Resolutions : 1940 and 2040 Dawn

23rd March 2018
by Javed Jabbar

To be ranked highest in South Asia in 2018 by a UN survey as the region's happiest people --- despite a multitude of problems --- is a source of pride for the Pakistani nation. The position vindicates the demand for separate homelands for Muslim majority areas. For better rather than for worse, Muslims treasured then, and now, being on their own. Even as the original state structure disintegrated in 1971, both the residual Pakistan and the newly independent Bangladesh reasserted their respective wills to preserve their separate sovereignities.

Between today and the centenary of the Lahore Resolution which will occur on 23rd March 2040, there will be 22 years in which to prepare for the formulation of a new Resolution. Virtually a whole new generation , most of it being born in the current year --- the babies of 2018 --- deserve to enter adulthood with the benefits of their elders and parents having learned at least some of the lessons of history : in spite of the maxim that humanity refuses to learn from yesterday’s errors.

The 1940 Resolution was addressed to external entities: the British and the Congress The 2040 Resolution will be exclusively addressed to internal factors. Perhaps dealing with internal stresses is a more profound challenge than combating external pressures.

Between 1857 and 1940, a complexity of nuances and interests ultimately shaped the 1940 Resolution, itself a product of intense deliberation, strong dissent and frequent revision in preceding days and weeks. Then came the seven tumultuous years leading to 14th August 1947 marked by the unwavering, impregnable will of Mohammad Ali Jinnah which gifted us the miracle of Pakistan.

Diversity and singularity:

The adoption of the 1940 Resolution advanced the Two-Nation Theory to the formal demand for separate statehood for Muslims and therefore implied that Muslims are homogenous and monolithic. Yet, just as Hindus are notably diverse in caste-system practices and idol-worship beyond shared acceptance of some holy texts , so too were --- and are today in 2018 --- Muslims also notably diverse in dialects, languages, life-styles, cultures , sects and religion-related practices beyond the common beliefs in the basic pillars of their faith.

During the 78 years since the passage of the 1940 Resolution. Muslims of South Asia in general, and Muslims in Pakistan in particular have been engaged in resolving the vexing relationship between the intrinsic pluralism of physical existence and the inherent singularity of a monotheistic faith. Concurrently, there has been the struggle to stabilize a single political state structure that can aptly contain both the diversity and the singularity of the evolving Muslim nation.

Sad ironies:

Invented in 1933 by Choudhry Rahmat Ali at Cambridge University, the word “Pakistan “as the name for an independent new Muslim state had quickly become a popular slogan specially among youth. But neither did Allama Iqbal --- who lived for five years after the introduction of the word --- ever use the term, nor did it find a place in the text of the Resolution itself.

Curiously, the Two-Nation Theory was also not referred to in the 1940 Resolution. The ironic icing on the cake is the fact that the man who invented the name of the country chose not to attend the meeting held in Lahore on 22nd-24th March 1940 which paved the way for the creation of that very same country. Choudhry Rahmat Ali convened a meeting of his Pakistan National Movement in Karachi on the same dates because he was sharply critical of the Muslim League’s failure to categorically call for the establishment of a single Muslim majority state in the North West. Yet even that irony was not enough. The man's eccentricity and an independent Pakistan's Government's insecurity led to the sorry spectacle of Choudhry Rahmat Ali being expelled from the country in December 1948 --- never to return to the state named by him.

Multi-party ecological imperative:

In contrast to the single sponsor in 1940, the 2040 Resolution will be an all-party, inclusive Resolution. With the youthful demographic bulge of the present going on to swell the population to nearly 240-250 million, the process of consensus building will be, from a logistical angle alone --- leave aside the ideological perspective --- a formidable task. Yet, even as debate is marked by acrimony, the imperative to come together in the face of a common threat to survival itself will compel the creation of a coalition. That fundamental imperative will be the urgent need to restore ecological health by enforcing re-direction in an economy driven by indiscriminate, destructive consumption.

While the environment transcends state boundaries and the country’s contribution to global warming is fractional, the consequences of climate change for a country already water-stressed will become inescapable. With the lowest water-storage capacity in South Asia, and already prone to enormous wastage of scarce water resources, factors like pollution, soil degradation, resource devastation, erratic weather, recurring epidemics in meta-sized urban centres, with related strains and breakdowns of civic management, will help forge a new respect for this part of the planet. Which would be extended to cover deference for the whole and irreplaceable Earth itself.

Integrated education:

In the twenty years ahead, the alienating results of producing three parallel segments of Pakistanis through the existing splintered education system will become intolerable. Between the Matric and the A-level and the madrassas , three large chunks of the population , growing up side by side, yet with gulfs of incomprehension dividing them --- with respective language schisms further accentuating the differences -- will prevent cohesion and threaten the national evolutionary process . A broadly singular system alive to the revolutionary rapid advances in knowledge and technology that also enables reasonable minimal choices will be the replacement. Almost linked with this will be the third element: a pursuit of ijtihaad and the reform of religious madrassas through mandatory registration, revised curriculum, integration within a singular system. Enforced by an extension of the will being applied in 2018 in the case of seizing assets and preventing activities of internationally proscribed organizations,

this measure will predictably be fiercely resisted. But given the determination to face down vested interests in holier-than-thou garb, previously failed attempts are replaced by genuine change.

Concomitant is the fourth element. Using several new laws and rules framed in recent years to enhance the status of women and protect children, the continuing primitive suppression of human rights by some segments is ended by forceful state intervention and dynamic activism of the lower judiciary, deriving confidence from the fitful hyper-activism of the Supreme Court in earlier decades.

Ethical revival:

Sadly contrasting with the comparatively higher rank in the Happiness scale is the all-too-visible decline of values and ethics on a mass level. Partly caused by the crass materialism of poorly-checked capitalism and partly by the numerous examples of brazen corruption being rewarded by political power through electoral success in a flawed electoral system, the stench of the moral swamp becomes too foul to bear. A steely resolve to revive ideals and principles, however elusive they may be, as part of an ethical renewal becomes the fifth dimension. Energizing this apparently unlikely yet possible desire is the unrivalled generosity and compassion of the people who also retain a heart-warming sense of friendliness and hospitality.

A massive expansion of micro-credit , including mobile outreach ,along with a new impetus for small and medium-scale enterprises , a vigorous drive for export growth, reinforced by the establishment of several institutes of high science and technology as also vocational training centres together form the sixth element of the Resolution. This is the need for improved equity of economic opportunity, particularly to address non-farm-engaged labour in the rural areas and the millions of youth in the cities.

A re-structured federation:

Belatedly implementing comprehensive prescriptions for the reform of governance, primarily state institutions at all three levels --- Local, Provincial, Federal --- as well as private sector regulation and conduct, becomes the seventh part of the text. There is an intimate nexus here with the next, the eighth element. This is the need to re-structure the Federation which currently is the world’s most asymmetrical federation. A country whose spread, population and diversity demands about forty provinces has, instead, only four. A re-construction conducted so as to sustain historic regional cultural identity while recognizing unavoidable new administrative requirements and the rights of the grass-roots to promptly access justice and authority should be a part of a more balanced federation. Simultaneous to this revamping should be the refining of democratic institutions and processes --- to make electoral systems truly representative of public opinion through measures such as compulsory voting, the minimal 51 per cent vote-share-for-the-winner condition et al. This writer elaborated ten measures to evolve a more authentically democratic system in a previous essay published in Dawn on 23rd March 2017 --- so one does not need to repeat the recommendations here, but only to reiterate and remind.

The civil-military readjustment:

The ninth and last element of the 2040 Resolution is clearly the most indispensable one. This is the need to re-formulate the civil-military relationship so as to ensure the supremacy of the Constitution , the functioning of institutions within defined domains ; the promotion of integrity and competence in the civil, political sphere ; the purposeful, not merely ceremonial use of Parliament and other elected bodies ; the actual , practical acceptance by the military of elected leadership ; the end of parallelisms and dualities in foreign and security policies ; the end of the covert political role of intelligence agencies . Given reciprocal respect by the civil, political sphere of the military's merit-based culture , the professionalism manifest in the code of conduct for uniformed personnel and the willingness of soldiers and officers to sacrifice life and limb for the nation, it is possible for a constructive new relationship to replace the existing, uneasy, mutually suspicious one. Two positive indicators have already been given in 2017 for the road to complete candour and trust-building. The visit by a Parliamentary Committee to GHQ for a comprehensive briefing and the no-holds-barred dialogue during the unprecedented in-camera session address in the Senate by Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa . The journey has begun, and should continue. For the implementation of the eight other elements of Resolution 2040 are crucially shaped by the ninth.

The 1940 Resolution was about the body of Pakistan. The 2040 Resolution is about the nation's soul. Creating the physical reality in 1947 was awesome enough. To attempt defining the features of an invisible phenomenon whose reality is imbued by faith, hope and yearning is beyond even the awesome. But people are blessed by indomitable self-belief, fortitude and ambition. The search for Pakistan's soul and the struggle to sustain its purity is a timeless process that requires a tantalizing mix of strength and ease, of sobriety and humour, of urgency and patience. As we go forward with both happiness and haplessness, do not under-estimate the capacity of a unique nation !

(The writer’s anthology: “Pathways----selected writings 2010-2015” won the UBL Literary Award for the Best English non-fiction book of 2017 at the 9th Karachi Literature Festival).