Pakistan, the nation the Quaid-i-Azam founded, needs him and his values more than ever.
In Pakistan, Jinnah is venerated because his struggles on behalf of the Muslims of India resulted in the establishment of the country. But Jinnah’s true claim to greatness as an Asian leader is more universal: he sought to protect the rights of minorities through constitutional law.
Jinnah was a secular, Westernized, British-trained barrister; himself a Muslim, he married a Parsi, spoke mainly in English and wore European clothes. In 1920, he left Mahatma Gandhi’s Indian National Congress, of which he had been a member for two decades, not because of his own faith but because he believed Gandhi’s use of Hindu symbolism would encourage religious zealotry in politics. As Asia emerged from colonization, among the most vexing problems facing the continent’s nascent nation states was that of their large minority populations. Jinnah’s preferred solution was a legal one: constitutional measures ranging from electoral safeguards to guaranteed representation in state institutions. It was only when his attempts to achieve these measures failed that he began to campaign for a separate state for the Muslims of the subcontinent.
Six decades later, Pakistan has drifted far from Jinnah’s vision of a secular democracy. President Pervez Musharraf, who invokes Jinnah’s values in speeches, has little patience for democracy. The religious opposition parties reject as un-Pakistani the concept of secularism. And the inhabitants of smaller provinces like Baluchistan find themselves lacking the protection for minorities that Jinnah made his life’s mission. If one believes in the rule of law, mistrusts religious zealotry and opposes tyrannies constructed in the name of majorities, one should find it easy to see oneself in Jinnah and to empathize with his struggle. Much of Asia could learn from his example, none more so than those of us who belong to the state he founded.
Courtesy : Time Magazine