VIEW: March towards independence —Alam Rind
How well have we fared with Pakistan in the last 63 years? Our performance during this period has been just dismal. We have forgotten that independence was just the first step; we need to transform Pakistan into a model Muslim state
Every year, March 23 reminds us of the historic convention of the All India Muslim League held at Minto Park, Lahore in 1940. This momentous event changed the course of history. It was the occasion when Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah crystallised Muslim aspirations and presented the quintessence of the visions of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan, Allama Mohammad Iqbal and other leaders, who struggled for the rights of the Muslims of the subcontinent. In his presidential address on the occasion he said, “The problem in India is not of an inter-communal but manifestly of an international character, and it must be treated as such.” He further added that, “The Hindus and the Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs and literature. They neither intermarry nor inter-dine and indeed they belong to two different civilisations, which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their concepts on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Muslims derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, their heroes are different and they have different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other, and likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and the final destruction of any fabric that may be so built up for the government of such a state.” Based on the ideas of the Quaid, A K Fazlul Haq, the then Chief Minister of Bengal, moved the historic Pakistan Resolution. It was seconded by Maulana Zafar Ali Khan from Punjab, Sardar Aurangzeb from the then NWFP, Sir Abdullah Haroon from Sindh and Qazi Esa from Balochistan.
A goal was set by the nation where it was decided that independence would be the only way forward. Freedom was demanded for Muslim majority areas located in the north-western and eastern zones of India. The whole nation stood united behind Quaid-e-Azam and responded to his calls with utmost devotion. The journey towards independence was not easy. It was Quaid-e-Azam’s political acumen, his foresight and character that prevailed over Hindu slyness and countered British cunning. Congress always propagated itself as the sole representative of the people of India and believed that the struggle was between Congress and the British, and that anyone who was pro-independence would support them. Their two and a half year rule exposed their true face. During this period, Muslims were subjected to physical attacks, discrimination, unemployment, strangulation of economic and educational opportunities and other abuses. In the face of all these adversities, Quaid-e-Azam stood firm and continued to propagate that Muslims were a distinct nation having a separate culture, language, legal laws, moral code, history and heroes. In 1945, the Muslim League won 100 percent seats at the centre and stood as the sole representative party of the Muslims that strengthened the hands of Quaid-e-Azam.
Today, we stand indebted to hundreds and thousands of those Muslims who lost their lives, loved ones and properties for the sake of independence. We must also pay homage to Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, Sir Allama Mohammad Iqbal and other leaders for their struggle and wisdom that delivered us from slavery. It is also time for self-appraisal. How well have we fared with Pakistan in the last 63 years? Our performance during this period has been just dismal. We have forgotten that independence was just the first step; we need to transform Pakistan into a model Muslim state. It seems as if we have stopped dreaming, as if we do not have a vision for the future and that we are exhausted and cannot struggle anymore. That may be true to some extent. What we are weary of are self-serving and egoistic politicians, corruption, nepotism and social degeneration. The terrorism unleashed against Pakistan is all about breaking the will of the people. We have got to stand against all odds as it is not possible for us to let the sacrifices of our forefathers go to waste. We have got to understand that independence was not the goal; it was a means to achieve the ultimate goal of social justice, human excellence and to shine in the comity of nations as a beacon of light truly reflecting a just Muslim society. The time is ripe to achieve this objective; we need to revisit Iqbal and benefit from the vision he set forth for us. We might have to do it without a charismatic leader like the Quaid-e-Azam. It is still possible, if we rise above our personal interests, to promulgate good and eschew evil at the individual and national level.
The writer is a freelance columnist