The Independence Day – Are We Truly Independent?
The nation is now going to celebrate its 69th Independence Day. The day reminds us of the valiant struggle, great sacrifices and firm resolve of Quaid-e-Azam and the Muslims of the subcontinent. We spend much energy and time on celebrations but the real objectives of having a separate country have faded away. Today, the question that haunts our minds is whether this is the Pakistan that was dreamt by the poet-philosopher Allama Mohammad Iqbal and materialized by the Father of the nation, Mohammad Ali Jinnah? I believe the answer is in the negative. Today, the withering situation of the country has dragged all of us on the brink of a deep abyss; an abyss of ideological schizophrenia, a loss of cultural identity, an overall social disintegration, political chaos, a state of economic bankruptcy and, what is more a complete reversal of the set of values we inherited from the great founder of Pakistan. The tenets “Unity Faith and Discipline” given by Mohammad Ali Jinnah, we ruthlessly butchered at the altar of factionalism, racialism and provincialism. It happened mainly because we could not, unfortunately, protect the ideological frontier of the country against the powerful drifts of the antagonistic forces and completely failed in framing up a truly democratic constitution based on the fundamental principles of the Quran at the earliest possible time. We also failed in making Urdu a lingua franca of the country as a supreme source of national cohesion and solidarity. The role of the Muslim league as a founder party of Pakistan, in the post – independence era, was extremely disappointing and absolutely contrary to the dictates of national conscience and morality. Due to the dictatorial mentality and the confrontational attitude of its leaders, it lost all living touch with the masses and tragically became a hotbed of surprises and jealousies. It miserably failed in performing the onerous task of keeping the nation one and united, in view of the widening rifts in its own ranks.
On the intellectual side, the pendulum of the national thought kept immoderately swinging either to the extreme of an exclusively non-territorial pan Islamism or to the opposite extreme of a thoroughly soil-based secular irreligion-ism. However, unlikely, no intellectual effort was undertaken on a grand national scale to bridge the gulf between these two apparently antithetical strands of thought and juxtapose them into a well-knit and organized whole in the light of the synthetic character of Islam’s creative and dynamic principles. The intellectual cleavage found vivid expressions in the body politics of the nation, either in the form of radical or partial reconstruction of society on the basis of the Marxist or the western principles, or in the guise of an orthodox brand of Islamic fundamentalism. This compartmentalization of the national thought into two ideologically irreconcilable camps namely leftist and rightist is the effect; not the cause of the complete failure of the institutionalization of society on the basis of the true democratic and socialistic principles as enunciated by the Quran on the part of the people at the helm of national affairs.
It is also a great misfortune that we could not produce any other great leader of the caliber of Quaid-e-Azam. The leaders who held the reins of the nation after him were mostly mediocre, lukewarm and seasonal politicians with no vision of the great destiny of the nation. Instead of contributing anything positive to the cause of nation building, they made politics a dirty pool of stagnant water fraught with all sorts of conceivable maladies and impurities.
The creative potential of the nation got eclipsed in the absence of any favourable opportunities for its actualization and development. A gloomy sense of frustration and pessimism pervaded the national psychology and the gulf between the ruling elite and the ruled masses widened to an appalling extent in view of the deepening process of polarization and disintegration in the socio – economic structure of society. The Quaid had strongly thundered against the exploitation of the common man by landlords and capitalists: “There are millions and millions of our people who hardly get one meal a day. Is this civilization? Is this the aim of Pakistan? If that is the idea of Pakistan, I would not have it.” But the layman, being intolerably suppressed under the load of ruthless exploitation of feudal lords and capitalists, got bitterly disenchanted and skeptical of everything around him and started entertaining the notion that the creation of Pakistan was false and unjustified since it gave him nothing but destitution, squalor, joblessness, corruption and tormenting sense of deprivation and insecurity.
The leftist or the so-called progressive forces in the country marched forward in battalions to exploit this situation to their benefit as well as to fill the void that had taken place in the psychology of the nation, by the inculcation of the socialist ideal of a “classless society”. Naturally this slogan of a “classless society” or at least provision of the basic necessities of life “Bread, Clothing and Lodging” had a peculiar charm and fascination for the down-trodden and the poverty – stricken masses in the changed political scenario of the country. In addition to a programme of radical economic reforms, the leftist intellectuals managed to provide a new ideological orientation to the country in the light of the Marxist theory of class struggle and dialectical materialism which undeniably amounted to the falsification of the two nation theory which was the root cause of and the only justification for, the creation of Pakistan. Bhutto emerged, as a powerful mouthpiece of socialism on the political horizon of the country, and enforced it in the midst of universal tumult and fury, his policy of nationalization. But strangely the large scale bureaucratic embezzlement of national resources plus the peculiar condition of a feudal set-up foiled the scheme altogether and no durable and substantial change took place at the grass-root level. Bhuttoism met the same tragic fate in Pakistan as Stalinism in the former Soviet Russia.
On the other hand, the rightist forces or the defenders of the status quo assumed a purely conservative reactionary character, and managed to consolidate the prevalent socio-economic structure based on the suzerainty of feudal lords, Bonapartists, Bureaucrats, Capitalists and the Clergy against all the winds of change and revolution. Ziaism was the true symbol of the juxtaposition of all the diverse elements of Anti-Bhutto and conservative sections of society. The policies adopted by Zia to check the mounting tide of Bhuttoism further precipitated the process of fragmentation and threw the nation into the morass of a host of conflicting nationalities based on diverse ethnic, regional, linguistic and sectional interests. The name of Islam was brazen-facedly used merely as a slogan to hoodwink the ignorant masses, as well as to get a moral support and justification for the unjustifiable enforcement of military dictatorship. The forces of religious fanaticism were planningly promoted and militarily equipped to create an atmosphere of violence, hatred and intolerance all over the country.
A great fact is disclosed in the maxim: “Nations perish where vision fails”. The same tragedy befell us as our political demagogues too, lost sight of the true ideal of national consolidation and development, since too engrossed all along they were to play second fiddle to the colonial policy of their white masters by dragging the hydra headed monster of ethnic, sectarian and regional loyalties into the arena of national politics. Instead of adopting a policy of self-reliance and setting out the ideal of economic self-sufficiency by exclusively banking upon national resources and formulating policies and priorities in the light of our own objective conditions, an obnoxious, and a highly condemnable “Aid Culture” or “the concept of loan-based development” was promoted and the fate of the nation laid as hostage to the international economic parasites like World Bank, IMF and of course America.
We miserably failed to digest the so called process of development and prosperity in both agricultural and industrial sectors, by blindly accepting the western oriented development schemes as role models in complete disregard of the specific demands of our own socio-economics structure and the evolutionary principles of social dynamics. VIPism (agricultural, bureaucratic and industrial elitism) brazen–facedly fed on “Aid Culture” engulfed the moral idealism of the nation like a dragon so vibrant at the time of Pakistan’s establishment, but also heartlessly snatched even the last piece of bread due for too many hungry stomachs in the country. What good came out of the borrowed development prescriptions unwisely thrust upon us by our economic godfathers; except the large-scale concentration of national wealth and resources into a few hands, and the deprivation of teeming millions of even the basic necessities of life? Could a national character emerge or the interests of the various segments of society converge on a single point in such a highly compartmentalized and class-conscious society almost inextricably divided into camps of “the haves” and “the have-nots”? The so-called economic reforms put into force in Ayub era outwardly gave an ostentatious show of overall national prosperity and this era therefore being called “an era of development” due to large-scale industrialization in the country, but as a matter of fact it cleverly camouflaged the blood-sucking and parasitic nature of these reforms by enriching and rewarding a few selected families at the expense of the whole nation.
The resultant consciousness of this deeply ingrained and far-reaching intra-regional and inter-regional economic disparity, as well as the unjust monopolization of the power structure of the state by the ruling elite of the west virtually proved a potential flash-point, and in turn gave a devastating blow to the tottering ideological edifice of the country. A ruinous process of national self-immolation set in and the centrifugal forces fully allowed playing havoc with all the traces of national solidarity and cohesiveness. Consequently not only Pakistan’s identity as a Muslim nation-state suffered a serious setback, but also the tragedy of the secession of East Pakistan occurred. Now scepter of a myriad of nationalities has raised its monstrous head on the ruination of the concept of Muslim nation hood on the basis of which Pakistan came into existence. This destructive tide of the balkanization of Pakistan into at least five or six language-based ethno-nationalist entities can only be successfully checked by resuscitating that buried and forgotten concept of Muslim nationalism and the revival of a true image of the Quaid since one is impossible without the other. The old happy days of empty slogans and electrifying declamations are fast approaching their end under repeated public frustrations and disenchantments; now something concrete and substantial will have to be undertaken by our political pharaohs to restore the confidence of the masses and to ensure the survival of the country if they are truly committed and dedicated to Pakistan, and the lofty cause of the Quaid.
We are undergoing a transitional phase; a phase of urbanization and rapid change that includes large-scale mass migration from rural to urban centers and bringing in its wake a flood of new problems and complications i.e. over-population, unemployment, pollution, a poor and ill-organized infrastructure, rising level of crime, scarcity of space, resource problems related to health, education, sanitation, traffic system and above all a conflict of values and a deep-seated mental anxiety and spiritual uneasiness in the face of a rapidly changing world. We are required to form a clear conception of this rapid social transformation and its far-reaching consequences on the prevalent socio-economic structure of society. In order to keep abreast of this changing social perspective, our policy makers will have to change and remodel national priorities and reformulate rather a new synthesis in the light of our own unique nation experience and the existing ground realities in Pakistan without being completely swept by solely IMF-dictated structural reforms or any other westernized model of development which in the past, have done more than anything else to add to our economic miseries and troubles.
We must shun this most improper attitude of the slavish imitation of the west, if we are to proceed forward in the world like a dignified nation. No economic recipe having its roots in a particular socio-economic setup can be applied mechanically to a country having a different socio-economic structure, different set of norms and traditions and a different level of emotional and intellectual responsiveness. A living nation always tackles its problems in its own independent and creative manner relying exclusively upon its own mental, natural and individual resources though with an open-hearted acceptance of all benefits accruing from foreign channels that seem to fit in with its own general scheme of things or its general outlook on life. It is a matter of grave concern that over the years we have abandoned the too vital and indispensable habit of original thinking and inductive reasoning for too much accustomed we have become to the importation of ideas and prescriptions from the west. Perhaps our too volatile and superstitious atmosphere is not conducive for the production of original ideas or the long – standing anti-intellectual tradition of life – negating mysticism and religious obscurantism may also perhaps be responsible for this intellectual impasse and decadence. For a sensitive and meditative soul, it is surely an awesome situation giving way to despair and despondency but for the glorious scientific traditions established by the Muslims themselves in the early dynamic part of their career that reinvigorates the defeated impulses and the low spirits of an intellectually depressed Muslim.
After all, was it not the Muslims who first kindled the torch of scientific learning in an age darkened by the menacing shadows of ignorance, superstition and religious persecution? Did not our epoch – making forefathers awaken the barbarous and eternally dormant West from its intellectual slumber and teach it how to think and solve the problems of life in the light of scientific experimentation and observation bases on inductive reasoning? If it is all so, why cannot we get rid of this mental slavery of the West, which has all along been eating into the vitals of the nation right from the establishment of Pakistan. At the root of this malady lies the lack of self-assurance and a feeble political will on the part of our political pundits, economic wizards and intellectual plagiarists. What else could have been expected from these spineless and brainless guides of the nation?
Pakistan was created out of nothing in the face of overwhelming odds simply because the Muslims were fired with an insatiable urge and an indomitable resolve to exercise their right of self-determination, and to live honorably according to their principles and objectives in a separate piece of land. The peculiar thrill of this lofty commitment made by the Muslims in the inmost recesses of their heart to live according to the dictates of their conscience, resounded in the deep hollow of their soul and vibrated the every single fiber of their being. By deviating from these principles, we not only erased the very line of demarcation drawn between secularism and the concept of Muslim Nationalism but also imperiled our soul with a grave moral and spiritual crisis. Now we are wandering aimlessly in the dreary wilderness of moral pollution and spiritual putrefaction, faithlessness, directionless and leaderless, finding hope intermittently in the hazy vision of a Heaven-sent MESSIAH who would redeem us from this painful earthly situation of universal pointlessness and meaninglessness. Or life, except for the animalistic gratification of instinctive and biological appetites, has been tragically reduced to a horrifying symbol of eternal grayness and monotony. It is the inevitable price that every nation has to pay for the abandonment of the principles too vital and indispensable for its existence.
Time is out of joint. Is there any Hamlet like psychopath with exceptional moral earnestness and intellectual incisiveness to set it right, or a ray of hope and a possibility of redemption in the seemingly friendless, waterless and pathless desert of all, devouring gloom and despair? After all, it is none other than the charismatic fugue and the daring and world shaking precedent set by the Quaid, our Liberator by carving out an independent Islamic Republic on the map of the world that can truly inspire, sustain and revitalize us morally as well as spiritually in the darkest and the most depressing moments of our national existence. Does not the titanic effort undertaken by the Quaid to deliver the nation single-handedly from the subjugation of the British and the Hindus by relying exclusively upon his own intellectual and material resources and without ever budging even an inch from his principles instill a new confidence and determination in the quivering hearts of the nation to crusade against all forces of imperialism and exploitation as ferociously as a lion by putting faith in its own arm’s strength without expecting miracles from any source whatsoever. It is not now the duty of the nation as a whole to stand up to fulfill the tasks of national consolidation and development left incomplete by the Quaid-e-Azam and leave no stone upturned for the uplift of the common man. Religion, in the hand of religious priesthood, became a stumbling block in the way of national progress and virtually amounted to paralyze the nation intellectually as well as morally in view of its unprogressive, static and a purely past – oriented approach to life and all its related problems. The door of Ijtehad was proclaimed to be closed once for all and no breath of fresh thought was allowed to penetrate the thick layers of intellectual stagnation and moral pollution.
Allama Iqbal, the ideological founder of Pakistan, had conceived of Islam as an evolutionary and dynamic system of thought and conduct fraught with limitless possibilities of expansion and development. In this highly philosophical and erudite masterpiece in prose “Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam” he sought to discover, in the spirit of an imbued reformer, a dynamic principle of movement in the otherwise rigid and stereotyped legalistic structure of Islam. He proposed in the midst of an extremely illuminating discourse in his lecture “The principle of Movement in the structure of Islam” that the Muslim countries in order to shake off their dogmatic slumber and intellectual stupor, should approach the question of Ijtehad in the spirit of Umar “the first critical and independent mind in Islam”. Iqbal contends “Who, at the last moments of the prophet, had the moral courage to utter these remarkable words “The Book of God is sufficient for us”.
In view of the new forces set free in the Muslim world and quite in keeping with the republican and democratic spirit of Islam, Iqbal proposed to delegate the power of Ijtihad to the legislative Assembly of people in order to cope with the newly emerging problems and complications, as a result of the onward rush of life, in the light of the principles enunciated by the Quran.
The same liberal and progressive view of Islam was shared by the Father of the Nation who, unlike the theocratic system of government or the western brand of unturned to free itself from the tyranny and high-handedness of feudal lord, capitalist, Bonapartist, Bureaucrat, Mullah, Pir, World Bank, IMF and American in order to translate into reality the hitherto unrealized purpose, the enforcement of the Quranic Social Order, of the creation of the Pakistan. Unless our intellectuals, motivated by a deep sense of duty and an intense love for Pakistan, are alive to this heavy responsibility they are to shoulder to awaken the consciousness of the masses as well as to provide them a clear and a practicable programme of action in keeping with their long, cherished aspirations and the true ideals of Pakistan movement in order to clean the national stables of all parasitic and exploitative elements, the day of deliverance or the actualization of the Quaid’s dream, “peace within and peace without” seems to be a distant possibility.
Let us cast an inward glance, retrace our steps, rethink our thoughts and reconstruct our lives in the light of the principles our Quaid prescribed for us. In this and this alone lives our salvation and relevance to future as a nation otherwise we are bound to be lost.