An independence day like no other

On 14th August, 1947, Pakistan was born out of sheer struggle, determination and sacrifices of the Muslims of the sub-continent. Quaid-e-Azam, his team and his followers had done the unthinkable. They had carved out one of the largest Muslim countries of the World and snatched it from the jaws of a weakening British Empire and a hostile, extremist and superior in numbers Hindu polity.

The idea of that Hindustan belonged only to the Hindus was defeated. Muslim presence in the region since the times of Muhammad Bin Qasim had been recognized by the modern world and rights of the Muslims respected, unlike many years under the British who had defeated the Muslim Mughal rulers through cunning and divisive tactics and punished the Muslims of the sub-continent, as a result thereof. And while Muslim nations around the world were struggling between keeping their national, linguistic, ethnic and regional identities versus religious, Pakistan decided to be an Islamic Republic of Pakistan. It became a nation that kept the superior vision of the Holy Quran, that mankind is nothing without God, and all praise and all sovereignty lies with Allah, and that pious men are his servants who serve as leaders exercising power on His behalf alone. Pakistan became a beacon of hope and reformation. A glimmer that worn out religious ideals could be renewed and a modern Islamic Republic could bridge the gap of democracy versus monarchical orders. The vision was a welfare state, based on the Shariah law which brought the best practices of Western democracies and adapted it for the people of Pakistan as per their cultural and religious requirements. A dream had come true after a bloody nightmare of partition.

At the outset, Pakistan began its journey in a debilitated state. Commerce was destroyed, railways was decimated during partition, power lines had been damaged, the central bank was near bankruptcy, the Government was void of resources to support itself, the influx of refugees was insult to injury and many other serious complications. Many a people predicted that Pakistan would not last very long. But the cost of losing Pakistan was too great and the Quaid was still able. The people of Pakistan had not lost their will and the ship was steered out of the storms yet again. Pakistan could not be undone as per the ideas of the Quaid. The early death of Quaid was by far the first instance of instability. And after him the cracks began to appear. The balance between the military and civil leadership was disturbed, little did the usurpers of power knew, that it would have a bearing on generations to come.

General Ayub Khan took the reins of power in his hands and set the country on the path of multiple power disturbances. The army got involved into the affairs of the state instead of being a guardian of borders of the Pakistan. The institutional void left by him, led the way for other military dictators. The rule of law and progression of democracy was damaged beyond measure. General Yahya was another bad example. Multiple political parties enjoyed opposition or patronage of the establishment. Many Prime Ministers came and went. And in this us versus them, 1971 saw the fall of Dhaka. Another country was born out of Pakistan out of bad choices and interference by India. General Zia ushered in a new era of divisive politics and religious ideals were used to achieve personal objectives. Z.A Bhutto was hanged through political maneuvering and a great leader was lost. And after Zia, came the lost two decades of Pakistan. Political parties failed to form consensus and corruption reached its peak in the race to achieve power and dominance over others. At their height of corruption, another military coup. This time it was General Musharraf. Democracy was derailed by Musharraf brought in much needed stability to a failing nation. The War on Terror and 9/11 raged on and Pakistan had to quickly choose sides. It was not Pakistan’s war but it was one that was unavoidable. Many positive developments also took hold like the opening up of Media and Communications and social networking. The county began to join the race in global progress. Finally, after the ominous ouster of General Musharraf, democracy was once again given a chance. But this time there was competition to the old order in the form of PTI of Imran Khan.

It took Imran khan over twenty years to achieve his political objective. Becoming the head of the state and fixing the wrongs of the past. In 2018, finally, a third party won the General elections and formed Government. It was the progression of democratic ideals and a zest of the youth of Pakistan and the general public was fed up with business-as-usual. A reactionary phenomena gave rise to a new leadership that is running the country today. Although, the new PTI Government could not live up to all its promises, especially the 100 days manifesto, but still it achieved much more than previous political parties in power.

PTI under Prime Minister Imran khan learned the ropes of governance and power in Pakistan through a slow and painful process. Many promises were broken, regular shuffling of cabinet and abundant miscalculations were made. The Dollar rate jumped, inflation has soured and job creation is still at its minimum. Yet there are many achievement as well. Under the PTI Government, the transparency International has reported improvement in the level of corruption in the country, Export led growth model is giving results, Tax collection is at an all time high, the foreign Remittances to the country have increased manifolds, the positive image of Pakistan has gained momentum, in foreign policy Pakistan is being considered as a key player in the region, which includes China and United States at the same time. By China, due to CPEC and OBOR and by the US due to its involvement in the Afghanistan and Iran. In 2020, the pandemic of Covid-19 took the world by storm. Countries Europe, South America, United States failed to control deaths and the spread of the virus. India became the country worst hit with the virus, yet against all odds, with minimum health infrastructure and facilities, Pakistan has managed to contain the virus and kept death rates low. Even the WHO has acknowledged the performance of the PTI Government and NCOC in particular. Indeed, the whole nation salutes the dedication and commitment in which change has been brought to the worn-out Government machinery.

In the International scenario, Pakistan has finally re-positioned itself. Washington is bent on abandoning all its obligations in the region especially the disaster of Afghanistan. The Taliban are taking over and Pakistan is set to deal with the fallout. The refugees and the changing power structure in Afghanistan is a gigantic task. One that will require military and civilian leadership to work side-by-side. At the same time, China is taking over. It has consolidated its regional prowess through model of investment, growth and development. Iran and Pakistan are already on the bandwagon with their commitment to China One Belt and Road Initiative. It is a much needed boost to failing economies of both countries. China, Russia and Turkey are forming a new alliance that will counter western hegemony and Pakistan is a critical ally in all matters of the region.

This Independence Day marks the year in which Pakistan is on its resurgence. Having defeated the storm of covid-19 pandemic, reviving the economy and reforming the national image of Pakistan, there is not only hope but promise. Every Pakistani should keep his head high with what the nation has achieved in the past few years and should negate the politics of division and discord. Perhaps, Pakistan and the dream of Quaid was only delayed for a while and is now on its destined path, once again, with glory and honor. . .

(The writer is Chairman of Jinnah Rafi Foundation)

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