A nation is like a ship that has to be kept afloat by collective efforts of its inhabitants otherwise it invariably sinks. Individuals on life rafts never make it on their own without the mother boat. The Pakistan was created by All India Muslim League, which led the movement. It was a democratic struggle started by the Muslims of Bengal at Dacca in 1906. The party then spread to Lucknow and other parts of India. However its presence in Punjab and KPK remained marginal. After the Lahore Resolution of 1940 the call for independent Muslim rule gained ground.

As a first Islamic democracy Pakistan started off well. Despite several teething problems the new nation not only survived but kept its course. Till 1958 the focused remained on institution building. By mid fifties most vital organs of the state were functional (PIDC, PCSIR, PAEC, PPL). Gas was discovered at Sui in 1953 which at that time was the largest deposit of the world (12 TCF). A consensus constitution was also promulgated in 1956 by the elected legislative assembly. Iskandeer Mirza was the last Governor General and first President of the Republic. Then there were two un-wanted Martial Laws one on Oct 07, 1958 by Iskander Mirza and the other on October 27, 1958 by Ayub Khan. From 1951starting with the murder of the first Prime Minister (PM) Liaquat Ali Khan the struggle for a democratic Pakistan came to a grinding halt together with nation building. Instead the focus shifted to personal interests and empire building.

Till 1958 there was honesty and austerity and no external debt. The nation had learnt to live within its means. True to its name Punjab had five rivers flowing, three of them were surrendered to India (Ravi, Sutlej, Beas) against international laws. Doling out of Perks, plots and permits which were un-heard off now stated. Even the policy of: National needs followed by import substitution and then export. Due to vested self interests the Steel Mil which provides the basic material of development was not set-up till the mid seventies. After sending the established and financially clean politicians home, a new breed of corrupt leaders like Chaudhry Zahoor Elahi, Yasin Wattoo were introduced. Being an era of empire building based on shallow personal interests, it divided the nation into haves and have-nots.

The Bhutto era (1971-1977) brought back the focus on nation building and democracy. He was committed to nuclear deterrence and stood his ground against Western pressure and remained defiant till the end. His removal and subsequent involvement of Pakistan in the Afghan war clearly indicated international conspiracy against an elected leader of a sovereign nation. Since then the internal governance and external policy of the country has been in shambles.

Musharraf stated of well but then lost direction. He was able to drive out corrupt politicians. Nawaz through an agreement and Benazir in self exile were out of the arena. His National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) brought them back. Imagine if he had resisted international pressure and held free and fair elections without the NRO, Pakistan today would have been under clean leadership. But small players cannot operate on large screens. To keep his Presidency he accepted the NRO and with it the mess that followed. Earlier President Farooq Leghari was given a free hand to clear the political dirt through accountability and mass disqualifications but he too caved in to save his position. As a result PML-N was back in power and got rid of him together with the Chief Justice and COAS.

The movement for rule of law in 2007 was unique in many ways. The civil society stood shoulder to shoulder with the lawyers and they took on the might of the establishment. There were two long marches in which the masses were mobilised. Finally the Chief Justice of Pakistan was restored. Again he proved to be a small player on a large screen; instead of establishing the rule of law he started encroaching in the executive domain through sou-moto actions. He left the entire legal sector in total disarray. The street agitation of the Black Coats has now reached the court rooms were judges have to operate under duress.

The NRO sell off of Musharraf could not prolong his Presidency. Fearing impeachment he resigned in disgrace. His friends who had promised to get him elected ten times in uniform could not save him. Individuals who compromise national interests to protect self gains are quickly forgotten. The dictator is now part of our checkered political history, which is dominated by tyrants and plunderers more zeros than heroes.

Legacy is built around what one gives not what one takes. The father of the nation gave his life for Pakistan. He left no heirs in the country he created. His daughter and two grandsons are settled abroad. His expensive properties are in state control. Corps Commander Lahore lives in Jinnah House. The government is in litigation to take control of Jinnah House in Bombay which is one of the Prime Properties of the city. His ancestral house in Karachi has been turned into his personal museum.

For the ship of the nation to wade through troubled waters needs full support of the masses. Individuals do make a difference but it is the nation that courts. People on life boats look for straws to keep afloat. Offshore accounts are support systems they rely on. It is time to throw such individuals overboard to be in the company of sharks that they have tried to emulate all their lives.

It was Benazir Bhutto’s 63rd birthday. There was a large gathering at Ghari Khusa Buksh the resting place of Bhuttos. Their legacy lives on. In Lahore on the footsteps of Badshahi Mosque on one side is the grave of Allama Iqbal and on the other are the remains of Sir Sikander Hayat the unionist Chief Minister of United Punjab. While Iqbal Museum is visited by people from all walks of life the other side remains barren. Nations are built by individuals who work for the common good and they deserve to be remembered and eulogised. The rest perish as dust to be forgotten and are condemned by the people they exploited.