By Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Almost exactly nine years ago the Muslim people of undivided India adopted Pakistan as their goal of political endeavour. As the late Quaid-e-Azam repeatedly explained, the Muslim declaration for Pakistan was not a declaration of war against the non-Muslim majority in the sub-continent. It was, on the other hand, a declaration of peace. It was merely intended to end the vertical division that separated the two major peoples of the sub-continent wherever they resided, by a horizontal division so that the divided halves could each develop an internal harmony that the undivided whole lacked. It was hoped that once this harmony had been attained the two halves would live happily ever after.
The dream is as yet unfulfilled. The division has come but neither half is as yet completely at peace, either with itself or with its neighbour. Internal harmony was made impossible because neither side chalked out or planned a pattern of free and secure existence for the minorities left in its care, a pattern similar to the one that each majority has managed to obtain for itself. The fair visage of freedom, therefore, was daubed and besmeared with blood and bitter tears. External harmony was made impossible because each side felt that the division had not been fairly done and it had been deprived of much that was morally its due. Under the circumstances, the more powerful side naturally sought to exploit its advantage by holding back what it should have given and by grabbing what did not belong to it. The weaker side retaliated when it could, and when retaliation was not possible it just sulked, and felt horribly annoyed in both inter-communal and inter-Dominion relations. Therefore, the ideals implicit in the Lahore Resolution have yet to be realized, although unfortunately this realization depends as much and more on the good sense of our neighbours as on our own rectitude.
The common man, however, was fascinated not by this but by other components of the dream. The devotion and fervour that he so plentifully offered to the national cause sprung from other connotations of the term Pakistan and it connoted above all, freedom and independence. No one precisely knew what the nature of the new order would be and what sort of freedom it should bring, and no one cared to explain. Everyone felt, however, that Pakistan meant freedom from the poignant humiliation of being governed by an alien people; it meant freedom from the economic strangle-hold of a ruthless class of exploiters whose class antagonism to the victims was reinforced by differences of culture, creed and outlook; it meant freedom from the tyranny of officials big and small who derived their authority from a foreign source; it also meant freedom to speak one’s language without feeling abashed. It means freedom from perpetual affront and insult at the hands of men not as good as oneself; it meant freedom from the constant violence that one’s integrity and intelligence was subjected to, by men who had risen to power through fraud and treachery or birth and riches. The people wanted freedom from the British and the Bania, not because these two were personally undesirable but because they were committed to support everything that was retrograde and undesirable in our social and economic existence and to stifle everything that was progressive and radically beneficent. Once we get rid of this destructive combine, the people said, we shall be able to sweep all minor obstructions aside – the stupid, vainglorious feudal grandee, fub-thumping obscurantist demagogue, the tyrannous policeman, the grasping rent-racketeer, the incompetent corrupt official, the censor and the CID. We shall march forward, the people said, led by the best among us, and on pukka roads running straight to various well-defined destinations and not flounder among dim jungle-paths crisscrossing in bewildered confusion and leading nowhere; we shall build hospitals and schools and playgrounds, and ships and aeroplanes; we shall set up factories and laboratories and theatres and concert halls, write poetry and listen to music and work like the devil.
This dream, too, is as yet unfulfilled. It would be stupid petulance to insist that it should have been fulfilled within the short number of days we have spent since we achieved freedom, but it is certainly right to examine the progress we have made towards it. The examination reveals much that should have been done but has not been done and much that has been done but should not have been done. There is nothing to be discouraged about. Individuals, many of them distinguished in rank and tested in previous struggles, failed us miserably in the fight for Pakistan. The failures that we have witnessed and shall continue to witness in the fight to realize the dream that Pakistan stands for have also been and will be failures of individuals. Pakistan came in spite of Khizar, and its people will progress in spite of his successors.
The Pakistan Times, Lahore
March 23, 1949