Pakistan Resolution adopted on 23 March, 1940 marked the culmination point of co-existence of Muslim and Hindus in a United India and the beginning of an epic movement for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent, which crystallized into reality within a short span of seven years under the indomitable leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He not only won freedom for the Muslims but also gave his vision about the path Pakistan had to traverse as a state and earn its rightful place in the comity of nations. He epitomized his vision in a Broadcast talk to the people of United States in February 1948 in these words “The constitution of Pakistan has yet to be framed. I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be of a democratic type embodying the essential principles of Islam. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of men, justice and fair play to everybody. In any case Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state, to be ruled by priests with divine mission. We have many non-Muslims, Hindus, Christians and Parsis but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan”.
In an interview with a foreign correspondent in 1945 he envisioned federal form of government and said, “The theory of Pakistan guarantees that federating units of the national government would have all the autonomy that you will find in the constitutions of USA, Canada and Australia. His slogan of “Unity, Faith and Discipline” and the famous words uttered by him “United We Stand, Divided We Fall” are the pillars on which he wanted to erect the edifice that he envisioned. He was very much aware of the fact that in a country with distinct cultural entities and regions, the only way Pakistan could move on the path towards its destiny successfully, was an impregnable unity among its people.
As is evident from the foregoing, he wanted to construct Pakistan as a progressive democratic country, deriving strength and inspiration from the lofty Islamic principles of brotherhood, equality and fraternity of man that form basic points of our religion, culture and civilization; a country where the federating units enjoyed complete autonomy and acted in unison to strengthen the federation. Pakistan Resolution, also unequivocally emphasized the point of making sure that the constitution of Pakistan guaranteed provincial autonomy and the protection of the religious, cultural, economic and political rights of the minorities.
But regrettably the treatise and the testament bequeathed by the Quaid and the leaders of the Pakistan movement failed to find expression in the scheme of things that followed independence. Pakistan unfortunately has a history of treachery and betrayal of the objectives of the creation of separate homeland. Immediately after independence and the death of the Quaid, the country was consigned to political squabbling and instability and it took nine years to have a constitution for the country and regrettably the dream to follow a democratic path was shattered by the imposition of martial law in 1958. Since then the country has witnessed four stints of martial laws which not only pummeled the constitution but also destroyed state institutions. The policies of the dictators gifted the country with the rise of terrorism and religious extremism. The political leadership also miserably failed to change the archaic colonial system of governance and instead perpetuated a culture of graft and entitlement to the detriment of the masses.
The consequences of the betrayal of the objectives of winning freedom and vision of the Quaid are that today Pakistan is likely to burst at its seams due to an existentialist threat posed by terrorism, religious extremism, armed insurgency in Balochistan and the diabolical situation in Karachi. The Quaid must be turning in his grave to see what we as a nation have done to Pakistan. Celebrating national days has two objectives i.e. expression of gratitude to the founding fathers, rejoicing at their achievements and reiterating adherence to the objectives of independence and pursuance of the cherished goals with unruffled commitment. But regrettably we have failed on both these counts. The celebrations of the Pakistan Day have become only a ritualistic exercise with nothing for the nation to rejoice at.
History is a witness to the fact adherence to the basic national goals and objectives of independence, are the only way nations can consolidate the gains of their independence and make a respectable niche for themselves in the comity of nations.
The revolutions and other unconventional methods which are usually an enraged reaction to the prevailing afflictions and injustices in any society are always disruptive in nature and bound to fail ultimately. Even if the intentions are noble, the means adopted to bring a change are of paramount importance. The change that we require and long for can come only through the continuation of the democratic process. The country can move forward provided the generals stop their meddling in matters of governance, abandon their inclinations for arms-twisting, relinquish their claim on the civilian turf that they have captured and show subservience to the elected representatives. Pakistanis’ will, exercised through elected representatives and democratic institutions needs to be respected under all circumstances.
At the same time the political leadership of the country also has to acknowledge the fact that the present system has failed to fulfill the national aspirations. The present democratic set-up despite its inadequacies must continue uninterrupted. Those who believe otherwise or are crying hoarse from every convenient roof top to see the back of the present rulers are not patriotic in their outlook. There are no two views about the existence of mind-boggling corruption in the country and the need to tackle this snow-balling cancer. However there are no quick-fix solutions available. We need a gradual change in the system of governance.
We have already seen some marked departures from our unenviable past. The government and the military establishment are on the same page in regards to fighting terrorism and religious extremism. Unlike the past regimes, the present government has initiated a decisive action against terrorists through Zarb-e-Azab and both the civilian and military government are determined to implement the National Action Plan designed to eradicate terrorism and religious extremism as well as restoring peace in Karachi and Balochistan at any cost. These efforts have produced some encouraging results. The PML(N) government has kept all the political forces in the loop in regards to crucial national decisions and also shown remarkable flexibility in accommodating viewpoints of other political forces and resolving contentious political disputes, as is indicated by the agreement reached between the government and the PTI on formation of Judicial Commission. The political forces have shown encouraging maturity by showing solidarity in defending democracy and parliament during the agitation of PTI and PAT. We still have a long way to go. The political entities must revisit their creeds of violence and criminality in their own and national interest. The entire nation needs to lend its unqualified support to initiatives of the government for getting rid of the debilitating challenges and rediscovering our cherished path, thus proving worthy trustees of the legacy of the founding father.