Pakistan: Reflections on the 67th Independence Day
By Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD.
August 14, is the 67th independence day of Pakistan from the British colonial rule. When people and nations across the globe celebrate their independence day, they analyze a fair assessment of their present and past and try to focus on their ideas of the freedom movement and ideals of achievements, progress and to share a vision of the future – a picture of tomorrow- how the people and nation will appear or strive to pursue for the best of their national priorities. Pakistanis are not fortunate enough to demonstrate this vital historical record as part of their contemporary history and its legacy. Pakistan movement – the demand for freedom of a Muslim homeland in the sub-continent, was not an end itself of the struggle but a progressive movement of the people, by the people and for the people to achieve strategically important goals- the Freedom from colonial subjugation, and continue to march for the ultimate goals of a progressive nation-building, change and development to co-exist within the international community of civilized nations. What Mohammad Ali Jinnah- Qauid-e-Azam and his colleagues achieved under the circumstances was not an end of the Pakistan Movement but an initial stage of progress to be continued by the succeeding generations of morally and intellectually conscientious and educated and responsible Pakistanis. Perhaps, Quai-e-Azam and his immediate colleague like the first Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, Miss Fatimah Jinnah, Sardar Abdur Rub Nishtar, Khawaja Nazamudeen and so many others were not conscious that future generations could betray the ideals of the Pakistan Movement. It is imperative, that we all must THINK – who we are, where we are and why and what needs to be done to move forward. Any critical analysis of the nation will engage critical questions and self-analysis of what happened and what went wrong and why?
Mohammad Ali Jinnah- Quaid-e-Azam was a visionary political leader of integrity and knew the well integrated essence of freedom and capacity-building of the nationhood. Nation-building is a rigorous task over ages. Jinnah continued to teach, focus and emphasize the moral and intellectual facets of freedom — Faith, Unity and Discipline. After Jinnah’s sudden death, those who embraced the political power through backdoor conspiracies betrayed the moral and intellectual foundation of Pakistan. The British colonial master transferred the power to the Muslim League on August 14, 1947- the only time Pakistan’s history witnessed a legitimate occasion of transfer of power, all those who came afterwards were feudal lords popped up by the legacy of British Raj or most incompetent and uneducated conspirators who saw the corridors of power through political intrigues, corruption and treachery to the principles of the Pakistani’s Freedom Movement. Change and development are critical facts in the political pursuit of making a progressive nation.
Pakistan’s freedom was besieged and its progress curtailed by the absolute rulers – the Generals and their accomplice feudal landlords- the cronies of the British Empire. Pakistan’s history demonstrates turbulent and unpredictable chaotic developments undermining its movement for freedom, national interests and the future. Pakistan is under heavy foreign debts and foreign dictates in policies and practices. Pakistan is being governed by the wrong people, with wrong thinking and doing the wrong things. Pakistan Needs a navigational Change, away from the corrupt politics of the few egomaniacs and criminals called politicians. The priorities must be focused on developing a new system of economic and political governance by disconnecting the interdependence on foreign aid, debts and dictates. The nation is at its critical and painful juncture of very survival. Under the circumstances, what is there to celebrate? The symbolic Pakistan Independence Day celebrations will remain devoid of much needed change and reformation aim of the institutionalized corrupt system of governance. The core message is that Pakistan is in desperate need of a New Political System, New Political institutions, New Educated and Intelligent leadership befitting to the changing needs and aspirations of the people and Islamic values to ensure a viable future.
Pakistan’s major problem rests with domestic powerpoltics. Those who grab the power through intrigues, political conspiracies, military coups, sectarian killings and large social-economic disruptions as is the on-going Pakistani elite supported and American-British led bogus War on Terror, would never cease to act or see an end to their hegemonic power control. For almost half of a century, Pakistani politics in groomed with military dictators and their FEW created and installed feudal lord families of the British colonial time- Bhuttos, Sharfis, Zardaris, Chaurdirs and of course, the military Generals themselves – the chief instigators of selfish governance and national decline. These are household names of hatred and disgrace to the thinking Pakistanis. The Nation that allows criminally indicted and most corrupt people to hold offices of national governance and responsibility cannot be viewed as Nation of moral values and honor. This is how East Pakistan was lost. The political curse and disintegration of the social, moral and intellectual culture goes on for ages without an end in view. Anyone who will challenge their powerhouse is labeled as “extremists”, “fundamentalists” and most often “terrorists”. The real terrorists are never publicly arrested or brought to law and justice. The IMF record shows that Pakistan owes some $70 billions in loan mostly in arrears unable even to make the interests-based annual installments. Nobody knows how and where these funds are utilized for the benefits of the people of Pakistan. It is public knowledge that Zardari, Ms. Bhutto and Sharif have stolen billions of dollars from the Pakistani lifelines and brought costly real estates in UK, France and Dubai and elsewhere but none can dare to stop theses criminals to payback to the nation. Ms. Bhutto and Zardari built a palace in Dubai, bought mansion in Surrey, UK, a palace in France and were indicted by Swiss court for money laundering scheme. Sharif twice dismissed on corruption charges is no stranger to filthy politics. Yet they returned to political power as if they self-claimed innocence had any credibility. With so much corruption, all is propagated as normal in public conscience.
The ordinary folks are still looking for recognition of basic human needs, rights, equality, security and justice. There are full time high life privileges for the affluent class but nothing for the ordinary citizens except demonstrations, social and intellectual deprivation and lost sense of identity. How would the nation reconnect itself to the forgotten purpose and meaning of the Lahore Resolution of March 1940 for an independent Pakistan? How would the succeeding generations imagine what challenges prompted to plan and organize the Pakistan’s freedom movement?
Unless the THINKING PEOPLE of the Pakistani Freedom Movement and Foundational Values reactivate their thoughts and energies for a Navigational Change, the Nation is at critical crossroads for its own fragmentation and by its own so called monstrous political leaders. How to Change the political cruelty and tyranny of the FEW unto ANEW value-based political system of institutions, responsible leadership and governance? Pakistan desperately NEEDS people of New Vision, New Ideas and political imagination to safeguard the freedom of the nation from ultimate chaos and ruins. Those part of the problems cannot be part of the solutions. Foreigners will not help Pakistan; their plans are working to disintegrate Pakistan. Nation’s own future is at stake.
Western industrialized world has adapted the phenomenon of Change as a way of thinking and living. Islam subscribes to change as a precept of life. But ignorant and selfish rulers denied Islam its rightful place in Pakistani politics. Pakistan desperately needs a navigational change to return to its original roots of participatory democracy and a new foreign policy disconnecting its coercive partnership with the US-British led bogus War on Terrorism.
Leaders create leaders. Howard Zenn imagined the ‘history as a weapon’ and EH Carr highlighted the history as a tool for teaching and learning. Not so, Pakistani elite are abhorrent to the role of history, only to manipulate and maximum the self-interest and to deprive the masses. Cruelty knows no bound as for half of a century Pakistani nation failed to produce a single enlightened, intelligent or credible leader to lead. The Generals, Bhuttos, Sharifs and Zardari are not the leaders but bootlickers of the West and the by-products of the neo-colonial military rule. Those so-called self-appointed leaders who have been living on stolen wealth and borrowed time, how could they offer any proactive leadership vision for change, reformation and nation-building? There is nothing to celebrate on the independence day except a time for soul searching – grab the mirror if you can or have the rational mind to reflect at our own wrong thinking and incapacitated state of the national affairs, so helpless that instead of being active reformers, most have succumbed to be pacifist spectators. Pakistan needs change but there is no systematic mechanism to foresee or visualize a democratic plan for political change and future-building. More than 30 years earlier while a student in America, this author wrote to General Zia ul-Haq, “what would our history say, why the succeeding generations of Muslims failed to produce leaders like Salahuddin, Allama Iqbal, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Qutb, Al-Mushraqi, and Mowdoodi? Only the martial law administrators who kept the nation together by law and order and nothing else.” Gen Zia ul Haq replied without attempting to answer the focal question.
India and China are the emerging new superpowers, acknowledged and considered by the Western strategic policy interests and economic development agendas. Nations do develop where there is freedom of thoughts and action, open commerce and trade and honest and competent people come to assume the leadership role. Nobody would invest in a society governed by military Generals and indicted criminals like dead Ms Bhutto and Zardari, as they have neither relevance nor value in the contemporary global affairs.
America is a big game player in Pakistan and its security apparatus. The aid gimmick has kept Pakistan interdependent on the policy making of the US administration and a nation being viewed more liability than an asset to the American geo-political interests in that region. The US leaders allege Pakistani rulers (civilians and military) as “double dealers” paid, bribed but act contrary to the American dictates. The imagery that floats across the globe that Pakistani Generals and politicians are in the paid US basket and survive on its active support to rule Pakistan. The beggar nation that continues to be living at the mercy of the so called US aid money and foods, often defined as conspiracy to fighting proxy wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere. All that can go wrong have gone wrong with the system of Pakistani governance. Every one selling others, every one making cash dollars by trading-in the interests of the Muslim nation. It is business “as usual” and nobody seems to raise any eyebrows anymore in a culture of nuisance, filthy corruption, and non-Islamic governance claiming to be Islamic Republic of Pakistan. When corruption spreads, darkness prevails and people lose sense of direction. Nobody knows where Islam exists or is operative across Pakistan.
Worst crises have happened but the rulers and the nation seem to have ignored the necessity of political change. In its May 18, 2007, the New York Times published front page article that “Pakistani Generals are paid to do the job.” That was General Musharaf and comrades, exposing the insanity of the “war on terrorism” that Pakistan embraced and the Generals made millions. The terms of reference clearly shows that the US intelligence network and the political leadership have full control over all the major affairs of governance in Pakistan. Zardari and the Pakistani Generals are the stooges of the US managed political chessboard. In May 2011, President Obama ordered attack at a compound in Abbottabad to kill Osma bin Laden.. It was a political killing as Bin Laden was not charged with any crimes anywhere or according to the American Constitution. Next day, CIA Chief Panetta thanked General Kiyani and President Zardari for their cooperation. Why Pakistani did not repulse the US attack on Abbottabad? Should Pakistanis not question Kiyani and Zardari for their involvement in this political massacre? It is not the first time that Pakistani rulers have sided with the aggressors. ZA Bhutto and Gen Musharaf came into power through this exercise. Do these cruel monsters have a future? Bruce Riedel, One of Obama’s advisors on Pakistan and the War on Terrorism (“Battle for the Soul of Pakistan” 1/4/2013, Brookings Institute and Centre for Middle East Policy) calls it “2013 could be a transformative year for the country, indeed it will be the battle for the soul of Pakistan.” He explains: “One measure of Pakistan’s instability is that the country now has between 300 and 500 private security firms, employing 3,00,000 armed guards, most run by ex-generals.” What makes the ex-Generals to create a culture of fear and insecurity? Is it the ex-Generals or the bogus War on Terror they have perpetuated? Is it that they draw their after service gratuities from such crime-riddled adventures? He adds that
“So, it is no wonder that the generals prefer to have the civilians responsible for managing the unmanageable, while they guard their prerogatives and decide national security issues. As important as the coming elections will be, the far more important issue is who will be the next Chief of Army Staff.”
The corrupt institutionalized politics denies participation to educated, honest and intelligent Pakistanis. The nation has not learned any lesson from its own blood soaked tragedies. Ironically, dead Bhuttos, Zardari and Sharifs were candidates in the elections again and Sharif has conveniently replaced Zardari to form a new government. Nowhere in the civilized world are the criminals allowed to stand in political elections. Have the Pakistani people gone that much down the drains in thoughts, observations and wisdom? Do they have any honor left for the self? If so, they could not allow Musharaf, Zardari, Bhuttos and Sharifs to compete in the elections. The Pakistani nation must see the Mirror – look at itself straight, candidly and with fullest sense of moral, intellectual and political responsibility: who they were, where they are and where they are heading to? Or the Nation stands no chance for any recourse or coming out of the deadly political stunts of the few, time killing legal battles and the historical graveyards. If the nation was not complacent in all of these sadistic misfortunes – General Musharaf and his associates, Bhuttos, Zardaris and Sharifs and Chaudris could never have come into political power and to molestation of the moral, intellectual and spiritual culture and values of Islamic Pakistan. None of these political monsters have made any positive contributions toward a genuine functional democracy nor do they have any rational sense or knowledge of it. They are active again to grab the power and nothing else. History has a defined role and the present and future generations must give credence to these developments and learn to be aware of the future in waiting, and how best to make a navigational change to ensure independence and integrity of Pakistan.
The ideals of the Pakistan Freedom Movement must be revisited and incorporated into the making of the future. To undo the darkened past and reshape the present, Pakistan urgently NEEDS educated, visionary and proactive leadership and public institutions to rebuild its essential capacity to safeguard its integrity, survival and future as a Muslim Nation moving forward to pursue change and social and economic development infrastructures for the deprived people. The solution must come from the THINKING people of the new educated generation – the intelligent and proactive Pakistanis to facilitate HOPE and PROMISE for a sustainable future of the beleaguered nation. This should be the framework of the message and active agenda for change and reformation as the core of the celebration of the Pakistan’s 67th Independence Day. At the top of the political agenda, should be the security of the nation and protection of life and human dignity of all the citizens of Pakistan. The intelligence networks appear to be old and too much aligned to the foreign interests. This must change and innovative public intelligence networks should be evolved to protect the unity and integrity of Pakistan. If there are mindful new politicians, they must focus to develop the national capacity to assure the global community that Pakistan could live, progress and achieve its futuristic economic-political goals without begging any more IMF loans and AID from the US. Self-reliance and self-development are critical to national development. Pakistan’s image is tarnished. There must be an immediate end to belligerent US drone attacks on Pakistan and end to Pakistan’s involvement in the US sponsored bogus War on Terror. These rulers must focus on restoration of political normalcy, trade, commerce and integration of people and movement for business across Pakistan. Any neglect will amount to dreadful treachery and violation of the principles and values of the Foundation of the Nation. If you reject cynicism, indifference and perversion, YOU (the people) have the capacity – YOU can do it. It is not too late, despite the odds and self-geared moral, political-economic ruins and increasing internal strife and sectarian bloodbaths, YES, you can be changed unto a strong progressive Nation under intelligent and honest new generation leadership fostering the ideas and ideals of Mohmmad Ali Jinnah, Quaid-e-Azam and reconnecting and integrating the present and future generations to the making of a promising Future. Now, it is up to YOU (the people) to make it or break it.