Understanding Pakistan Project Team September 11th, 2007
By: Athar Osama
Today, Pakistan solemnly observe Quaid-e-Azam’s 58th death anniversary. I am taking on the challenge of writing this piece with great trepidition, but utmost sincerity, and would like to state upfront that I truely believe that all of us, Pakistanis, including myself, owe a mountain of debt and gratitude to Qauid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah for giving us our freedoms in this country we call our homeland. Having said that, though, I would also beg to venture a bit further to say that while it was our solemn duty to establish the Pakistan of Quaid’s dreams in 1947–for that was the Pakistan for which hundreds of millions rallied behind him and over a million of us died, it is perhaps time now to dispassionately re-evalute that aspiration and take a more realistic view of our circumstances.
In the intervening 60 years, the reality of Pakistan’s politics and society has turned out to be everything but Quaid’s dream. We, as a nation and as people, have wandered around aimlessly looking for an identity and a raison detre for our existence and our quest to find our destiny has often been hijacked by unscruplous politicians, religious leaders, and miltiary dictators luring us with their own versions of Quaid’s dream. All political leaders–from the extreme right to the extreme left, from the theocrats to the democrats, from Islamists to the secularists–claim to be the custodians of Quaid’s Pakistan.
While nobody really knows what Quaid’s vision for Pakistan actually was for he said many things, on many occasions, and for many different audiences and it is easy to distort what he said to support one’s own version, we know one thing for sure. Quaid’s vision could not be all of what it is claimed to be at the same time. The struggle to interpret and re-interpret what Quaid may have said continues to this day…