IN SEARCH OF QUAID’S PAKISTAN

In search of Quaid’s Pakistan!

Published Dec 27, 2014 06:22am

DECEMBER 25th is a day of national importance for Pakistanis, as it is the birth anniversary of the Father of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. With his deep vision, indomitable will, intelligence, dedication and courage, Jinnah whom we Pakistanis call Quaid-i-Azam (the great leader), united the Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent under the Muslim League. After a long struggle under his leadership, Pakistan came into being on the August 14, 1947.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah was admired equally by friends and foes. Stanley Wolpert, in his book, Jinnah of Pakistan compliments him in these words, “Few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Muhammad Ali Jinnah did all three.”

The dream

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IT was Jinnah’s dream that Pakistan would emerge as a sovereign democratic state, where the law would reign supreme, the politicians would work with honesty and dedication for the state, all citizens including women would play an important role in the development of the country, human rights would be protected and quick justice would be within reach of all, poverty and illiteracy would be eradicated in the minimum possible time and non-Muslims would be treated with respect and tolerance and dignity.

By firmly holding on to the principles of unity, faith and discipline, he wanted the nation to move forward and carve its place among the developed countries of the world.

The golden principles

JINNAH once said, “I have no doubt that with unity, faith and discipline we will compare with any nation of the world. You must make up your minds now. We must sink individualism and petty jealousies and make up our minds to serve the people with honesty and faithfulness.”

A firm faith in Allah and religious values, faith in the power of hard work, truth and honesty and faith in each other, were the guidelines he gave the newly emerged nation.

Unity among all provinces, among the people belonging to the different sects of Islam and tolerance/respect for the non-Muslims, was his second golden principle. He also laid great stress on discipline which he said was essential for growth.

He repeatedly advocated that to move forward in the world as a developing nation, Pakistanis needed to practice discipline in all parts of life.

The reality

AS fate would have it, Quaid-i-Azam died only a year after Pakistan came into being. Sadly, the inefficiency of the successive politicians, deep rooted corruption at every level and a general lack of civic sense in the people, our country’s affairs are on a constant downslide since its early years. Today, after more than 67 years of independence, we find Pakistan has a poor image on the international level and even within the country we find people disillusioned and frustrated by the state of affairs.

The problems

SADLY, at present, the Pakistan that Jinnah had envisioned is nowhere to be found! We are facing a multitude of problems. Bad governance, poverty, inflation, terrorism, religious intolerance, sectarian issues, lawlessness, rising graph of illiteracy and poverty, shortage of power and gas are only a few of the troubles we are facing. Greed, lust for power, corruption, unemployment, putting personal gains over Pakistan’s interests and political/economical instability, are some of the factors which are worsening the problems we face.

Basically, Pakistan is an agricultural country, rich in natural resources like gas, coal and precious metals and has sites of great tourist attraction. But due to the mismanagement and corruption of successive governments, we cannot fain full benefits from these resources.

Current situation WE seem to have totally forgotten the principles Jinnah laid down for us! We have lost faith in Allah and the teachings of our religion. We do not have any faith in our leaders, nor do we trust each other. Attacks on minorities and desecration of their places of worship are something common in Pakistan.

There is no unity among us. Before realising that we all are Pakistanis, we proudly call ourselves Sindhis, Punjabis, Balochis, Pakhtoon or Muhajirs. We are a sunni, a shia, a deobandi or a barelvi, before we realise that we are Muslims who worship one Allah and follow one Quran. Killings due to the difference in religious beliefs are everyday news.

As a nation also, we see a total lack of discipline in our country. Whether you are at the airport, a railway station or a bus stop, you will see people pushing, shoving and shouting at each other. The corrupt politicians squander away precious tax-payers’ money on their extravagant life styles. Instead of merit, jobs are given out to undeserving persons while the talented and educated youth search in vain for reasonable jobs. Rules are bent and twisted to suit individual whims. We take pride in breaking rules and taking the law in our hands. Criminals go unpunished if they have the right connections.

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The solution

THE problems faced by Pakistan are so compound that it is not easy to find a way out! On this important day, instead of just paying verbal tribute to our great leader, let us join hands and heads and vow to find ways to change the disturbing situation. We all must vow to be truly patriotic to our country, to serve it by all means and work endlessly and selflessly to bring it back to the road of progress.

One of the most important steps to guide Pakistan towards a better future is providing quality and affordable education to all school going children, irrespective of their economic or social status. Literacy is the light which will create awareness among us, promote a sense of patriotism and responsibility. With education comes the proper balance between one’s rights and one’s duties, which in turn lead a nation towards honour, dignity and sovereignty as a state.

Quaid-i-Azam with his great vision, knew how important education is for the future of Pakistan. Addressing youth he once said,

“Without education it is complete darkness and with education it is light. Education is a matter of life and death to our nation.”

Quaid-i-Azam had great faith in the students of Pakistan. Addressing them on one occasion he said, “My young friends, I look forward to you as the real makers of Pakistan, do not be exploited and do not be misled. Create amongst yourselves complete unity and solidarity. Set an example of what youth can do. Your main occupation should be in fairness to yourself, to your parents, in fairness to the State, to devote your attention to your studies. If you fritter away your energies now, you will always regret.”

Friends, without hard work by each and every Pakistani and determination to change the state of affairs, Jinnah’s dream cannot be transformed into a reality. By holding on firmly to Quaid-i-Azam’s words, “With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve” and ““Failure is a word unknown to me”, we can still find the road to prosperity and with our heads held high, march towards Jinnah’s Pakistan.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END?

The story is the same , only the names and faces have changed. January 2013 saw the heart breaking sit in of shattered protesters who defied the blood curdling weather and refused to bury their dead until their demands for justice were met. The story has been repated in January 2014, and the protest sit in has ended only a couple of hours back. Raja Parwez Ashraf has been replaced by Nawaz Sharif and the same tall promises have been made to convince the bereaved to bury their dead ones. They say History repeats itself, but I am hoping against hope that it does not do so this time. It is high time our government rises to the crying need of the hour and takes concrete and firm steps to stop the endless brutal killings going on and on and on!!!

Yasmin Elahi

 

I grumble, I protest, I rave, I rant and yes, I am not ashamed to admit that in weak and emotional moments I cry too! But in the depth of my heart there is a sad and sinking feeling that all this is in vain! I can not do anything to change the way things are going in my beloved Homeland. And then I realize that my pen is my only tool! At least I can give a path to my emotions, share with my readers my pain, my anger and my frustration at the non stop downslide in nearly every aspect of life in Pakistan! Being a stay at home mother and grandmother and also a senior citizen, my ageing body and mind hampers me from any active participation in the state of affairs; this is the only small contribution I can make. It may be a drop…

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RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!

RAIN, RAIN, GO AWAY!

          Rain has always held a special place in my life! It mesmerizes me, enchants and takes me way back down the memory lane. It reminds me of the happy and carefree childhood I spent in my parental home with my siblings.

          As it rained more than half of the year in East Pakistan (now Bangla Desh), rain was a part and parcel of our lives. The staircase to the upper floor of our cosy little house overlooked a long alley. After lunch, I and my siblings would sit one child on one stair and watch with delight as rain came lashing down on the pedestrians. Some had umbrellas, other used large sheets of polythene to protect themselves and a few were seen running for shelter if they possessed none of these.

                    After nights when the thunder kept rolling, the clouds clapping ominously and rain pouring down as if it would never come again, I remember calling school expectantly. “Is the school off today?” And the predictable answer came “Why do you think the school would be off today” I would be counter questioned. The voice sounded irritated as if tired of answering the same question repeatedly. “It has been raining so hard all night” I would try to argue although I myself could feel my voice grow weaker. “Do think rain makes any difference to life in this part of the world?” and the phone was banged angrily.

          Rain made literally no difference to normal activities as schools, offices and markets opened as usual and everyone seemed to be carrying on his/her work as usual. Heavy downpours recorded in inches, were a part and parcel of life and there were no traffic jams, electric failures, overflowing storm drains or stagnant water on the roads. All that could be seen were small puddles in which children loved to splash around, but with a well maintained drainage system, these too disappeared in no time.

          Apart from natural calamities like floods or cyclones which were a normal feature in that region, little or no news of suffering of the low income class was witnessed after the routine heavy rains.

          Rain meant enjoyment to me and my siblings. If the rainy day was a holiday, picnic baskets would be packed immediately and we would set out for an outing to any of the green spots in Dhaka. Otherwise, Beisan or Potato Parathas would be cooked, to be enjoyed with Ammi’s unmatchable sweet mango chutney and ripe mangoes in plastic buckets were set out in the open courtyard to be cooled by the falling rain.

          I distinctly remember the long drives with friends after a rainy day, dashing to the famous Ramna Park of Dhaka for Chatpatti (Chat) and Puchka (Pani Puri) and the treat finished off with a Meetha Paan at the renowned pan shop outside the Dhaka Stadium. Traffic moved a bit slow but there was no disruption to its flow!

          After I migrated to Karachi, I used to miss the rains as these were limited to a couple of months only. As clouds came in, I would look expectantly towards the sky and pray for them to burst into a downpour. Until I witnessed the other side of the coin, i.e how rains could play havoc with the lives of people! To my dismay, unlike my birth city Dhaka, rain always brought misery to the lives of the residents of Karachi, especially those who reside in low lying or slum areas. Every year after the monsoon rains hits, life seems to be paralyzed as the roads are turned into rivulets in no time.

          Although in the four decades plus that I have been living in Karachi, I have seen that rains always disrupt and paralyze life in the city, I feel that things are getting worse with each passing year.

          This year, the 3rd of August began as a usual day, but before nightfall tragic news from all parts of the city came pouring in, as fast as the torrential rains we witnessed during the day. In all the years I have been living in Karachi, this was perhaps the worst rainy day I had witnessed.

          Loss of 16 precious lives was reported and all the major roads were flooded heavily. Most of the city was plunged into darkness as power went off as soon as the rain started lashing the city. Some areas, (like mine) had to go without power for nearly 24 hours or more! Emergency was declared in the city and army had to be called in to drain the stagnant water. As usual, action was taken too late as the CM dismissed the Karachi Administrator, as well as the Director Municipal Services from their respective posts. But could these belated steps bring back the precious lives or heavy loss to property? the question hangs heavily in the air.

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          But the depressing part of all the sufferings is that we Karachiites could have been spared this gloom. Although there was a forecast of a monsoon more severe than is usual to Karachi, the City Government had simply taken no steps to prevent the dwellers of the mega city from the misery it had to face.  Storm water drains (which are getting narrower each year due to encroachments) were not cleared up in time, and as these are usually clogged with the garbage slum dwellers throw in them, they overflew in no time, spreading stinking water on major roads and alleys.

          The poor dwellers of the areas lining the storm water drains were the worst affected as their homes were totally inundated! After the heavy downpour, although I was dreading the bad news, I had no idea it would be worse than my imagination. The domestic helper who has been cleaning my house for years, came frantically banging the door as the bell was not ringing. Her eyes burning with tears she was trying hard to control, she said in a voice lined with despair. “Ammi kuch nahin bacha, sirf badan pe ye kapre hain!” (Ammi, nothing is left except the clothes that I am wearing). She had lost the entire ration she had got from different affluent people (remember it was Ramzan), as well as her meager belongings. “Shukar hai, Bachon ki jaan bach gayi”! (Thank God, the lives of my children were saved). She said in a resigned tone. Such depressing stories came pouring in from other quarters as night fell.

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          There was a forecast of more rain for the next two or three days but it seems nature was also moved by the misery the heavy downpour had caused! Although the weather remained cloudy for the next few days, fortunately we only witnessed drizzling after every few hours!

          There was a time when I looked up at the clouds expectantly, praying for the rains to come. But after decades of living in Karachi, I mutter a prayer when I see the ominous clouds coming in. Rain, Rain, Go Away! We are not prepared yet to enjoy you! The burst of clouds which meant enjoyment and relaxation in my childhood days causes pain, anxiety, sorrow and darkness in this city of lights!

 

THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FENCE!

 

The young woman (a friend’s daughter) was fuming with anger! “Pakistan is not worth living anymore! I will migrate as soon as I possibly can.”

Her agitation was natural! Mugged by a scooter driving youth, she had lost cash, her ID card, credit card and cell phone. And as this was not the first time, the hassle she knew she had got herself into was more frustrating. As she knew from earlier experience that reporting at a police station was futile, she had to (again) set upon contacting the concerned people about her dilemma! Applying for a new NIC and credit card, getting her cell no. blocked until she got a new sim and trying to re-collect the numbers of her contacts was no easy job! And she knew that palms would have to be greased for redressing her genuine distress. And last but not the least, the cash she had lost was no small amount!

I couldn’t blame her as she was sharing the general dismal mood of discontent shared by the youth of our country! But like I always do in similar circumstances, I couldn’t stop myself from quipping back, “What percentage of our population can possibly migrate? Don’t you think that people living outside Pakistan have their own set of problems? And instead of planning to run away, we should firmly plant our feet on our soil and work hard to improve the conditions?”

Conditions in Pakistan are detoriating day by day, year by year! Caught in the clutches of greedy politicians, energy crisis, militancy, religious extremists (whom I refuse to call Muslims) blowing up themselves and innocent people in public places, the ever rising spiral of inflation, lawlessness, illiteracy, corruption and unemployment are only a few of the problems gnawing at the roots of our country.

Tall promises are made before every up-coming elections, pledges are made to solve all the problems in no time at all, but our leaders quickly forget about them and promptly busy themselves in amassing wealth in every possible and unethical manner, visiting foreign countries (with huge entourages), distributing ministries to appease their loyalists (competency being the least consideration), and stooping to any level to keep their rule intact. This is a quagmire we have been stuck in for decades now!

The brain drain from Pakistan towards the West has been continuing for the past two or more generations and is one of the reasons for the unfavorable conditions we are facing today. Qualified, young, talented, hardworking and honest people realize that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. A better paid job, much improved basic amenities, an atmosphere of general security and stability, bright prospects for their children’s future, more stable economic conditions and over all a more comfortable life style, attracts them so much that they opt for the greener pastures.

But as the saying goes “Everything comes with a price. Everything! Some things just cost more than the others.” The economic and living conditions may be much better in the greener pastures, but life is not all bliss in an alien land. Adapting to a foreign culture and still retaining one’s national identity is difficult for most people (and more so for their children) and safe guarding their religious and cultural values is an uphill task! Compromises have to be made, as leaving behind one’s roots, parents and childhood friends is always painful.

The most important negative factor is that these people are forced into raising a confused generation, which is neither Eastern nor Western, but a misfit in both cultures! Many a parents have to go through a nightmarish phase when they can no longer control their adolescents, who are attracted by the so called freedom of their native peers. Protecting their children from the culture of drug abuse, extra-marital sex and violence becomes a difficult task for them. The children who have been brought up in a totally alien culture, feel all these are normal part of life and often clash with their parents when the older generation tries to impose restrictions on them!

Sadly, inspite of these difficulties, most people who move out of Pakistan, think it is better to cope with these issues rather live in the difficult conditions back home. And so in their quest for greener pastures, they leave behind their culture, their values and a motherland which is bleeding to the core!

But I say again and again that to run away from problems is not a healthy way to solve them! We must not behave like ostriches who bury their necks in the sand! We have to face our troubles and overcome them, catch the bull by its horns and try to control it with all our might! Fighting the problems by finding out solutions and trying our best to implement them inspite of the odds is the only way things can improve!

Pakistan needs fresh blood more than it ever needed before! Dedicated, talented, hard working, honest and educated youth must come forward to control the helm of affairs! We need them in every field of action, bureaucracy, politics, military, judiciary, education and governance! Personal gains must be sacrificed for national causes! Our youth may be disenchanted and angry, but their angry outbursts show that they still care! And they know that all is not lost in Pakistan, as deep down they also feel that it is high time things should change for the better. I am not supporting or opposing any political party, but to prove my point I must remind people about the steep rise in the percentage of voters especially the young ones, when in the recent elections hope for a change was offered!

 There is always light at the end of the darkest tunnel. We must move forward, even if we are on our hands and feet, to reach that end! We have to start at the grassroots and corruption has to be eliminated at all levels. Awareness about striking the perfect balance between rights and duties can only be achieved through improving the literacy rate. Each and everyone has to put in his/her share. The effort may be small and seemingly insignificant but when a major change comes, every small endeavour will prove to help in making the difference!

Only then the plight of or Homeland can change!

I know and accept that the grass is greener on the other side of the fence. Life in the conditions prevailing in Pakistan is not easy! I fear for my children when they go out (and quickly recite a prayer for their safety), get panicked if one of them is late in coming home or  responding to a call on his/her cell phone, worry day in and day out how to stretch the household budget to make the ends meet, cry when I see the pictures of innocent children killed in terrorist attacks, rant and rave at the conditions in Pakistan when I read the newspaper or watch the news on the TV, but if given the choice of moving out, without even thinking for a moment, my answer would be “No thanks, the grass may appear greener on the other side, but inspite of the difficult conditions here, I still prefer my side of the fence!”