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Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Struggling with Jinnah’s Vision for Pakistan

The author, CSP Khizar Abbasi, discusses the current political-social-economic crisis faced by Pakistan at the backdrop of Jinnah’s vision for his country. He adds that to rationalize Jinnah’s vision, it is pertinent to give precedence to national interests over political interests and strategically structure the economy.

Was Jinnah right when he said, “There’s no power on earth that can undo Pakistan”? Considering the state of Pakistan today in the lieu of Jinnah’s vision, we would conclude that Pakistan has derailed from the ideologies of its founder and needs an overhaul to make this a country envisioned by Jinnah. If we compare things from the time we won our independence to the prevailing time, situations have evolved unprecedentedly in a roller coaster ride way. From being considered as the fastest growing economy in South Asia in the 1960s to apprehensions of being default and economically strangulated, Pakistan is undoubtedly going through a difficult phase.

Holistically, the current scenario speaks volumes about the fact that on every front, we seem to have compromised on our ideologies, reasons of which are both intrinsic and extrinsic. Had we aligned the ideologies envisioned by Quaid with our strategic goals and national interests, things would have been on a progressive front at all levels. As Jinnah’s vision for his country and Pakistan’s politico-economic situation stand at polarized ends, it is pertinent to critically evaluate the current dynamics to bridge the overarching gap with viable workable solutions.

Pakistan’s economic woes 

Let’s discuss the economy first. A recent report by the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) reported our Current Account Deficit (CAD) to be $17.4 bn in FY ’22, increasing astronomically from $2.82bn in FY ’21. Given our already record low foreign reserves, the situation seems fragile, and the possibility of default cannot be overlooked. Furthermore, rupee depreciation has not only resulted in 40%+ inflation in Pakistan, but has also increased our import bill exponentially.

Amidst the Russia-Ukraine war and its impact on global oil and commodity prices, it seems difficult for Pakistan to manage it in isolation without IMF or other bilateral/ multilateral donors. Pakistani rupee has been reported as second worst performing currency this year. It would not be an exaggerated statement to say that Pakistan might end up like Sri Lanka if financing needs are not fulfilled and structural reforms are not taken immediately. Even at this imperative situation with foreign reserves dwindling, government’s decision to lift ban on imports of luxury items is an unwelcoming one.

Read more: 75th Independence Day: Remembering Jinnah as A Charismatic Leader

Ramifications of political conundrums

On the political front, a crises like situation is unfolding. Political instability has waned investor’s confidence and has played a pertinent role in currency’s devaluation. It is because of this political instability top rating agencies which include S&P, Moody, and Fitch have degraded Pakistan rating to negative. This in turn will decrease investors’ confidence and hence lead to fewer capital inflows, investments and investors taking their money out of Pakistan.

Since the ouster of former prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, political instability has increased. And recent results of by-polls in Punjab have further worsened the situation. With Pakistan’s most populous province’s government different from that of central, it will be difficult to govern the country in this manner. The central government has taken bold decision that will have political cost as seen in Punjab’s recent by-polls, while Imran Khan’s firm stance of nothing but general election will further deteriorate the situation. Sanity must prevail and all political parties must sit together and leave their political differences aside and come up with pragmatic decisions to weather the storm.

Jinnah’s vision and the widening gender gap index

In the light of emerging statistical data, Jinnah’s vision for women’s empowerment in Pakistan: “No nation can rise to the height of glory until its women walk side by side with men” appears inspiring in writing and debates but has little implementation in practise. A recent report of the Global Gender Gap Index published by WEF (World Economic Forum) ranked Pakistan as the second worst country for women, with a ranking of 145/146 countries.

Read more: Are the history books telling the truth about Mashriqi, Jinnah, & Gandhi?

It ranked countries on the basis of 4 parameters which include: Political Empowerment, Economic Participation and Opportunity, Educational attainment, and Health and Survival. The point of concern is that on all these 4 factors Pakistan’s performance is not up to the desired mark in the light of Jinnah’s vision. Women continue to be side-lined, marginalised in society, and even killed in the name of honour. A recent report of rape of US vlogger by the tourist guide explains the abysmal condition of women in Pakistan. Although, strict laws are there in the constitution, but the implementation of them in letter and spirit seems to be a hard nut to crack.

The marred social fabric

In his first presidential address, Jinnah’s vision for Pakistan was translated. He reminded the nation that religion, cast, or creed had no business with the nation. Unfortunately, we have also forgotten this message of our founder and Pakistan has repeatedly witnessed ethnic conflicts, sectarian violence, religious extremism, and violation of fundamental rights of minorities. It seems that the message behind its flag is lost somewhere as the white strip indicates equal rights to non-Muslim and minorities.

The recent scuffles between Sindhi and Pushtoons perfectly fits in the frame in this regard. Nevertheless, the relevant question in this respect is if Pakistan inherited these divisions or policies of the elite based on self-interests has altered the course. The right answer in my opinion would be the latter option. Zafarullah Khan was the first foreign minister of Pakistan and has also served as president of UN General Assembly and International Court of Justice. He belonged to Ahmadiyya community. Later 2nd Amendment done during ZAB’s time held Ahmadis non-Muslim. Today, at many instances Ahmadi’s right to life has been compromised and have been side-lined from mainstream society.

Read more: The Jinnah’s Pakistan that we all knew!

In the prevailing times, it seems that factions in Pakistan have started challenging the statement by our founder that no power in earth can undo Pakistan. The recent talks with TTP in Kabul by our ulema are a case in point. In the peace talks, the major demand of TTP is reversal of KP-Fata merger, which is a constitutional amendment, and imposition of Shariah law there.

Accepting to this demand will surely be akin to compromising the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan. Moreover, accepting such demands will embolden other extremist organizations like Sindhudesh Liberation Army which Pakistan cannot afford at any cost. Hence, the military needs to be wary of the demands and the negotiations when all such peace talks in the past have proven in vain.

Nipping the bud

To conclude, it can be said that Pakistan is going through a tough phase, where political, economic, and social crises are unfolding. Apathetic attitude and indecisiveness will do more harm than good, and Pakistan cannot afford further delay in critical reforms. It is time to unite and set aside political differences, give precedence to national interests over political interests and most importantly strategically align Jinnah’s vision for a prospering Pakistan with our national and foreign policy goals.

Khizar Abbasi is a civil servant allocated in Foreign Service of Pakistan. He has done bachelors in Business Administration from Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi and can be reached at khizarfarooq_97@hotmail.com. The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.