Saturday, August 15, 2009

Pakistan for all Pakistanis: Moonis Elahi

A special article on Pakistan’s 62nd Independence day by Moonis Elahi

In the last 62 years, much ingenuity has been spent to explain the concept of Pakistan as envisioned by the Quaid and Iqbal. But the question that haunts us even after 62 years of attaining freedom is that how close have we come to the actual translation of our founding fathers’ vision into reality? There are no two views that their vision was based on the genuine desire to provide the Muslims and other deprived communities of the Sub-Continent with a free homeland where they could live with honor and respect. Together, Iqbal and the Quaid had visualized a society where the cardinal principles of main stream Islam based on socio economic justice and equal rights for all irrespective of their religious, economic and ethnic backgrounds were to be guaranteed. They knew that the British-Hindu nexus was too powerful to be broken and the Muslims would always remain as third rate citizens in a Hindu dominated India and they would never get their rightful place in the society. The pathetic conditions in which the 150 million Muslims are forced to live in India today are a living testimonial to Iqbal and Quaid e Azam’s foresight. They had foreseen that under the Hindus the doors of higher education, better employment and economic excellence will never be open to the Muslims. Allama Iqbal's historic Allahbad address in 1930 when he first articulated the dream for Pakistan turned a new leaf in the freedom movement of Indian Muslims and gave them a fresh lease of life. This Iqbalian dream inspired the Muslims of India with a renewed hope for freedom and they soon rallied under the banner of All India Muslim League led by Quaid e Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and won freedom from the British after countless sacrifices on 14th August, 1947.

But 62 years after the success of this historic struggle for freedom the most saddening truth is that the people of Pakistan are still loitering in the dark. Despite living in an independent country the light of freedom has still not illuminated the lives of many. The Quaid-e-Azam had a very clear and principled concept of Pakistan which he explained through his words and deeds on numerous occasions. On March 24, 1943 he openly declared in a party session that he would much rather not struggle for freedom if eradication of economic injustice of the poor and the deprived could not be ensured in the State of Pakistan. It is quite evident from our Quaid’s words that Pakistan was to be a land devoid of economic oppression and exploitation of the have not’s at the hands of the powerful. But 62 years later an overwhelming number of Pakistanis still face the same pre independence oppression and exploitation and they continue to live as third rate citizens in their own country. Today more than 60% of Pakistanis are living below poverty line. More than half of the Pakistanis have no access to clean drinkable water. Similarly health and education facilities are also available to a negligible portion of the society. Law is only for the rich and the influential. With these problems already playing havoc in the lives of Pakistanis suddenly new problems like the atta crisis, the power crisis, the water crisis and worst of all extremism have raised their ugly heads. The reasons for all these continuing as well as recent abominations are not far to seek. They are all rooted in our failure to ensure a just society based on the cardinal principles of mainstream Islam as envisaged by our great leaders. In his May 28, 1937 letter to the Quaid, Allama Iqbal asks him that what is the remedy of all the ills the Muslims of India confront? He then answers that the solution lies in the implementation of Islamic principles of economic equality, social justice and tolerance in our lives. Undoubtedly, the founding fathers of Pakistan saw Pakistan as a means to achieving socio- economic freedom for the have not’s and the hapless in the light of Islamic teachings and beliefs. I wonder as to how far we have been successful in translating this vision into reality.

Today, the spirits of both Iqbal and the Quaid must be greatly tormented to see that the people for whom they had envisioned a just and prosperous society were still stuck deep in the quagmire of socio economic deprivation, injustice and sinister exploitation by the powerful. They must be in agony to behold the tentacles of IMF squeezing the last drop of blood out of an already emaciated soul of their nation. Can anybody tell me whatever happened to Iqbal’s concept of the" self" derived from the Holy Quran and where has the Quaid’s vision of a strong and prosperous Pakistan based on principles of democracy,equality and fraternity disappeared?
I believe that on our 62nd Independence Day we should do a sincere soul searching and resolve afresh to make our country economically, socially and politically strong not by paying mere lip service to the importance of freedom but by actually taking concrete steps that may lead to the achievement of the vision and goals set by our founding fathers. To begin with as a nation we should endeavor to become self sufficient and pledge to stop borrowing pittances in loans and aids from foreign countries and financial institutions. As individuals we should resolve to lead lives free of ostentations and learn to tailor them according to our own means and resources. We should also resolve to eliminate poverty, injustice and inequality by becoming individually as well as collectively more charitable, understanding and forgiving. It is also high time that we evolve a common plan of action against tyrannical rules and exploitative politics and not allow selfish rulers to treat us as “flies to the gods who kill them for their sport”.

Here I would also want to condemn along with the entire nation over the recent tragic killings of innocent Pakistani Christians in Gojra. Sadly, this episode took place in the month of our independence and is an ugly blemish on our history. The religion of Islam declares the murder of one individual as the murder of entire mankind but only due to the callous and cruel attitude of the present rulers of Punjab a handful of fanatics were encouraged to set ablaze non Muslim Pakistanis alive in their houses in the name of Islam and ironically the actual culprits have still not been apprehended. On this Independence Day, I request all my fellow countrymen to bemoan this tragic incident and resolve to weed out all the elements that are bent upon violating the spirit of Islam which is the true force behind the creation of this Land of the Pure called Pakistan.

The need of the hour is to follow in word and in deed the teachings of Islam and the vision of the founding fathers for a Pakistan which is free of economic, religious and social exploitation. And the way to achieving these goals is to stand united against all enemies internal and external.