Byline: Mervyn Hosein
On the eve of yet another 14th August a little video clip from the movie Jinnah went viral. It starts with Jinnah confronting an angry bearded young man restrained by the police. The young bigot is furious that Jinnah talks about a Muslim state but wants to grant equal rights to minorities and women, whom he obviously feels are unworthy. Jinnah responds with, 'You are an ignorant fool! I have fought for your mother, your sister, and your children's children to live in dignity. Islam doesn't need fanatics like you. Islam needs men of vision who will build this country. Now grow up!' The clip ends at a straggling column of refugees with a, much younger and yet adoringly hopeful, refugee who had lost his young wife in the carnage, with his little orphaned daughter, still blessing Jinnah and inspiring full throated roars of Pakistan Zindabad from the hundreds of scared but hopeful refugees.
Let us fast forward nearly three quarters of a century later. On Independence Day 2019 where do we see Pakistan? For those not yet totally stunted enough to be incapable of quietly informed thinking and some introspection - the only relevant question is about all that is not yet proscribed or prohibitively unattainable in our independent nation. Have we overcome our ignorance and fanaticism for the hope of the promised nation that Jinnah dreamt of? Seventy plus years later India and Pakistan re still in hatred mode. We continue to rant and rave for a Kashmir but have we built the Pakistan that Jinnah envisioned and for which those hopeful, surviving, refugees left shattered pasts behind?
I wonder if my friend Talat would be as exuberant today. Having a brief role in that film as Abul Kalam Azad, 1939-46 Congress President, I feel doubly sad. Azad fervently wanted proportional representation and autonomy for the Muslim minority with inter-religious harmony, but all within an independent, unified and secular India. He was against partition and remained in India as its first Minister for Education before his death in 1958. Was he astute enough to realise that beyond Jinnah, Liaquat and a handful there were no men of vision, integrity or passion to take the dream of Pakistan forward?
Today we have a one-man-wonder as the only cultivar since Jinnah and his ideals and aspirations for this Muslim nation long became 'redundant.' We have little choice but to fervently hope the package it comes in will resurrect Jinnah's Pakistan. Since speech is hazardous, quietly think: has Independence Day 2019 put us any closer to Jinnah's dream?