Thursday July 18, 2024

Thoughts on independence

By Dr Ramesh Kumar Vankwani
August 19, 2022

Pakistanis celebrated the diamond jubilee of their beloved country on August 14 with great zeal and passion. While celebrating independence, we must think about what we have lost, and gained, in these 75 years. It is necessary to analyze past mistakes and formulate an action plan for the future.

At the time of independence, Pakistan consisted of two parts. East Pakistan (present-day Bangladesh), which was 1,000 miles away from us, had 55 per cent of the total population, but West Pakistan (now Pakistan) was dominant in state affairs and policymaking. The two parts finally separated in 1971.

In the five decades of separation from us, Bangladesh has moved far ahead in every aspect of life. The currency of Bangladesh (taka) is stronger than the Pakistani rupee. One US dollar is worth around 90 taka there. There was a time when heavy rains used to bring massive destruction there. Today, Bangladesh has controlled the ravages of floods by building dams and barrages.

In the first ten years since its creation, Pakistan faced so much political instability that the late Indian prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru made a snarky comment on how quickly a prime minister was replaced in Pakistan. In the last 75 years, not a single elected prime minister has been able to complete his/her full term.

In our national history, every government has claimed to achieve success by obtaining foreign loans to pass its time quite well. Every ruler tied the country to heavy chains of debt, but no one thought how to pay it back. This attitude has not only put our national sovereignty at stake, but we have also lost the ability to take decisions in the interest of the country.

It is a constitutional duty to conduct a census every 10 years, but we have failed to perform this procedure regularly. Bangladesh, however, ensures proper utilization of its resources by conducting regular census. Interestingly, Bangladesh’s population, which was higher than ours in 1947, is now less than Pakistan’s due to population control.

In the traditional politics of Pakistan, the PTI, under the leadership of Imran Khan, emerged as the political party that raised the slogan of change. During my first meeting with Imran Khan, I made it clear to him that in order to make the state of Madina, open amnesty should be announced to everyone, including political opponents. “The PTI should take special care of patriotic minorities.” I mentioned that prisoners of the Battle of Badr were offered freedom in return of educating Muslim children. After the conquest of Makkah, the Holy Prophet (pbuh) forgave even the worst enemies.

I also highlighted the example of the great leader of modern history, Nelson Mandela, who did not lose his patience against peaceful struggle and declared amnesty after coming to power. In order to take Pakistan forward, I presented my viewpoint before then PM Imran Khan that the PTI should also follow the same path by demonstrating great values. Alas, the tenure of the PTI did not prove to be a good symbol for Pakistan, and the politics of backbiting, accusations and slander flourished. However, I am still hopeful for a bright future for Pakistan.

On the occasion of Pakistan’s diamond jubilee, all politicians should take a pledge beyond their political party affiliation to serve the country by adopting the vision of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. We should not compromise on truth, justice and principles under any circumstances; we should sacrifice our ego for the best interest of the country and the nation.

We need to review our 75-year history and think whether we want to see a debt-ridden Pakistan or an economically strong Pakistan on the 100th birth anniversary to be celebrated 25 years from now. It is in the best interest of our beloved country that all political parties keep the best interest of Pakistan on top priority and join hands to strengthen the national economy.

The writer is a member of the National Assembly and patron-in-chief of the Pakistan Hindu Council.

He tweets @RVankwani