Remembering Jinnah

Every year we celebrate December 25 as Quaid-e-Azam Day. This is the day when Pakistan’s founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, was born. At his birth anniversary’s celebrations, we hear the usual rhetoric from our politicians about Mr Jinnah’s vision and how they are trying to follow his path. But if truth be told, Pakistan is anything but what the Quaid wanted it to be. It is time to revisit his August 11, 1947 address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan. Mr Jinnah’s first observation was that “the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state”. None of our governments have been able to ensure the safety of the life, property and religious beliefs of its citizens. Not only was the independence movement hijacked by the religious right but during the bloody partition, we witnessed the massacre of Sikhs and Hindus on our side of the border. Most Hindu and Sikh families who had been living here for centuries opted to move to India. As if that was not enough, the Objectives Resolution in 1949 strengthened the right-wing forces. Declaring Pakistan an ‘Islamic Republic’ was in itself an antithesis of what Jinnah wanted his country to be.

Mr Jinnah said, “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed, that has nothing to do with the business of the state.” He obviously wanted a secular, democratic, tolerant and non-discriminatory Pakistan. Today, we are left with a moth-eaten country where black laws such as the Second Amendment, the Blasphemy Law and Hudood Ordinance rule the roost; where the mullahs can get away with murder and the rights of minorities are trampled upon every single day; where women are subjugated because of the patriarchal system; where the poor have no voice and the rich continue to exploit the masses; where terrorists roam free but the masses cannot get justice; and where the army has relegated the political class to the backburner.

It is time that the people of Pakistan stand up for their rights and demand that Jinnah’s vision be recovered. The only way this state can survive now is if we espouse the Quaid’s values.

(my editorial in Daily Times)

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