The 136th birth anniversary of Quaid-i-Azan Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Father of the nation, was observed on December 25 with great fervour and renewal of the pledge to follow in his footsteps. One wonders whether on this day any of the Pakistani leaders today had taken the vow to serve the people and the country the Quaid has given us. The media does its best to recall the life, struggle and achievements of the man who lived, worked hard and left behind Pakistan, urging the people to stand united as one nation. “We want freedom and liberty.” These five words in his statement to the ‘Manchester Guardian’ meant that the Quaid wanted freedom and independence not of the subcontinent only but also of other countries of Asia and Africa from the colonial powers.

He backed Indonesia in its fight for freedom. That’s why Indonesians and Pakistanis will never forget August 17 and 14 as their national days. It was on August 17, 1945, that following the Japanese surrender, Indonesians of the first rank Ahmed Soekarno and Dr Hatta proclaimed independence on behalf of their people. Two years later, on August 14, 1947, the Muslims of the subcontinent achieved their dream of independence under the Jinnah’s dynamic leadership.

The leading freedom fighters of Indonesia and Pakistan cherished the same ideals –liberty, equality and fraternity. Soekarno stressed national unity covering racial, religious and cultural variations; Jinnah advocated unity, first between Muslims and Hindus and then among Musalmans. One of the clear examples of the unity of thought, speech and action and the common heritage in terms of culture and faith is the similarity of the feelings of Pakistani and Indonesian leaders. Soekarno said “…and we’re one, our motto is Bhineka Tunggal Ika (Unity in Diversity).” Jinnah, who had given the call for unity on March 23, 1940, extended staunch support to the Indonesian cause of freedom and its fight for independence, sovereignty and recognition by the world.

A notable aspect of the Quaid’s advocacy for freedom was his clarion call in 1945 to back the Indonesian effort for Independence. It was responded whole-heartedly by 600 Muslim soldiers who deserted the colonial forces. In early 1947, when the military tribunal of the colonialists hearing the case at Singapore pronounced these soldiers as “traitors” and awarded them death sentence, Jinnah raised his voice in condemnation of the colonial atrocities and inhuman decisions. In the last days of August he ordered detention of Dutch planes at Karachi airport because they were carrying weapons to Jakarta to reinforce Dutch aggression against the Indonesian Republic under the so-called “Police Action” of July 21, 1947. The Quaid’s action emboldened the Indonesian freedom fighters and the subcontinent’s Muslim soldiers.

The subcontinent’s Muslim soldiers, in the battle during the infamous “Police Action”, joined the first battle by Indonesia, fought on all fronts so valiantly that the astounded enemy was defeated at Bandung, Medan, Kota Raja and Bukittingg with heavy casualties. A large number of these soldiers lost their legs while facing heavy bombardment of the Dutch army. The Dutch forces, in the hand-to-hand fight, could not bear the brunt of the gunnery of the soldiers. Thus, unceasingly, the war continued for four years. On December 19, 1948, the Dutch colonialists launched the last and most forceful aggression against the Republic of Indonesia, which they called the “Military Action.” That was called ‘Perang Kedua’ (the second battle). In this battle also, Pakistani soldiers helped the Indonesian forces face the enemy with unprecedented courage. It was in this battle that the number of Pakistani soldiers shrank to only a few dozen after suffering a heavy loss of life. Many who survived belonged to Jhelum, Gojar Khan and Rawalpindi – and one Mohammad Sadiq was awarded a certificate by (President) Soekarno during his visit to Karachi.

One could safely say that the link between the emerging states of Pakistan and Indonesia had been established by the efforts of the founders of the two republics during their struggle for freedom. The role of Pakistani soldiers as they fought alongside their Indonesian brothers against the colonial forces was exemplary and paved the way for the development of friendly political and socio-economic relations between the two countries. Our soldiers of the present generation, with their minds set on the Quaid’s mission of preserving the integrity of the state and its economy, are fighting militant extremists and terrorists who want to cause severe harm to Pakistan, to its economy, to its defence; in fact in every respect.

The writer is former editor of The Pakistan Times, Islamabad. Email: