73rd death anniversary of the Great Quaid
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the man who changed the map of the world and whose light shines on Muslims of the sub-continent to this day, our great leader left us on 11th September 1948. He was a man who carried with him the immense responsibility of giving birth to a nation. A people who had been oppressed since the War of Independence in 1857. And this man decided to take on the mighty British empire, not through his sword but his voice, leadership and his pen. He also took on a hostile majority population of Hindus, who were committed to the marginalization, elimination and subjugation of the Muslims in the entire sub-continent. At this juncture, Quaid-e-Azam was a star amid chaos and darkness.
Pakistan came into being against impossible odds. Many predicted that the new nation would not be able to sustain itself and likened it to the birth of a malformed newborn. The situation was dire. The Quaid rose to the occasion like a beacon of light, and his followers paved the way through blood, violence, exile and death. Poverty and insufficiency were overcome with brotherhood, resolve and commitment. The Quaid put in his best, so much so, that his body could not keep up with the greatness of soul and the magnitude of his dedication. Writers and nationalists have always wondered the “what if” that the Quaid had lived longer and what kind of a Pakistan we would have had today. One fact is for sure that Pakistan and its citizens lost too much too early with the death of the Quaid.
Although limited time was available to the Quaid as Governor General, he laid down the direction for every Pakistani to be born. He abhorred violence and discord. He was an ardent believer in achieving his goals through rule of law. He advocated dialogue, equality and unity. His rationalistic approach achieved Pakistan and his logic can rescue us even today. Even when it sounds cliched, Pakistan as a nation still lacks the basic tenets taught by the Quaid, “Unity, Faith and Discipline”. It can be only be hoped that while our leaders gather at the Quaid’s Mausoleum in Karachi offering their prayers and respects, they must adhere and advocate the foundations laid by the Quaid for Muslims of the sub-continent. And from those foundations, a new Pakistan can emerge, more potent and purer than ever.
Pakistan was surrounded with grave dangers when it came into being and even in 2021, it is still surrounded by ominous challenges. India under the far-right extremist Modi remains as hostile as ever, Afghanistan lays in ruins after the fall of Kabul to the Taliban and the Americans have left a regional crisis in wake of their half-baked invasion and even more ill-planned departure. Pakistan found itself forced to join the American invasion in 2001 against the Taliban and now after 20 years has full circle while morally supporting the Taliban. During the American occupation of Afghanistan and their hand-picked Government under Karzai, the Indian Government was able to gain a hold in Kabul. The idea was to invest in the Afghan military infrastructure, industry and commerce in order to foster anti-Pakistan sentiments among the people of Afghanistan. The objective was somewhat achieved through American intervention and accepting the blame game that the Americans were unable to defeat the Taliban due to their support from the Pakistan border areas. While all these were brewing in Kabul, Pakistan adopted a noble stance. War is not the answer and negotiations are the only way to give a chance to long-lasting peace. The world could not understand that foreign-funded Governments and phoney leaders are not sustainable, indiscriminate war is not sustainable. After 20 years of pointless squalor, the version of the Pakistan Government has been accepted. Negotiations, acceptance and power of the people from within is the answer. 20 years of polarization by the Americans and the Indians was wiped within few weeks, even before the departure of the last American troops from Afghanistan. The people of Pakistan have always played their part in the progress and development of Afghanistan in the image of the creation of Pakistan as an Islamic welfare state. In the end, as always, the truth shall prevail and the foothold of anti-Pakistan sentiments in Afghanistan have been obliterated.
Quaid-e-Azam envisioned Pakistan to be among the strongest and influential countries. At the time, Pakistan was the largest Muslim nation of the world. Till the 1960s, Pakistan was among the rising stars of the region. The initiatives of the Great Quaid combined with the untiring efforts of the masses, propelled the country to be the pioneer of development and progress among the nations that had gained independence from colonialism. The tussle between military and civilian power circles disrupted that growth. Multiple military coups destroyed the dream that was Pakistan. Division, corruption, political victimization, violence, sectarianism and failure to co-operate derailed the nation for decades. But now the journey towards the original idea of Pakistan has begun.
Internally, Pakistan has begun the consolidation of its strengths and identification of its weaknesses, just like the Quaid reminded us. Different sectors of society are joining hands under one roof. The launching of megaprojects and small ones stands testimony. For the very first time, Pakistan has embarked on the mission to have one curriculum of education for all children regardless of their school being Urdu/English medium or a Madrassa. For the first time, Pakistan engineers and production houses have joined hands in exporting IT products including cellphones. Export growth is higher than ever before. Pakistan through combined efforts of Government and private civil society has launched the most successful campaigns of vaccinations against Covid-19, and Pakistan as a nation has performed better against the pandemic when compared to many developed countries. A remarkable feat on its own without a doubt. Technology adoption, IT awareness, mass media and consumption is on the rise where purchasing power is increasing. The construction sector is attracting higher investment from Overseas Pakistanis than ever before. Even though inflation is on the rise but only a few are aware that the inflation is due to a rise in consumption and economic activity and not negative economic indicators, economists usually refer to this as demand-push inflation which is a sign of economic recovery. The Quaid’s Pakistan is still in sight.
On the International front, Pakistan is once again at the helm of affairs and this time for the right reasons. Today, China considers Pakistan the most reliable and cornerstone ally in its quest for increasing dominance and growth in the region. CPEC and OBOR are changing the dynamics of Pakistan and its bilateral relations with neighbours. In the wake of Afghanistan, countries like Germany, Spain, UK and many others have thanked Pakistan for facilitating the evacuation of their citizens from Kabul. Even the World Bank and IMF chief appreciated Pakistan for its humanitarian efforts. A true calling for a nation created by the father of the Nation. There is hope and there are challenges. The Quaid’s Mausoleum in Karachi calls to every Pakistani man and woman to come together, reflect and then swear to live by the principles of Unity, Faith and Discipline, for it is the only way forward. . .
(The writer is chairman of Jinnah Rafi Foundation)