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A thought for the Quaid

The News International Pakistan - December 25, 2008

On this day, each year, the man who founded Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, is paid tribute to - in special television programmes, newspaper supplements, in articles and in editorials such as this one. But it is unfortunate that it is, essentially, on just one day of the year that thoughts turn to the Quaid-e-Azam. Though, no doubt, as a sensitive, honest and moderate man, Jinnah would have been appalled to see the state of the country he created, there is much that can be done to better its plight by simply taking guidance from the thoughts and personal examples of Jinnah.

In the first place, it is obvious Jinnah abhorred extremism. There are many incidents and many speeches, including of course his much quoted address to the constituent assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947, to prove this. Muhammad Ali Jinnah would have been horrified to see how inaccurate his prediction, that divisions between Punjabis and Pathans, between Shias and Sunnis, between Muslims and non-Muslims, would 'vanish', has proved to be. His advice has clearly gone unheeded. Our leaders of the past, and also the present, must answer for this. In our bid to combat the violence that today threatens to destroy us, we should make more use of the Quaid-e-Azam's call for an end to all kinds of communalism. His words, his thoughts, have in the past been suppressed. Today they must be circulated as freely as possible; made accessible to every citizen. Muhammad Ali Jinnah rises above controversy. For this reason alone using his example can make a difference.

There are other contents too of that speech, made as Pakistan prepared to take a place on the map of the world, that have been ignored. Jinnah then, and on other occasions, referred also to nepotism and jobbery as a 'great evil', warning he would not countenance it. Today, as tales of 'favourite daughters' dominate the headlines, we should look back at the past and feel ashamed. There are other ways too in which we have let down Jinnah. As a politician and a professional, his personal integrity was undoubted. He despised corruption and bribery, describing it as a 'curse' or 'poison'. Historical accounts exist of how he refused to entertain parliamentarians at state expense, suggesting that they take tea at their own homes before attending meetings at his official residence. Such notions have no place in Pakistan today. Lavish expenditures from the exchequer are the norm; Mere words mean little. If we as citizens feel any kind of affinity for man we call the 'Quaid-e-Azam' or to the land he so tirelessly fought to establish, we must pay tribute to him through deeds. The tide of evil, militancy, incompetence and corruption that has swept over us must be turned back.

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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Not even his political enemies ever accused Jinnah of corruption or self-seeking. He could be bought by no one, and for no price. Nor was he in the least degree a weathercock swinging in the wind of popularity or changing his politics to suit the chances of the times. He was steadfast idealist as well as a man of scrupulous honour. The fact to be explained is that in the middle of life he supplanted one ideal by another and having embraced it clung to it with fanatic's grasp to the end of his life.

The Great Divide, pp.38-39
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