Farid A Malik |
Sir Syed Ahmed Khan after retiring from service at the age of 55 years decided to bring the Muslims of the Indian Sub-Continent into the mainstream. As a starting point he chose history to lift the morale of his brothers in faith. He requested the intellectual heavyweight of the century Mirza Asadullah Khan Ghalib to write a foreword of his book. Instead Ghalib wrote a poem urging him to look forward through initiatives in education rather looking back in times. It made all the difference Sir Syed started with opening of schools, colleges and finally the Aligarh Muslim University came into being in 1920.
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Aligarh Muslim University not only led the movement for Pakistan, it also produced the manpower to sustain and run the nascent state. Very few universities have been able to play such dominant role in steering the course of a nation as Sir Syed’s university did. In the sixties it were Universities of Chicago and Berkeley that openly came out against the Vietnam war. Dr. Eqbal Ahmed the fertile and progressive mind from our part of the world led this effort in Chicago. Finally the war came to an end. Today Vietnam is a prosperous Asian Tiger.
Sir Syed completed his mission, the first Islamic Democracy was carved out for the Muslims of India. Then came the vision and dream of Iqbal for the creation of an Islamic Welfare State. Iqbal’s thoughts inspired the entire Muslim World. In Iran he was known as Dr. Iqbal Lahori: Dr. Ali Shariati with Iqbal’s message laid the foundation of the revolution that took place in 1979 under the leadership of Imam Ruhollah Khomeini.
In the year 2019, that is 72 years after the creation of Pakistan when we look back at the starting point from where the journey had started it is evident where Sir Syed succeeded Iqbal and Jinnah did not. The Islamic Welfare State that Iqbal had envisioned and Jinnah tirelessly worked for is now where to be seen even after over seven decades. Things went seriously wrong which were neither envisioned by Iqbal nor Jinnah. Maulana Abul Kalam Azad cautioned about the unfolding scenario. Sir Winston Churchill was most vocal when he said criminals and thugs will come into power. One cursory look at both the parliaments (Hindustan, Pakistan) is a glaring proof of what the two had predicted.
Everyone talks about the potential of Pakistan and its untapped resources which have not been tapped in over seven decades. First it was the constitution that took nine years to be finalized but when time for its enactment came in October 1958 it was annulled. After the dismemberment of the original Pakistan in 1971, there were two major course corrections. For long term sustainability the Nuclear Programme was launched turning the country into the 7th Nuclear Power of the world. The 1973 constitution has kept us intact despite several attacks and infringements. Between security and internal cohesion every other aspect of human development has been largely ignored or deliberately overlooked due to wrong priorities of the leadership that followed.
After my term ended in the Science Foundation in 2005 I started working on a knowledge city project. One day I got a call from a gentleman by the name of Shafi Ahmad. He was an entrepreneur and a visionary who was also running a training institute. He had obtained a Masters degree in Electrical Engineering from Canada. After graduation he was offered a job there which he turned down with these words, “I will stay back here only if bitten by a mad dog”. He had a vision for Lahore. Through training he desired to make the youth employable to eliminate joblessness. He had divided the city into four parts. As he belonged to a low income family from Samanabad he wanted me to start from there, first by gap analysis to be followed by appropriate skills for employment. I was moved by his vision and we started to do preliminary work to get started. But it was not to be, during the planning phase he suffered a massive heart attack and expired on his desk.
Through me Engr. Shafi Ahmad’s vision create a model city where everyone is made employable lives on. He believed that through gainful employment poverty could be eliminated. While the PM has focused on completing the mission of Iqbal and Jinnah of building a welfare state, the directly elected Mayor of Lahore can convert the metropolis into a 21st century haven where everyone has a job, a roof over his head and does not have to sleep with an empty stomach unless advised by the doctor for medical reasons. Let Lahore the heart of Pakistan be the starting line for building Iqbal and Jinnah’s Pakistan. The model can then be replicated in other cities. Yes we have the potential to rise but only if the colonial impediments and roadblocks are removed. We cannot allow criminals and thugs to rule over us, only then will ‘Naya Pakistan’ be possible as envisioned by Iqbal and realised by Jinnah.
Dr. Farid A. Malik is Ex-Chairman, Pakistan Science Foundation. The article was first published in The Nation and has been republished here with the author’s permission.