The dynamic leadership of Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah inspired the Muslims of the subcontinent to achieve the unthinkable and Pakistan emerged on the map of the world within a matter of seven years after the passage of the historic Pakistan Resolution on March 23, 1940, 72 years ago today. The raison d’être of this separate independent country for the Muslims was the Two-Nation Theory, an offshoot of the vision of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the poet-philosopher. The Muslims, with a religion and culture totally different from the majority Hindu population’s, were meant to be free to fashion their lives in accordance with the teachings of Islam, out of reach of economic and socio-political suppression and exploitation. Coinciding with the passage of Pakistan Resolution was the appearance of pioneering newspaper Nawa-i-Waqt, thus also celebrating its 72nd birth anniversary today, 72 years on having become the most popular paper among Pakistani readers. With time, it has panned out into a group, with an English language daily, The Nation, Urdu weeklies, Nida-i-Millat and Family, monthly Phool for the children and a TV channel Waqt News. The group is dedicated to keeping the ideals cherished by Allama Iqbal and the Quaid alive.

Coming back to the early days of the idea of Pakistan, one could confidently say that for all the seemingly insurmountable problems that accosted it at every turn at its beginning, the people, enthused with the spirit of making miracles, were able to scale them to an extent that the stage seemed to have been set to achieve greater glories. There was hope that the vision of Allama Muhammad Iqbal, the poet-philosopher, of establishing an Islamic welfare state running on modern democratic lines would be realised. However, huge misfortunes lay in store for the newly born state. The first and most grievous misfortune that struck Pakistan was the passing away of the Founder of the Nation and that tragedy occurred in just over a year’s time of its creation. The people of Pakistan felt a great sense of loss at the Quaid’s untimely death, but Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan, his able and trusted aide, kept hope alive. His cruel assassination on October 16, 1951, led his week successors and civilian and military bureaucracy indulge in intrigues to grab the reins of power, ending with the military staging a coup.

The slide that began gave the first shock in the form of East Pakistan becoming Bangladesh, thanks to the unwise policies of the ruling leadership. The rest is the story of surges in hopes only to be dashed, with the civilian governments alternating with military dictatorships. The joining of the war on terror by Musharraf, caving in to every demand of the reigning superpower, and democratic governments trying their best to set ever lower standards of poor governance. The misgovernance of the rulers who have been in power for the past four years, after Musharraf’s exit, has given rise to record-breaking corruption and amassing of wealth by the powerful and the influential. Shortages of electricity and gas, unheard of defiance of the judiciary by the government, untrammelled inflationary pressures, rampant insecurity and egregious violation of our sovereignty have become the bane of Pakistan. Acts of terrorism and insurgency-like situation instigated by unidentifiable foreign actors, raises scares of another debacle like that of 1971. The giving of MFN status to India without any prospect of a solution of Kashmir on the basis of UN resolutions and securing our water rights is a clear negation of the Quaid’s vision. The situation poses a challenge to those who claim to be the descendants of Muslim League that created Pakistan and the repository of its ideals. The PML-N has to reach out to other factions of the League, PML-Q included, to form a united front rather than giving way to ego that is harmful to the national interest. In Sindh, its efforts are bearing fruit, with the likely joining of the PML-N by Mumtaz Bhutto and Liaquat Jatoi. With the vote bank of the united League, they could turn the tide and save the country from utter disaster at present staring it in its face, paving the way to achieving the dream dreamt by Allama Iqbal and the Quaid.