Divided We Fall

Jinnah_Pakistan

I saw the above image this morning and could not help but wonder how far we’ve strayed from our purpose as an independent people. When Indo-Pak were one nation, Muslims kept complaining of being oppressed. They kept complaining that national policies did not consider the rights of minorities (since Muslims themselves were a minority at the time). This was one of the main reasons that propelled the creation of a separate state at the time. This was the main justification given for the creation of Pakistan; that Muslims should have a separate country, where they can formulate policies to safeguard their rights. A place where they could freely exercise their rights. Muhammad Ali Jinnah strongly advocated this point and was able to get a separate country for Indian Muslims of the region.

However, he made it amply clear that if we want to succeed as a nation we must put the State before everything else. That all our actions must take into consideration the collective well-being of Pakistanis and not just a group/set of people. Here’s an excerpt from his Presidential Address to the Constituent Assembly in 1947 emphasizing the same:

Now, if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in co-operation, forgetting the past, burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that everyone of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his color, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.

I cannot emphasize it too much. We should begin to work in that spirit and in course of time all these angularities of the majority and minority communities, the Hindu community and the Muslim community – because even as regards Muslims you have Pathans, Punjabis, Shias, Sunnis and so on and among the Hindus you have Brahmins, Vashnavas, Khatris, also Bengalees, Madrasis, and so on – will vanish. Indeed if you ask me this has been the biggest hindrance in the way of India to attain the freedom and independence and but for this we would have been free peoples long long ago. No power can hold another nation, and specially a nation of 400 million souls in subjection; nobody could have conquered you, and even if it had happened, nobody could have continued its hold on you for any length of time but for this. Therefore, we must learn a lesson from this. You are free; 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. As you know, history shows that in England conditions, some time ago, were much worse than those prevailing in India today. The Roman Catholics and the Protestants persecuted each other. Even now there are some State in existence where there are discriminations made and bars imposed against a particular class. Thank God, we are not starting in those days. We are starting in the days when there is no discrimination, no distinction between one community and another, no discrimination between one caste or creed and another. We are starting with this fundamental principle that we are all citizens and equal citizens of one State. The people of England in course of time had to face the realities of the situation and had to discharge the responsibilities and burdens placed upon them by the government of their country and they went through that fire step by step. Today, you might say with justice that Roman Catholics and Protestants do no exist; what exists now is that every man is a citizen, an equal citizen of Great Britain and they are all members of the Nation.

We seem to have strayed far away from the teachings of the founder of Pakistan. We hang his picture in our offices but we have forgotten the principles that guided his actions and led him to help us attain independence. That unity is an important element of success without which we’ll disintegrate into oblivion.

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