The birth anniversary of the Quaid-i-Azam coincides with Christmas, and provides opportunity for introspection about the state of the nation he founded. That the spiritual, and very often the actual, heirs of those that he called ‘counterfeit coins’ (‘khotay sikkay) have failed to translate the clear vision he had for the state he founded into reality, should be painfully obvious on this, the 136th anniversary of his birth. But the nation should realize that it has a unique opportunity coming up to allow for a return to the path he laid out, in the form of a national election which will take place some time in the coming year, certainly before the next Quaid-i-Azam Day. It would be appropriate that the main event of the coming year should be an election, because the Quaid was a strict constitutionalist, and his vision for Pakistan included that it be a democratic state, as well as welfare and Islamic.

The Islamic nature of the state he envisaged, and that in the context the liberation struggle he led, would have precluded Pakistan’s position in the world today. He also did not conceive of liberating Pakistan from British tutelage only to place it under economic slavery to every global institution imaginable, as has been done by governments so far.

Successive governments have also not done well in building a welfare state, including the present one, which has not only not done anything to make Pakistan a welfare state, but also not even provided the basic requirement of all welfare state: good governance. The present government has shown almost none of the concern for the ordinary citizen that a government is supposed to show. The tolerance the government has shown towards the decline in law and order, the rise in prices and the intrusion of other countries, are among the things that show how far we have drifted from the Quaid’s vision.

The government appears to feel that its claim to represent one aspect of the Quaid’s vision, by its claim of restoring democracy, should allow it to ignore all other aspects of it. However, it should not be forgotten that the Quaid’s real strength was that his message represented the wishes of the millions who followed him. This makes his vision what it is, a live legacy, not a piece of the historical past. Because it has not been realised, it remains an aspiration which the people have. It would be fruitful for all parties, especially in the coming election, whether aspiring to return to office, or to retain it, to measure themselves by this message. Parties also need to see if their leaders have the same wisdom, honesty and clarity that the Quaid had. Those who aspire to the Quaid’s legacy by having a party of the same name, should also keep in mind the efforts he made for party unity, and how he answered the call of Allama Iqbal to head a unified League just before the final and decisive phase of the Pakistan Movement.