There is a fight raging for the heart and soul of our great nation. This fight is being borne out in the streets and markets of FATA and South Waziristan; it’s being fought in the halls of power in Islamabad; it’s being fought in the schools and madrassas; it’s being fought on the airwaves and in the newspapers; and it’s being fought in the hopes and fears of everyday Pakistanis.
After more than 60 years of independence – more than 60 years of struggle, civil war, dictatorship, and finally democracy – Pakistan is at a crossroads. There are two paths that we can choose from: There is the easy path, the path of least resistance; the path of fatalism and despair, ruled by tyrants and self-proclaimed ulema and governed with violence and terror.
Or there is the difficult path, the path of struggle and sacrifice; the path of hope and progress, in which the people of Pakistan rule decide for themselves the fate of this great nation, taking responsibilty for our own fate and standing united behind the dream of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
Which path we take is a decision only we can make.
Declan Walsh wrote in The Guardian on Friday that Pakistan’s younger generation is losing faith in democracy. The youth do not remember life under Zia’s harsh rule. They cannot recall the pain of Pakistan’s civil war over 30 years ago. Democracy is difficult, and we have finally been able to achieve it only to see the rise of TTP and suicide bombers in Islamabad. Their entire short lives, these young people have only heard about petty corruption and political rivalry, and they are confused about what democracy means, and what we and our parents sacrificed to finally achieve it.
Only a third believe democracy is the best system of governance, one third support sharia law, while 7% think dictatorship is a good idea. Fasi Zaka, a radio DJ and commentator who helped launch the report, called it a snapshot of a “lost generation”.
“They don’t believe in anything firmly. Maybe they want sharia law, maybe they want democracy. It’s all over the place. But despite this there’s a lot of patriotism. So it’s not a lost cause.” Summing up the contradictions, he said young Pakistanis “don’t like this country, but they love it”.
Thankfully, there is still some hope. While young people are confused and suspicious of democracy, we still have an opportunity to see through this great transformation and make Pakistan a shining example of a modern, democratic Islamic Republic. As said by Farahnaz Ispahani, ”Only if a civilian government is allowed to finish its term will the youth trust in democracy.”
This is the dream of Quaid-i-Azam that so many have struggled and sacrificed for for generations. Our parents and grandparents have given their lives in the hope of realizing this dream, and we cannot let them down now that we have the prize of a modern, democratic Pakistan within our grasp.
Tariq Aqil reminds us of our history, our struggle, and our future in his brilliant column, I Want Jinnah’s Pakistan.
Time is here for all patriotic forces to band together and demand the return of Jinnah’s Pakistan. This country has to be rescued from the insidious conspiracy of trying to turn this state into a land of religious bigotry and fanaticism. Jinnah’s Pakistan is a country full of hope, optimism, and security. It is the land of our dreams. Jinnah’s Pakistan was created to enable all its citizens to live in peace, harmony and religious tolerance. Jinnah struggled to protect and nurture the cultural values of the Muslims of the sub-continent and not for imported values of an archaic and alien Arabic culture. Jinnah’s Pakistan was created to protect the lives, properties and culture of the Muslims. Jinnah dedicated his life for the preservation of equal rights of men and women, so that they could live in a land free of prejudice and discrimination. Jinnah’s Pakistan was not created to be a safe haven for terrorists. Never in his wildest dreams did the father of the nation thought of creating “Strategic assets” that have now became strategic liabilities or rather strategic horrors.
Pakistani society of today is in desperate need of social justice and elimination of corruption. A modern, progressive, vibrant and welfare society is one which allows the individual to breathe, develops its human resources, lays emphasis on morality and ethics, stresses the importance of education and removes the impediments to individual progress and prosperity. This was the dream and objective of the Quaid-i-Azam. He wanted Pakistan to be developed as a modern, progressive, secular democracy adhering to the principles of fairplay and social justice. Unfortunately immediately after the demise of Mohammed Ali Jinnah Pakistan became a victim of intolerant and fundamentalist religious forces who disowned the principles of secular democracy. Our very own religious fanatics misinterpreted secularism as a principle that was opposed to religion. They very conveniently forgot that it defined the separation of the state and religion but fully respected and protected the freedom to practice one’s beliefs. Our National leaders and those in authority need to wake up and realize the gravity of the situation and save this country from becoming another failed state ending up on the dust heap of history.
If Pakistan has to survive it just cannot do without upholding the lofty principles and guidelines provided to us by that giant of an intellectual, a great visionary and our founding father Quaid-i-Azam Mohammed Ali Jinnah. The need of the hour is that every Pakistani should demand: I want Jinnah’s Pakistan!
The future of Pakistan will not be defined by the USA, India, Israel, or China. The future of Pakistan can only be determined by ourselves. We must choose our path: Do we want to take the easy path and be ruled by self-styled Taliban mullahs? Or do we want to take the difficult path and reap the reward of prosperity, freedom, and democracy?
I choose the difficult path. I want Jinnah’s Pakistan, too.