This Independence Day, it is time to let go of Quaid’s 14 points
In 1929, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah gave the Muslims of India his 14 points, in response to the Nehru Report which was published in 1928 as a memorandum outlining a proposed new dominion status constitution for India. These 14 points became the cornerstone of all our SSC and HSC Pakistan Studies examinations in post-independence Pakistan and every youngster to date has read and memorised these points.
However, I have always wondered why learning these points were so imperative. Are they still valid today? Surely not. They were a rebuttal to the Nehru Report, outlining what Muslims of India demanded from the British Raj in terms of more political autonomy. We have come a long way from then, so why keep learning those 14 points?
I believe young Pakistanis today need a different set of 14 points. Perhaps ones they can effectively follow and help make Pakistan a force to reckon with. So this Independence Day, I’d like to share the 14 points that I would want to follow and urge others to follow around me as well, to help this nation progress further. After all, celebrating independence is more than simply sharing a remixed version of the national anthem on our timelines and putting up green-and-white buntings on our houses.
1. Start your own business
Today, Pakistan stands at the precipice of becoming economically stable. The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is underway in its development; the government recently got its last installment from the IMF and will be able to support itself without their help from now onwards; so things are beginning to look better.
Keeping this in mind, I believe that youngsters in Pakistan, who are graduating from business schools and studying management, can make a huge difference in the country’s economy. By starting their own enterprises, not only would they help create better life opportunities for themselves, they would also create more jobs and significantly increase the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rate of the country. There are organisations and NGOs who are ready to support new entrepreneurs and people who come up with new initiatives (IBA being an example of that). So why hesitate?
2. Travel within Pakistan
As Pakistanis, we often undermine what we have as a nation. And that is largely because we never bother to travel and see the country for what it is. I do not count going to northern areas or hill stations as real travel – you cannot discover Pakistan through tourist destinations. Plan a trip to interior Sindh and see how many cities have developed and are still developing on the rural front. Visit Balochistan and see how the landscape is affecting the people there. Travel to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and see how the culture varies from south to north. See Pakistan in all its colours and vibrancy, only then will you truly understand its people.
3. Follow ideas, not people
We have a tendency to talk about people. The he-said-she-said trend is inherent in us, be it in our households or our media. This needs to end. We should be focusing on ideas and on innovations. People should exchange thoughts and strategies and build their social discussions around that, instead of talking about the neighbourhood guy who bought his third Mercedes. The same goes for our media. I am done listening to breaking news about what so-and-so politician said to so-and-so minister. How is that educating anyone? As the saying goes, great minds discuss ideas, small minds discuss people. Let’s get out of that cycle.
4. Stop voting for people
This reiterates point three. Since we always discuss people, we end up voting for people too, irrespective of what their mandate is and what policies they plan to implement. We need to stop getting excited by charming personalities and baseless rhetoric. It is time to vote for people who have genuine ideas, instead of those who can make the best speech or use the most puns in their statements. Find new candidates or become a candidate yourself!
5. Read our history
And I mean proper history; not the tattered, biased version that is shoved down our throats during school years. Check what other people have written about Pakistan; foreigners who have reviewed our history objectively. It might surprise you how many of your notions will get shattered once you start dwelling in objective, un-tampered historical narratives.
6. Don’t adopt your parents’ prejudice
This is a recurring theme for us. We often take up the same prejudices that our parents have, which, in most cases, have been adopted from their parents and so on. Learn to question the behaviour that you feel is questionable. Just because your mother is averse to non-Muslims using the same cutlery in your house as you do, doesn’t mean you should imitate that behaviour as well. We live in changing times, and we need to catch up.
7. Study something extraordinary
The world has so much more to offer than the conventional list of four to six professions that your parents and extended family deem right for you. Explore what you like to do. The world is developing beyond our expectations and we should view it according to our times. Twenty years ago, there was no concept of a digital marketing specialist or an app designer, yet today these professions are growing strong. Keep a lookout for what you want to study and go for something that is extraordinary as well as helpful. This will work well for Pakistan too; we are done with our ever increasing pools of doctors, engineers and accountants. Let’s move towards innovation!
8. Be proud of something you have accomplished on your own
We have the tendency to be proud of things we had no hand in accomplishing. For example, we feel proud for having the second highest mountain peak or one of the longest rivers in the world; yet there is nothing that we have done to achieve it. These are just geographical topographies that happened to fall within Pakistan’s borders. So what’s all the fuss about? All of us should strive to work towards something great and be proud of something we have achieved on our own. Build something new; teach people; think of solutions that can help others – strive to create a name for yourself.
9. Be ambitious
The above point cannot take place without ambition. Life is more than just a nine to five job and a marriage with kids. Our youngsters need to understand this carefully; we, as a developing country, do not have the liberty to be content with what we have right now. As youngsters, we need to strive for greatness and aim for the stars. Our youth should think of winning Pulitzers, Nobels and Oscars; only then will we ever reach anywhere near the global powers that be.
10. Stop criticising the government
It is very easy to simply blame the government for the electricity outage in your area or the different institutions not performing well. The education system is a case in point. Are you sure that the education you complain about isn’t damaged because of your own doing as well? Yes, the curriculum can be made better; yes, the schools need more attention; but when your child is caught cheating in their Matric and intermediate papers, is it the government that has instilled in them the idea to cheat, or have they learned that at home? All of us need to ponder upon how we have been benefitting from the corruption of our systems, and how, in turn, have been supporting it.
11. Study the world map
As a child, I used to spend hours looking through different Atlas’ and, for me, it was a humbling experience. For one thing, it made me realise that we are not alone and, as such, the universe does not revolve around Pakistan. Furthermore, it gave me an idea of how diverse the world is, how far away one country is from the other and how geography has a way of affecting politics, international relations and economics as well. It gave me the ability to see the big picture and not mindlessly indulge in farfetched conspiracy theories about how the world is after Pakistan’s security and sovereignty.
12. Discuss politics at home
Gone are the days when one could be blissfully unaware of the political scenario and live life without concern. Globalisation and the media have left little excuse for any of us to be unaware of what is happening around the globe and, because of this, we have all developed different political views, whether we consciously know it or not. Therefore, I believe it is important for us to share our views at home and discuss them openly, so as to educate the people around us on what we think and also be educated on the varying views that could exist so close to us.
13. Learn new skills
Personal development leads to professional development, and that leads to development of a country as a whole. Learning new skills does not only help increase the scope of employment for an individual, but also open us to different aspects of our personality; those that we might have not been aware of before. So go learn a language, or a technical skill, or a new sport, or a musical instrument. Just learn something new. It would do you good, more than you can imagine.
14. Find out what Pakistan means to you
Lastly, on this Independence Day, strive to find out what Pakistan means to you. Forget your history books and the talk shows you see every day. Forget what your parents, peers, friends and teachers have told you, and come up with your own understanding of Pakistan. What does this country mean to you? It is only when we see Pakistan with certain expectations that we will work to uplift it to that level.
Happy Independence Day, everyone!
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.