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This is essentially a piece that is apolitical. More of history and philosophy. It is about the desire of the Founding Fathers and our current youthful population. The endeavour will be to draw upon current political climate, only to corroborate a thought or principle.

Desire is a strong feeling of wanting to have something or wishing for something to happen. A craving. Desire hence can be both pure and noble or evil and malicious. The existence of evil and its promotion can be a desire too – it can be both worthy or unworthy; noble or ignoble - that impels attainment.

Desire is a pleasure when noble, a deep pain when ignoble. It is the intensity of desire that provokes creation of its own opportunities. It follows that desire must lead to happiness and pleasure, that is within the ambit of purity and sincerity.

Following the miserable end of the Mughal rule in Delhi (1857) the Muslims in particular found themselves totally rudderless. Having ruled for almost a thousand years, the descent of Muslims into being treated as slaves, by the British rulers (usurpers) was the beginning of the nightmare that would last till 1947.

To shun the Muslim community of its regrets and to pull it out of the depths of the dungeons of self-pity and despondency, a towering Muslim personality emerged on the horizon of the sub-continent, in the shape of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan. He is considered by many historians to be among the first who propounded that Muslims in Hindustan were a distinct and separate political entity. He had a desire. What was Sir Syed’s desire?

Sir Syed was not only an Islamic reformer but an educationist of repute. He played a pivotal role in reforming the social, political and educational identity of the Muslim community. The role of Aligarh college in mobilising activities leading up to the creation of Pakistan is exemplary. Post 1857 revolt he expressed his desire in writing, ‘I was not disappointed by looting of my house and loss of belongings. I was disturbed due to the ruination of my people’.

Sir Syed initially toyed but later abandoned the idea of leaving the country that he had passionately begun to muse, instead he concentrated his efforts towards creating, pioneering and delivering opportunities for rehabilitating Muslims through the medium of modern day education. He eloquently voiced the desire and need to learn science and specially the English language.

Sir Syed’s thoughts and beliefs were entrenched in democratic norms. On the subject of freedom of speech, he wrote the following in one of his articles, ‘freedom of expression is the right of everyone - suppression of opinion be it for any religious fear , or the fear of the community and tribe or the fear of being defamed, or the fear of being government - is very bad’. In summation the desire of Sir Syed for the Muslim nation was democracy, modern education, fluency in English language and freedom of expression.

Dr. Sir Mohammad Iqbal, the poet of the East, a thinker, a philosopher and a man of amazing foresight had a desire. What was Iqbal’s desire? His desire was a major dream for creating separate homeland for Muslims.

In his presidential address in 1930 he laid bare his passionate thoughts for the Muslims of India, as being a distinct community that must have a rightful self-rule in a separate homeland to be carved out of the Indian subcontinent. This baton of desire he passed onto an emerging politician in the shape of Muhammad Ali Jinnah.

In 1920 Muhammad Ali Jinnah resigned from Indian National Congress – upon joining Muslim League he had a desire. What was Jinnah’s desire?

Jinnah was never a religious radical, but his political sagacity persuaded him to foresee that with the departure of the British, Muslims and Hindus would never be able to live in peace.

Pakistan came into existence in August 1947. In his speech to the first constituent assembly on 11th august, 1947 he made known of his desire about Pakistan and how it was to be governed in the future. After explaining the need, obligation and duty of the government to protect, people and property, he said.

‘The second thing that occurs to me is this. One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering – I do not say that other countries are free from it, but, I think, our condition is much worse – is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand and ….’

Jinnah continued, ‘Black marketing is another curse. Well, I know that Black Marketeers, are frequently caught and punished. According to our judicial notions sentences are passed, and sometimes only fines are imposed.

Now you have to tackle the monster which today is a colossal crime against society in our distressed conditions …. these marketeers are knowing , intelligent and ordinarily responsible people and when they indulge in black marketing I think they ought to be severely punished because they undermine the system ….’

It is obvious that Mr Jinnah is not satisfied with the judicial system and is seeking indirectly more severe punishment through the law by wanting to amend the legal framework.

In this very speech he says, ‘the next thing that strikes me is this. Here again is a legacy which has been passed onto us. Along with many other things, good and bad, has arrived this great evil – the evil of nepotism and jobbery.

This evil must be crushed relentlessly. I want to make it quite clear that I shall never tolerate any kind of jobbery, nepotism or influence directly or indirectly brought to bear upon me. Whenever I find that such a practice is invoked, or is continuing anywhere, low or high, I shall certainly not countenance it.... My guiding principle will be justice and complete impartiality ….’

The common desire emanating from this speech and from the collective desire of The Muslims was to have a corruption free Pakistan, educated Pakistan with complete freedom of speech alongside of guaranteeing the rights, privileges and duties of the people of Pakistan.

None of them (the political leadership then) had a desire that would cost them their soul. Unfortunately, since independence, the soul of the nation has been freely traded by all concerned for a few dollars more!

Soon, we as a nation will be celebrating 75 years of independent existence – in the life of a nation, the first 75-100 years represent the formation and the gathering maturity of thought, where the raison d’etre of its formation is validated. This is done by sound policymaking and legislation of the highest standards of governance. Where do we stand? Still at crossroads. It makes one wonder whether you strike maturity or senility at 75 years of age! What about the desire of Mr Jinnah? Where are the ideals that he spoke about in his very first speech. The current state is a mockery of his desire.

Pakistan is a nuclear state with a teeming population that exceeds two hundred and twenty million people. It has the most interesting potential social demographics. The population comprises 65% of people who are below the age of 35 years.

It is a nuclear human bomb of great potential. What is the desire of this youth bulge? Do they have a desire? The last few weeks have amply demonstrated to all onlookers, who have a keen eye on history, that the people and the youth of Pakistan have a burning ‘desire’ for improving their lot and of the future generations. The population represents energy. This energy has to be directed and put to proper and effective use for the nations launch into a different and higher level of orbit.

What therefor is the desire of the Nation today? The nation seeks not merely independence but ‘a Real Independence’. What does it take to achieve real independence is an obvious question? First and foremost political independence is a meaningless concept in today’s world, if it is not adequately backed by economic independence.

We live in a extremely interconnected global village and therefore have to maintain trade and economic relations with the comity of nations. What needs to be ensured in this pursuit is to keep both the foreign policy and the economic policy of the country totally independent of foreign interference. The nation firstly has to protect only its self-interest.

Besides these fundamentals the people of Pakistan (youth) desire a corruption-free environment, undiluted and uncompromising civic, moral and ethical standards for shouldering responsibilities by all segments of society.

The youth desires absolute freedom of speech; equality where there is opportunity for all; that all institutions must remain with their legal ambit and not smudge the lines that distinct them from other state institutions, who in their own right have defined a set of responsibilities and the desire is to seek a complete end to misrule and mis-governance. There has to be, finally, justice through fair, free and affordable legal recourse. The policies must represent our interest and not alien’s interest.

In relation to the neighbouring country that became independent simultaneously, Kudos has to be given to Jwaharlal Nehru for giving India an independent foreign policy, in spite of its obvious leanings towards Moscow and being almost a satellite state of USSR, while championing also the cause of non-alignment is commendable.

In 1951, in a address to his parliament he said: ‘By aligning ourselves with any one Power, you surrender your opinion, give up the policy you would normally pursue because somebody else wants you to pursue another policy. I do not think that it would be a correct policy to adopt. If we did align ourselves we would only fall between two stools’.

In our history we have only Zulfikar Ali Bhutto who confidently talked of adopting a non-aligned independent foreign policy. He was successful in mobilising the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) and was emerging as a leader of the third world. He met his fate for this political heresy.

The disconnect between desire and reality, who should be blamed? Ourselves or alien forces? It is certainly not a design flaw but is a result of our continued, bad and irrelevant political practices that haven’t changed.

The youth are the hope, and where there is no hope there is never an endeavour. The young men and women in their quest for real independence are now waving, don’t think that they are drowning.

At 75 years of age the time has arrived for the political leadership of this country to align themselves with the desire of the population. The process of imposition of the will of the few upon the desire of the many has to be reversed. The starting point of all achievement is desire. Weak desires bring weak results, just as a small amount of fire makes a small amount of heat. This must consistently be kept in mind.

It is time to reckon, ‘he who desires but acts not, breeds pestilence’ (William Blake). It is in the death of desire that fear is born. Only and unflinching passion for achieving any objective will ensure success, for the desire of the end in mind, invariably points out the means.

With apologies to the noted Lebanese writer Khalil Gibran for rephrasing one of his most thought provoking composition, “Pity The Nation”.

Pity the nation that does not heed to the yearnings of its youth; pity the nation that is deaf to the ominous silence that waits to unleash its fury. The youth of this country is bubbling with kinetic energy…. Recognise and heed.

(The writer is a freelance contributor)

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

Sirajuddin Aziz

The writer is a senior banker & freelance contributor

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