Quaid’s vision and perception of state
WE remember Quaid-i-Azam only on his birthday or his death anniversary, but fail to give effect to his ideals and perception of the state. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a great leader, brilliant statesman and a master strategist, who fought the case for Pakistan so well that he frustrated the designs of the British that wished to see the sub-continent united in one form or another till the last moment. He also made the Indian National Congress and Hindu majority believe that division of the sub-continent could save them from some bigger catastrophe. Of course, he had united the Muslims of the subcontinent and waged struggle for separate homeland for the Muslims to rid them of brute majority’s exploitation and repression. However, Quaid-i-Azam had declared in unequivocal terms that beneficiaries of jagirs, feudal lords and exploiters would have no place of privilege in an independent Pakistan.
In his presidential address at the All India Muslim League session at Delhi on 24th April 1943 he had outlined his vision about Pakistan: “I have visited villages; there are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilization? If that is the idea of Pakistan I would not have it.” It was unfortunate that Pakistan lost its great leaders soon after independence, before they had time to lay a solid constitutional foundation to establish and strengthen institutions. Quaid-i-Azam had envisioned Pakistan to be a modern progressive state, rooted in the eternal values of our religion and at the same time responsive to the imperatives of constant change. In his address before the Constituent Assembly on 11th August 1947, he had assured the people of Pakistan including minorities that their fundamental rights, liberties and freedom would be well-protected.
He declared: “You are free; you are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed as that has nothing to do with the business of the State”. He had also vowed to fight corruption, bribery, black marketing, nepotism and jobbery. In fact, it was well thought-out first policy statement in which he had given guidelines and the parameters within which Constitution of Pakistan was to be framed by the elected representatives of the people. Unfortunately, efforts were made to distort his speeches even during his lifetime, and the vested interest had tried to remove his 11th August 1947 speech delivered before the Constituent Assembly from the record. Some religious parties insist the Pakistan should be a theocratic state based on Shariah.
But the Quaid had made it absolutely clear that it was not going to be a theocratic state because he was aware of the fact that every sect would come out with its own interpretation of the Holy Qur’an and Sunnah. And the resultant conflicts and clashes between the sects could lead to bloodshed, as happened later. He had stated that people’s representatives would frame the Constitution adding that “we will seek guidance from the Holy Qur’an for establishing a just society”, but he had not even remotely hinted that Shariah would be enforced in Pakistan. Unfortunately, we lost Quaid-i-Azam too soon, feudalist politicians and those who had opposed Pakistan and Quaid-i-Azam assumed the role of champions for the cause of Islam. Anyhow, Pakistan has indeed all the ingredients to make it a modern welfare state, given the visionary leadership.
The question is where did we go wrong? Unfortunately, conglomerate of privileged few including feudals, British-trained bureaucracy and new-rich industrial robber barons devoid of political acumen and vision took over the State. Barring a few honourable exceptions, most of the leaders lacked political acumen, leadership qualities and sense of direction; thus they brought the country to the present pass. They continued with internecine conflicts and politics of power and pelf. On 14th August 1947, we got rid of the colonialism but fell a prey to neo-colonialism due to flawed policies of the various governments in the past. Instead of adopting a rational policy, Pakistan entered into defence pacts with the West. British-trained bureaucracy was instrumental in binding Pakistan in CENTO, SEATO and bilateral agreement with the United States. The meaninglessness of the military pacts with the West was witnessed by the nation during 1965 and 1971 wars with India.
During those wars, our so-called allies had stopped military as well as economic aid to Pakistan. Anyhow, Pakistan had to depend on the West for our development as well as defence needs, because our inept leadership failed to adopt economic policies that could have made Pakistan a self-reliant country. It was because of dependency syndrome that Pakistan was forced into becoming the camp-follower of the West, earning enmity of the other super power. It was also evident after 11th September 2001 events when Pakistan was coerced into joining the war on terror. To conclude, we quote words of Professor Akbar S Ahmed, a Cambridge scholar who wrote: “Islam gave the Muslims of India a sense of identity; dynasties such as the Mughals had given them territory; poets like Iqbal created in them a sense of destiny; Jinnah’s heroic stature can be understood from the fact that by leading the Pakistan Movement and creating the State of Pakistan, he gave them all three”.