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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Resolution Causes Revolution

Following is the original text of the feature I wrote and the edited version of which was published in DAWN Supplement under the title 'Renewing the Pledge' on March 23, 2013. Unfortunately, an online link doesn't appear for the published feature but I'll upload a scanned image of it at a later date for comparison.
Resolution Causes Revolution
            Unlocking the future in present through past
Jawwad Daud
The key is in the Past, the lock is in the Future, and the only place from where we can access them both is the Present. For us on this day the key is Resolution of Pakistan that was presented passed and pursued some seventy-three years ago and has since become a date marked on calendars in red, announcing it as one of the national holidays. What would be celebrated as a holiday should rather be commemorated as a chance to F5: refresh. Refresh the memory the pledge and the faith.

     Insecure Muslims unsure about the future. Agitated Muslims livid with the government. Concerned Muslims alarmed by the political situation. It is happening today and it was happening in 1940 but that’s not where the similarity ends: even at that time Muslims made the mistake of seeking comradeship with an entity that wasn’t sincere to their needs: Indian National Congress (INC). Interestingly, this propensity to look outward for a savior is as recent as tomorrow and dates as far back as the eighth century when an Arab girl, taken into captivity by Governor of Deebal Pratab Raye, wrote a letter to Hajjaj Bin Yousuf, beseeching him to rescue her.
By the beginning of twentieth century Muslims had grown somewhat skeptical of outside help. Following the stance of INC over partition of Bengal in 1905, Muslims felt a need to form a political party that would give voice to their demands.
In 1906, All India Muslim League (AIML) was formed. In 1947 it will transform into Pakistan Muslim League (PML), it will be disbanded in 1958 after the first martial law, and it will Phoenix in 1962. Thereon, PML will splinter away at every important juncture of history and a century later it will have several offshoots with an assortment of alphabets, idioms, and phrases attached as suffixes. The political party that won us this country would be handled as callously as the resolution that united the Muslims as if both had served their purpose and were redundant. By the time we’ll reach today, the nation will have learned - or will have been trained - to grow dispassionate and indifferent to politics while politicians will have broken new grounds in privatizing it. Or maybe the nation went numb after losing East Pakistan in 1971 and disintegration of the political party that brought vision of resolution to reality seemed trivial in comparison. Meanwhile INC would adopt new strategies adapt to circumstances battle any such contamination to its ideology or existence and go from strength to strength.
     Sad but true but sad.
For almost thirty-four years after its inception, AIML struggled to form an alliance with INC but it couldn’t make any headway as it didn’t hold many bargaining chips. AIML had the engine but no driver; thinkers can draw the map but only a true leader can maneuver around bends bumps and barricades to drive a political party to destination. It was only after Muhammad Ali Jinnah joined AIML that things started coming into focus. Jinnah, himself a staunch supporter and believer of Hindu-Muslim alliance realized in 20s that all attempts to form a bond with INC were futile. Hence, AIML decided to shift paths and gears.
Like all major revisions to geography that have taken place under the sun, this shift also began as innocently and as simply: with a resolve.
On March 23 in 1940, AIML held its annual session at Minto Park now known as Minar-e-Pakistan. The then chief minister Bengal A K Fazlul Haq moved the then extraordinary resolution that would first become historical and would later be reduced to a mere holiday. The Lahore Resolution (later known as Pakistan Resolution) demanded sovereignty and autonomy for Muslims in ‘geographical contiguous units’ where they were in majority. Clearly our leaders then had what our leaders now lack: vision. The power and potency of that vision was so palpable that Muslims across India united under AIML for the next seven and a half years until Pakistan became a free nation.

Post independence much has changed. A lot of dust has gathered over our collective memories and spirits. The euphoria and gratitude for having our own homeland has eroded away. ‘Pakistan,’ a word that at one time quickened pulses, illuminated faces, filled hearts with joy has become a taken-for-granted nationality and in some sad cases one of the dual nationalities. ‘Resolution’ has become a word we associate with promises that we make with ourselves at the beginning of a new year to quit smoking, lose weight, gain personal excellence. The ‘Day’ is more part of manuscripts than memories and the people who witnessed it are too weak too old or too dead.
Since 9/11, most of the world has grown to be unsafe and Pakistan has become one of the favorite destinations of Arms manufacturers: current situation has helped solve their problem that was highlighted in the opening monologue of film Lord of War, ‘There are over 550 million firearms in worldwide circulation. That's one firearm for every twelve people on the planet. The only question is: How do we arm the other 11?’
Precious lives lost, private properties destroyed, national assets threatened. Growth in energy, travel, education, and other sectors has come to a grinding halt. If it had happened anywhere else, chaos calamity and catastrophe would have become order of the day but this is Pakistan and Pakistanis are nothing if they aren’t resilient resistant and rugged: the Americans have The Declaration. The French have The Revolution. The Pakistanis have The Resolution.
Thankfully, everyone has pitched in. Politicians, media, and judiciary have somewhat come of age. The talk shows on news channels have educated people about their rights, empowered them with solutions, and enriched them with perspectives. Even an uneducated layman today is more aware and wary of the international conspiracies that imperil Pakistan than he ever was. Hence, people of Pakistan are ready.
Ready to make a new resolution.
Deep down we recognize the might and magnitude of a resolution, whether personal or national. A Pakistani resolved to turn Pakistan into a nuclear power. Another Pakistani resolved to achieve excellence in his field and won the Nobel Prize. Yet another Pakistani resolved to win the Cricket World Cup. A resolution doesn’t guarantee success but it gives direction. The key is to believe, have faith, struggle without respite.
The leaders of AIML knew they wouldn’t be around forever to guide and guard us from the perils. They did their job with the confidence that the nation would be able to keep on making and taking the right decisions the right choices the right steps. The onus of proving them correct is on us.
     So let us resolve. Let us resolve not to vote. Not to vote for people, parties, or promises but instead let us vote for vision. Let us resolve not to stay indifferent on matters of national interest. Let us resolve to be as loyal committed and defensive of this new resolution as those hundreds of thousands of people in 1940.
And then let us take a leap of faith.
We share the same insecurities anxieties and concerns with Muslims of 1940 and we must share the same commitment determination and devotion with them. To unlock our future we must reach into the past and luckily we are at the right place: the present.
Today is the time to make a new resolution as only resolutions cause revolutions.

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