If Quaid-e-Azam was with us today…

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Javeria Waheed

Today marks a proud occasion for all Pakistanis. It’s been 70 years since we gained independence, and Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s rousing message of good governance, tolerance, and racial harmony to millions of supporters of the two-nation theory was delivered. Seven decades later, as thousands of men, women and children gather on the streets to commemorate this immense chapter in the freedom movement, it pains me to say that our Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah would have been despondent about the way things are today. I can’t help but wonder what he would have said in response to the political upbringing of his country that lost its mentor a year after its birth.
With the help of political archives and a robust imagination I would venture to say that were Quaid-e-Azam still with us his address to the nation would be as follows:
I am glad that I am afforded an opportunity to speak to you directly through advanced mediums; these excellent facilities have enabled me to voice my views that will reach you directly. It is the first time I believe that I will address the new generation on current political matters. August 14, 1947 is a historic date embedded in my soul, and I am delighted to witness the celebrations of independence pulsating throughout the country. Echoes of the slogan ‘Pakistan Zindabad’ can be heard over the crashing waves on the Karachi shore, through the mountain ranges of Khyber, around the valley of Bolan, and across the agricultural fields of Punjab. It warms my heart to see the Pakistani flag hoisted upon houses and fluttering across streets, and even vehicles on roads are decorated in green and white. Patriotic songs emit vibrations across cities as their volume pierces the air, while my energetic young friends dance with pride to the tunes. And of course, the twinkle of joy in the eyes of children is a priceless achievement. But before you cheer for the years since we shook off our colonial oppressors, you may want to ask yourself: is there much to celebrate other than independence?
My young friends, I do not wish to dampen your enthusiasm, but I feel obligated to intervene and redirect you on the right path since it is evident you have lost your way. Let me tell you as one who has always had affection for you, and who has strived to serve you faithfully that I am fearful of where my legacy is heading. You are making the greatest mistake by allowing yourselves to be exploited by the mainstream political parties. Your primary occupation should be — in fairness to yourself, in fairness to your parents, in fairness to the state — to devote your attention to your studies, so that we can breed generations of intelligent, capable and skilled Pakistanis. Unfortunately, I see you have been denied the essential commodities, which have caused starvation, poverty, frustration and even death. Times have certainly changed; in modern politics those who wear the crowns are the benign centre of an empire, and the elected parliament is the malevolent source of tyranny. Although I may not have known the ultimate shape of the constitution 70 years ago, what I was certain about was that my country would be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam. Therefore, I am staggered by the historical and current state of democracy in Pakistan. It has compelled me to question whether my people value and cherish this country and what it stands for, and do they truly understand how blessed they are?
Let me ask those of you who have enjoyed powerful positions some pungent questions. Have you been able to guard the physical and ideological boundaries of Pakistan? Have you followed the principles of unity, faith, and discipline? Have you been democratically, fairly and freely elected? Are you discharging your duties honestly, and in the best interest of Pakistan? Has your judiciary remained impartial and independent? Has the civil bureaucracy and army establishment followed my advice to refuse illegal orders from their superiors? Have you honoured the promise I made for equal citizenship three days before independence? Are you living in peace and harmony? Do you feel safe and secure in your homeland?
Sadly, I know the answer to all my questions is no. You have apparently forgotten the bloodshed, the grief of rape victims, the looming terror. The efforts of the brave-hearted that slashed the enemy’s desire to watch the freedom fighters wriggle like worms on a hook, did they struggle and die in vain? Those activists did not let me down and nor I them; trust was not breached, and all that was preached was practised and delivered. I led my people from the front; I chose my words wisely during my address to my countrymen; I never made hollow and overambitious promises.
I spoke the truth, and my countrymen never doubted me. Why cannot the same be said about the successive leaders? I always said corruption was a curse in India amongst Muslims, and especially the ruling elite. But it is rampant in our current institutions led by individuals sitting behind their glossy desks, those who have the audacity to hang my portrait above their heads and shamelessly carry on about their vile business. Had such people any respect for me, they would have done the honourable thing and worked dutifully.
You need to mend your ways, as plenty of damage has already been done. I fear the leaders are testing the threshold of this country’s patience. You are going through an existential crisis on an economic front; do you have any idea how much you have borrowed? I get very perturbed when I see financial wizards shamelessly claim their good governance because all I see is an underdeveloped country with rich leaders.
The fragile economic state and rash political decisions have invited terrorism to your doorstep. You will not be able to protect your country if civil and military institutions continue a fight for supremacy of power instead of fighting terrorists with zeal. The enemy is bound to take advantage of the permanent trust deficit between the immature civilian leadership and the impatient army establishment. You must understand that deliverance to the people establishes supremacy and not long-holding power of any kind.
Your political divide and selfish motives to either gain power or remain in power made you lose East Pakistan; I urge you to safeguard what you are left with. On that note, I wish you all the very best. I have pinned all my hope on my young friends, and I am confident that they have the ability to deliver. They have the potential and talent to do so. I truly believe God helps those who help themselves.