Pakistan's progress and prosperity lies in science and technology.

By Imtiaz Rafi Butt
Aug 14 - Aug 20, 2000

A nation that does not value its heroes is doomed to extinction. Every nation has its heroes whom it admires and reveres, whose memory it cherishes and whose achievements it extols. The French have their Napoleon and De Gaulle, the British their Churchill and Wellington, the Italians their Cavour and Garibaldi and the Americans their Jefferson and Lincoln. Pakistan also owes its creation to the monumental work of three great men - Sir Syed, Allama Iqbal and Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. It is only natural that on this 53rd Independence Day anniversary, we should recall the achievements of these towering leaders and thinkers who shaped our destiny as a nation and saved the Indian Muslims from perpetual bondage.

After the holocaust of 1857 the Indian Muslims came under a dark cloud. Their fortunes sank so low that they could not hope for any post above the rank of porter or messenger. They desperately needed a leader who could pull them out of the quagmire and stem the tide of their further degeneration. It was at this critical hour that Syed Ahmad Khan came forward to lead the destinies of his co-religionists. He was not a communalist but his discovery in 1867 of the twisted mindset of the Hindus came as a rude shock to him. "Sir Syed felt", says his Urdu biographer Hali, "that it was now impossible for the Hindus and Muslim to progress as a single nation. The two communities will not join wholeheartedly in anything..... he who lives will see. Sir Syed worked ceaselessly to divert Muslim energies into educational rather than political channels.

Sir Syed's words on the Hindu-Muslim divide proved prophetic. Thirty-two years after Sir Syed's death, Dr. Sir Muhammad Iqbal also came to the conclusion that the gulf between the two communities could not be bridged. In his famous presidential address to the All-India Muslim League at Allahabad in 1930 he said: "The Muslim demand for the creation of a Muslim India is, therefore, fully justified. I would like to see the Punjab, North-West Frontier Province, Sind and Balochistan amalgamated into a single state". Iqbal gave the Muslims a new intellectual basis and a new vision. It was he who initiated the idea of a separate Muslim state.

Ideas of Muslim separation had been floating since long in the Indian political atmosphere but none dared to give them a concrete shape. It was the Quaid-e-Azam who accomplished this deed and made the idea a plank of the Muslim League programme. The Quaid's presidential address to the session in 1940 was a landmark in the history of Muslim nationalism in India for it made an irrefutable case for a separate Muslim nationhood and for dividing India into Muslim and Hindu states. The die was cast. The way lay clear and open to Pakistan.

While we to-day express our profound gratitude to our great benefactors, we should also bear in mind that we stand on the threshold of a new century with its new scenario and new challenges. The collapse of the Soviet-Union and the end of the cold war left the United States as the sole superpower. Its global dispensations and foreign policy initiatives have, at times, led to bitterness and resentment. President Clinton's visit to South Asia is a case in point. His fulsome praise of Bharat as a cradle of democracy, tolerance and cultural diversity and his unjustified tirade against Pakistan for supposedly supporting terrorism and human rights violations were, to say the least, short-sighted and did not in any way contribute towards the search for peace in the region. On the contrary, it emboldened Bharat to step up its anti-Pakistan propaganda. Even after the passage of more than half a century, Bharat still questions the existence of Pakistan, denigrates its founding fathers, denounces the two-nation theory and defames Pakistan at all international fora. The Muslims who went through fire and water to achieve Pakistan and who witnessed the holocaust, know how hollow and mischievous the Bharati propaganda is.

We should be eternally thankful to the Quaid that he got us a piece of land where we can live with honour, work with pride and sleep without fear. While we battle against corruption and strive to put our house in order, we should not be unmindful of our younger generation. It is our duty to tell them why Pakistan was created, what it was meant to be and why it has come to such a pass. May be our younger generation is confused, despondent, disillusioned because of the havoc played by the past governments. It is time to assure them. To tell them about their identity and the ideology of Pakistan nationhood; about the significance of the Minar-e-Pakistan which rises from its flower vase-like base in Iqbal Park, about the rectitude and tenacity of the Quaid and the total dedication of his enthusiastic followers.

We should remind our countrymen that the Pakistan Resolution of March 1940 was a historic decision which crystallized the political thinking of the Indian Muslims. They rallied around the Quaid-e-Azam to demand a separate homeland for themselves. No weightage system, no reservation of seats, no constitutional safeguards and no sacred pledges could hoodwink them anymore. They had seen through the game of the Hindus. The Quaid articulated their deepest urges when he proclaimed: "Muslims are a nation according to any definition of a nation and they must have their homelands, their territory and their state." They were determined to be a free and sovereign nation. It was the only way in which Muslim India could free itself from the stranglehold of a brute Hindu majority and safeguard its spiritual, cultural, economic, social and political ideals.

We should on this day remind our countrymen that the two-nation theory is the corner-stone, the linchpin, the very bedrock of Pakistan. The Hindus and Muslims lived in the same land for centuries but there was no affinity between them. Their mutual differences were fundamental. "Like oil mixed with water", says a European observer, "they lived together and yet apart, and two different cultures developed cheek by jowl with fundamentally distinct sense of values, divergent attitudes towards some of the most elementary matters of life in this world and, of course, diametrically opposed beliefs in the life hereafter". The Hidus were always opposed to the Pakistan idea and never accepted Pakistan with good grace. In 1971, Bharat made full use of what it perceived to be a "chance of a century" and broke Pakistan into two. With our neighbours ever ready to undermine our ideological frontiers, we should remain on our guard and look after our cherished ideals.

We should remind our countrymen that they did not receive Pakistan on a platter. If they are free today, it is solely because of the herculean efforts of the Quaid and his associates. "Few individuals", says Stanley Wolpert, "significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with a nation state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three". The creation of Pakistan is a lasting tribute to the Quaid's political acumen, remarkable vision and foresight and indomitable courage and wisdom. But, sad to say, we have failed to express that gratitude which we should have for the ordeals that he went through for our sake. Had the Quaid been a man of weak fibre and succumbed to the multi-pronged pressure of the British and Hindus, the star of the Muslims would have sunk into a dark abyss never to rise again. It is high time we understood the message of the Quaid and made his guidelines the corner-stone of our socio-economic and political edifice.

We should remind our countrymen that democracy is the life-blood and sheet-anchor of Pakistan. The Quaid, the architect of Pakistan, placed the highest value on the will of the people. Addressing the Sibi Darbar on February 14, 1948 he said: "I have one underlying principle in mind, the principle of Muslim democracy. It is my belief that our salvation lies in the golden rules of conduct set for us by our great law-giver, the Prophet of Islam (peace be upon him). Let us lay the foundation of our democracy on the basis of truly Islamic ideals and principles." The same month in a broadcast to the people of the United States, he reiterated: "I am sure our constitution will be of a democratic type, embodying the essential principles of Islam. Today they are as applicable in actual life as they were 1300 years ago. Islam and its idealism have taught us democracy. It has taught equality of men, justice and fair play to everybody. We are inheritors of this glorious tradition and are fully alive to our responsibilities...." During the years intervening the adoption of the Pakistan Resolution and the establishment of Pakistan, the All-India Muslim League gave an excellent account of itself as a staunch democratic organization. The periodic muzzling of democracy by military men retarded the growth of a comprehensive democratic culture. Everyone who has the betterment of the state at heart must ensure that the sanctity of democracy is preserved and it is given a chance to take root.

We should remind our countrymen that Pakistan's progress and prosperity lies in science and technology. The world of knowledge is fast changing. There are haves and have-nots in the field of technology. The technological divide is more important than geographical divisions. The Gross Domestic Product of 56 Muslim countries put together is one-fourth that of Japan and half of the GDP of France. The whole difference is the yawning gap in the level and quality of education between the two sides. We are thankful to our scientists and engineers who have made Pakistan the seventh nuclear power of the world and restored anew the military balance in South Asia. For the last fifty years, we have focused entirely on national defence; on how to keep pace with the Bharati war machine and safeguard our borders. Now that we have a minimal nuclear deterrence capability, we can safely turn our attention to developing the economy and strengthening democratic institutions.

On this 53rd anniversary we find that the army is once again in the saddle. This regime, however, appears to be different in many respects from those that preceded it. It inspires confidence and is working hard to bring about fundamental changes. General Pervez Musharraf, the Chief Executive, loves his country, cares for popular sentiments and reveres the memory of the founding fathers. In one of his first addresses to the nation he referred to the vision of the Quaid-e-Azam and promised to be guided by the Quaid's blueprint for socio-economic reform. He also vowed to set things right. "Never before" he said, "have so few plundered so many.... Everyone wants speedy actions. Just bear with us and we will do the job". The General is a dynamic, honest and a professionally competent man. He took command of a ship that was in desperate straits. He has the challenging task of keeping it clear of shoals and eddies and bringing it safely into the harbour. He is a good captain and an able navigator. There is no reason why he should not succeed in achieving his objectives.

The writer is Chairman, Jinnah-Rafi Foundation