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Wednesday Sep 12 2018

One nation, many cracks

It was our defining moment. A nation, six times smaller than its adversary, rose in defiance. Our armed forces, though no match in numbers and firepower compared to the invader— fought dauntlessly, to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat. Never did so few fight so valiantly as our soldiers, sailors and airmen did in the 1965 war.

Pakistan set an unprecedented record in national defence. Our valiant defenders outclassed the Battle of Stalingrad, which ultimately turned the tide of the World War II. Generals like Lt. Gen. Akhtar Hussain Malik were almost near Srinagar, had it not been for the ill-fated change in command. The entire nation—from the Arabian sea to the hilly tracts of Chittagong--showed unprecedented solidarity with each other and stood shoulder to shoulder with our jawans.

Which is why on September 6 the entire nation joined Pakistan’s Army Chief, General Qamar Javed Bajwa, to pay tribute to the unparalleled valour of the defenders of our sovereignty and territorial integrity. It was a moment of great national solidarity to see Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) chairperson, Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, and Pakistan Muslim League-N president, Shehbaz Sharif, stand under one flag with Prime Minister Imran Khan. On that day the entire civil and military leadership rededicate itself to Quaid’s Pakistan—a Pakistan that was to be a heaven for all its citizens irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender.

Regretfully, in the ensuing days, all high sounding platitudes were marred by the Atif Mian scandal. The Harvard professor stepped down from the Economic Advisory Council (EAC) after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) led-government came under pressure for his appointment. His resignation, followed by two other equally competent foreign-based Pakistani economists, needs to be studied in correct perspective if the PTI wants meaningful tabdeeli.

The Quaid, who we all look up to, had no religious inhibitions. It is a matter of record that except for his driver, none of his domestic servants were Muslim. They were either Anglo-Indians, Parsi or Hindus. Even his personal physician was a Parsi. It was his trust in Dr Mistry that paid off. He did not let anyone know Jinnah sahib was suffering from the incurable Tuberculosis (TB). Had Lord Mountbatten known about the fatal nature of his affliction, he would have delayed the partition of the subcontinent to avoid it. In 1940, Quaid decided to launch an English and an Urdu newspaper. For the English edition, he chose a top Anglo-Indian journalist, Pothan Joseph, as its first editor in 1942. The newspaper’s editorial staff was selected on merit, irrespective of caste, creed or colour. My father who was appointed printer/publisher by the Quaid, would routinely have to deal with complaints from the religious circles about how a publication run by an Anglo-Indian could represent the viewpoint of Muslims in India.

In his speeches, Jinnah would often make references to Islamic socialism, secularism, Islamic social justice and egalitarianism with a view of creating a society for the greater good. His Pakistan was not to be a theocratic state. All its citizens, he had hoped, would be equal, irrespective of caste, creed, colour or gender.

While on September 6 we came together to pay our respects to those who departed. One wonders if we really are a nation today.

Hasan is the former High Commissioner of Pakistan and a veteran journalist

Note: The views expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Geo News or the Jang Group.

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