By: Malik Muhammad Ashraf
Pakistan will turn seventy on 14th of August this year ready to celebrate the day in a befitting manner. Nations celebrate their national and independence days to rejoice at their achievements and to renew pledges to keep marching on the course chartered by the founding fathers to fulfill the objectives of attaining independence. They provide the nations with an opportunity to introspect and reflect on their mistakes and the detours taken from their cherished goals with a view to take corrective measures and reiterating their commitment to tread the path envisioned by the architect of the independence. They offer them the chance to make an assessment of their strengths and weaknesses as well as to ask themselves the questions like, do they really have something to rejoice at and celebrate?
With regard to Pakistan,before evaluating and answering the posed question it would be pertinent to have a brief insight into how and for what Pakistan came into being.The independence movement for the creation of Pakistan was arguably the shortest ever struggle to throw off the yolk of subservience to a colonial power. What made that miracle to happen owes it to the fact that despite a thousand years co-existence with Hindus in the sub-continent, the Muslims ever since their arrival in India either as conquerors or traders, maintained their distinct identity culturally and politically and were already a homogenous nationality in India before the movement to end the colonial rule in India started.
Muhammad Ali Jinnah who initially was a staunch supporter of Hindu-Muslim Unity and believed in peaceful co-existence with Hindus under a constitutional arrangement that protected the political rights of the Muslims and gave them their due share in governance---after his disillusionment with the designs of the Hindus who only wanted India for Hindus and did not acknowledge the Muslims as a separate entity---used this factor to rally round the Muslims to the cause of an independent state for the Muslims. The process of his transformation into a supporter and leader of the independence movement began with his statement in 1937 that asserted “India is not a national state. India is not a state but a sub-continent composed of nationalities, the two major nations being Hindus and Muslims whose culture, art, architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and proportion, laws and jurisprudence, social moral codes, customs and calendar, history and traditions, aptitudes and ambitions, outlook on life and of life are fundamentally different. By all cannons of international law we are a nation” The vision given by Allama Muhammad Iqbal provided a clear direction to this thought process. Pakistan Resolution was finally adopted on 23rd March 1940 and within a span of seven years Pakistan became a reality on 14th August 1947, notwithstanding the fact that the Hindus and British did not want partition of the sub-continent and made several overt and covert attempts to sabotage Muslim claims to a separate statehood.
It is said that achieving independence is not as difficult as the consolidation of the gains of independence and maintaining strong connection with the ideological moorings that guides a nation towards a right path to achieve its cherished goals. The founder of Pakistan not only won a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent but also bequeathed a vision about the course that Pakistan had to follow. He envisioned Pakistan as a democratic entity fired and fuelled Islamic principles and teachings but not an entity ruled by priests.
Since 2008 the country is under the representative rule and for the first time in the history power transition occurred through ballot in 2013. When the present government was installed in 2013 the economy was in complete shambles and the GDP growth rate hovered around 3% and the country was on the verge of defaulting IMF and international loans; a severe energy crisis gripped the country that not only hampered economic progress but also caused untold difficulties for the masses and terrorism that also had international dimension threatened the integrity of the country.
Now after four years a discernible transformation has been witnessed in all the areas and in regards to the inherited challenges. There has been remarkable turned around in the economy. The GDP growth rate stood at 5.3% this year which was the highest during the last ten years. The macro-economic reformsintroduced by the government have produced very positive results and the turn- around in the economy has been repeatedly endorsed by the international lending and rating agencies as well as the media.
Terrorism has been checked in its tracks through successful operations like Zarb-e-Azb that dismantled the terror infrastructure in North Waziristan, Operation RaddulFasad and operation Khyber IV. Thanks to the sacrifices of the armed forces and law enforcing agencies which rendered unparalleled sacrifices to get rid the scourge of terrorism. Although the war has not been completely won due to external dimensions to the phenomenon yet the portents are very encouraging.
The energy crisis has been adequately managed with the result that power outages have been reduced considerably and the industrial sector is having uninterrupted power supply.Under CPEC power generating projects with a cumulative production capacity of 10640 MW have been initiated and are expected to start contributing to the national grid by the end of 2018. With the completion of projects under CPEC, the economists contemplate 2% increase in the rate of GDP growth, indicating future economic prosperity.
The credit for these achievements surely goes to the incumbent government, particularly for showing the courage to take decisive and indiscriminate action against the terrorist outfits. It may not have been able to surmount all the challenges but it certainly has put the country on the right track. Democracy in spite of the hic-ups that have occurred during the last four years, seems on course with the prospects of continuation. So while celebrating completion of seventy years of their independence, the people of Pakistan can take pride in the fact that the country had retraced its steps to its cherished goals, though there was yet a long way to go to reach there.