Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Guest contribution:March events ignite hope of change in Pakistan


The following is a guest contribution. Reuters is not responsible for the content and the views expressed are the author’s alone. The writer is a former High Commissioner of Pakistan and advisor to the late Benazir Bhutto, former prime minister of Pakistan.

By Wajid Shamsul Hasan

In his historic play Julius Caesar Shakespeare uses Ides of March to warn the Roman Emperor the tragic fate that was in store for him. And ever since ides of March is used as an appropriate phrase as a precursor to events of far-reaching consequences. In case of Pakistan’s history too this month has great significance on various counts. First and foremost, the Muslims in the sub-continent decided to seek and establish a separate independent homeland through a resolution adopted by All-India Muslim League on March 23, 1940 under the dynamic leadership of its leader Mohammad Ali Jinnah. And it was an astounding achievement-entirely to the credit of Mr Jinnah-that within the short span of seven years Pakistan was carved out of the Indian sub-continent to be a secular Muslim state to ensure freedom and equality to all its citizens-irrespective of their caste, creed or colour.

It is regretfully stated that his vision was distorted by self-conceited power troika comprising of the military, civil and judicial bureaucracy in league with the Mullahs who had opposed Mr Jinnah and Pakistan. His secular ideology was replaced with a so-called Nazaria Pakistan (religioin-based ideology) by which Pakistan was in time to come was to become a theocratic state. Pakistan’s slide today under President Pervez Musharraf has brought the country to such a pass that it has almost become a failed state on the verge of meeting the fate of Yugoslavia.

March has once again placed Pakistan face to face with an opportunity not only save the country but to translate into reality Mr Jinnah’s dream of a democratic and liberal Pakistan. On March 17 the nation proudly witnessed the coming into being of the elected National Assembly historically pitched to uproot the last vestiges of military dictatorship and to usher in people’s democracy amidst stories that the usurper general has decided to run for his life seeking refuge in countries that he had served better than Pakistan. On March 19 Pakistan became yet another first-thanks to Pakistan People’s Party-to elect a woman as the Speaker of the National Assembly.