On Wednesday 25th December the nation on celebrated birth anniversary of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the man who fought against all odds and severest opposition to the division of the sub-continent into two states and created our beloved Pakistan. He had a vision about the future of the country and the challenges that it had to surmount to make Pakistan strong, prosperous and a respected country among the comity of nations. Birth anniversaries of the national heroes--- and in case of nations winning independence from foreign subjugation--- and founding fathers are invariably celebrated by respective nations not only to pay homage to them but also to use the occasion as an opportunity to renew pledges to follow the course scripted by them as well as passing on the legacy to the posterity.

Therefore it is absolutely imperative to transmit the spirit of independence to the youth to apprise them about the vision of the Jinnah about Pakistan. He wanted Pakistan to be a democratic and progressive entity taking inspiration from the lofty principles of Islam. And within the framework of the newly independent state in line with his foregoing vision he also enumerated the tasks that were at hand to translate the objectives of independence into a reality which he pointed out in his address to the constituent assembly on 11th of August in 1947.

He reminded the legislature and the future government that the first duty of a government was to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects were fully protected by the State. That is the universally accepted objective of governance and the most important ingredient of the responsibility of the state and the government without which it is impossible to implement and pursue the objectives of independence and strengthening the national moorings.

Jinnah also wanted the elimination of bribery and corruption on priority basis as he viewed it as a poison. He said “We must put it down with an iron hand and I hope that you will take adequate measures as soon as it is possible for this Assembly to do so”. The next thing in the order of priority mentioned by him was the evil of nepotism and jobbery. He was very clear and intensely aware of the debilitating impact of this menace on the society which stemmed from the archaic colonial system of governance and had inbuilt avenues of promoting a culture of graft and entitlement and nepotism; a tool that fomented social injustice.

The architect of Pakistan also wanted the government to focus on promoting the well being of the people particularly the poor. He said’ Now what shall we do? Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor” He reiterated economic justice and utilization of state resources for the well being of the less privileged classes; a basic catalyst of peace and tranquility in a society.

In regards to communal harmony and rights of the minorities he said “If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make. You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”

Jinnah was a firm believer in justice and fairness which he enunciated in these words “I shall always be guided by the principles of justice and fair play without any prejudice or ill-will, in other words, partiality or favouritism. My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality, and I am sure that with your support and co-operation, I can look forward to Pakistan becoming one of the greatest nations of the world”.

On the basis of what the founding father envisioned and prescribed for Pakistan and a look at the course that it has traversed during the last more than seventy years, still struggling to rediscover its cherished course,  it is hard to say that it is not the Pakistan that Jinnah envisioned. It would indeed become his Pakistan when the country goes the way it was supposed to go and was governed the way he wanted it to be governed.  The country is at the cross-roads at the moment because it failed to traverse the course chartered by the founding father. The reality is that the realization of his vision, as also enshrined in the Pakistan Resolution, was only possible through consolidation of democracy, its uninterrupted continuation and reforms in the system of governance through collective wisdom of all the political forces. For that, all the political parties and political leaders would have to abandon the politics of self-aggrandizement and think in terms of promoting the well being of the masses by providing a system of governance that has all the attributes pointed out by the architect of the country. 

The prevailing political atmosphere in the country unfortunately is not very encouraging as far as strengthening of democracy is concerned. The politicians are still refusing to learn from the past mistakes and the self-inflicted catastrophes. They need to change their attitudes. Pakistan would go forward when they start thinking in terms of national interests and the state institutions show the wisdom of operating within their own spheres of constitutional powers. It is indeed a moment to give serious thought to our past follies as a nation and to think about path correction in conformity with the vision of the founding father. The celebration of his birth anniversary must not remain only a routine yearly ritual.