Published in Dawn (11 August, 2006) as a full page ad for the radio station City FM 89 it highlights what I believe to be one of Mr. Jinnah’s most evocative and inspiring speeches. Certainly one that is most relevant to Pakistan’s present as well as future. The key quote is printed right below his photograph:
“You are free to go to your temples; you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this state of Pakistan. You may belong to any caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the state.”
Of course, his vision was not always followed. But on this, the eve of Pakistan’s Independence Day, there could not be a more timely moment to remind ourselves what the vision was.
City FM 89 also has a full day of special music planned for August 14, which by the looks of its sounds very enticing. For example, I would love to find out what their list of the ‘Top 50 Pakistani Songs’ look like. Whatever that list might look like, it is bound to have multiple entries from the incomparable Shahenshah-e-ghazal: Mehdi Hassan.
And that brings me to the second advertisement I saw, also in Dawn (12 August, 2006). This ad also spoke to my sensibilities.
First, this advert from Mobilink pays tribute to one of our greatest artists. That is something we do not do often enough; and do not do very well when we do it.
Moreover, the Urdu verse at the top — yeh watan hamara hai, hum hain pasbaan iss kay — comes from what I think is one of the most moving Pakistani national songs ever (commentary and link to the song here; more ATP posts on this here and here).
Most of song is in the ‘words’ of Mr. Jinnah so that ‘humara‘ (ours) in that line is ‘tumhara‘ (yours) in the song. But the intent is quite clear: we have to make of this country what we make of it. Even as a kid, this song always mesmerized me both for how Mehdi Hassan sang it and even more so for the words…. hum tou mehz unwaaN thay, asl daastaN tum ho!
Unlike so many other milli naghmay which were really naara baazi set to music, this one had a clear and powerful message. It seemed to me that Jinnah was saying to all of us: ‘guys, my time is up, I have done what I could, now its your turn; do the best you can and make the best of what you have.’ Of course, neither he nor the song was saying exactly that. But that is what I took from the song.
It was always a poignant song, but also an uncomfortable song. Because one always knew that we had not really lived up to the responsibility placed on us.