In the correspondence that took place between Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Mahatma Gandhi in 1944, Jinnah painstakingly responded to Mahatma Gandhi’s denial of Muslim nationhood in these words, “We maintain and hold that Muslims and Hindus are two major nations by any definition or test of a nation. We are a nation of a hundred million people, and, what is more, we are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art and architecture, names and nomenclature, sense of value and proportion, legal laws and moral codes, customs and calendar, history and traditions, aptitudes and ambitions – in short, we have our own distinctive outlook on life and of life.”
Based on these dynamics, the Two-nation Theory became the building block and rationale of Pakistan’s ideology, however, the challenges were far from over. “The establishment of Pakistan for which we have been striving… is, by [the] grace of God, an established fact today, but the creation of a State of our own was the means to an end and not the end in itself,” said Quaid-i-Azam during an address to civil and military officers of Pakistan in Karachi on October 11, 1947.
In the years and decades following independence, Pakistan made tremendous strides. Institutions, industries, security infrastructure and a nuclear program were built from scratch. Keeping in view Pakistan’s recent foreign policy shift from geopolitics to geoeconomics, Pakistan has shown growth over the years with a phenomenal rise in the quantum of infrastructure that it inherited at the time of partition. The country has made valuable achievements over the years which includes self-reliance in various sectors, including indigenous defense production.
However, as Quaid-i-Azam said during his address to the 5th Heavy Ack Ack and 6th Light Ack Ack Regiments, in Malir, on February 21, 1948, “Nature’s inexorable law is ‘the survival of the fittest’ and we have to prove ourselves fit for our newly won freedom. You have fought many a battle on the far-flung battlefields of the globe to rid the world of the Fascist menace and make its safe for democracy. Now you have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and the equality of manhood in your own native soil. You will have to be alert, very alert, for the time for relaxation is not yet there. With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.”
Fast-forward to the 21st century, wars do not only exploit the military weaknesses, but they make use of the fault lines that exist within the states. In the face of such threats and the presence of centrifugal forces trying to pull the nations apart, the strengths and weaknesses of states are laid bare depending on how strong and cohesive they are on the internal front. Pakistan has seen a number of changes in its security environment over the decades, but it emerged as a state that has been able to provide welfare and security to its citizens at a geopolitical location that is fraught with peril, keeping in view the violent wave of terrorism that was being fed by the war in its neighboring country.
Keeping in view the emerging global realities and developments, aggregational dynamics that bring Pakistan together with the larger regional associations for the growth of trade and production, shall be a priority in the years to come. Along these lines, Pakistan Armed Forces have made valuable contributions to the country in various domains apart from ensuring security, such as its role in military diplomacy including United Nations peacekeeping, dispute settlement, education, health, infrastructure development, socioeconomic uplift/and disaster relief and management, responding to the call of duty every time the country is hit with a calamity.
The country’s important strategic endowments, its development potentiality and the demographic dividend present challenges as well as opportunities. A renewed commitment to the vision for the founding of the state is required to address the challenges that the country is grappled with along with setting goals for the future.
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