The recent events of the gruesome murder of a Professor in Bahawalpur by one of his students, the mysterious death of a Hindu girl of final year MBBS in the hostel of Chandka Medical College in Larkana, the sexual abuse and murder of children in Patoki and the vandalizing of the places of worship of Hindu community in Ghotki by the religious zealots provoked by unsubstantiated allegation of blasphemy against a Hindu teacher by his young student of 12 years shocked every sane citizen of the country bringing back the horrific memories of earlier instances of mob lynching of Christians as well as Muslims on faith related charges. One wonders what an inhuman society have we carved out in the country bequeathed to us by the Qaid-e-Azam in 1947.
The Qaid was clear in his vision of the future of Pakistan and expressed it lucidly in his address of 11 August 1947 to the Constituent Assembly of the country placing particular emphasis on the liberal, secular and democratic character of the State saying that henceforth ‘you are free, you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed that has nothing o do with the business of the State. And that in the course of time, Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State’. This was a clear message to the Constituent Assembly as to what should be the salient features of the Constitution of the country.
The country was deprived of the political wisdom, constitutional prowess and visionary leadership of the Qaid on September 11, 1948. His successors with their myopic political vision diluted the liberal and secular characters of the State by adoption of the Objectives Resolution as the preamble of the future Constitution. They impeded the development of a democratic culture in the country by postponing the general elections out of fear that Pakistan Muslim League would be routed. The tragic murder of Liaqat Ali Khan left the destiny of the nation with the bureaucrat-turned politicians like Ghulam Muhammad, Muhammad Ali Chaudhry, Iskander Mirza and General Ayub Khan. How they steered the country in the formative years of nation building is a painful tale to review here.
The country was plunged into religious and sectarian bigotry by dictator Zia through his over-zealous Islamization of the society. He wanted legitimacy for his unlawful rule which he found in wooing and empowering the clergy. The Islamic laws he promulgated through ordinances fuelled sectarian differences in our multi religious society which gradually acquired highly intolerant and extremist forms and plunged the nation into religious warfare. He perished in the inferno of his crashed plane in the Bahawalpur deserts, the mindset of religious extremism and intolerance he nurtured during his long rule of 11 years has been haunting us even after three decades of his death. How his Mujahidin which fought the American war against the godless Soviets in Afghanistan tore apart our society is another bitter memory in our short national history.
The violence has permeated every segment of our society. We live in fear; our past two-three generations have grown in fear. The fear and insecurity we live in has been retarding our growth into a responsible society. This phenomenon has been deliberately aided to deepen into perpetuation by the successive rulers criminally neglecting their constitutional responsibility of providing education, healthcare, security and justice to the people particularly those subsisting at the bottom of the societal pyramid. What we expected as a minimum measure from the rulers was governance based on rule of law and socio-economic equity.
They undermined whatever education system we have had and let the seminaries flourish in the length and breadth of the country increasing the strength of half lettered Mullahs. The public schools have been in a pathetic condition since decades. The education was commercialized under their nose with exorbitant tuition fees which only they and corrupt bureaucrats could afford to pay. People of my land die helplessly of snake and rabid dog bites. There are no vaccines in the stocks of district hospitals notwithstanding huge budgetary allocations. They transport the dead bodies of their loved ones on trucks and motorcycles as the hospitals refuse to provide them ambulances. This is what the Qaid wanted Pakistan to degenerate into?
The police constitutionally mandated to provide security of life and property has turned into the most brutal institution of the State arresting and locking up people and torturing them brutally in the police stations. So many deaths in police custody should have been brought shame to the senior police officers and our rulers. The Sindh police was following a unique practice of half fry (shooting in legs) and full fry (physically eliminating in fake police encounter) to intimidate those in custody to pay hefty bribes. The practice has left many persons with crutches for the remaining years of their life with more unfortunate or fortunate ones losing their life in fake police encounters. This criminal practice has stopped making news in the local print media since two years after the murder of Naquibullah, a young Pashtun, from the erstwhile tribal agencies involving the most powerful SSP of Sindh police, Rao Anwar Ahmed and his accomplices. Rao is alleged to have killed over 400 persons in fake encounters. The Punjab police have gained notoriety for custodial and fake encounter killings.
The most powerful rulers like General Ayub Khan, Zia, Musharraf and democrats including Z. A. Bhutto, Benazir Bhutto, Mian Nawaz Sharif and Asif Zardari took their turns in ruling this country. They failed to reform the Thana culture because they remained beneficiaries of it. A police official put it succinctly that ‘police force is a lethal weapon and the rulers use it to subdue their opponents or defying voters and, in return, overlook its highhandedness’. This is exactly what has been happening in this country. We have not brought an iota of change in the colonial police system which was meant to control and subdue the colonized people.
The nation is now looking to Prime Minister Imran Khan to rid the country of religious bigotry and Thana culture. The poor and middle class along with liberal segment of our population will forgive all his failures if he successfully performs these two Herculean tasks and will crazily thronged the polling stations to bring him back into power. Be the Kamal Ataturk to pull back this nation from the precipice or go down in history like your predecessors – unsung. The people remember those leaders who leave their imprint on history of their nations.