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Failed Perceptions

Pakistan intended to develop into a democratic polity with an egalitarian society as envisaged by the Quaid but this has always been under a shadow of uncertainty.

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan | April 2021


The situation is desperate in Pakistan. It could be branded as a failed or about to fail state without a direction. Not many take the writing on the wall seriously. Pakistan’s military establishment, overwhelmingly in-charge of the affairs of the state, dismissed it in its usual misplaced bravado. Scant attention is given to it by the ruling elite, except by a few individuals who have the vision and a sense of history or a couple of journalists like me who keep hammering about the writing on the wall of alarming portents. Professor D. Schuemann in his address at Brooklyn, New York on June 3, 1949, observed (Bangladesh became a reality in December 1971 just after 21 years of Pakistan’s creation):

“The state of Pakistan, (which) recently came into being in South East Asia, is a state manifest with enormous pitfalls unique to itself. Its existence is vulnerable, as time will show…In less than half a century, the state will collapse because of its people—who are born with chains of slavery, whose thoughts cannot see love of a free country and whose minds cannot function beyond the scope of personal selfish ends….”

While Professor Schuemann’s lethal forecast had its way as predicted by him when the country lay disintegrated on December 16, 1971 with the birth of Bangladesh, we spent a lot of time blaming our leaders for the tragic fate of Pakistan when the fact is that its disintegration came about under the heels of a military dictator and a military regime that refused to acknowledge and surrender to the rights and democratic aspirations of its people. It opted to lay its arms before a superior fighting force—the Indian army—rather than the democratic will of the masses.

It was no doubt a horrendously tragic event yet it left an inedible albatross permanently round our necks reminding us of the colossal shame. It drastically altered the partition plan imposed by the British who had served an ultimatum on the Quaid—“take it or leave it”. He had no choice and he accepted a “truncated” Pakistan. Being a man with a sublime faith in his people, he had believed that he would make the best of it—rather a model of a modern state for the entire Muslim Ummah by being a secular and liberal democracy in which religion shall have nothing to do with the business of the state and where its citizens will be equal—irrespective of their caste, creed or colour—to live their lives freely and practice their faiths.

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The author is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan to UK and an eminent journalist who was adviser to martyred Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. He can be reached at

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