S. TARIQ The Pakistani nation is currently being tested severely - tested for integrity, faith, courage, honesty, devotion to duty and responsibility - all qualities of national character that Muhammad Ali Jinnah, our Founding Father, held close to his heart and which were manifest in every waking moment of his official and private life. Regretfully, we as a nation appear to be failing this test. I have used the word nation with great deliberation as it is this collective entity that employs its ballot to throw up leadership from within itself; it is this collective entity which produces the government machinery that looks to the wants of the people and it is this collective entity that raises the country in international esteem through its deeds. With an apathy born from a sense of Oh whats the use fatality, we watch the ineptitude and insensitivity of our leaders towards the millions, who eke out their lives out of nothing - not even the basic necessities. We are witness to corruption, nepotism and jobbery that has permeated to the very core of our national psyche, conveniently forgetting that these were the very evils that our Founding Father had asked us to shun. We have forgotten the story when a very close relative of the Quaid was barred from ever entering the Governor Generals House, in Karachi, just because he had printed that relationship on his visiting card or the time when on arrival at a railway crossing and finding it closed, Jinnah stopped an ADC from getting the gate opened saying that the gate keeper was doing his duty. It is indeed a massive misfortune of our own making that the Pakistan of today is not the Pakistan of Jinnahs vision - for a process to shatter this vision was commenced immediately after the great mans demise. Our Founding Father saw Pakistan as a prosperous country at peace with itself and held in respect by the international community. He saw a leadership that was the fountain head of good governance, a bureaucracy that served the people and not themselves and above all a people who were honest, hard working, law abiding and free of racial, religious and ethnic prejudices. This was however not to be, as prosperity has become the handmaiden of a chosen few, while for the 'lesser citizens it remains a distant dream. The nation stands internally fragmented with ethnic and religious chasms, while the world looks upon it with suspicion, misgivings that even borders on contempt. The green passport that should have become a symbol of respect has become an excuse to humiliate Pakistanis travelling abroad. The national leadership and the state machinery is riddled with corruption, inefficiency and everything else that was anathema to Jinnah. And the people in their headlong desire to get rich and powerful have become worse than lemmings, willing to commit collective suicide for individual gains. Perhaps, the rot that we are part of would have stayed hidden as hitherto fore and conveniently ignored, had not providence unleashed the mighty flood upon us. This calamity comprehensively exposed the state of our leadership and the machinery that is paid, fed and coddled to bring good governance to the people. This in itself now presents the biggest threat to whatever remains of Jinnahs dream and unless something is done quickly and effectively, the summer of discontent might turn into a winter of uncontrollable and all enveloping rage. I know that while Quaid-i-Azam had an imposing personality, it was his voice and manner of speech that awed his listeners. Perhaps, we as a nation can still be retrieved from the pit that we have fallen into through the strength of that very voice. I know that whenever I find myself in a dark state of gloom, because of the events around me, I turn to my Quaids spoken word. His voice gives me strength and the determination to face all odds. Maybe the same voice will once again act as a tonic and motivate the Pakistani nation to say to itself: Let us rise and build Pakistan. Let us payback Jinnahs debt, which hangs upon us. Let us put together his shattered vision and fulfil our destiny. The writer is a freelance columnist.