Abdul Basit Jasra
Pakistani elites in general and the political leadership in particular, must be persuaded to change their course by reviewing the rational and emotional framework in various aspects of social and national life. There is an urgent need for massive reformation on all fronts in Pakistani society and governance patterns, though it is recommended that it must be gradual, incremental and persistent series of smaller and specific activities just like the concept of business process re-engineering in an organizational setting where operations are periodically reviewed and then accordingly re-engineered for better functioning and performance.
Various institutions in Pakistan have been performing on whimsical approach and personal assertiveness without having adopted the systems-development-approach and that too in utter negation of scientific attitude towards public administration with little regard for public service delivery structure. Governance and society both have been in a state of confusion and a kind of paranoia. Analysts are of the view that due to an inconsistent rather dysfunctional education system and a strangulated national mindset devoid of critical self-analysis, there has been consistent dissemination of some remarkable distortions and mistruths in the overall historical and social fabric.
Jinnah in fact visualized a state with strong institutions based on social justice and best practices of governance and politics, and a state that would run under a systemic approach. The leadership that followed Jinnah could not translate his vision the way it should have been. Political, bureaucratic and business classes completely deviated from his vision of state functioning and public management practices that he had witnessed in the western governance culture. He was not a political scientist, or a professor of public administration, but being a leader of high stature and calibre, he believed that the new state would perform the way politics would be translated in the form of institutional functioning, and the way bureaucratic and business elites would interact at various fora in the state machinery.
Once there appear the opportunist classes in every strata of governance-society relationships, how can a Jinnahan state perform as per expectations of the public and in a scientific public administration environment. The personal and self-centred politics, since the very inception of the state, has ever resulted into gross politicking and gradual degradation and erosion of state institutions, consequent to which frustration and disappointment in public perception have prevailed.
Now at this critical juncture in Pakistan’s political and economic history, what needs to be done is an interesting debate. Jinnah had visualized a picture of society which would be equitable, compassionate and tolerant, and that could never accommodate corruption, nepotism, mismanagement and inefficiency. In most of his speeches, Jinnah focused on the high principles defined by the religion of Islam and as interpreted in the state of Madina in its early history, but Jinnah meant strong institutions and social justice in a state that would ensure welfare of its people in true sense of the word. Jinnah in some of his speeches pointed out the flaws in western-style democracy, however, he was of the opinion that democracy was the best available governance system. But, by referring to democratic system, Jinnah never meant personalized nature of political parties that would remain reluctant even in holding intraparty elections, and Jinnah had never visualized that main political parties would resemble not modern organizations but traditional influential groups and family fiefdoms.
Jinnah had closely observed western governance culture based on systems and procedures and wished to translate the patterns under the umbrella of Islamic fundamental principles. However, it must be kept in mind that Jinnah never wanted a theocratic state while he was giving references of Islam or Islamic statehood as clearly reflected in the following excerpt from his speech:
“…In any case, Pakistan is not going to be a theocratic state to be ruled by priests with a divine mission. We have many non-Muslims--- Hindus, Christians and Parsees--- but they are all Pakistanis. They will enjoy the same rights and privileges as any other citizens and will play their rightful part in the affairs of Pakistan.”
(Jinnah’s address: February 1948; referred in Jinnah: A Judicial Verdict (1990) by Liaqat Merchant)
He, of and on, met Hindu, Parsee and Christian delegations and assured them that the state of Pakistan would safeguard their interests. Moreover, Jinnah always rejected politics of regionalism and discouraged promotion of provincial sentiments and exploitation on those lines. He could never allow a semblance of regional identities, but all identities were to be absorbed in national cohesion and integration. Contrary to that, we have created fault-lines in the state and society structure with a long list of failures. We have, to a larger extent, shown inability to reverse these failures and future challenges in terms of reversing these failures are even more daunting than these were in the past. Having experimented a lot upon governance in the state of Pakistan, a lot needs to be contemplated upon and then accomplished accordingly. No doubt offices in Pakistan including its embassies abroad decorate Jinnah’s portrait, but expression of his vision at the same time is almost invisible. This deserves to be focused that all segments of Pakistani society have failed to translate what Jinnah had envisaged as reflected in the following message taken from one of his famous speeches:
“God has given us a grand opportunity to show our worth as architects of a new state and let it not be said that we did not prove equal to the task.”
Despite all that, science of governance and public administration finds the answer in even a perplexed situation and the state of affairs that pervades today in Pakistan. By showing our worth as architects of state and by adopting scientific attitude towards governance, we can translate the vision of Jinnah. By doing so, Pakistan can traverse high trajectories of growth, prosperity and a process of reformation and earn a better image among the comity of nations. n
The writer is currently working on a book, ‘Jinnah’s political career and