The season of light…

Syed Jaffar Ahmed in Dawn:

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness … We were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way…

MantoTHESE lines were written by Charles Dickens in the background of the French Revolution. These hold true in a very different historical setting in which Pakistan was created and started its journey. It was a journey which began amidst conflicting rays of hope and despair, and belief and incredulity. Pakistan emerged on the map of the world as the solution of the communal question that had declined to be addressed within a wider united Indian framework that had made partition inevitable. The founding fathers had cultivated a very promising image of Pakistan, a country that would be a social welfare and modern democratic state, radiating all the virtues a common Muslim believes to be found in what was believed to be an Islamic state. The reality of Pakistan, however, unfortunately proved to be the nemesis of what had been cultivated.A lot of Pakistan’s saga has to do with its leadership.

…Our freedom is known for its being the work of just one individual, the Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Leonard Mosley called the creation of Pakistan a “one-man achievement”. More comprehensive was Stanley Wolpert’s depiction of Jinnah’s role in the creation of Pakistan: “… few individuals significantly alter the course of history. Fewer still modify the map of the world. Hardly anyone can be credited with creating a nation-state. Jinnah did all three.” However, while Jinnah’s unusual role makes him a unique figure, it also represents a weakness of our freedom movement which did not create a wider section of big leaders. Those who accompanied Jinnah were mostly not even his pale shadows.

…Pakistan’s drift towards authoritarianism from its very inception was detected gradually by historians and there has been a great deal of political literature on it since. But it’s a fact of history that the first who noted it were also the first who had to bear the ramifications of authoritarianism. These were our working classes, our intelligentsia, writers and poets. Who can forget the writings of Manto and Qasmi and the poetry of Faiz and Noon Meem Rashid articulating the trials of their times. Shouldn’t they too be counted among the founding fathers of our country?

More here.

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