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Jumaada-ath-Thaani 27, 1438





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Pakistan Standard Time 6:46 pm

   
 

Remembering the Founder



Dawn - December 25, 2000


In dark and uncertain times there is all the more reason to understand what the Quaid-i-Azam was all about, what he struggled for and what he wanted the country he helped create to be. One thing is for sure. If there had been no Jinnah it is hard to imagine what the struggle for preserving and protecting the Muslim identity of the subcontinent would have been. In the Congress there were many stalwarts; on our side of the divide only Jinnah who was more than a match for his opposite numbers. Indeed in some respects he had a surer appreciation of things than most of what the times called for. Gandhi espoused a politics couched in religious terms. Thereby he made a mass party of the Congress but in the process also gave a fillip to the spirit of communalism which lay at the heart of Muslim concerns about what it would be like to live in a Hindu-dominated India.

Jinnah was driven by a more modern and liberal vision of politics. He wanted safeguards for the Muslim population and when these were not forthcoming he raised the banner of a separate homeland for the Muslims. But in all this he took no refuge behind bigoted slogans. Contrary to the legends spread by Indian writers, the waters of pre-partition Indian politics were muddied by the Congress and not the Muslim League. It is another matter that we have been poor at writing history. Even so, as time passes the true stature of Jinnah rises above the clouds of partisan controversy while other historical figures - such as, for instance, Mountbatten - see themselves cut down to size.

What was Jinnah's vision of Pakistan? There should be no doubts on this score. He was clear in his mind that Pakistan was to be a democracy based on the rule of law, a country in which all citizens were to be equal regardless of caste and creed. Hatred, intolerance and bigotry had no place in his scheme of things. Nor, it must be stressed, authoritarianism. Pakistan's descent into dictatorship and religious intolerance - the first manifested in repeated bouts of military rule, the second in sectarian strife - is therefore all the more astonishing because there ought to have been no place for these things in Pakistan. Much of our history, however, is a betrayal of the Quaid's ideals. We have paid lip service to them but nothing more. Leaders, political and military, have alike failed Pakistan repeatedly. It is no surprise therefore if once again we stand at the crossroads, still trying to decide which turning to take.

But if the Quaid's example is to guide our way there should be no doubts on this score. Would the Quaid have countenanced the noises we hear about 'sham' and 'real' democracy? If a turning has to be taken it must be the one which leads to democracy, a democracy which answers to the real concerns of the masses and one in which the rich are not cosseted at the expense of the poor. True, democracy has had its problems. But then the answer to that is not to uproot democracy altogether but to nourish it further. There is no other alternative. After all, nowhere in the world has the plant of democracy sprouted all of a sudden. Even in the best soils it has taken time to mature. We should therefore not be disheartened. It is not beyond the ingenuity and indeed genius of the Pakistani people to surmount their present difficulties, provided they remain faithful to the Quaid's ideals. Otherwise they might keep wandering in the woods.

DISCLAIMER: The public material presented here is taken from various sources as it becomes available. It is presented without any bias to, or interpretation of, the contents whatsoever. We would be grateful for any help anyone can provide in obtaining other such public material of national importance to Pakistan in order to aid intellectual discourse and debate.

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PROF. STANLEY WOLPERT

USA

Such was the great dream and legacy of your Nation's Father. No wonder you continue to revere him as your Quaid-e-Azam, and to enshrine him in your hearts as well as in noble monuments of marble. But the greatest tribute to any man of such genius and inspired leadership, remember, is the do what he asked of you not simple to pay lip-service to his memory, but to activate his legacy by transforming yourselves, and daily labours and nation wide support and co-operation to help turn his Pakistan and yours into one of the greater Nation of the world!

QUAID-E-AZAM ZINDABAD!

PAKISTAN ZINDABAD!

A lecture by Stanley Wolpert, Professor of History, University of California, Los Angeles. Delivered at a seminar organized by the Institute of Regional Studies: March 22, 1998. Click for more - Please wait...

 
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