(This is a summary of a series of article which Sir Khurram wrote for Dawn two years ago.)
In 2007, I embarked upon a systematic study of the history of the country in the light of a new understanding of Iqbal’s philosophy. My findings will be presented fully in the sixth volume of my Urdu biography of Iqbal but I have been sharing snippets on my blogs, in my journalistic writings and in my books – especially Roshni ki Talash (2010) and Iqbal: Tashkeeli Daur (2010). Here I want to present a basic introduction to some of the key points.
In the history of Pakistan we find a unique pattern which has not been discerned in the history of any country so far. It is what I call the stages of collective self-development, peak moments and turning points. Let me explain these briefly.
Stages of Collective Self-Development
From 1886 to 1966, the nation adopted a goal every twentieth year and achieved it in twenty years before adopted a fresh goal. Since 1967, we do not find any “goals” being collectively adopted (for a reason which I shall try to explain) but the pattern is still there.
§ Inquiry, 1887-1906: On December 27, 1886, Mohammedan Educational Conference was formed in Aligarh by the representatives of the Muslim community of India. Its stated goal was to achieve nationhood for the Indian Muslim community and that was achieved on December 31, 1906 with the formation of the All-India Muslim League at Dacca (now Dhaka).
§ Discovery, 1907-1926: The All-India Muslim League demanded separate electorates for the Indian Muslim community and these were achieved when the elections of 1926 were contested on this basis (the turnout in the two previous elections held in 1920 and 1923 was dismal)
§ Transcendence, 1927-1946: In the All-Parties Conference held in Delhi in March 1927, the Muslim leaders agreed to consider giving up separate electorates if provinces of Muslim majority were given greater autonomy and possibly consolidated into Muslim states; this was practically achieved in the elections of 1945-46 when an overwhelming majority voted in favor of Pakistan
§ Freedom, 1947-1966: Pakistan was conceived as an open-ended idea which would evolve its systems over time, so the only goal adopted at the time of its creation was to infuse in its citizens a will and desire for defending the territorial borders against foreign aggression: this target was achieved in 1966: the September War last year had convinced the nation correctly or incorrectly that it can defend its borders even against a superior foreign aggression while disappointment over the Tashkent Agreements in January this year led to the feeling that the decision of making war and peace should be in the hands of the people rather than the military
Unfortunately at this point we must take into account the fact that unlike the first four stages, the fifth subsequent stages did not see any leaders appealing to all segments of the nation: every agenda presented since the elections of 1970 has been exclusivist in the some sense. As such, no collective goal has been presented before the nation (but it is quite possible that the nation itself has been adopting and achieving goals on its own which may have remained unknown to the leaders). However, despite all discrepancies, the pattern of twenty-year stages is faintly discernible:
§ Action, 1967-86: This is the age of larger than life figures; there was suddenly a cluster of charismatic figures in every field which had not happened earlier and has not happened since.
§ Expansion, 1987-2006: This was the age of our “enlightened moderation” (or may we call it moderate enlightenment?). When these twenty years are taken together, they seem to be so different from the periods before or after – the society welcomed a gradual increase in the role of independent television, liberalism, human rights, feminism and environmental awareness, and so on. This was a stage where we learnt new things at the cost of our own ideology which was almost completely put aside in this period.
§ Creation, 2007-2026: It cannot be denied that a new page was turned in the history of the nation with the Lawyers’ Movement. If what has been stated above makes sense even partially, we have discovered something in Pakistani society which is new and unique. It can give birth to a new kind of society based on a human potential not known before.
This kind of pattern is not only consistent with how Iqbal described the evolution of a collective ego, but can also be explained (substantially, I think) in the light of his philosophy. If true, then the new potential which seems to have become visible here can be a source of empowerment for the individuals. If the society is pursuing a course that could not be altered by the rulers but in which the rulers have been used by the society even without their knowing, then obviously this is something which we may call “destiny” (for lack of a better word, maybe).It needs no explanation that knowledge of such "destiny" can give us more control of our collective lives. What needs to be explained is the process that has been outlined here. Depending on what kind of answers we want, the explanation can come from any of the various disciplines of study such as literature, politics, religion, science, philosophy and educational psychology.
BY: Khurram Ali Shafique