Muhammad Ali Jinnah was much more than a role model. It would be an understatement to merely dub him as a founder of a country, and a statesman. The reason is there are many who have risen to such an elevated rank, but have never stood their ground with the passage of time. Mr Jinnah was a visionary and a par-excellence constitutional expert, and of course, a man of few words.
He foresaw history and rewrote a new social contract that has never lost its appeal to this day. Generations down the line, people who had opposed his political acumen are now his admirers. His lifestyle, ethics and political resolve was exemplary, and he construed a philosophy that is immortal.
It is another story that his nation could neither live up to his resolve, nor understand his message to this day. The truncation of his dearest country and the fragmentation in social mosaic has been a great disservice to the great leader.
The Father of the Nation has left behind a legacy, and that is in need of being upheld. He espoused communal harmony and never advocated a theocratic state. This is his biggest message that we have undermined as a nation, and are unfortunately obsessed with lingo-prejudiced and divisive politics.
He had a faith of his own, but never preached it. Though he created a country whose landmass was startling — and that too with a hostile 1000km territory in between, he never talked of regionalism and ethnicity.
His August 11, 1947, speech to the Constituent Assembly in Karachi will always be the preamble and the ever-enshrined charter of nationhood. Wherein, he called for the state to do away with religion as a state identity, and categorically warned that religion will have nothing to do with the affairs and business of the state. How unfortunate as we are yet to creed to this synopsis among ourselves.
With Unity, Faith and Discipline as torch-bearer principles for the young nation, Jinnah led by example. He neither indulged in nepotism, nor preferred a dynastic psyche in governance. His stress on merit as he addressed civil servants, military men and the masses is the way to go. He was an ardent democrat at heart, and wanted constitutionalism to be the order of his state. That is why he underscored the importance of the writ of law, and its supremacy without any let and hindrance.
Jinnah believed in the tangibles of his new-born state and was so assured of its geo-strategic triumph that he laid the doctrine of interstate relations on mutual respect and not one on geographic leaning or power blocs. This fine-print of his teachings is missing somewhere, as we struggle for good governance even after seven decades, and long for a compassionate social order that is now rented in parochialism.
The best way to pay tribute to him is to go back to his teachings, and strengthen the foundations of Pakistan on its very premise. Though the country has seen many ‘isms’ since its inception, and has somersaulted from liberalism to radicalism and from pseudo-socialism to so-called mullahcracy, it is Jinnah’s imprint that has kept Pakistan sailing.
His sayings in all walks of life — and for all and sundry — are a beacon of light, and the reason is simple: he was selfless and a thorough gentleman and patriot. He was never a chauvinist, or a carried away person in any spheres of his constitutional-cum-political straddles. This is his leadership and articulation, and one that will keep on disseminating lessons for building a solicitous society and politically-correct administration. This is what Pakistan needs at a critical juncture of its existence today.
Remembering him on national days shouldn’t be ceremonial: it must be more than a closed holiday and a stereotyped reiteration of what he was. Pakistan in seven decades of its trial and error has produced everything: from magnanimous personalities to awesome inventions, but not another Jinnah. No one could even claim to have walked in his footsteps, though. His name and nomenclature was rather misused, and his courageously carved out country let down. Time to emulate him in all spheres of national life and rebuild a Pakistan that he visualised.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 28th, 2021.
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