We just celebrated 62 years of our independence. We should have used this occasion to reflect over what the Founder of Pakistan, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had envisioned this country to be and where we actually stand today as a nation and as a state. Alas, the Quaid did not live long to personally steer Pakistan to be what he thought and aspired will be "one of the greatest nations of the world." A full generation's life-time is now behind us as an independent nation. Sixty-two years after our independence, where do we stand as a nation and as a member of the comity of nations? Are we living in "a democratic and progressive" Pakistan as envisioned by its founders? Can we genuinely claim to be "upholders" of fundamental values of freedom, democracy and human dignity? Have we been able to make Pakistan a bastion of inner strength, political stability, economic self-reliance, social cohesion and national unity that our leaders, over the years, have been show-casing to their people as their destiny? These are painful questions indeed, warranting incisive and dispassionate soul searching to be able to find their answers. With Quaid-i-Azam's early demise, Pakistan was orphaned in its very infancy and lost the promise of a healthy youth with acute systemic deficiencies and normative perversities restricting its orderly natural growth. After the Quaid, it was left without any sense of direction and in a state of political bankruptcy and moral aridity. Within the first year of our independence which woefully happened to be the last of his life, Quaid-i-Azam had presciently foreseen the coming events. He was disillusioned with the scarcity of calibre and character in the country's political hierarchy which was no more than a bunch of self-serving, feudalist and opportunistic politicians who were to manage the newly independent Pakistan. Political ineptitude was writ large on the country's horizon. Today's scene is evidence enough that the Quaid's worries were not unwarranted. No doubt, our history as a nation is replete with a series of political crises and socio-economic challenge that perhaps no other country in the world has experienced. We have survived these crisis and challenges but at what cost? The people for Pakistan have had no role in determining the course of their history or the direction of their country's political, economic and social policies. They have been exploited in the name of ideology and external threats. The real challenges facing the country have been rooted in our governance failures and leadership miscarriages. In his historic address to Pakistan's first Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947, the Quaid-i-Azam had urged that federal legislature to function as a fully representative and completely sovereign body. He also reminded the legislators of their "onerous responsibility" of framing the future constitution of Pakistan and functioning as a full and complete sovereign body like a federal legislature in any parliamentary system. But it took our politicians nine years and several governments to frame our first Constitution in 1956 which was abrogated in less than three years when the country witnessed its first military takeover. Since then, we have had two Constitutions, one promulgated by a Field Marshal President in 1962, and the other adopted by an "elected" legislature of the truncated Pakistan in 1973, which has since been amended seventeen times leaving very little of the original text in its essence. It is a different constitution altogether. Meanwhile, our parliament has never been able to function as a "full sovereign body" as was envisioned by the Quaid. A cycle of frequent political breakdowns and long spells of military rule disabled our institutional framework. The Quaid also gave us a roadmap of what he believed were the biggest challenges for the country's government and lawmakers. According to him, the foremost duty of a government was "to maintain law and order and to protect the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects. He warned against the "evils" of bribery, corruption, black-marketing, nepotism and jobbery which he wanted to be eradicated with an "iron hand." However, we as a nation have not only failed to grapple with these challenge but are in fact living remorselessly with these "evils" as an "integral" part of our society. Alas, the Quaid did not get to know us well. By nature, we are a nation of lawbreakers. We do not believe in punishing plunderers, profiteers, looters, murderers and killer sin our society. We have adopted the culture of "power and privilege" which thrives on patronage, graft, bribery, extortion, nepotism, cronyism, influence-peddling, fraud and embezzlement. Had the Quaid lived longer, he would have only been embarrassed to see how miserably we and our successive leaders have failed to live up to his vision of Pakistan. We have been cutting ourselves into pieces, losing within less than quarter of a century not only half the country but also the very rationale that had inspired our founding fathers to struggle for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent. The real Pakistan disappeared with it tragic dismemberment in 1971. Whatever was left has been converted into the "spoils of power." The threat of further fragmentation is looming large on the horizon because of misdirected policies of our rulers. We are still not decided on some of the vital questions related to our statehood. Pakistan came into being in the name of Islam and democracy but it has lived without practicing the essence of both. A country, which was considered "twentieth century miracle" of a state and which was fought and won entirely through democratic and constitutional struggle now itself struggles haplessly for real democracy and constitutional primacy. We don't believe in the rule of law. Crime and corruption are rampant and galore in our country. Poor governance is our national hallmark. There is constant erosion of law and order in the country. Successive governments, elected or non-elected, have been presiding over fateful, and in some cases, agonizing moments in our country's history without taking the people into confidence or accepting the responsibility for the tragic fallout of their actions or policies. The Quaid believed in religious freedom and communal harmony. He urged the nation to shun sectarianism. We, however, had a different approach. Intolerance and fanaticism led us to violence with no parallel anywhere in the world. We allowed Pakistan to become the hotbed of religious extremism and obscurantism. Proxy wars were fought on our soil. Sectarianism has ripped our society apart. Even mosques and churches have not been spared as venues of cold-blooded communal and sectarian killings. Terrorism-related problems afflicting our country have placed us on the global radar screen, giving Pakistan the unenviable distinction of being one of the epochal "frontlines of the war on terror." It is now seen as the "ground zero" of this war and also as world's unrivalled "breeding ground" of violence and militancy. Since 9/11, our involvement in the US-led war on terror has only complicated things for us both at home and at regional and global levels, circumscribing our sovereignty and freedom of action. Quaid-i-Azam, on many occasions, reminded the people of Pakistan of the importance of their responsibilities as citizens of this country. He regarded the ideals of democracy, equality, fraternity and brotherhood of man, rule of law, and human rights as the essence of a country's inner strength. Our performance in these areas certainly does not live up to the hopes the Quaid had placed before us. The problem with us is that democracy was never allowed to flourish in our country. We have been living with extra-constitutional devices and systemic aberrations even under elected governments with no parallel in political philosophy or contemporary history. Today, theoretically we have a parliamentary system but in effect, it is more presidential than even the normal version of presidential system. A nation's strength always lies in its people and institutions. In Pakistan, both have been denied their role or relevance. Unless we fix our fundamentals, we will never be able to move in the right direction. To be strong and stable, Pakistan must have independent and functional institutions and the rule of law. Genuine democracy rooted in the will of the people, good governance and people-centered development is the only pathway for us to go back to the Quaid's Pakistan. The writer is a former foreign secretary