By Zafar Alam Sarwar
MARCH is the third month of Western calendar associated with cold winds. But the people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad, like their brethren across the country before as well as after the December 16, 1971 truncation of Pakistan on December 16, 1971, have often regarded it as the seed-sowing period of revolutionary change eventually affecting the social, economic and cultural life of the common man.
The month is known for many promising events during the struggle for a democratic welfare state. Prior to Viceroy Mountbatten’s arrival in India in March 1947, the demand for a Muslim homeland in the sub-continent was made in March 1940 through the Lahore Resolution at the 27th annual session of the All-India Muslim League. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s attitude in preliminary talks with the viceroy reflected the clarity and inflexible determination about his vision of the future. He insisted that Muslims must have a sovereign nation-state with armed forces of its own.
A year later, on March 2, the Quaid addressed the Punjab Muslim Students Federation with intent to prepare the youth for the future goals (which still lie ahead). The Muslim Leaguers, claiming patriotism and loyalty to the state, need to recall the points he emphasised. There are at least three pillars which go to make a nation worthy of possessing a territory and running the government, according to the founder of Pakistan. “One is education, without which we are in the same position as we were in a Pandal last night in darkness.” (God forbid! darkness doesn’t prevail in the wake of load-shedding).
“Next, no people can ever do anything very much without making themselves economically powerful in commerce, trade and industry. And, lastly, when we’ve got that light of knowledge by means of education and when we’re strong economically and industrially, then we’ve got to prepare ourselves for our defence—-defence against external aggression and to maintain internal security.”
The Quaid, on March 2 of the same year, appealed to the MSF to work for the ideals they cherished for there’s a great deal more to be done and, therefore, young and old, men and women must work. The appeal lives on today as does his advice to the Aligarh Muslim University Union of the same month. The message is not time-barred. Only true lovers of Pakistan, military and civil, would realise that time has again come for them to shelve politics and devote themselves more and more to the constructive work like the spread of education among the masses, their social uplift and economic betterment.
He declared in March 1947 in Bombay “if there’s anything good (in the world), that’s just Islam.” The architect of Pakistan and the millions he led had an unending urge for an independent homeland. And that desire emanated from the Qura’n and the belief that the spirit of democracy and socio-economic justice is enshrined in Islam.
Terming democracy against the Qura’n and calling it ‘kufr’ (paganism) is oversimplification of Islam as some misguided extremists do. There’s no reason to justify everything that comes out of the mouth of any self-appointed custodian of religion, who plays with the emotions of the common people in backward areas. One has to differentiate the Islamic concept of democracy from the Western type of democracy being practised by the so-called politicians in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan since Independence.
Every so-called ‘maulana’ can’t be relied upon in such matters. The right to rule the state doesn’t belong to an individual, or to a family, or to a tribe, or to a special group of individuals, but to any such person whom the masses themselves choose for serving their cause and who can govern according the constitution in the light of the Qura’n.
The truth is that all lands belong to Almighty God who has delegated the proprietary rights to those who cultivate the land themselves. There’s no room for absentee landlords, feudalism and capitalism in Islam, which teaches fraternity, equality and liberty and guarantees socio-economic justice, irrespective of caste, creed or colour. And that is called democracy practised by Prophet Muhammad (peace upon him) in the people’s welfare state of Madina, and later followed in letter and spirit by the caliphs according to the Qura’n.
The noble Qura’n is a book of wisdom and guidance to mankind in all spheres of life—-social, economic and political—-and, above all, a source of principals of democracy and justice to the deprived, the needy and the poor in an undemocratic state and society. Who has held aloft the banner of Islam and democracy, and come forward with masses united behind him in the face of odds and difficulties which arose from the vast floodwaters affecting the lives of around 20 million people? And who are the people still rescuing and providing relief to men, women and children hit by the natural calamity? That has to be pondered over today for the future.