On occasions like the anniversaries of great leaders who conceived the creation of new states, thoughts invariably turn to the vision they had of the prospective new realities and what the generations that succeeded them have made of them after they had come into being. Today, as the nation observes the 74th death anniversary of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, who first floated and then passionately preached the idea of a separate independent state for the Muslims of the subcontinent, a question arises whether the dream he dreamt has come true; whether it is anywhere near realisation. Sadly, there is no sign that Pakistan is even set on the road that the poet-philosopher and later Quaid-i-Azam had visualised for it to take. Somewhere on the way, we have lost track of that goal. As of now, the dream seems to have gone sour, polluted by thoughts that are alien to Pakistan’s philosophy and raison d’être.

We appear to have forsaken the ideal of an Islamic, welfare democratic state of Pakistan, as if the underlying logic of this concept i.e. a state geared to meeting the aspirations of the people, both in the worldly and religious domains, has been sacrificed at the altar of self-seeking rulers and vested interests in society. Resultantly, the people feel totally neglected; even the basic necessities of life are increasingly getting out of their reach. Pure and adequate food, quality education and affordable healthcare have become an illusion for the common run of man. The economy has nosedived, employment opportunities are scarce, public discontent can be spotted from a mile’s distance. On the other hand, a set of people, in minority but powerful and influential, though, are seen busy lining their pockets, relishing the pleasures of life. So omnipresent is the feeling of insecurity that the nation is haunted by the spectre of killers and thieves stalking at every corner, a situation made worse by the inept handling of the war on terror. The facts on the ground belie the rulers’ claim of governing on the basis of democratic principles. They have singularly failed.

The ship of state that had to sail forward in stormy waters right at the start of its voyage met with one accident after the other. Deprived of the guidance of the Quaid-i-Azam, it fell into the hands of squabbling hordes that could not steer it out of trouble. Once democracy was cut short by the army, Bonapartist generals kept intruding. Gains scored by one were reversed by the other. The losers have been the people of Pakistan.

But all is not lost. We may be surrounded by enemies threatening our very survival and seemingly intractable problems. All that is needed is an honest, determined leadership to bring to the fore the inner strength of the nation to squash all such scheming, retrieve the glories of the Islamic past and to become the envy of the world, fulfilling the dream of Iqbal and Jinnah. Pakistanis have the fibre to do all that. And to say that a nation of 180 million cannot throw up such a leadership is to betray a poor sense of history!