Today is, indeed, the day to rejoice for having achieved independence; but it is also the day for introspection, self-accountability and evaluation as to how far we have been able to live up to the ideals set by the founding fathers. Pakistan, the beacon of hope for the Muslims of South Asia and beyond, came into being through great struggle waged by the Muslims of the sub-continent under the leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. As envisioned by the Quaid, Pakistan was to be a modern Islamic welfare state, where a free and independent people would enjoy equal rights without discrimination on the basis of religion, sect, ethnicity or gender. It should be borne in mind that Islam stands for a balanced material and spiritual progress of humanity, and there is no room in it for religious bigotry, obscurantism and hatred against followers of other religions.The people of Pakistan are proud inheritors of traditions of great sufis, saints and poets who fostered the message of peace and brotherhood over the centuries. But where did we go wrong? Unfortunately, Pakistan lost its Quaid and other founding fathers too soon, and conglomerate of privileged few devoid of political acumen and vision took over the state. Their myopic economic and foreign policies, bad governance, disregard for the aspirations of the people, failure to distribute benefits of growth equitably, led to disintegration of our motherland. Unfortunately, none appears to have learnt any lesson from the tragedy, as most leaders are treading the same beaten track; instead of ensuring socio-economic justice they continue with the policies of power and pelf. Today, efforts are being made to create confusion in the minds of people about the objective for a separate homeland for the Muslims. In fact, the issue was debated for decades during the struggle for independence; and founding fathers were absolutely clear in their minds as to the objectives of attaining an independent state for Muslims of the sub-continent. Historical evidence suggests that Quaid-i-Azam was a democrat; he therefore did not even think of imposing his will on people. When he was asked about the type of constitution Pakistan would have, he replied the people’s representative would frame the constitution. Unfortunately, leaders of the religious parties that had opposed Pakistan are now exploiting masses in the name of religion, and insist that everybody should accept their interpretation of Islam. On the other hand, militants insist on implementing their version of Islam.The Muslims of South Asia despised and rejected bigotry, intolerance, dogmatism and obscurantism. The Quaid was aware of the possible internecine conflicts between various sects, which could have endangered the stability and security of the country. That was the reason he had declared that Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state. Aside from the political parties, the religious parties failed to make their contribution towards transforming the society into an honest and God-fearing one and fostering the spirit of tolerance, love and brotherhood. The cumulative effect of their ineptness has brought the country to present pass. Today, terrorism is stalking the entire land; load shedding has adversely impacted the industry, and the reason for perennial fiscal deficit which does not allow adequate allocation for education and health facilities for the impoverished sections of society.Leading the people in their pursuit of political freedom, self-governance, economic independence, evolution of a vibrant society and progress in the fields of science and art, requires different category of leaders. Pakistan needs a type of leader that first believes in certain principles; he practices what he believes; he upholds those principles and is accepted as an exemplar for others. Such leadership reaches the hearts of the people and brings about psychological changes in their outlook towards life. It inspires them to unite with a view to transforming the society and changing the system for their social, material and spiritual well-being. In any case they are determined to convert a decadent and moribund society plagued by corruption, immorality, inertia, factionalism into a progressive, vibrant and dynamic organism brimming with vitality and creativity. Allama Iqbal had observed that there was need to reinterpret Islamic thought and assimilate its eternal principles to overcome centuries-old stagnation with a view to launching the nation on the path to revival and build a future worthy of its glorious past. He had dreamt of Pakistan, and his dream became a reality when the nation found a leader like Quaid-e-Azam. The redeeming feature is that despite the fact almost 35 per cent of people are living below the poverty line making it difficult for them to keep their bodies and souls together, they have not lost hope. Their spirit is alive and kicking, and their dream lives on. n