“Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Mohammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”
— Prof. Stanely Wolpert
All nations pay rich homage to their heroes to mark their outstanding services but for us, the services of the undisputed leader of the South Asian Muslims, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, have special significance. It was entirely due to his unswerving commitment, selfless services and dynamic leadership, supplemented by valuable sacrifices of the Muslims, that Pakistan emerged on the world map within an incredible period of only seven years after the historic Lahore Resolution which was passed by the All India Muslim League during its 27th annual session on 23rd March, 1940, in Lahore.
Quaid-i-Azam worked day and night and guided his people aright at every step, saved them from many a pitfall and led them to a victory, through his single-minded devotion to the cause of their freedom. What really motivated Quaid-i-Azam to struggle so resolutely for the just cause of the Muslims was his abiding concern for the political, social, cultural and economic future of the Muslims, who had reposed an absolute trust in his ability to deliver. The Quaid showed keen perception of the mass conscience and impulse as well as shrewd insight into political moves and diplomatic manoeuvres.
In the political annals of the South Asia, the Quaid towers above his contemporaries. He was a pillar of moral strength, an apotheosis of probity in public life, which he regarded as a trust never to be betrayed. He defied the insidious, wasting disease and continued to bend his declining energies to resolving the formidable problems confronting the fledgling state.
The Quaid had not only been a leading politician, legislator and lawyer but he was also a great man, who stood for humanism, the basic decencies of life and a socioeconomic pattern in which the masses would have a fair deal. Throughout his life, he held the cause of the Muslims dear to his heart and remained deeply concerned about their deplorable plight. He gathered them under one flag of the Muslim League and steered their ship in the rough seas of politics to the safe shore of independence. It is an undeniable truth that had the Muslims of India not have a leader of his stature, they would not have been able to throw away the yoke of slavery and would have remained the slaves of Hindus after the departure of the British.
Quaid’s vision of Pakistan was underpinned by Islamic values such as universal brotherhood and equality of man regardless of caste, creed or gender. He devoutly wished to see both Muslims and non-Muslims as equal partners in the progress and prosperity of Pakistan. He wanted the people to shun differences, intolerance, bigotry and obscurantism.
Quaid-i-Azam was practically a peace-loving man. He hated disturbances of communal nature. Peace was his motto and whatever he did, he did for peace and betterment of his countrymen. He was very fair and honest in his political dealings. He did not believe in lip service and his deeds matched his words. The Quaid displayed his greatness when before leaving Delhi for Karachi on 7th August with his sister Fatima Jinnah, he had wished Hindustan peace and prosperity, urging that past be buried and start afresh as two independent sovereign states of Hindustan and Pakistan.
His greatest strategic triumph was his successful handling of the situation that arose out of the British action in bypassing the Muslim League and installing the Hindu Congress in power at the Centre in 1946. This was contrary to all the assurances given to Muslim India in successive announcements of British policy in 1940, 1941, 1942 and even the latest assurance by the Cabinet Mission in 1946.
Even after the achievement of a separate homeland, he did not sit back but continued till his last breath, his untiring and unceasing work to strengthen and consolidate the country and making it one of the greatest nations of the world.
The Father of the Nation in his speeches, statements and messages to the nation on different occasions had been laying special stress on strictly maintaining discipline and unity for furthering the national cause. He wanted to build Pakistan through national self-discipline and regarded indiscipline as “more deadly than our external enemies,” which would spell ‘ruin for us’. The Quaid desired constructive efforts, selfless work, steadfast devotion to duty and wanted every Pakistani to vow to himself and be prepared to sacrifice his all, if necessary, in building up Pakistan as a castle of Islam and one of the greatest nations.
The Quaid wanted the constitution of Pakistan to be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam — equality, justice and fair play. He saw opposition’s role in democratic order as a bulwark against tyranny, saying an opposition party or parties are good corrective for any party, which is in power. At a public meeting in Dhaka on 21st March 1948, he said, “It is in your hands to put the Government in power or remove the Government from power, but you must not do it by mob methods. You have the power; you must learn the art to use it; you must try and understand the machinery.”
Addressing the Constituent Assembly on 11 August 1947, Quaid-i-Azam had emphasized, “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, especially the poor.”
The Quaid had desired that each one of us should realize the great ideals of human progress, social justice, equality and fraternity, which constitute the basic cause of the birth of Pakistan and also the limitless possibilities of evolving an ideal social structure of our State.
In a broadcast talk from Radio Pakistan, Dhaka, on 28th March 1948, Quaid-i-Azam stressed that “cohesion and solidarity amongst all citizens of the State are, from whatever part they may come, essential for its progress, nay for its very survival. Pakistan is an embodiment of the unity of the Muslim nation and so it must remain. That unity we, as true Muslims, must jealously guard and preserve. If we begin to think of ourselves as Bengalis Punjabis, Sindhis, etc., first and the Muslims and Pakistanis only incidentally, then Pakistan is bound to disintegrate.”
The Quaid emphasized that Pakistan was not an end in itself but rather a means to an end. He devoutly wished to make Pakistan “one of the greatest States in the world,” progressive, economically vibrant, and cherishing democratic ideals. He regarded it as a sacred duty to alleviate the poverty of the masses.
He had impressed upon the students that “our duty to the State often demands that we must be ready to submerge our individual or provincial interests unto the common cause for common good. Our duty to the State comes first; our duty to our province, our district, our town and to our village and ourselves comes next.”
In the past, the political leadership could not evolve a coherent and consensus-based political order and failed to create a sense of political participation and socioeconomic equity among various segments of population and regions.
Pakistan would not have experienced a total internal breakdown in 1971 and other political setbacks if the political leaders had worked toward building consensus on the operational norms of the political system by taking into account socioeconomic diversities and respected the principles of democracy, constitutionalism and the rule of law. They disregarded these norms, shied away from holding free and fair elections and failed to create a federal system based on equitable sharing of power and mutual accommodation.
In view of the geo-political situation, current wave of terrorism, regional crises, and machinations of internal and external anti-Pakistan elements against the national security, it is high time that we made united, determined and courageous endeavours and let all the state institutions, including the judiciary and the media, to play their due role for national prosperity and further strengthening its defence.
A nation needs constructive work, not confrontation, as it expects from the elected representatives to embark upon a realistic and welfare-oriented work to fulfil the commitments made before the elections as already vast time has been wasted in prolonged political wrangling. They aspire that all the State organs, including the government, the legislature and the judiciary as well as the media perform only their respective functions competently, credibly and compassionately for ensuring stability, peace, security and national development.
The government and the opposition benches are part of the democratic process and it is their joint responsibility to strengthen democratic institutions and work in unison for a prosperous and stronger Pakistan as envisioned by Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ai Jinnah. The people of Pakistan are experiencing the hard fact that their leaders even after nearly seven decades of the creation of Pakistan are still to achieve the goals of economic growth, provision of basic needs of life to them and removing ignorance and poverty from the country.
The political leadership and concerned forces must ensure that such a situation, which caused separation of Pakistan’s Eastern part on 16th December 1971, is not created and everybody, including minorities and other sections of our society are given their due rights. We have to strive hard and ceaselessly by strictly following the Quaid’s slogan ‘Unity, Faith, Discipline’ to make Pakistan a strong and dignified nation as envisioned by him.
We all, especially political leadership, must shun differences and unite for best national interest. Pakistan’s long-suffering people deserve a genuine politics that goes beyond slogans and securing personal interests. We need accountability and an end to corruption, which has greatly weakened our national economy and has made us dependent upon international financial institutions and states, which are subjecting us to different pressures for the attainment of their objectives.