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25 December has a special significance for Pakistan as well. Being the birthday of the Founding Father (25 December 1876), no citizen of the Islamic Republic can afford to under- estimate its importance not only for us but for the world at large.
Moreover, this is arguably my most favorite time of the year. The spirit of Christmas brings joy, hope and brings about a pleasant change in people’s outlook. There’s positive energy in the air and everyone seems to be optimistic, passionate and blessed.
Both are equally important. But there is a general rumor spread among most of the people that 25 December is not the actual birth day of the Christ. Plus, most of the right-wing Muslims don’t entertain the idea of celebrating a festival that has “Western roots”. But the Christians are free to celebrate the event in Pakistan.
Amidst all the skepticism and tension that exists in the country today, one amazing virtue is that people never forget to give and share. There’s this willingness and a nagging urge to be charitable and not to forget the less fortunate ones amongst us. Christmas is a mood changer that elevates emotions to the highest levels and facilitates in building strong relationships and breaking walls of hatred and animosity – a message that resonates with happiness and delight for all and sundry.
Sixty-six years ago, on the day of Pakistan’s birth, the country’s founder stood in this very city and addressed his new nation.
On the other hand, QUA is the founding father of Pakistan. There is a feeling of love and respect in every Pakistani for the man who freed them from the oppression of Hindus. So, it is only natural that the nation would celebrate the QUA’s birthday with zest and zeal.
“You are free,” Muhammad Ali Jinnah said. “You are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
Scholars and historians agree that the Pakistan Jinnah envisioned wasn’t supposed to be a theocracy. Rather, they argue, Jinnah wanted Pakistan to be a safe haven for the Indian subcontinent’s Muslims whose minority political and economic interests were not represented in the Indian parliament.
Most of my friends in the United States and elsewhere would be surprised to learn that Pakistan was founded on the idea of religious tolerance. Jinnah envisioned a country where people of all faiths could live together harmoniously — not a Muslim state governed by Islamic law. The country’s flag was designed with this in mind, with the white stripe a representation of the diverse minority faiths and ethnicity that enriched Pakistan’s population alongside the green, which represents Muslims.
What difference have all these years made?
Dec. 25 — a day of national celebration in Pakistan, and one of the few that isn’t attached to a Muslim religious holiday. Having seen Quaid’s mausoleum, it is a spectacular white-marble dome set on expansive grounds. The site and its beautiful gardens are visited regularly by couples on dates, families, and visitors from out of town there to pay their respects.
It’s a peaceful place, but not an especially hopeful one.
A guard stationed outside the dome said that Pakistan today is a “pitiful” excuse for a nation. “We have no common nationality unless it’s religion, and even that we cannot agree on,” he said.
A woman visiting the mausoleum agreed. “180 million people in one country, and we still have no loyalty to one another.”
A family visiting the mausoleum from Lahore said that they were disappointed in the lack of foresight Jinnah had. “We knew he was an educated man, so did he really not see how poor the majority of people coming into Pakistan were?” said the mother.
Her son agreed, saying “Jinnah was sick when Pakistan was created and he died only about a year later. He knew he wasn’t likely to see the fruits of his labor, but didn’t he explain his vision to any of his successors?”
But inside the domed structure where Jinnah’s body is interred, there is a hush of respect. Even the school kids, without being told to, spoke in whispers.
Regardless of what you think about where Pakistan is now, we have to remember that Jinnah created the country in the hopes that we would do something better with it.
Granted that Pakistan is a classed society whereby, in addition to a dominant religion, there are too many cultural taboos, listening to respectable, educated minds will only help in creating a better understanding amongst different communities. Communication lines must open up and a dialogue should be kicked off to see what can possibly be done to bring people of different backgrounds together. Minorities face terrible isolation in Pakistan and this is the prime reason fundamentalist Islam has overwhelmed every other faith.
The Islamic state he founded on the grand pattern of the human history’s first Islamic State of Madinah is rightly expected to bring about a far-reaching change, both nationally as well as globally, on political, socio-economic and civilizational fronts. It ought to have been a state where every citizen’s basic rights are guaranteed; where there are no class barriers; no feudal lords and their Kammi Kamins; where the rulers and the ruled enjoy the same status; where peace prevails; and justice is available free to the high and the low.
But as in case of the Christians, we the Pakistanis too have relegated to the back-burner the teachings of our well-beloved Founding Father. We cannot afford to be misled by empty slogans of those wielding power in the land and must try seriously and sincerely to keep in view the history of the Pakistan Movement, give impetus to the cause for which we were gifted by the All-Merciful Lord this Land of the Pure and make it the embodiment of the ideals for which millions scarified their precious lives, honor, hearths and homes.
Despite Jinnah’s pledge to protect the rights and civil liberties of the minorities, it appears that things worked out absolutely otherwise. While Christians are butchered and burnt alive, Hindu temples are desecrated, mullahs chant anti-Shiite slogans at the top of their lungs, Pakistan’s spirit and unity stand broken and decimated. The values and strings that bring nations together, the respect for diversity and the very strategic dimension that holds a country strong, is all lost in thin air.
Pakistan is tottering today and down on its knees. Let’s face it and make clear that no external power can fix the situation. The change and the will to improve the environment has to come from within. The days of hand-holding by foreign forces are over. A good start in an effort to initiate unity amongst the ranks could be to call a conference of scholars from different faiths and talk about ideas to coexist. Discussing general good for all instead of a few is, after all, not a sin.
EVERY year on Dec 25, we celebrate the birth anniversary the father of the nation, Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah with zeal. But have we ever stopped to ask ourselves whether this is enough to pay homage to the founder of this great country?
The nation will celebrate the birth anniversary of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah on Tuesday with renewed commitment to work hard for progress and prosperity of the country.
It will be a public holiday and national flag will be hoisted atop all public and private buildings.
The day will dawn with Qur’an-khawani at the Quaid’s mausoleum in Karachi. A change of guards’ ceremony will also be held at Mazar-e-Quaid.
Different organizations will hold special programmes, discussions, interviews to highlight different phases of the independence struggle and the leadership role of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah
I feel instead of meaningless speeches, there is a need for short, medium and long-term plans to promote the Quaid’s vision of spreading modern and enlightened education in every corner of the country. This is the best means of making Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s Pakistan a land of peace and prosperity, where every citizen is equal irrespective of caste, creed and colour.
Only then can it be said that we are followers of the Quaid-i-Azam and deserving of his legacy.
Let us pledge to the Quaid on his 142nd birth anniversary that as a nation we would try to the best of our potentials, individually and collectively, to translate into reality his sacred mission for an Islamic Pakistan.
We all have to join our hands to make the Pakistan what Quaid wanted to make it. On Sunday, Director media of PNCA, Amber Shah revealed the main objective behind arranging this activity is to educate the people about the struggle of our great leaders for acquiring a separate country and pay tribute to Quaid for his great contributions. informed that special invitations have been sent for the exhibition of Dec 24, to various dignitaries including diplomats, politicians, scholars and heads of literary institutions to witness the rare camera photographs of Quaid-i-Azam depicting life history, family and political life of Quaid-i-Azam.
“Now the responsibility is ours.”