My young friends, today is the 25th of December, and as you all know, we will celebrate with love and respect, the birthday of our dear Muhammad Ali Jinnah, popularly known as Quaid-i-Azam. Wreaths will be laid at the Mazar-i-Quaid in Karachi and people will flock there in large numbers to pay homage to the father of the nation.

All major newspapers will publish special pages to shed light on the Quaid’s life, his struggle and vision about a free Pakistan, an independent homeland for the Muslims of undivided India. Special supplications will be made for the prosperity and solidarity of Pakistan and most of us will be thankful in our hearts for living as free citizens of an independent state.

But there is more to the birth anniversary of Jinnah than just paying ceremonial homage to him. I often feel angry and bitter, as I have helplessly witnessed over the decades the insolence with which we, as a nation, wandered as far away as possible from his vision.

Friends, I would like to share something about my personal life with you all. I was born in the early 50s, to parents who had participated in the Pakistan movement, witnessed the pain of the loss of loved ones, abandoned their ancestral homes and cities to live as free citizens of a free Pakistan. Patriotism was in their blood and no sacrifice they could make seemed big enough for them. My parents successfully passed on this passionate love of our homeland to me and my siblings, as did most parents of that era.

Tragically, over the years, this fierce sense of patriotism started to dwindle. Greed, lust for power, selfish motives, nepotism, corruption, religious intolerance and extremism started gnawing at the roots of Pakistan. Instead of developing into a model Muslim state, Pakistan declined into a country which seems to be lacking in every field and has no sense of direction.

Dear friends, we can change our destiny for the better if we go back to following the Quaid’s vision of our country. We all know that he succumbed to tuberculosis only a year after Pakistan came into being. Fate did not give him a chance to consolidate the country he had struggled for so fiercely. It is our duty to remind ourselves why Pakistan was created and achieve those goals.

“Pakistan is proud of her youth, particularly the students, who are nation builders of tomorrow. They must fully equip themselves by discipline, education and training for the arduous task lying ahead of them.”

There is so much to be written regarding the state of affairs in our country. Our woes are many, but as this piece is especially for all my young friends, I will try to focus on our Quaid’s guidelines for students. We must find out what his aspirations for you were and how he had a firm belief that you will carry forward his legacy.

Today, we must go through our Quaid’s quotes about students, what he had said on different occasions and what kind of state he imagined Pakistan would be. Then we should candidly search our hearts, ponder on our homeland’s condition and decide for ourselves how far we have deviated from his vision.

Our Quaid’s expectations from students

In an address to the students of the Islamia College, Peshawar (April 12th, 1948), he gave them this message:

“Develop a sense of discipline, character, initiative and a solid academic background. You must devote yourself wholeheartedly to your studies, for that is your first obligation to yourself, your parents and the state. You must learn to obey, for only then you can learn to command.”

After reading this quote, ask yourself honestly, have you followed the above-mentioned golden advice? Are you committed to your studies, set goals for yourself and strive hard to achieve them?

I understand that you all wish for a secure future, which is definitely your right, but do you keep your obligation to the state in your priority list? When you finish your studies and start a career, do you feel it is your duty to serve Pakistan and contribute to her solidarity and prosperity?

If you ponder over these questions and what their correct answers should be, I am sure you will feel a positive change of heart, a focus for your dreams, which in turn will help Pakistan see better days.

Gaining knowledge is your responsibility

Quaid-i-Azam was very clear about the important role of education in making Pakistan be amongst the developed nations of the world. Another golden advice he gave to students was:

“You must concentrate on gaining knowledge and education. It is your foremost responsibility. Political awareness of the era is also part of your education. You must be aware of international events and environment.”

Most youngsters wrongly think that studying their textbooks is enough and current affairs and politics, both national and international, are for adults to worry about. If you ponder on Jinnah’s words, you will realise that he wanted the youth to have a clear concept of the political scene of our homeland, as well as other countries of the world.

Today, in most homes, students hardly pick up the newspaper. To improve your awareness about the happenings at home and worldwide, I strongly suggest that you read the main news. Also discuss with your elders about the events which hold your attention. Only after you are aware of the problems our country is facing, and where it stands in relations to other nations, will you search for the means to solve them when you step into practical life.

The dire condition of education in Pakistan

On one occasion, Jinnah stressing on the importance of education, declared: “Without education it is complete darkness and with education it is light. Education is a matter of life and death to our nation. The world is moving so fast that if you do not educate yourselves, you will not only be left behind, but will be finished up. No sacrifice of time or personal comfort should be regarded too great for the advancement of the cause of education.”

My dear friends, do you have an idea of the privileged life you are leading? You study in prestigious institutes, which provide you with dedicated teachers and a comfortable environment for learning. Sadly, majority of children in Pakistan do not have these opportunities. The education system in our country is in a pathetic condition. Many schools exist only on papers.

The government schools which function are also in dire conditions. Majority of the teachers are incompetent and not qualified enough to instil proper education in the children. They usually hold these posts due to nepotism and favours from the higher ups.

The way exams are conducted is another dismal matter. Examination papers are routinely leaked in board exams and cheating is rampant. Do you know how unfair these practices are for the students who have studied sincerely for the exams? They suffer because of these malpractices going on with impunity.

I often wonder what will be the future of my country where both the teachers and the students have no sense of responsibility, discipline or commitment to education. We are churning out graduates who have degrees, but no education.

My heart bleeds for Pakistan and what may lie ahead. What can be the future of a country where education and learning has such a pathetic standard? We have totally let down the dreams and ideals of our Quaid-i-Azam who had so confidently declared:

“Pakistan is proud of her youth, particularly the students, who are nation builders of tomorrow. They must fully equip themselves by discipline, education and training for the arduous task lying ahead of them.”

Dear friends, all is not lost yet. We can still strive to change the destiny of our beloved homeland. Years ago, when I regularly had talk sessions with school children, I had coined a slogan, “Pakistan, I will never give up on you!”

I pray that all students live up to the expectations and aspirations of the Father of the Nation, and those who strove to give us a free nation.

I really fear the day when, God forbid, Jinnah’s fears come true. Addressing the Civil, Military and Air Force Officers on 11th October, 1947, he expressed his apprehensions in these words:

“God has given us a grand opportunity to show our worth as architects of a new state; let it not be said that we did not prove equal to the task!

Long live Pakistan, Ameen.

Published in Dawn, Young World, December 25th, 2021

Opinion

Editorial

Slow start
15 Jun, 2024

Slow start

AS Pakistan marks the first 100 days of this National Assembly’s tenure, a report by Fafen reveals a mix of...
Sindh lawlessness
15 Jun, 2024

Sindh lawlessness

DESPITE commitments from both the federal and provincial authorities to address the situation, lawlessness in Sindh...
Punjab budget
15 Jun, 2024

Punjab budget

PUNJAB’S budget for 2024-25 provides much fodder to those who believe that the increased provincial share from the...
Budget and politics
Updated 14 Jun, 2024

Budget and politics

PML-N, scared of taking bold steps lest it loses whatever little public support it has, has left its traditional support — traders — virtually untouched.
New talks?
14 Jun, 2024

New talks?

WILL this prove another false start, or may we expect a more sincere effort this time? Reference is made to the...
A non-starter
14 Jun, 2024

A non-starter

WHILE the UN Security Council had earlier this week adopted a US-backed resolution calling for a ceasefire in Gaza...