Man is undoubtedly mortal, but the Quaid-i-Azam’s departure from the world such a short time after the establishment of Pakistan proved to be an irreparable loss for the nation. Though the political leaders he trained managed to conduct the affairs of the state fairly well, the large vacuum created by his death could not be, and has not been filled until now. The Quaid left us for good at the most critical juncture of our national life with multifarious problems staring us in the face. The situation had been aggravated by the rehabilitation of the hundreds and thousands of plundered and wounded refugees and by the refusal of India to hand over our share of economic and defence assets. Due to these and similar issues, the government could not focus on the task of constitution-making in the beginning. At long last, the 1956 constitution was framed, but the political conspiracies had reached their peak by then. Taking advantage of the situation, General Muhammad Ayub Khan with his own political ambitions, imposed the first martial law in the country. Thenceforward started an era of mischance and misfortune during which the seeds of the separation of East Pakistan were sown. One can now proclaim without being guilty of exaggeration, that the Quaid’s Pakistan was stripped of its democratic identity the moment the army came into power. The Quaid-i-Azam couldn’t even have imagined that the state of his own creation would one day be ruled over by the army.

The father of the nation believed in the supremacy of the Parliament. He was fully aware of the importance of the Pakistan Army and credited them with the status of the protectors of the honour and dignity of the nation. Seeing through the political ambitions of General Gracy, the first Commander-in-Chief of Pakistan and Muhammad Ayub Khan, deployed in East Pakistan as brigadier at the time, the Quaid-i-Azam ascertained the role of the army in Pakistan.

    Addressing the officers of the Staff College, Quetta on June 14, 1948, he exhorted them to understand the true spirit of their oath. He said,

“I am persuaded to say this, because during my talks with one or two very high-ranking officers, I discovered that they did not know the implications of the oath taken by the troops of Pakistan. Of course, an oath is only a matter of form; what is more important is the true spirit and heart. But it is an important form and I would like to take the opportunity of refreshing your memory by reading the prescribed oath to you.

    ‘I solemnly affirm, in the presence of Almighty God, that I owe allegiance to the Constitution of the Dominion of Pakistan and that I will, as in duty bound, honestly and faithfully serve in the Dominion of the Pakistan Forces and go within the terms of my enrolment wherever I may be ordered by air, land or sea, and that I will observe and obey all commands of any officer set over me.’”

Unfortunately, the capitalists, the feudalists and the civil and military bureaucracy dominated the country, which gave rise to all the evils that the Quaid-i-Azam had crusaded against in order to gain Pakistan. The frequent interruption and intrusion by the Army in the governments and politics derailed the country from the track of democracy, which resulted in the fall of East Pakistan. If the officers of the Pakistan Army had understood the true spirit of their oath, the nation would not have had to be confronted with such serious misfortune.

Alongside belief in the supremacy of the Parliament, the Quaid-i-Azam believed in the supremacy of the principle of equality. As such, the economic system of Pakistan was built on the basis of the immortal principles of Islam – the principles that enabled slaves to be enthroned. At a Muslim League session in April 1942, the Quaid-i-Azam sought to assure the poor that his heart had always been with them and for them, and that as time went by, they would come to realize more and more fully that he was their servant. He remarked that if he succeeded in raising their standard of living and improving their economic conditions, he would be overjoyed and would accept that he had been amply rewarded. They (the Quaid and the Muslims), demanded Pakistan and wanted to have a government of their own. With irony, he asked them what use was the government that couldn’t ensure the equality of manhood and failed to provide the poor with the necessities of life. To strive for the welfare and betterment of the poor was the goal of their struggle, he said.

Pakistan was not gained for being plundered by the rich, the capitalists, the feudalists and the landlords. The country came into being through the sacrifices of the poor. It was a country of the poor, and it was they who had the right to rule over it. It was thought that every Pakistani’s standard of living would be raised and differences between rich and poor would disappear altogether. The father of the nation had never fancied Pakistan would demean itself to such an extent that its rulers would pawn away its sovereignty and honour for their own interests under the garb of friendship with super powers, take the foreign lords’ dictation on the matters of utmost national importance, and try to find excuses to cover up the real purpose of their heinous crimes. The Quaid-i-Azam observed that Pakistan would never hesitate to come to the rescue of the oppressed and down-trodden nations of the world and provide them with its moral and material support. In his message to the nation and other Islamic states on the occasion of Eid-ul-Fitr on August 6, 1948, the Quaid-i-Azam remarked,

“The drama of power politics that is being staged in Palestine, Indonesia and Kashmir should serve as an eye opener to us. It is only by putting up a united front that we can make our voice felt in the counsels of the world.”

And yet, to this day, the inhuman treatment of the people of occupied Kashmir is a matter of routine with the Indian army. The occupying army has now started using rape as a weapon. Furthermore, our neighboring state is attempting to weaken Pakistan by carrying out a well thought-out plan in violation of the Indus Waters Treaty that will turn Pakistan into a desert by building more than 62 dams and water reservoirs on the rivers falling under our share as per the treaty. As is obvious, there are more ways than one to fight existential wars and India is well ahead of us in the game.

The only way to vindicate ourselves in the Quaid-i-Azam’s eyes is to devote all our energies to transform Pakistan into an Islamic, welfare, democratic and parliamentary state precisely in conformity with his aspirations. If providence had granted him life for a few more years, we might not have had to face the problems we are faced with now. In his life, the civil and military bureaucracy would not have dared to interfere in the democratic institutions and political system and nor would undue delay have been made in the compilation of the constitution. As he was a symbol of unity and solidarity, the gulf of differences among different strata of society in the country might not have appeared. After the tragic death of the Quaid-i-Azam, his successor Liaquat Ali Khan was also assassinated, and the Muslim League fell victim to internal division. We must thank God for granting us a mediocre democracy and an elected Parliament. The elected representatives of the people are trying to pull the country out of the ever-worsening crisis created by the defective policies of the era of dictatorship. The only way out is to adopt the virtues of faith, unity and discipline and make Pakistan a true picture of the Quaid-i-Azam’s teachings.

The writer is Editor-in-Chief, The Nation