In our beginning is our end

Ardeshir Cowasjee in DAWN:

We must read to remember. The early days of Pakistan were far from halcyon, though those of us who lived through them look back with some nostalgia. Whatever progress we have made in this country’s 63 years of life has been, as it turns out, on the negative side.

Where have we progressed in leaps and bounds? Well, in the scale of wholesale corruption, political and administrative ineptitude, and bigotry and intolerance and their accompanying violence — they were all there at the beginning which was in itself violent.

Perhaps the presence of founder-maker Mohammad Ali Jinnah for the first year of Pakistan’s life kept things somewhat in check, though his loyal lieutenants did take advantage of his state of health. His exhortations of Aug 11, 1947 to his constituent assembly were in vain.

All that he laid down — tolerance, equality of citizenship, the shunning of corruption, nepotism and jobbery, and above all that law and order was the first priority of any government — was all lost. It was never digested, the quality of manpower saw to that.

Having dipped into an OUP 2010 publication, The Culture of Power and Governance of Pakistan 1947-2008 by Ilhan Niazi, it has sadly dawned upon me how misplaced was the early enthusiasm for the new country and the belief that the words and teachings of Jinnah would prevail.

In January 1949, governor of the Punjab Francis Mudie sent a note to Prime Minister Liaquat Ali Khan complaining that Punjab Chief Minister Mamdot was one up on the centre and even Jinnah “every time that they have intervened and the feeling is growing that the centre is powerless even when the government is hopelessly corrupt and the administration paralysed … no questions of policy are even contemplated”.

Read on

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