COMMENT: ‘Unity, Faith, Discipline’, a slogan or a way forward? —Syed Shahjahan Bakhtiyar
These three words — Unity, Faith and Discipline — were passed down to us by the Father of our Nation as a source of inspiration, a guideline, and the makings of the perfect state
“With Unity, Faith, and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve” — Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah.
It truly pains me that we have sunk to such a level that we have even begun to question the core principles, the very foundation, of our nation. Needless to say, I believe that ‘Unity, Faith and Discipline’ is not just a slogan. Before I build my case, I must clarify what a slogan exactly is. A slogan is a memorable motto or phrase used in commercial, religious, political and other contexts as an expression of an idea, cause or purpose. Thus we can see that this hallmark phrase is a slogan. But it is not only that, it is much, much more than just a slogan.
These three words, Unity, Faith and Discipline, were passed down to us by the Father of our Nation as a source of inspiration, a guideline, and the makings of the perfect state. These three terms need no defence; everyone knows their importance. But in case you don’t believe me, let me ask you. Was it the actions of a single man that brought the Berlin Wall down? Was it anything other than faith and unity that enabled the Muslims to conquer all of Arabia and much of the world? Could anything have saved the Romans from the Slave Revolt except their disciplined training? Without faith, unity and discipline none of this would have been possible.
If you think that the actions of a lone man can lead to something as small as even the victory of a cricket match, then are you confident enough to play alone, with no teammates, against 11 other players?
And if my word is not enough, then take the advice of others: “True freedom is impossible without a mind made free by discipline” — Mortimer J Adler.
“Man lives by faith, and not by sight.” — Anonymous.
“All for one and one for all” — Alexander Dumas.
“If there is no discipline, there is anarchy” — Joseph Clark.
“A house divided against itself cannot stand” — Abraham Lincoln.
I believe that the true question is whether these terms immerse us in a sea of nostalgia for days past, hindering our nation’s development rather than encouraging it, or do they give us something to look up to, to work with for a better future? There is no question about it, in the same manner as the roots of a tree anchor it to the ground, unity, faith and discipline anchor us to the past. But like the roots of even the greatest and sturdiest of trees, our past is a part of us, and without it we have no future.
The first thing that me and my peers learnt in school, is not that A is for Apple, B is for Ball, or that 2+2=4, it is that we must always act with unity, faith and discipline. Our nation is passing through a dark time. Corruption is rampant, the Kashmir issue has not been resolved, and the energy crisis is an ever present problem. We are at the lowest of lows not because we remember the Quaid’s teaching, but because we have grown distant from it. We have forgotten it. Honestly, today the only place you can see or hear this motto is on Independence Day, and that too not as much as you see rival political parties vying for support.
Unity is a term lost and alien to us. We slander each other just because we belong to different sects of the same religion, just because we are different races of the same nation. We think of people as lesser beings just because that person is a Pathan, a Punjabi, a Baloch or Sindhi. How can unity be the cause of our problems when we have none?
You might say that faith is prevalent in our nation, but you would be wrong. Faith is not killing people on the basis of religion; faith is accepting people whoever they are and learning to be tolerant towards those having different thoughts or views. After all it was the Quaid who said, “You may belong to any religion, caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State.”
I would be surprised if I asked someone on the street about it and was not met by a blank expression. No one cares about laws in our nation. The constitution forbids drugs? Well, guess what, we produce 800 hectares of opium and four metric tons of heroin each year! Turn on the news channels and guess what, every day there is another story about a target killing, a bomb blast or worse. And worst of all, Pakistan is ranked 14 on the international crime index out of a total of 208 states. How can discipline be our downfall when we are among the most undisciplined lot this world has ever seen?
The constitution of Pakistan is modelled along unity, faith and discipline, yet despite that crime is on the rise in our nation. That alone is a testament to how distant we have grown from this phrase. How can unity, faith and discipline be the reason for our troubles when unity is nonexistent, faith is misunderstood and discipline is unknown to us?
Let us take the example of another nation: South Africa. Its motto is ‘Unity in Diversity’ and South Africans live largely as the Quaid told us to: with faith, unity and discipline. As a result, their GDP is the highest in Africa and the 28th highest in the world; they performed the first heart transplant; they developed vaccines for numerous diseases and they are just getting started!
With unity, we follow the axiom: ‘Two heads are better than one’ but we have even more than two heads!
With faith, we can overcome any obstacle and are not at all put down by any loss or defeat!
And with discipline, the chances of our victory increase tenfold. We are not where we are because of unity, faith and discipline. We are here because we forgot about them.
We are not now that strength which in old days/Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are/One equal temper of heroic hearts/Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will/To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield (Alfred Lord Tennyson).
And as Quaid-e-Azam said: “We are passing through a period of fear, danger and menace. We must have unity, faith and discipline.”
The writer is a student at an Islamabad school