Ay ta’ir-e-lahooti uss rizq say maut acchi,
Jis rizq say aati ho parwaaz main kotaahi
O heavenly bird, death is better than those means of livelihood,
Which make you sluggish in your soaring flight.
- Allama Iqbal
Over sixty five years after Pakistan came into being, we are a state with a fading sense of the nationhood that inspired the Muslims of the subcontinent to rally behind Jinnah in the struggle for Pakistan. Jinnah’s Pakistan, an exciting vision of a vibrant, modern, Islamic welfare state, got sluggish and lost its moorings because of the “make a quick buck” approach and puny outlook of the ruling elite that sold its soul to corruption and servitude to foreign diktat soon after the death of Jinnah and the murder of Liaquat Ali Khan.
Our visionless and corrupt ruling elite plus military rule for most of our history denied our people a real chance to strengthen their sense of nationhood. Instead, state building with highly centralised structures and intolerance for the natural diversity of the people of this land further detracted from nation building. However the singular factor that led to the complete dissipation of any sense of nationhood was the denial of Insaf - justice - for the people. Our ruling elites built a system whereby they exploited the wealth of the nation for themselves while the people were burdened under this yoke of exploitation and increasing deprivation, with no access to justice. So a country as rich as ours, in terms not only of its people’s talent but also natural resources from abundant coal reserves to copper, gold and many other minerals to agricultural potential, was reduced to a country begging for aid when it could have built a prosperous nation where all had equitable share in the nation’s wealth. Even worse, the rulers adopted the British colonial policy of divide and rule whereby they accentuated the ethnic, linguistic, religious divides to keep the people of Pakistan subjugated to social and economic tyranny.
The results led to the breakup of the country in 1971, with the Bengalis who were part of the vanguard for the creation of Pakistan broke away to create Bangladesh. This was not the failure of the Two Nation Theory (which would have led the Bengalis to merge with Indian Bengal) but of the policies of the state of Pakistan and its selfish and corrupt rulers - both civil and military. The breakup of Pakistan was a result of the denial of Insaf - justice - to the people of what was East Pakistan. Having learnt no lessons from the 1971 crisis and the breakup of the country, the entrenched elite continued to ignore the plight of the people of Pakistan whose continuing sense of being denied socio-economic justice has resulted in polarisation of our polity and of struggles against the state especially in Balochistan.We now stand at a critical crossroad in our history with rampant violence, terror and fissiparous tendencies spreading across Pakistan.