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Jinnah's Pakistan

November 07, 1999

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DAWN of November 6 carried a news item under the headline 'PML body proposes challenging military rule.' It read : 'Pakistan Muslim League's legal committee headed by former law minister Khalid Anwer on Friday recommended to the Coordination Council of Pakistan Muslim League (N) to challenge the military takeover of the country in the Supreme Court.'

What will these partymen plead?

"We hereby solemnly swear that in the exercise of our gross ineptitude, effective corruption, insatiable greed, dangerous intolerance, combined with all other imaginable failings, we have brought about the downfall of what we held to be democracy. We amended the Constitution of the Republic of Pakistan at will, suspending all rules of procedure while doing so, with the aim of making our Leader all-powerful and impregnable. We successfully managed to totally corrupt each and every institution of state, other than the army.

We did not reckon with our leader's stupidity in taking on, for a second time, the Pakistan Army or that his reckless ambition would make him commit the criminal offence of effectively 'highjacking' an aeroplane of his own national airline and endangering the lives of some 200 passengers. We created a situation in which the Chief of Army Staff and his men were forced to throw us out, suspend the mangled and mauled Constitution, and take over the governance of the country for an unspecified period of time."

No doubt the judiciary will judge wisely and well.

Now, what makes a democrat. A baggy shalwar, a kamiz, and an unbuttonable waistcoat covering what is known as a 'healthy' (meaning overfed) body? Does a uniform prevent a fit and trim man from being a democrat?

We should count ourselves fortunate that we have a man who received a liberal education at St Patrick's High School in Karachi, taught by Father Stephen Raymond, Ossie Nazareth and the likes of such men to differentiate right from wrong, religion from religiosity, good from bad, and to appreciate and experience what life has to offer. After matriculating he went to study at Foreman Christian College at Lahore. This man, we feel, will not follow the dictatorial and democratic pattern of enlisting religion on his side, or if the religious leaders are not compliant, going to the extent of foisting upon us a new kind of perverted religion subservient to his ends. We must trust that he will do his best to rebuild Pakistan as envisaged by its founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah.

(US Ambassador William Milam on November 5 in Islamabad whilst speaking at a conference on American Studies stated that America is not anti-Islamic, and that the present change in the country could be used as an opportunity to return to the vision which Mr Jinnah had for Pakistan.)

General Pervez Musharraf was four-year-old, getting ready to go to school, when Jinnah on August 11, 1947 enunciated his 'creed' to his constituent assembly meeting for the first time at Karachi. This speech was a fine bit of rhetoric, but far too moral, truly democratic, free of bigotry and loaded with justice to be able to be digested by the philistines of that era and by those who have followed down the fifty-two degenerative years. Far too many loyal Pakistanis who have occupied leadership roles from the day Jinnah died right down to the ending of this century would have been far more at ease had he never made this particular speech. It has inspired fear in successive governments, has been a point of bitter dissent in its interpretation, and has even been officially distorted in print. It has been this nation's misfortune that we have never, after JInnah's lifetime, showed the slightest desire to live up to the principles he set for us.

Before the flag of Pakistan had even been hoisted, that August day he told the future legislators :

"You are free, free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of 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."

Now, this particular passage has always been the main bugbear of the insecure, the feeble of faith, and the cowards who live by self-deception. The very next day it was found to be too irksome, it inspired fear.

In his speech, Jinnah also proclaimed that "the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State." Amongst the evils which he vowed would not be tolerated were bribery, corruption, blackmarketing, and "this great evil - the evil of nepotism and jobbery."

The definition of 'jobbery' : 'the practice of corruptly turning a public office, trust, etc, to private gain or advantage; the perpetration of jobs.' Such is the daily bread of powermongers. What Jinnah failed to foresee was that within less than two years such practices would be just a few of the prerequisites for the survival and maintenance of power of those who would rule after him.

Fortunately for him, Jinnah did not live long enough to see his dream betrayed by men unworthy even to utter his name. He died before total disillusionment could set in (though he had his suspicions that it was on its way) and broke his heart. From what we know of him, he was that rare being, an incorruptible man in all the many varied meanings of the word corruption, purchasable by no other, swayed by no other, perverted by no other; a man of honour, integrity and high ideals. That the majority of his countrymen have been found wanting in these qualities is this country's tragedy.

What the General must now remember is that Jinnah also failed to perceive in his countrymen their penchant for pernicious sycophancy, the malignant weapon of the ambitious, that was to drag down many a man, make fools of many more, and with which leaders of this nation have found themselves unfit to combat. They succumb, time after time.

Power seekers are adept in the art of sycophancy, if adept in nothing else. Declamations of 'my imperishable and devoted loyalty,' 'you are not merely an individual, but an institution,' 'your services are indispensable for the greater good of the country,' 'you embody the national interest,' all roll glibly off many servile tongues, and are transferred with the greatest of ease from each transient master to the next. The supreme example of adulation : 'When the history of this country is written by objective historians, your name will be placed even before that of Mr Jinnah,' written to Iskander Mirza by loyal Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, is closely rivalled by Mushahid Hussain's declaration that the Muslim Leaguers were but 'slaves of Mian Nawaz Sharif's thoughts.'