Saturday September 23, 2023

Jinnah’s vision

August 15, 2022

Father of the nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah not only won a separate homeland for Muslims living in the Subcontinent but also identified the issues that confronted the new state and needed to be addressed on a priority basis.

He remained focused on identifying how Pakistan could be made happier and more prosperous. In his address to 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 citizens were fully protected.

He observed that bribery and corruption were poison and should be put down with an iron hand. He also identified black-marketing, nepotism and jobbery as the other ills afflicting society, which had to be eliminated.

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 even after more than seven decades of independence, we as a nation have failed to tread on the path envisioned by the founder of Pakistan and implement the priorities outlined by him. All the ills identified by him have made deep inroads into our social fibre, and we have taken a detour from the path envisioned by him to put Pakistan on the road to prosperity. Our past civilian and military rulers have largely worked to perpetuate the archaic colonial system of governance with inbuilt avenues of corruption and entitlement.

Their political machinations have promoted an elitist culture in the country, leaving the majority in abject poverty. This has not only hindered the socio-economic development of the country but also given rise to fissiparous tendencies and caused the 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 the crossroads. Our survival as a respectable and vibrant nation hinges on path correction on a priority basis, which could be done by rediscovering our national ethos and the way we were supposed to follow in regard to the consolidation of gains of independence and economic prosperity.

It is rightly said that an island of affluence cannot exist in the oceans of poverty. Poverty alleviation is the way forward, as prescribed by the father of the nation. Our great friend China owes its phenomenal economic progress and the consequent elimination of poverty to the dynamic and visionary leadership of Deng Xiaoping and the serving president, Xi Jinping. Lifting 100 million people out of poverty is an unmatched phenomenon in world history. No growth model in the world can compete with the Chinese model.

Pakistan has been ruled by self-seeking politicians and military dictators whose top priority was to orchestrate longevity of their tenures. They never cared about the people. Pakistan has endured innumerable tragedies, including the dismemberment of the country. But its rulers have refused to learn from the past follies.

The present confrontation and political polarization in the country is pushing the country towards the edge. There are men on both sides of the aisle who are the 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.

This will require breaking the hold of the elite class on political power. It 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 the hold of the elite on political power. A switch to proportional representation under which people vote for parties instead of individual candidates, will effectively eliminate the role of electables in horse trading and destabilization of governments.

Such change will also eliminate manipulative power of non-democratic forces in making and breaking governments. Drastic changes in the system of dispensation of justice are also needed. This is possible only when 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 wellbeing of the people. While one can take inspiration from the philosophy and growth model of another country, it cannot be implemented effectively in Pakistan. We will have to draft our own growth model tuned to our national ethos and culture. It is a daunting task in view of the permeating situation, but nothing is impossible if we have the will.

Perhaps the first step can be letting bygones be bygones to enlist the cooperation of all political forces, which undoubtedly have support among the people. 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: