Aug 18 - 24, 2008

Pakistan Independence Day is observed on 14th August, the day on which Pakistan came into being after obtaining freedom and independence from the British rule. The day is celebrated through-out the country with flag raising ceremonies, tributes to the national heroes and fire works taking place in the capital, Islamabad. The 14th of August is no doubt much more than an anniversary for the people of Pakistan.

Now we are celebrating the 61st Pakistan Independence Day on 14th August, 2008, as usual and as a tradition with great pomp and show. Speeches would be delivered by the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan through the electronic media. Thought provoking articles and messages of writers, intellectuals, political leaders and journalists would appear in the print media to refresh our memories and minds about the All-India Muslim League's struggle for Pakistan under the dynamic leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and innumerable sacrifices offered by the Muslims of the Sub-Continent for acquiring Pakistan. Surely and undoubtedly, it was through the remarkable efforts of our founding father, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, his committed companions and great sacrifices of life and properties of the Muslims of the then British India that Pakistan came into being. It was the result of a long and strenuous effort, which involved beliefs, resolve, devotion and un-ending movement stretching over centuries ever-since the arrival of Muhammad Bin Qasim, Sir Syed Ahmad, Allama Muhammad Iqbal and many other heroes who laid the ideological foundation of Pakistan. They all deserve great tributes for making valuable contribution to this end, however, it is an undeniable historical fact that Quaid-e-Muhammad Ali Jinnah most aptly and finally led the nation to successfully achieve this long cherished goal.

Instead of merry making and celebrating it like a gala day, it is the time that we may peep through our conscience, in an honest and unbiased way to recollect, recount and recapitulate our successes and failures. It is the time for us to make a self-assessment and self-accountability of what Pakistan has given to us and what we have given to Pakistan. At this juncture we need to reflect seriously at our failures, ponder over the causes and find solutions for the future. We, all inclusive, rulers, politicians, jurists, intellectuals, journalists and common citizens must have the moral courage to share the blames for our failures and redress the wrongs done by us to our beloved country in the past.

Pakistan is one of the largest Muslim states in the world today in spite of the most tragic separation of its East Wing in 1971 (now Bangladesh). Pakistan is now sixty-one years old. Some other countries, which emerged after Pakistan, are now far ahead this country in progress, prosperity and socio-economic development, leaving Pakistan behind still lurking in the dark. Examples of China and South Korea are worthy of citation. Japan, which was razed to ground, as a result of the use of atom bombs by Allied Forces during World War-II, rebuilt its edifice virtually from the ashes and has achieved the status of a superlatively enviable country in the world, even to be reckoned by the U.S.A.

On the other hand, honestly speaking it is but a bitter fact that Pakistan is now struggling for its survival. There are crises all around. Political crisis was created by President Pervez Musharraf in Balochistan, FATA, Waziristan and Swat. Even with the incoming of the political government of an alliance, led by PPP, problems and plights of people have further multiplied and aggravated. There are food crisis, electricity crisis, petrol crisis. Chaos, confusion and all types of problems are rampant all around because of the apparent lack of political vision of our rulers and political leaders and continuation of flawed policies of President Musharraf. We must admit that the root-cause of this situation is that after the sad demise of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah there has been no leader of that vision, integrity, status and sagacity, hence THE REAL CRISIS IS THE LEADERSHIP CRISIS.

People were hoping for a better change after the February national elections in the country, however, their expectations have largely remained frustrated. The exiled leadership of Pakistan Peoples' Party was repatriated to Pakistan to participate in the elections as a result of Bush and Musharaf deal, in their own interest, which culminated into promulgation of "National Reconciliation Ordinance" by the President, doing away with all the corruption cases against PPP leadership and others, involving millions of dollars public money allegedly squeezed from this poor country.

After the assassination of the top leader of PPP, Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, Asif Ali Zardari took over the reins of the party as its Co-Chairman, which majority of the people think merely a coincidence that can be termed as a tragedy for the departed soul but comedy for Asif Ali Zardari. People of this country attach no hope with the new leadership of PPP. Even during its former tenures, the party had not given any credible performance for the public welfare. During the present tenure PPP is again raising the same old mantra of "Roti Kapra aur Makan" to once again give a false temptation to the people. Asif Ali Zardari taking over the driving seat of the Pakistan People's Partly, at the outset, showed quite a bit maturity and political wisdom and in March made a deal of unity with Mian Nawaz Sharif, leader of PML-N in P.C. Bhurban for working together for the restoration of Chief Justice Supreme Court and other deposed judges. Subsequently there have been several meetings between the two leaders in Dubai and London but response from Asif Zardari with regard to the restoration of all the deposed judges has always been lukewarm. A communiquÈ and joint statement has just been released on electronic media on 7th August, 2008 and thereafter in print media, confirming impeachment of President Musharraf and thereafter reinstatement of all the judges deposed by the President including the Chief Justice of Supreme Court. Most of the credit of this joint statement and proposed action goes to Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, who had a principled stand through-out and never showed any sign of compromise or reconciliation.

Now, reverting to the 100 days agenda the present PPP led government had issued, it was very attractive, gorgeous and luring, which contained addressing many real issues like providing employment to a member of each family in 50 percent districts of Pakistan. Had a start been taken and foundation laid in that direction, this would have proved a landmark in bringing about a marvelous change in our poverty-stricken society. Moreover, it would have provided a ray of hope for the unprivileged, deprived and disappointed households, in whose hearth no fire is being burnt for cooking food for days and days and people are starving and dying of poverty and hunger.

Another most important agenda item in case had it been implemented would have surely brought widespread progress and prosperity in the country: that was construction of one million houses and allotting 5 marla plots to the poor people from the government's land in rural areas, enabling them to construct their abodes. Launching a housing industry at such a large scale in a country like Pakistan would lay the foundation of an economic revolution. According to an estimate six million houses are required to house the homeless people in Pakistan. If the aforementioned scheme is executed and plot allotted in accordance with the agenda, the housing problems of our people would be addressed within the next six years. Economists expound that when housing industry comes into activity, it leads to boosting 40-50 types of industries. Primarily, it is instrumental in making cement factories, brick kilns, glass factories, iron & steel industry, furniture workshops and other factories operative, besides generating hundred thousands employment opportunities for engineers, masons, painters, technicians, electricians, carpenters, painters and all types of labour, which bring prosperity in the country.

Another agenda item, which was included in the 100-day agenda announced by the government of Syed Yousuf Raza Gillani, was still a great source of inspiration; however, it was difficult for even a man of common prudence to believe that "paving the way for equitable distribution of wealth". It is hardly expected of Asif Ali Zardari and the government installed by him to pave such a way. If at all so happens, it will be a miracle and a marvelous achievement on the part of the government in power.

As regards the ideal political leadership of a country, intellectuals are of the considered opinion that it should be endowed with qualities of honesty, trustworthiness, vision, farsightedness, sympathetic consideration and wisdom. Two most important traits, of course, of an ideal political leadership are sincerity and vision. A leader with sincerity and vision is that who may be able to find a way out in a blind street unlike our present leaders, who are bent upon pushing the country and the nation into a blind street because of their lack of sincerity, vision and political sagacity.

The guiding principle: "Unity, Faith and Discipline" bestowed by our beloved leader, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, is the most unforgettable guideline for the present nation leaders. If we look at the four corners of our house (our country), to see the application of this principle, we have to admit that we lack all the three. Firstly, we badly need to forge unity amongst all our ethnic, regional and religious communities as "United we stand, divided we fall". For achieving that end, we need to mitigate and appease the miseries and pains of the angry and aggrieved people of Balochistan, Northern Areas and FATA to end their feeling of estrangement and isolation and bring them into the main stream of a nation. A long, sincere and steadfast effort is needed by all, the government, political leaders, intellectuals and print and electronic media, to alleviate the differences between the provinces and bring harmony and fraternity amongst all the federating units. Our policies, internal and external should not be remote controlled. We have already suffered a lot because of blindly following the policies dictated by foreign powers. We should be able to decide our own destiny. For that matter, we need to possess faith in our own capabilities. Of course, while making decisions on issues of national importance, there should be no unilateral decision of a single man. Such decisions should be made at the floors of the assembly and not by one single authority, may he be the President or Prime Minister. As regards the third quality: discipline, our leaders badly lack that. With due apology, they try to find shortcuts in making money. While they use cosmetic approach in duping the people, they are seldom kind and considerate to the resource less and unprivileged people. Still we see some ray of hope in some of our leaders. To quote an example, Mian Shahbaz Sharif, CM Punjab is a vibrant and restless Chief Minister, all the time busy in endeavouring to solve the problems of not only of the people of Punjab, but also in providing relief and comfort to the people of other provinces as well, like Balochistan and N.W.F.P. That shows that he possesses a broader canvas and national approach. Most of the people of Punjab appreciate this good-will gesture on his part. Such a people are no doubt a rare commodity now-a-days in our political leadership.

Lastly but most importantly, our rulers must not succumb to the foreign pressure, especially American pressure, in their so-called war against terrorism. Our co-operation in this alien war has weakened our federation. It has caused almost unbridgeable differences between some provinces (especially Balochistan and NWFP) with the Centre. The sooner this collaboration is brought to an end, the better it would be - rather it should be rationalized and tuned to our national objectives. There should be no more logistic co-operation with America or NATO. This is proving hazardous to our own security, stability and survival. Instead, we must strengthen our institutions to strengthen Pakistan. The government needs a political culture of tolerance, consultation, understanding and brotherhood among the provinces to keep the federation intact. No bullet should be used against our own people at the behest of foreign powers.