special-report

The Quaid’s Vision

By: Pervez Musharraf
Published: August 1, 2017
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“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. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.” – Stanley Wolpert

August 14, 1947 will forever remain etched in the mind of every Pakistani as a day of pride and nostalgia. On this day, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave us a beautiful homeland – Pakistan. Together with this homeland, within the barely one year that he lived in his independent Pakistan, he gave us a grand vision for the future. A vision that is conceptually so holistic that any Pakistani leader who aims at successful governance just has to follow its guidelines.

In fact I believe every Prime Minister of Pakistan, if he is true to the Quaid, ought to give an account of himself and his governance at the Quaid’s Mausoleum on every 14th of August. Let the spirit of the Quaid live on and see for itself how much we are adhering to his vision.

I had myself made such a commitment, and for three consecutive years, I submitted myself at the Mausoleum on every 25th December (the Quaid’s birthday) in front of a sizable gathering of intelligentsia and notables. I showed the people of Pakistan, under the shadow of the Quaid, what I was doing or not doing for our Pakistan.

I ask all those who consider themselves the sole custodians of Islam: can there be a better Muslim than the Quaid who created this great citadel of Islam – Pakistan?

Peace with all nations, upholding the principles of the UN Charter was the bedrock of Pakistan’s foreign policy as seen by the Quaid.

“Our foreign policy is one of friendliness and goodwill towards all the nations of the world. We do not cherish aggressive designs against any country.” This was said in the Quaid’s broadcast to the United States of America in February 1948 after he had already made a peace overture to India during a press conference in New Delhi on July 14, 1947.

“I sincerely hope that relations between India and Pakistan will be friendly and cordial. We have a great deal to do . . . and I think that we can be of use to each other and to the world.”

Unfortunately this was not to be. While we coexist with the world quite amicably, India has always posed an existential threat to us and maintained a confrontational, domineering attitude towards Pakistan. This has necessitated maintaining a strong defensive deterrence level of force at both the conventional and unconventional levels. We still desire peace with India through resolution of all outstanding disputes. But peace with sovereign equality and maintaining our honour and dignity.

While speaking during a broadcast to the people of the US in February 1948, the Quaid-e-Azam said:

“I do not know what the ultimate shape of this constitution is going to be, but I am sure that it will be a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam . . .  Islam has taught us equality of men, justice and fair play to everybody . . .  in any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state – to be ruled by priests . . . we have many non-Muslims but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizen.”

I ask all those who consider themselves the sole custodians of Islam: can there be a better Muslim than the Quaid who created this great citadel of Islam – Pakistan?

Today, multifarious religious parties vying for political power contravene the Quaid’s thoughts. It is these very religious parties that are creating sectarian discord and general disharmony in society with their intolerant, rigid views on Islam.

Unchecked, mass proliferation of madrassahs and mosques following different schools of religious thoughts, daggers drawn with each other and generally encouraging dogmatic fundamentalism is the product of religious parties. Some of these madrassahs and mosques even harbor terrorists and encourage militancy within society.

We have undermined Islam to a level that people of the world associate it with illiteracy, backwardness, intolerance, obscurantism, militancy and terrorism

The Quaid believed in Pakistan as a welfare state, drawing inspiration from the tenets of true Islam with respect and protection for the individual, with equal rights for all men, women and children irrespective of their religious faith. What have we done to this vision? Leave aside tolerating other religions, we refuse to accommodate views of various sects within our own religion. We are killing each other for difference in ‘Fiqahs’ and ‘Maslaks’.

We have undermined Islam to a level that people of the world associate it with illiteracy, backwardness, intolerance, obscurantism, militancy and terrorism.

The vast majority of Pakistanis living in rural areas are conservative in religious thought. They are very religious but are not extremists. They believe in peeri mureedi and not militancy. They are poor and less educated.

With economic well-being and education, this mass of people can be converted towards moderation. On the other hand, if they are left to languish in poverty and illiteracy, they will lean towards fundamentalism and extremism. It is the responsibility of the government to focus correctly on this far-reaching reformation which would go a long way in denying space to emerging theocracy.

Unfortunately Pakistan’s political scene has become polarised into ethnic division. All political parties are ethnically oriented. The Pakistan Muslim League (N) is Punjab-oriented, the Pakistan Peoples Party is Sindh-biased, the Awami National Party is focused on Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is Mohajir-based, leaving the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) trying rather unsuccessfully to break ethnic biases. This weakens the federation of Pakistan.

Let us see what the Quaid had to say on the ills of provincialism. In a speech in Dacca on March 21, 1948, he said:

“So what is the use of saying we are Bengalis, or Sindhis or Pathans or Punjabis . . . Provincialism has been one of the curses . . . now I ask you to get rid of this provincialism because as long as you allow this poison to remain in the body politic of Pakistan, believe me you will never be a strong nation and you will never be able to achieve what I wish we could achieve.”

Again, in a speech at Islamia College, Peshawar on April 12, 1948, he repeated:

“You must learn to distinguish between your love for your province and your love and duty to the state as a whole . . . our duty to the state comes first, our duty to our province, to our district, to our town and to our village and ourselves comes next.”

Let us remember a verse from Iqbal’s poetry.

Fard qaim rabte Millat se hai – tanha kuchh nahin

        Mauj hai darya mein, bairoon e darya kuch nahin

What is making us so parochial? I personally feel that the unequal size of provinces, with Punjab accounting for 56 percent of the population of Pakistan, with the inequitable development of provinces, or regions within provinces, is what leads to inter and intra-provincial discord.

One of my biggest regrets is not creating new, smaller provinces in the country. This would have brought provincial harmony, improved delivery of governance to the people, strengthened the Federation and, most of all, removed inter-provincial disparities. Besides this, the glue that gels provinces together and strengthens nationalistic feeling is equitable socio-economic development. One can only hope that a new political force emerges with strong leadership and acceptability in all provinces to break the existing ethnic orientation.

One of my biggest regrets is not creating new, smaller provinces in the country

Women comprise half the population of Pakistan but unfortunately they are discriminated against. This denies us a major contribution to our socio-economic progress. The Quaid had this to say at the Muslim University, Aligarh, on March 10, 1944:

“No nation can rise to the height of glory unless women are side by side with you . . .  it is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of the houses as prisoners . . . Let us try to raise the status of our women according to our own Islamic ideas. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable conditions in which our women have to live. You should take your women along with you as comrades in every sphere of life, avoiding the corrupt practices of western society.”

I can proudly claim that my government empowered women politically, equated them with men in work and moderated discriminatory laws against them. The Quaid’s vision regarding women must be adopted in letter and spirit to ensure their complete emancipation.

Minorities were not ignored by the Quaid. In a press conference in New Delhi on July 14, 1947 he said:

“Minorities to whichever community they may belong will be safeguarded. Their religion or faith or belief will be secure. There will be no interference of any kind with their freedom of worship. . . They will be, in all respects, the citizens of Pakistan without any distinction of caste or creed.”

In a speech at Lahore on October 30, 1947 he further stated:

“The tenets of Islam enjoin on every Musalman to give protection to his neighbours and to the minorities regardless of caste or creed.”

I did my bit in this regard by empowering minorities politically through giving them a double advantage of a joint electorate system and reserved seats at every tier of government. The rampant misuse of the blasphemy law was considerably checked through administrative and legal interjection. Minorities certainly deserve the government’s full attention and protection.

The test of good governance is how it performs towards the people – the toiling, poor masses. The welfare of the people, I have always believed, is the prime responsibility of any leader or government. The Quaid had enjoined upon us in 1947:

“Those days have gone when the country was ruled by the bureaucracy. It is people’s government, responsible to the people. . . . Make the people feel that you are their servants and friends.”

While addressing the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 he said:

“If we want to make this great state of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the wellbeing of the people and especially of the masses and the poor.” 

On March 21, 1948, during a public meeting at Dacca he reiterated:

“The government can only have for its aim one objective – how to serve the people, how to devise ways and means for their welfare, for their betterment. What other objective can the government have?”

The welfare of the people has to be converted into implementation objectives. My government had converted this into employment generation, poverty alleviation, health, education and availability of basic necessities of life like water, electricity and gas. People became happy, their living standards improved, especially in the rural areas and we saw much improvement in law and order.

The Father of the Nation warned us of the greatest pitfall during his address to the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947. “One of the biggest curses from which the subcontinent is suffering is bribery and corruption. This really is a poison. We must put it down with an iron hand. Along with other things, has arrived the great evil of nepotism and jobbery. This evil must be crushed relentlessly. I want to make it clear that I will not tolerate any kind of jobbery or nepotism or any influence brought to bear on me.”

No doubt even now corruption and nepotism has eaten us up like termites from within. The country is in a debt trap, looted and plundered by its leaders and the elite, with future generations held to ransom.

A state of degeneration has been reached where earning and living on ill-gotten ‘Haram’ wealth is accepted by society and no more considered shameful. Let us root out corruption.

I especially appeal to the rich elite, who have enough and can do without more, that they should “Halal ki Kamaein aur Halal ki Khaein” (earn honestly and live honestly). Let society treat the corrupt with contempt and hound them wherever one sees them, so that the fear of God is put into them and they at least hide and feel ashamed instead of showing off their ill-gotten riches.

Merit has become the greatest victim of nepotism to the extent that it has caused despondency, disillusionment and hopelessness in deserving people with merit.

Today we have got to a point where incompetence and mediocrity reign supreme. If I was to identify the one ill afflicting our society which is the main cause of poor governance of the country, I would say, without a doubt, that it is corruption and nepotism.

As Pakistan turns 70 years old, and while we are remembering our Quaid-e-Azam, let us re-establish our links with his prophetic thoughts. Let us show allegiance to his ideals and follow them in letter and spirit because therein lies the essentials of a progressive, enlightened society. Let us resolve to lift the nation to the heights that it is capable of achieving.

Let us cast our thoughts back to the chaos and confusion of 1947. What did we face then? Despair and difficulties, our very survival questionable. Sustainability of Pakistan was doubtful. Coffers were empty and there were no finances to run the country. Governmental institutions were non-existent. Millions were homeless. Neighbour was not reconciled and was hostile. Nation’s defence was weak.

Yet, with faith in Allah and the will to succeed, we converted chaos into order and despair into confidence. We went from doubtful sustainability into unquestionable reality, from incohesive defence to a united and motivated force and from disorganised operations to institutionalised governance.

How did all this phenomenal transformation occur? A leader with unquestionable integrity, honour, dignity and honesty led, and the people rose to the occasion. We proved all doomsday pundits wrong. Pakistan has the capacity, strength and resilience – it just awaits us the people.

About the Author
Pervez Musharraf
Pervez Musharraf is Pakistan’s former president and Chief of Army Staff