Jinnah Sahib's untimely death and Pakistan's loss of Quaid's vision is often debated at this forum. Many Pakistanis, including myself find it quite disheartening that a sound and solid ideology went completely astray after his demise.
It is an irony, that we as a nation never collectively, pay heed to the original ideas and reasons why this country came into being. Agreed that the subsequent leaders who succeeded Jinnah Sahib, were silenced by force and those who were left were not able to put it into a path that Quaid had envisioned.
Arguably, the blood that many gave to reach the Wagah border, hoping to reach their promised land, was shed in vain. The chaos that ensued after one blow or the other, the intrigues that followed and the bitter differences of opinions on form and function of government, led to the military intervention. It is nothing short of a miracle, that this country is, still on the map of this world, despite all the odds.
The often stated and debated role of the military behind our national degradation, is no secret. Their blind lust for power, unabated and ill conceived dictatorship has done the most harm to the ideology of Pakistan. Seemingly, the only institution which supposedly provided "order and stability", but in fact conspired to make the political and democratic mind set weaker and bleaker in the country.
After Jinnah Sahib, the only leader, with all his faults and blemishes was ZAB, who put the country back on some track. His biggest blunder, legislature's bizarre power to serve as an arbitrator on people's faith. Personally, I am a Sunni Muslim, but I certainly do not want the government declaring anyone Muslim or Non Muslim, based on its subjective interpretation. At other forums, I have weighed in on this a number of times. If tomorrow, Shias, Ahmedis, Bohris or Ismaeelis outnumber the Sunnis in population, and declare the Sunnis as "Non-Muslims", then how would that make the current majority sect feel?
Getting back to this discussion, our political pundits often bring America as the reason why we are in such a mess. Perhaps there is some truth to this, but totally blaming the US for our flight from Jinnah's vision is at least unrealistic and disingenuous. Bhutto Sahib's socialist ideas and dreams of Pakistan becoming a modern Islamic Republic, were shattered by a rather timid looking General Zia Ul Haq.
Zia's "Islamisation project" did the most harm to our country. His proponents argue that he had very few choices. US needed Pakistan to counter the Soviet invasion in Afghanistan and Pak military was providing the logistical support to the Mujahideen. The only way he could have assembled the resources from friendly Muslim countries was to give this military campaign a cover called, "Jihad." What followed later is common knowledge.
A democratically elected government in any such predicament, would have used diplomacy and would have set certain rules of engagement. The reason is plain and simple, a democratically elected government is answerable to the public and constituents. A despot and a dictator is answerable to none. One can assume that a democratically elected government, would have reluctantly joined the campaign but would have put the interest of Pakistan at the forefront. Regretfully, Pakistan's interest was put on the back burner.
This brought the influx of refugees, that Pakistan did not have adequate resources to handle. Zia Sahib bargained the sovereignty of the country, in the name of "Afghan Aid Dollars." The religious mantra was repeated endlessly for political purposes and each promise that Zia Sahib made to the nation on July 04, 1977 was reneged.
The political opportunists benefited the most from this 11 years of military rule. The country drifted from its original ideology completely. The state was busy in the business of war and hence the Islamisation suited the agenda of the Khakis. Any and every dissent was brutally crushed and hopes of any democratic elections dwindled.
The religious and political parties demonstrated their undying allegiance to the "Ameer Ul Momineen." The rather ironic fact is that, in our faith tyranny is considered completely unacceptable. Those who have doubts, must revisit the history of the events that led to the battle of Karbala and martyrdom of Imam Hussain (R.A.H). The grandson of Prophet PBUH who gave his life opposing the unjust rule of Yazeed.
The so called religious parties who were opposed to the creation of this country, played with the dignity of this country under the facade of the faith. The Jinnah's progressive Pakistan became supposedly the sole saviour of the sanctity of the religion. The nation was divided and subdivided into so many sects and groups that a cohesive nationalistic ideology and vision became completely blurred. Creating "better, pure and pious" Muslims became the primary responsibility of the state. If the August 1988 plane crash would have not claimed Zia Sahib's life, we would have seen his reign for perhaps another 11 or many more years.
The political parties post Zia, have not been able to come out of the shadows of Zia's legacy. PML-N was truly a continuation of Zia's conservative agenda. BB Sahiba's two terms were short lived and marred by the corruption scandals. Musharraf's enlightened moderation was the biggest joke, as it was clearly the policy of keeping both, "Ram and Raheem" happy, so to speak. Musharraf Sahib was trying to keep both the US and the conservatives happy. Lal Masjid was an exception, but it was a very poor execution of state's writ. Again, there is a difference in a statesman and a dictator. Musharraf Sahib clearly was not the former.
The current regime, although is a democratically elected government but very fragile and toothless. It almost seems like it is surviving on the direct blessing of Washington. It does not have any solid vision or agenda to put the country back to any real direction. It is treading on a safe path as it cannot weather any more storms.
Looking ahead we see a potential PML-N led stint in the coming years. Again, PML-N on the surface may have gained some political points in the restoration of the CJ days, but it is ideologically a direct descendant of Zia. It has always used the "Islamic ploy" to tap into its voter base.
The hopes of reviving Jinnah's ideals are in the hearts and minds of the true patriots. Their struggle is painstaking and laborious and will take many years. The way out of this political use of Islam strictly depends on the building of consensus. It is these visionaries, who would define tomorrow's Pakistan. The tides of change have started to emerge. The soil will witness the birth of those who will change the course. These people will unite the bitterly divided nation under the flagship of Pakistan. Agreed that it is in a silent minority at the present time, but the seeds of change are being germinated as we speak. A few more years and the change of generation will alter the landscape. The truly promised land for the significant majority of the Sub Continent.