Her Father's Daughter
By Ardeshir Cowasjee

Paying her third visit last month to the country founded by her father, Dina Wadia, writing in the visitors' book at Jinnah's Mazar, expressed the wish, "May his dream for Pakistan come true."
She first came to Pakistan in 1948, when the year-old country lost its founder, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, and she her father. Her memories of 1948 must solely be confined to the sad circumstances, to her own sorrow, and to the massive outpourings of grief by the hundreds and thousands who climbed the rocky hillock at dusk on September 12 to bury him.
It was a great pleasure to meet Mrs Wadia (who so resembles her father in features and manner), her son and his two sons, and to converse with her in our common expressive lingo, "ParsiGuj", which in one sentence can convey almost a written chapter.
I took with me an old photograph of her father, cigarette in mouth, lounging on the lawn of his London house playing with his dogs, Essie, his Doberman bitch and Peter, his West Highland Terrier. What else we discussed must remain private in deference to her wishes.
Invited by the chairman of our cricket board, Shahryar Khan, Dina Wadia came, with son Nusli and grandsons Ness and Jeh, to Lahore to watch the final one-day cricket match. The man, General Pervez Musharraf, who was extremely firm on the fact, soon after he took over Pakistan, that his dream for the country echoed Jinnah's dream, travelled to Lahore to meet her.
She, her son and grandsons then flew to Karachi, just for the day, to visit her father's tomb. That to her mind her father's dream was a far cry should come as no surprise to even the most unthinking of us Pakistanis.
She, however, should have been impressed with the upkeep of the tomb and with the development of the grounds in which it stands. She perhaps does not know that full credit for the landscaping of the gardens must go to the president general and his army team who have so well transformed a neglected, rundown and barren area.
It may have taken over a half century to provide gardens in memory of a man who created this country, but how many, including his daughter, are aware that it took 22 years to build and complete the mausoleum in which he lies.
He lay under a tent to begin with, with architects coming and going, suggestions made, drafts drawn up, disagreement and discord. In 1956 the Quaid-i-Azam Mausoleum Committee was formed and it sought the advice of Khan Bahadur Suleiman, a former chief engineer of the public works department of undivided India.
Architect Mehdi Ali Mirza and his junior, the young Khwaja Zaheeruddin, were summoned. They did the correct thing. They approached the International Union of Architects in Paris and set about organizing an international competition for the design of a suitable monument.
Fifty-seven entries were received and in 1958 the jury assembled in Karachi and the design sent in by Raglan Squire of Britain was selected as the winner. It was a beautiful design, striking in its simplicity, a huge concrete flowing canopy, far surpassing all others in its perfection.
Then in stepped the obdurate Miss Fatima Jinnah. She pulled rank and prevailed upon the government of the day to reject Squire's design.
At her insistence, an architect from Bombay was brought in and in 1960, President General Ayub Khan, fitting in with her wishes, approved his design. Construction was started, work progressed at a snail's pace until in 1969 when President General Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan appeared on the scene, banged down his swagger stick, and the mausoleum was magically completed in December 1970.
A shortage of funds, of water, of initiative, of interest and of will, ensured that nothing was done about the landscaping - until along came another general in 1999. (Ironically, the three generals were more concerned than "our democratically elected" civilian heads of state and government).
Musharraf, in his early years, made much reference to Jinnah. He maintained it was not too late to revert and attempt to rebuild the country and the nation in the mould visualized by its maker. Speaking to the people from the mazar in 2001, on the 125th birth anniversary of Jinnah, the general told the nation that the way forward, the way he was attempting to take them, was Jinnah's way. But to move forward "we will have to step very cautiously."
His decisions, said Musharraf, were to be taken with Jinnah's vision of Pakistan in mind, encompassing a welfare state drawing inspiration from the tenets of true Islam, built on foundations of democracy, with respect and protection for the individual, with equal rights for men, women and children irrespective of religious faith or political views. (And it must be remembered that religion, according to Jinnah, is a matter solely between a man and his God - it has nothing to do with the business of the state).
Musharraf quoted from a speech Jinnah made in 1941: "There are at least three main pillars which go to make a nation worthy of possessing a territory and running a government. One is education. Next, no nation and no people can ever do anything very much without making themselves economically powerful in commerce, trade and industry. And lastly, you must prepare yourselves for your defence, defence against external aggression and to maintain internal security."
In tune with Jinnah's creed in his never to be forgotten speech of August 11, 1947, to the members of his Constituent Assembly (which warrants daily repetition), Musharraf asked his countrymen to "sink all religious and sectarian differences and show tolerance of each other's beliefs, views and thoughts, to shun religious differences." Religious intolerance, said he, has utterly blurred Jinnah's vision.
The nation has deviated. Not only are we unable to tolerate other religions, but "we refuse to accommodate the views of the various sects of our own religion. We have undermined Islam to a level that people of the world associate it with illiteracy, backwardness, intolerance, obscurantism and militancy."
He admitted that "corruption and nepotism have eaten the nation like termites from within. He made an appeal to the so-called "elite": "Let society treat the corrupt with contempt so that the fear of God is put into them and they at least hide and feel ashamed instead of showing off their ill-gotten riches."
We had hopes then before matters went awry, that we perhaps had a man intent on focusing on Jinnah's vision, who, with strength and support, would ensure that it became reality.
But time and circumstance and preoccupations other than with the elusive dream, took its toll. The general was sidetracked. External interests were focused on the waging of the international war against terrorism which demanded that Pakistan put in place some sort of democratic system as a showcase to placate Western powers.
To do this, Musharraf maintains, he could not but succumb to the will of the people as ostensibly manifested through a general election. He had no choice but to accept as legislators many of the corrupt, the old robbers, and rather than extracting what he could from their ill-gotten gains, letting them stand trial, be sentenced and perhaps jailed, they were installed in the assemblies and several were given cabinet portfolios.
To finalize the democratic process, such as it is, the general did a deal with the forces of obscurantism, the militant mullahs, and to keep them happy and in place, has made concessions that are in direct conflict with the dream that Jinnah dreamt. This move spells danger, and it calls for control.
At a press conference in New Delhi on July 14, 1947, one month before the birth of this country, Mohammad Ali Jinnah was asked: "Will Pakistan be a secular or theocratic state?" His answer: "You are asking me a question that is absurd. I do not know what a theocratic state means."
Jinnah's way was forward, never looking back - progressive, tolerant, building rather than destroying, respecting human rights and freedoms not stamping on them, winning international respect for policies of tolerance, sanity and care of the people, rather than being classed as a pariah at odds, with the times and a world on the move.
Musharraf still tells us that he believes in the dream. If this be so, it is incumbent on him, though battling against formidable odds, to somehow ensure that before he departs from the political scene he steers us onto the right path. He has time, and hopefully the will, to enforce in the country a system of law and order which so far he and his arm have dismally failed to do (his civilian government is helpless and hopeless).
He and his men have admittedly managed an improvement from the chaos and mayhem of the twin governments of the 1990s. But looking firmly towards the future, he (not his helpless government) must ensure that not only are the nation's children educated, but rightly educated so that they may not merely survive but be enabled to participate in the 21st century.
(This article was originally published in Dawn on April 04, 2004)

 


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