Muhammad Ali Jinnah followed a legal and constitutional approach in his struggle to create the state of Pakistan, with equal rights for all citizens, emphasising the protection of minorities, freedom of expression and constructive thought
Pakistan confronts problems in its internal as well as external relations. The domestic and foreign policy issues are interrelated and create pressures and conflicts, which often turn into crisis situations. Politics and governance are supposed to be the major instruments to maintain unity and peace, both internally and externally. Neighbours may be good or bad. It is essential to build bridges of cooperation for peace, security and prosperity in the region. This could become a reality through dedicated, able and willing leadership of the countries in the region.
Pakistan’s counter terrorism policy and action, built on civil-military cooperation, need effective support and cooperation of the people and institutions functioning under the constitution. Political parties have to demonstrate a great sense of responsibility to display tasteful behaviours, which could help reduce militancy and violence in all forms. For the sake of development and the welfare of the people, political leaders have to behave like leaders. I agree with Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan’s statement that election tribunals should silence certain political figures and that laws and regulations, such as the exit control list, will not be used for political purposes.
The relationship between the political elite and the electorate must be meaningful if the claims of democracy have to be upheld. The people make concerted efforts to elect their representatives on the basis of issues and definite election themes. These issues must be the focus of the implementation of policies. If elections are held simply to elevate a few individuals, they do not serve their purpose. If public representatives fail to perform, they need to be taken to task for wasting public funds and failing the electorate and the public trust. If legislative committees are allowed to function independently with national spirit, effective checks and balances can be applied to ensure accountability and performance.
Political parties and their leaders should make concerted efforts to shun the politics of hate and violence, especially when it comes to the ethnic divide, sectarianism and other forms of discrimination. The best approach is to follow the law and the procedures of the legal institutions. Those involved in criminal activities, like the killing of state functionaries, targeting the state institutions and acts of insurgency must be brought to justice in the public interest. The country’s economic, social and cultural future has been hijacked by criminals in Karachi and other productive centres in Pakistan.
Any policy paradigm for peace and security depends upon the top political leadership of the country. What we experienced in the past was a political vacuum and the attempts to fill the gaps hardly helped promote national objectives. All institutions have to play their own specific roles and address their interrelated roles. They have to adapt to cope with the expected roles. Outmoded structures fail to do so without the needed reorganisation. Pakistan’s armed forces are playing a vital role in countering terrorism and thus restoring peace for economic and social development. The Foreign Office (FO) has an important political and diplomatic role to play. It is because of the FO’s initiatives that Pakistan has a distinct status and position in the comity of nations and a prominent role in the United Nations Security Council, focused on international peace and security, counterterrorism and human rights.
There is a need for reconnecting and deliberate efforts to control the damage caused by indifference and apathy. This scenario has negatively impacted the positive environment that existed in the past for social cohesion, assimilation and social integration. A false pretender to virtue or piety, the hypocrite is the barrier to progress and development. The patriot’s challenge is do some good for the country. When the law is not law but sheer discrimination, the narrative is smoke and mirrors to distract the distressed. When the law is deprioritised and lawlessness prevails, the brink seems near. Enough is enough. Any more pushing might lead to a complete collapse. The merchants of death are on the rampage, whether the target is a church, mosque, or school. The essence of sustainable politics helps support the patriot.
Misperceptions, a lack of credibility of focal persons and institutions and desperation has driven people to a crossroads, where they come to express their anger and grievances. With the passage of time, the confusion is compounded and this scenario becomes more complex. Dharnas (sit-ins) could not deliver because the motive was not to help the people but to create disorder and destabilise Pakistan. There are voices from some quarters — from individuals sounding sincere and pure. They want Jinnah’s Pakistan — a welcome idea. But how do we go about achieving this objective?
Jinnah’s Pakistan would not be a theocracy or sanctuary for the crazy, extremist and devilish lot. Muhammad Ali Jinnah followed a legal and constitutional approach in his struggle to create the state of Pakistan, with equal rights for all citizens, emphasising the protection of minorities, freedom of expression and constructive thought. To visualise Jinnah’s Pakistan, one needs to understand what others thought of Jinnah as a magnificent human being and a towering political leader. Firm on his political and legal standing, Jinnah was opposed to violence in politics and violent ways in general. Those principles were unfortunately put aside soon after the death of our beloved leader, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. To lead Jinnah’s Pakistan, we need people in Pakistan’s politics and governance who follow Jinnah’s ideals and mission. We cannot come up with leaders of Jinnah’s status and stature. But our educational system and devoted professionals in the field can help reinforce what Jinnah had to deliver to the youth, starting with: “Work, work and work and never forget our motto unity, faith and discipline.”
I am sure that our academic institutions can go an extra mile to set up programmes for special studies on politics and governance, highlighting the pivotal role of Jinnah, which can be a guideline for capable individuals who wish to make politics and governance their careers. We need future politicians who have not only acquired the necessary knowledge, skills and attitudes, but are also equipped with Jinnah’s spirit of serving the people and their valued causes. Frustrated individuals prone to aggression and violence are not the right candidates for noble careers, as they would always be self-seeking and greedy, which can lead to many social ills. We need to find remedies for all social problems and related economic, infrastructural and functional shortfalls. We need to reconnect and recollect what we have lost.
The writer is a former director,
Jinnah’s Pakistan | Iftikhar Ahmad