The story of Pak­istan

The Pak Banker - - 4EDITORIAL - Shamshad Ah­mad

IT was in­deed with a sense of supreme sat­is­fac­tion at the ful­fil­ment of his mis­sion that Quaid-e-Azam told the na­tion in his last mes­sage on Au­gust 14, 1948: "The foun­da­tions of your state have been laid and it is now for you to build and build as quickly and as well as you can".

The Quaid did not live long to per­son­ally steer Pak­istan to be what he thought and as­pired would be "one of the great­est na­tions of the world." Un­for­tu­nately, Quaid-e-Azam did not get to know us well.

Those of us who be­long to the first gen­er­a­tion that saw and ex­pe­ri­enced the for­ma­tive phase of Pak­istan and its cre­ation as a dream of its found­ing fathers are in­deed dis­com­fited at the thought of what Quaid-e-Azam had en­vi­sioned this coun­try to be and where we ac­tu­ally stand to­day as a na­tion and as a state. The story of Quaid's Pak­istan is the story of a so­ci­ety that has been go­ing round and round in aim­less cir­cles for the last 68 years. Ab­sence of gen­uine democ­racy, rule of law and good gov­er­nance is its con­tin­u­ing hall­mark.

Had the Fa­ther of the Na­tion lived longer, he would have only been em­bar­rassed to see how mis­er­ably we as a na­tion and our suc­ces­sive lead­ers, both civil­ian and non-civil­ian, have failed to live up to his vi­sion of Pak­istan, and to pro­tect and pre­serve our na­tional unity, sovereignty and ter­ri­to­rial in­tegrity. On our part, we are not even ashamed of what we have done to his Pak­istan. On this in­de­pen­dence an­niver­sary, we surely need to look back and do some soul-search­ing.

Pak­istan's cre­ation was, no doubt, the finest hour of our history. Our peo­ple saw in it the prom­ise of long-cher­ished free­dom, democ­racy and pros­per­ity. The vi­sion of a demo­cratic and pro­gres­sive Pak­istan was un­am­bigu­ously ar­tic­u­lated in a res­o­lu­tion adopted at the first meet­ing of the Coun­cil of the Pak­istan Mus­lim League in De­cem­ber 1947, when it pledged "to work for an ideal demo­cratic state based on so­cial jus­tice, as an upholder of hu­man free­dom and world peace, in which all cit­i­zens will en­joy equal rights and be free from fear, want and ig­no­rance."

Within the first year of our in­de­pen­dence, which woe­fully hap­pened to be the last of his life, Quaid-e-Azam had pre­sciently fore­seen the com­ing events. He was dis­il­lu­sioned with the scarcity of cal­i­bre and char­ac­ter in the coun­try's po­lit­i­cal hi­er­ar­chy which was no more than a bunch of self-serv­ing, feu­dal­ist and op­por­tunis­tic elit­ist politi­cians who were to man­age the newly in­de­pen­dent Pak­istan. Po­lit­i­cal in­ep­ti­tude was writ large on the coun­try's hori­zon. Quaid's wor­ries were not un­war­ranted.

With the Quaid's early demise, Pak­istan was or­phaned in its in­fancy and lost the prom­ise of a healthy youth with acute sys­temic de­fi­cien­cies and nor­ma­tive per­ver­si­ties re­strict­ing its or­derly nat­u­ral growth. Af­ter the Quaid, it was left with­out any sense of di­rec­tion and in a state of po­lit­i­cal chaos and con­fu­sion. In his ad­dress to Pak­istan's first Con­stituent Assem­bly on 11 Au­gust, 1947, the Quaid re­minded the leg­is­la­tors of their "oner­ous re­spon­si­bil­ity" of fram­ing the fu­ture con­sti­tu­tion of Pak­istan and func­tion­ing as a full and com­plete sov­er­eign body like a fed­eral leg­is­la­ture in any par­lia­men­tary sys­tem.

It took our politi­cians nine years and sev­eral gov­ern­ments to frame our first con­sti­tu­tion in 1956 which was ab­ro­gated in less than three years. Since then, we have had two con­sti­tu­tions, one pro­mul­gated by a field mar­shal pres­i­dent in 1962, and the other adopted by an 'elected' group of peo­ple who had no con­sti­tu­tion-mak­ing man­date and were in fact re­spon­si­ble for cre­at­ing a par­lia­men­tary grid­lock lead­ing to the breakup of the coun­try in 1971. The flawed 1973 con­sti­tu­tion they au­thored has since been amended twenty times, leav­ing very lit­tle of the orig­i­nal text in its essence. It is a dif­fer­ent con­sti­tu­tion al­to­gether.

In­stead of re­mov­ing our sys­temic weak­nesses and re­in­forc­ing the uni­fy­ing el­e­ments of our na­tion­hood, politi­cians have al­ways suc­cumbed to nar­row self-serv­ing temp­ta­tions. They re­jected the pop­u­lar will freely ex­pressed in the De­cem­ber 1970 elec­tions, and in­stead of ex­plor­ing po­lit­i­cal reme­dies to the re­sul­tant cri­sis, went along with a mil­i­tary so­lu­tion. The real Pak­istan dis­ap­peared with its tragic dis­mem­ber­ment. And yet, we learnt no les­son from our mis­takes. We are re­peat­ing the same mis­takes.

Our prob­lem is that the over­bear­ing feu­dal, tribal and now mon­eyed elit­ist power struc­ture in Pak­istan has been too deeply en­trenched to let any sys­temic change take place. Change doesn't suit the politi­cians. They make amend­ments in the con­sti­tu­tion for self­serv­ing rea­sons only. The main ca­su­al­ties of this have been the state in­sti­tu­tions and the process of na­tional in­te­gra­tion. The coun­try has still not been able to evolve a po­lit­i­cal sys­tem that re­sponds to the needs of an eth­ni­cally and lin­guis­ti­cally di­verse pop­u­la­tion.

On many oc­ca­sions Quaid-eAzam re­minded the peo­ple of Pak­istan of the im­por­tance of their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as cit­i­zens of Pak­istan. He re­garded the ideals of democ­racy, equal­ity, fra­ter­nity and brother­hood of man, rule of law, and hu­man rights as the essence of a coun­try's in­ner strength. The Quaid also gave us a roadmap of what he be­lieved were the big­gest chal­lenges for the coun­try's gov­ern­ment and law­mak­ers.

The fore­most duty of a gov­ern­ment, ac­cord­ing to him, was "to main­tain law and or­der and to pro­tect the life, prop­erty and re­li­gious be­liefs of its sub­jects". Alas, this roadmap re­mains an il­lu­sion to our in­com­pe­tent rulers who could nei­ther en­force law and or­der in the coun­try nor pro­tect the life, prop­erty and re­li­gious be­liefs of its peo­ple. There is no con­cept of public safety in the state other than the VIP cul­ture that pro­vides pro­tec­tion and safety to the priv­i­leged class only. Ig­nor­ing the Quaid's vi­sion for re­li­gious free­dom and com­mu­nal har­mony, we opted for in­tol­er­ance and fa­nati­cism that led us into sec­tar­ian vi­o­lence.

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