We must subject our actions to perpetual security and test them with the touchstone, not of personal or sectional interest, but of the good of the State.” To opposition, he advised during a broadcast on Radio Pakistan, in Dacca on March 28, 1948, “Grave political issues cannot be settled by the cult of the knife, or by gangsterism. There are parties and parties, but the difference between them cannot be resolved by attacks on Party leaders. Nor can political views by altered by the threats of violence.” Unity and harmony is needed besides all the elements of national power, we have been bestowed with. As our Quaid always professed, “In Pakistan lies our deliverance, defence and honour…In our solidarity, unity and discipline lie the strength, power and sanction.” Commit to this fundamental principle – be it Government, opposition. Treat each other as fellow Pakistanis and debate politically within democratic and social norms, for nothing but the good of state.
So, make a gift-pack wisely this year. And, we should aim to have a better one each succeeding year, truly glittering, sparkling, inspiring and shining. Do whatever it takes, as a government, as a bureaucrat, as a defender of the nation, as a student, as a jury, as a trader, as a Pakistani, in any form, to make Pakistan, as he envisioned. Follow his political ideals faith, unity and discipline, his values of social freedom, freeplay, fraternity, his cornerstone governance principles of social justice, welfare and equality founded on Islamic ideals, and the democratic creeds embedded in the Constitution of Pakistan. Continue our reverence and honour towards him as father of the nation-state of Pakistan. Let’s become one unified, strong, happy, congenial and progressive nation and walk with pride in the comity of nations. Truly walking faith, unity and discipline can make only one Pakistan, which must be purely Jinnah’s Pakistan – today, tomorrow and ever.
The writer, a security professional and a Ph.D. International Relations scholar at Bahria University, is a freelancer who analyses national and maritime security issues, foreign policy, and international diplomacy. He can be reached at [email protected]