Wednesday June 12, 2024

Whither Jinnah’s vision?

By Malik Muhammad Ashraf
December 26, 2022

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Quiad-e-Azam, not only won a separate homeland for the Muslims of the Subcontinent but also identified the issues that confronted the new state which needed to be addressed on a priority basis.

Addressing the constituent assembly on August 11, 1947 he said that the first duty of the state was to maintain law and order so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects were fully protected. He observed that bribery and corruption really were a poison and needed to be put down with an iron hand. He also identified black-marketing, nepotism and jobbery as other ills afflicting society.

With regard to putting Pakistan on the path of prosperity he said: “Now if we want to make this great state of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this state with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.”

It is unfortunate that after more than seven decades since the creation of Pakistan, we as a nation have failed to tread the path envisioned by the founder of Pakistan. All the ills identified by him have made deep inroads into the social fibre and we have taken a detour from the path envisioned by him to put Pakistan on the road to prosperity.

The political leaders as well as the military dictators who ruled the country have promoted an elitist culture. The people have never figured in their scheme of things. This has not only hindered the socio-economic development of the country but also given rise to fissiparous tendencies and caused emergence of a host of social fault lines, marring national integration and unity. The detour from the vision of the architect of Pakistan has brought the country at this cross-roads. Our survival as a respectable and vibrant nation hinges on path-correction on a priority basis by going back to the drawing board to rediscover our national ethos and the way we were supposed to follow in regards to consolidation of gains of independence and economic prosperity.

Pakistan has endured innumerable tragedies including dismemberment of the country. But its rulers refuse to learn from the past follies. The present confrontation and political polarization in the country is pushing it towards the edge of a precipice.

There are people on both sides of the aisle who are beneficiaries of the archaic colonial system of governance and have built fortunes thriving on the inbuilt avenues of corruption in the system. They have vested interests in the perpetuation of that system. The country needs a break from this unenviable situation by bringing systemic changes to remove the obstacles in pursuing pro-people policies.

That will require breaking the hold of the elite on political power. This can be done by switching over to the system of proportional representation. Most of our political woes are the outcome of the single constituency system which promotes power politics and perpetuates hold of the elitist classes on political power. The switch to proportional representation under which people vote for parties instead of individual candidates, effectively eliminates the role of the electables in horse trading and destabilization of the governments. The change will also eliminate the manipulative power of undemocratic forces in making and breaking governments as well as getting rid of power politics which has been the bane of our socio-economic development. Drastic changes in the dispensation of justice are also needed. This is possible only when the political forces abandon their self-seeking agendas and cooperate with each other in effecting the required changes in the system.

It should be remembered that development is always culture-bound. We will have to create a culture which is conducive to development and instrumental to promoting the well-being of the people. While one can take inspiration from the philosophy and growth model of another country, it cannot be implemented lock, stock and barrel in Pakistan. We will have to evolve our own growth-model, one tuned to our national ethos and culture.

Perhaps a beginning can be made by letting bygones be bygones and enlisting the cooperation of all the political forces. False egos must give way to a national outlook if a real change in the fortunes of the people and the country is desired.

The writer is a freelance contributor. He can be reached at: