Every year, on 25th December, the people of Pakistan celebrate its founder’s birthday with much passion and enthusiasm. But, everyone has a personal version of Muhammad Ali Jinnah to admire. Some take inspiration from a religious Jinnah, who struggled for an Islamic, theocratic state. Others rejoice in the memory of a liberal Jinnah, whose vision of Pakistan was that of a country which would uphold secular ideals. The two segments have argued vigorously, quoted Mr Jinnah’s speeches to support their stance, and yet failed to reconcile their conflicting point of views. 67 years later, we remain indulged in a convoluted debate over the purpose and identity of Pakistan.

The fact that we are still reliant over Mr Jinnah’s statements to determine the direction for Pakistan is rather disappointing. This obsessive behavior in looking for some hidden ‘truth’ in Quaid-e-Azam’s words points towards our failure to evolve as a nation. We are still counting on texts from the past, to understand our present and decide our future. No wonder, we are failing on both fronts, and getting more and more confused with every passing day. For how long will we ponder and argue over what Mr Jinnah really wanted? After all this time, is it even that relevant? Are we not capable of deciding our fate by ourselves? Those, who belong to the present and are the future, instead of personalities from the past, hold the power to choose which path they wish to take. What kind of a Pakistan is it exactly that we want? We decide.

Our predecessors lived in a very different world from the one we know. So much has happened, so much has changed. And, we have witnessed it all. All, that they never did. Simply put, our reality is different from theirs. And since, it is certainly the case, does it not then only makes sense to ensure that our choices are guided by the need and understanding of our time, rather than excerpts from the past? Of course, people should learn from their history, but they should not become its prisoners as we have. Holding on to the past makes sense only when something of value is derived from it. It is a grave mistake, if it only serves towards adding confusion and causing hindrance in they way of achieving objectives. Mr Jinnah did his part. He gave us this country. It’s ours. Now, what do we do with it?