The state of Pakistan is facing the most difficult and unmanageable time of its history. Terrorism and religious extremism have been damaging the socio-political structure of Pakistan, its relations in the region and across the globe, or the last few years. The recent floods have escalated some of the problems, thousands have lost their lives, millions have been displaced, crops of cotton, rice, sugarcane and tobacco, worth of billions rupees, have been destroyed, and many cities and villages have been washed out. Although the natural disasters are beyond human control, the recent flooding has exposed the state’s incapacity even to minimise the devastations. The people of Pakistan looks like a rabble and the concept of a nation has not
been emerged yet. The institutions which are responsible to achieve it, are struggling to gain superiority and authority over each other.
Once Mohtarima Fatimah Jinnah (younger sister of Mr. Jinnah) said, “The story of Pakistan was a story of the ideals of equality, fraternity and social and economic justice”. Mrs Hilary Clinton, US Foreign Secretary, in her recent message says, “Since gaining independence in 1947, the people of Pakistan have been writing that story, one day at a time. And the Pakistani people will continue to write the story that began 63 years ago.”
Sixty three years back, on 14th of August, Pakistan came into being; however a vast majority of Pakistanis do not have a real experience of freedom. Since independence a small elite minority is enjoying-rather over enjoying itself, while the ‘Independence Day’ to a deprived majority is not more than the day of separation from the Indian Subcontinent. The people, who have memories of pre-partitions period, regard the British period as a golden time. The present political, social and economical scenario depicts a despairing picture of Pakistan. Who is responsible? Religious extremists would blame the West, political parties blame each other, some democrats will point out the military interventions, liberal and secular groups will criticise
the Islamisation, minorities will mention the arrogance-rather persecution – of the majority community, and friends of Pakistan and the international community will refer to the insincerity and lack of commitment of the political leadership and the government. These all are valid observations, however Pakistan as country has no vision-rather has lost the vision which was given by its founder, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, who In his opening speech, on 11th August 1947, to the Constituent Assembly, said:
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place or 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.”
He in particular highlighted the democratic features of England in his speech said, “Now I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal
faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”
One of the foremost poets in the Indian sub-continent, Faiz Ahmed Faiz (1911-1984) studied philosophy and English literature, but poetry and politics preoccupied him more than anything else, writing poetry that always antagonizes the ruling elite and challenges feudal values. In the 1930s Faiz Ahmed Faiz married a British woman, Alys Faiz. He had to go to jail repeatedly during both colonial and postcolonial times in Pakistan because of his liberal thoughts. He says,
If they snatch my ink and pen
I should not complain,
For I have dipped my fingers
In the blood of my heart.
I should not complain
Even if they seal my tongue,
For every ring of my chain
Is a tongue ready to speak.
(Revd Rana Youab Khan is International Inter Faith Dialogues Assistant at Lambeth Palace , London)