Pakistan Day is a day to revive our pledge for democratic Pakistan: Dr Tahir-ul-Qadri

The 23rd of March is an epoch-making day in the history of Pakistan. It is a day when the Muslims of the sub-continent gathered at the then Minto Park to make a resolve to work for attainment of a separate homeland under the dynamic and inspiring leadership of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Historically speaking, the 23rd of March represents an evolution of the political thought process of the Muslims, a determination of a clear direction and an expression of their aspirations to seek a state for protection and promotion of their unique and distinct socio-cultural and religious values and traditions. It is a day to recall and remember the sacrifices rendered by our forefathers in their cherished struggle for freedom and pay them glowing tribute for their heroic role. It is a day when our forefathers laid a foundation-stone for establishment of this great country and spelled out broad contours and principles that were meant to govern it.

Pakistan Day, as the 23rd of March is commonly known, provides an opportunity to revisit the spirit and ideals that characterized the freedom struggle and for realization of which Pakistan was created despite the combined opposition of the Hindus and the ruling British. It is a yard stick against which we need to assess our performance as a nation, identify the shortcomings that held up our progress and formulate strategies to move forward.

Pakistan Day is also a day for self-appraisal and accountability at both individual and collective levels. We need to ask ourselves whether we have been able to make Pakistan a truly democratic, welfare, Islamic state as envisioned by the founding fathers; whether the fruits of freedom have reached the common man; whether our political system enjoys broad-based support and ownership; whether rule of law and equality of opportunity hold sway; whether democratic institutions have taken root and grown larger than individuals manning them; whether common man feels truly empowered.

These are some of the pressing questions we need to be asking ourselves honestly and with an open mind. I am afraid that answers to these queries are not encouraging. Today, Pakistan is a classic case of elite capture that has been named as democracy. Political apartheid is a reality we can ignore at our own peril wherein political haves and powerless have-nots continue to live in two different worlds in the same country. The system of elections that has been in vogue for last 66 years has robbed the common man of his rights and converted him into a lesser human being. It is a country where the rich are getting richer and the poor are getting poorer simply because political system has been so designed as to support the moneyed classes to the detriment of the teeming millions.

History bears witness to the fact that any hopes that system would be able to deliver if given a chance to work itself have been dashed to the ground. Unless electoral system is reformed, no real change can come about. Let us, on this Pakistan Day, resolve to work hard, day in and day out, for bringing about change in the country. Let us launch a peaceful and democratic struggle for restoration of people’s rights. Let us make Pakistan a great and respectable country in the comity of nations.