New era, new hallmarks
Building a welfare state is sine qua non for 220 million people Building a welfare state is sine qua non for 220 million people
Pakistan is changing for good. The post-independence third generation is reviving the spirit of freedom and oneness, and marshalling all in their domain to rebuild a country as envisaged by its founding fathers. The hallmarks are compassion, development, free from bias and discrimination, and a society that is for all without any religious and socio-economic prejudice. The popular mandate of July 25 general elections for 'change' is a testimony to the fact that the nation is resilient and wishes to reshape its destiny as a progressive state.
Perhaps, this is what the Father of the Nation Muhammad Ali Jinnah wanted as he said on August 11, 1947, in Karachi, while addressing the First Constituent Assembly, ".you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques, or to any other place of 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." This great lesson of co-existence will go a long way as the nation picks up the momentum to reorient itself with the challenges of the future.
Jinnah, on many occasions, in his short life post-Independence, underscored that Pakistan's polity should be secular and religion should have no business in the affairs of the state. That message is a ray of hope for 220 million people as they gear up for a decent and rightful place in this global village of ours, by keeping the country safe from incursions in the form of sectarianism and ethno-lingual revulsions.
On this 72nd Independence Day, it would not be out of context to recall the illustrious struggle of a young nation that started from the scratch. It had been through trials and tribulations but stood fast by rectifying its errors. The new-born state carved out of the Indian subcontinent hardly had any resources, nor an effective administration or army. Elders account from eyewitnesses that there wasn't enough stationery in government offices, nor proper decorum to sit and adjudicate cases in the court of law. So was its partition-rented economy and a grim international outlook. No infrastructure, no industrial base, no proper agricultural nexus was Pakistan's humble origin. However, that was never an impediment for the passionate and energetic nation to turn the table, and build a pluralistic and modern nation-state. Today, Pakistan is a force to be reckoned with.
Pakistan's strengths are innumerable. It is the lone nuclear power state in the Muslim world, and more than 100 million of its population is youth. Its geographic location is strategic in essence, and the country's foreign relations are time-tested with its neighbours and beyond. Of late, the successful anti-terrorism drive has enabled the country to stand on its feet, and dump the baggage of the Cold War behind it. Pakistan is in the process of rewriting a harmonious relationship with India, Iran and Afghanistan, and the Arab world, its special association with China in the form of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is a game-changer in the region.
Currently, the state and its institutions have taken a remarkable task for themselves in the form of bringing in the 'governance-correct'. Eradicating corruption is the ballgame now. The state of Pakistan and its political intelligentsia want to redress the plight of the nation by doing away with the backlog of foreign debts, turning around macro-economic indicators, and erecting new developmental patterns. Empowering institutions and upholding the rule of law is the new code of merit.
The judiciary has led from the front, and rekindled hope in institutional supremacy - inevitably emancipating the common man. Two complete tenures of political governments have harnessed hope in the system of public representation, and the people of Pakistan are more mature to make the right choices at ballot. The same was witnessed on July 25, as the nation went to poll, it voted for the manifesto of anti-corruption, provision of speedy justice and poverty alleviation. The public demand today is scrutiny of public funds and their rightful use for the welfare of the nation. This is evolution through ballot at its best. So is the pro-activeness of a rejuvenated civil society. Nonetheless, it still has a long way to go.
Pakistan is a peace-loving country whose majority shuns intolerance and extremism. The nation craves for prosperity and an era of harmony. Honour killings, gunrunning and nepotism, are certainly not part of Pakistan's social fabric. They have made inroads owing to feudalism and absence of writ and law. This is where the fight for Pakistan lies in the 21st century. Poverty, illiteracy and lawlessness are the real challenges of this young nation, whose more than 50 per cent population is under 30. Such lofty goals are the salient features of the new social contract in the offing.
Pakistanis have triumphed new heights after every low and kept the national flag and self-respect high. This marks the success and resilience pattern of the nation, for whom the sky is not the limit.