My Pakistan needs a new beginning

Published: Sun 13 Aug 2017, 9:41 PM

Last updated: Mon 14 Aug 2017, 12:54 PM

Though Pakistan came into being on August 14, 1947, I am part of the minority who believe that it was truly established on August 11. The testimony is as follows: The Founder of the Nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his address to the First Constituent Assembly in Karachi on August 11, said: ".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."
And that is one of the greatest lessons about co-existence for the infant nation.
The founding fathers wanted Pakistan to become a pluralistic state, one that believes in emancipation of mankind, and is egalitarian in essence. 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. The young nation and its respective governments faced problems in promulgating a constitution, until the military took over for the first time in 1958.
The infant country also had to face several geopolitical upheavals in the form of Bengali nationalism versus the West Pakistan dispensation. At times, it led to political instability and power struggle between the civilian and the military camps.
That is, however, history now; Pakistan has emerged stronger.
Like any other country, Pakistan had its own set of problems. The rise of radicalism and the fear of Talibanisation are cases in point. But the good point is that Pakistanis have triumphed in scaling new heights after every low, and kept the national flag and self-respect high. The military-led operation against terrorists has restored enough confidence among the people. Of late, institutional triumph in the form of judiciary's pro-activeness has strengthened civil society and the phenomenon of rule of law. It, nonetheless, still has a long way to go.
Pakistan is an enterprising nation of 190 million people. An overwhelming majority shuns intolerance and extremism. They want peace and prosperity, and an era of harmony. Honour killings, gunrunning and nepotism are certainly not part of Pakistan's social fabric. They have made inroads due to feudalism and absence of writ and law. Poverty, illiteracy and sectarianism are the real challenges for this nation, where more than 50 per cent population is under 30.
More than 120 million people are tech-savvy and have their fingers glued to social media. That is their future and not trigger-happiness. Millions of Pakistani expatriates, who contribute more than $20 billion per annum to the national exchequer, are its heroes.
Pakistan today needs a new social contract and a new beginning. Let the nation-state return to its basics as stated on August 11, and rejuvenate a social fabric, which is free from hatred and prejudice. Pakistan has a dynamic future for its citizens, its neighbours and the world community. As Jinnah said: "If you will work in cooperation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed." That should be Pakistan's resolve, as it turns the pages of history in the making.


Ishtiaq Ali Mehkri

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