Whither Quaid’s Pakistan
The Quaid’s Pakistan disappeared with its tragic dismemberment in 1971, and whatever was left is being looted and plundered by its own rulers.
A generation’s lifetime down the road after independence, where do we stand today as a nation and as a member of the comity of nations? Are we living in ‘a democratic and progressive’ Pakistan as envisioned by the Quaid-e-Azam? Can we genuinely claim to be ‘upholders’ of fundamental values of freedom, democracy and human dignity? Have we been able to make Pakistan a bastion of inner strength, political stability, economic self-reliance, social cohesion and national unity that our leaders, over the years, have been fraudulently showcasing to their people as their destiny? These are painful questions, and answers to these questions are no less painful.
Alas! Quaid-i-Azam did not live long to personally steer Pakistan to be what he thought would be “one of the greatest nations of the world.” With his early demise, Pakistan was orphaned in infancy and lost the promise of a healthy youth with acute systemic deficiencies and normative perversities restricting its orderly natural growth. After the Quaid, it was left without any sense of direction and in a state of political bankruptcy and moral aridity. It started cutting itself into pieces, losing within less than quarter of a century not only its own half but also the very rationale that inspired its founding fathers to struggle for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent.
A country, which was considered “twentieth century miracle” of a state and which was fought and won entirely through democratic and peaceful struggle now itself struggles haplessly for genuine democracy and constitutional primacy. Its leaders, civil or military, never inspired hope for a modern, democratic Islamic state that could guarantee socio-economic justice. We took no lesson from our mistakes and remain possessed by the same ghosts in the name of religion, culture, language and ethnicity. No government has ever attempted to correct the systemic anachronisms in our truncated federal structure or to redress provincial grievances.
It has been a failure of governance, not of the nationhood. The problem is that the overbearing elitist power structure in Pakistan is too deeply entrenched to let any systemic change or reform take place. It doesn’t suit them. They remain inimical to any change in the privilege-based status quo in the country. They have always resisted reform in the country which they fear will erode their vested power and influence base. In no other country are the privileged ones so brazenly above the law. Ironically, while the common man in our country is suffering chronic hardship, looters, plunderers, profiteers, hoarders and money launderers could not have a safer haven anywhere else in the world.
No other country is familiar with the normative practice of forgiving as a matter of law the elite killers or loan-defaulters and plunderers of the national exchequer. There is something fundamentally wrong with our patterns of governance. Corruption is endemic to all segments of our society. Justice is inaccessible, slow and selective, encouraging contempt for the rule of law. The national integrity system and its institutional mechanisms inspire no confidence among the people. The accountability processes are also nothing but governmental tool for political blackmail and victimization. Political institutions and civil society are also totally weak and complacent.
A generation of civilian and non-civilian rulers have brought us to a point where we are witnessing a remorseless tug and pull between the civilian and military hierarchies on the one hand, and between liberal and religious forces on the other. The problem is that the overbearing feudal, tribal and elitist power structure in Pakistan has been too deeply entrenched to let any systemic change take place. It doesn’t suit them. Our history as a nation is replete with endemic crises and challenges that perhaps no other country in the world has experienced. We have gone through traumatic experiences which have left us politically unstable, economically weak and socially fragmented.
No doubt, Pakistan as a state survived these crises and challenges but at what cost? It started cutting itself into pieces, losing within less than quarter of a century not only its own half but also its very raison d’état. The real Pakistan disappeared with its tragic dismemberment in 1971, and whatever was left is being looted and plundered by its own rulers. Alas, Quaid-e-Azam did not get to know us well. Invariably, the politicians proved to be corrupt, interested only in maintaining their political power and securing their own interests or those of their elite fraternity. The feudal and now business power structure has been at the root of Pakistan’s political and economic decay.
It also resisted any reforms in the country which it saw as a threat to its own influence and power. Instead of reinforcing the unifying elements of nationhood, politicians always succumbed to narrowly based self-serving temptations. As “elected” leaders, they never inspired hope for a democratic state that could provide fair governance and justice to all citizens. The people continued to look for an alternative, someone with integrity and credibility like Malaysia’s Mahathir, Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew and South Korea’s Park Chung-Hee. With no one like the legendary rulers of Mysore, our feudal and feudatory political elites were always looking for new ‘imperialist’ masters.
The writer is a former foreign secretary of Pakistan. He is an author and international relations expert. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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