KARACHI, Sept 22: The future of Pakistan depends on the coming election, which would be free and fair. Therefore everybody should cast their vote and ask everybody else to do so.
This was stated by chief election commissioner retired Justice Fakhruddin G. Ebrahim during his impassioned keynote address at the launch of a book titled ‘Quaid-i-Azam Nay Farmaya’, Urdu translations of Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s quotes compiled and edited by Prof Shariful Mujahid and Liaquat Merchant in a hotel here on Saturday.
Justice Ebrahim said of all the resignations that he had tendered (a reference to a remark made by an earlier speaker), he felt bad about resigning from the judiciary because he was in a position to help the masses.
He said he had accepted his recent and final assignment (of chief election commissioner) consciously for the future of Pakistan and its citizens. The future of the country depended on a free and fair election, he reiterated. He lamented how Pakistan had turned out as a country and referred to the events of Friday in which our own property was damaged and Muslims killed Muslims. “I couldn’t sleep last night,” he told the audience, mostly comprising schoolchildren.
Justice Ebrahim said we needed to look back what we had done to our country. He went down memory lane when on Jan 5, 1977 Gen Ziaul Haq called up a judge appointed by Z. A. Bhutto and asked him to persuade four of the High Court judges to accept his offer to become governors. All of the four judges agreed, to which the general commented that he had got legitimacy even before he had begun his tenure.
He mentioned one person, a Parsi judge, who did not take the oath at the time and had he done so he could have become chief justice. “Yet, we have forgotten that Parsi gentleman,” he rued.
He also touched on the legal changes introduced by that regime, including the one that ‘if you pose as a Muslim you’re committing a crime’. This made Justice Ebrahim remark: “Agar zulm kero ge to Khuda maaf nahin kare ga“ (If you act unjustly, God will never forgive you). Even today, he argued, such unjust acts were being committed.
Justice Ebrahim urged the people not to remain silent this time round. “Now you can’t remain quiet. You have civil society, a reasonably independent judiciary and the media. Add to it the fact that the voting age is 18. You just have to show your CNIC and cast your vote,” he emphasized. He said young people would make a difference and change was coming.
He maintained today people like Gandhi, Martin Luther King and Nelson Mandela had been proven right for preaching nonviolence. He ended his speech by quoting Mr King: “The day you know the truth and do not speak up, the day you begin to die.”
Earlier Liaquat Merchant spoke highly of Justice Ebrahim and said he had known him for 45 years. He said the justice had resigned from various high posts because he was a man of principles. Then he informed the audience on the Jinnah Society which was formed in 1997 and published Jinnah Anthology in 1999 with the purpose to propagate Mr Jinnah’s vision and ideals.
Talking about the book ‘Quaid-i-Azam Nay Farmaya’, he said it first came out in English but then they realised that its Urdu translation must also be published for it to reach a wider readership. He said 100,000 copies of the book had so far been published and the publishers intended it to distribute it in Pakistan’s schools, colleges and universities on a complimentary basis.
Oxford University Press managing director Ameena Saiyid narrated Mr Jinnah’s encounter with the OUP in pre-partition Bombay.R. Hawkins, head of the OUP at the time, had written to Mr Jinnah seeking his opinion on a manuscript entitled ‘How to secure India’s independence’. She then talked about the book being launched and termed it “a distillation of Jinnah’s hopes and expectations for the country he founded”.
Prof Shariful Mujahid shed light on the content and format of the book and told the audience that he had selected the excerpts included in the book.