As the nation heads towards polls in just under three weeks, it commemorates today the 74th anniversary of the death of national poet Allama Muhammmad Iqbal. Before general elections are conducted, this is a last minute opportunity to reflect on how the lofty goals of the Allama, one of the Founding Fathers of Pakistan, will be met by the parties contesting the poll. The Allama put forward the dream of a separate homeland for the Muslims in his Allahabad Address, unambiguously envisioning an Islamic, democratic welfare state. Quaid-i-Azam returned from the UK at his behest, to head the Muslim League and reiterated the same understanding of the new state, leading to the formal demand for it, at the Lahore session of the All-India Muslim League. Though the Allama passed away at the age of 63, in 1939, his vision soared on in the hearts of those whom it had inspired.

The ideals envisioned by Allama to be the governing factors of a homeland should provide political parties a benchmark, by which they should judge their own campaign promises, and even their performance if they have held office. Political parties will find they are borrowing hope from the Allama to offer to the people, and with good reason. Iqbal's vision and depth of thought is not that of an ordinary man, none have yet matched him. It is ironic that at a time when the country did not yet exist, Iqbal provided courage to the teeming masses hopeful of a homeland. And today, in a time of continuous violence, disappointment, cruel uncertainty and crippling poverty and lack of opportunity, Pakistan today has to look for solutions within itself. By large consensus, in a throwback to Iqbal, Pakistanis are looking within themselves for answers to the dilemmas they face. Introspection and self-correction are the need of the day. If Iqbal were to see the state we are in today, one wonders whether he would provide the same gentle inspiration or perhaps use a harsher tone to berate us for our own failings in pursuing our destiny. Meanwhile, the philosophy of today seems to be centred entirely around self-interest, with morality and principles now thought to be traits of a long gone, glorious past. There is not just a dearth of modern philosophy to counter the challenges of the age, but also a lack of understanding of their nature. A thinker of the clarity and stature of Iqbal is a gift we have been left in heritage. Yet, despite this formidable inspiration, Pakistan continue to flounder. It's people all aspirants for the utopia envisioned by Iqbal, it's leaders by and largely morally bankrupt and saddled with a patronage addicted electoral system. Thus this election is more about the process than about results. If this is the state of democracy, it is perhaps no wonder that there has not been sufficient stress placed on ensuring that the state functions, in and of itself, not just as a favour done to people by special persons. The best way of commemorating this anniversary would be for the voters to exercise their suffrage with sense and logic, so as to make sure that their investment of their vote is in the candidate best able to fulfill Iqbal's vision in service to their country and it's people.