Founding fathers of every nation possess a unique role in the history of that nation. Like our physical father, their characteristic role and status continue to assert their relevance regardless of time and space. Love for founding fathers bears the hallmark of ‘nationalism’ and thus appears on principal grounds the so-called ‘personality cult’. The founding father is, by necessity, a leader with mass following and hence a hero, for it was something geo-historically relevant to a particular nation that won him ideal acknowledgement. The nation ends up being the sole beneficiary of his undisputed achievements.
In the historical evolution of a nation, however, it is the legacy of the founding father that decides how relevant his being has been and whether or not such a personage deserves to occupy the seat of ‘national hero’ any more. From this point onwards, we will employ the word ‘founder’. As a matter of historical analysis, the legacy of the founder is essentially split into two halves: traditions (achievements/deeds) and directions (thought process/vision). The founder, by default, sets a proud estate of traditions that nation subsequently follows, embracing them as historical legacy. American president, for instance, takes oath on Bible solely because the American founding father, George Washington, laid this tradition. Second part of legacy is that of directions and principles. Farsighted leaders demonstrate a transcendent level of political wisdom, which guides the nation through its historical evolution under all circumstances.
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah is the hero of Pakistanis by every definition of ‘hero’. His legacy not only inherits us ‘tested’ traditions, but also foresighted directions and infallible principles. This is to suggest that Jinnah must be viewed as the impeccable leader and torchbearer of Pakistani nation. One has the right to disagree on this, though none has the authority to rob Pakistanis of Quaid-e-Azam being their ‘national savior’ and ‘political mentor’. One may declare Jinnah is not ‘one’s personal hero’. However, nobody is warranted to make a judgment on our collective behalf that Jinnah is ‘no one’s hero’. Freedom of speech regulates the core principle of expressing one’s most honest opinion for the exclusive end of contribution rather than hurting people’s collective ego and will. ‘Rebuke’ does never constitute a part of free speech. Informal logic, academically speaking, addresses the subject of ‘debate’ and distinguishes between argument and fallacy. Freedom of speech makes sense when the right is exercised in order to establish an argument. However, free speech immediately loses its raison d’etre when it appears as a fallacy, which knows no boundaries. “Liberty”, an English saying goes, “must be limited in order to be possessed”. Hence, the abuse of free speech in any respect, particularly for dethroning heroes, is highly unwarranted – even condemnable. A hero is neither an ‘armchair thinker’ nor a ‘workhorse’.
Hero is inherently bestowed with the finest faculty of vision in addition to the audacity to implement it and ability to drive his people out of a situation. A heroic leader is not bereft of foreseeing impending dangers and capacity to fix them beforehand. Quaid’s 11 August’s speech speaks for his deep insight, essential leadership charisma and future vision. Mr. Jinnah was a true visionary, a pragmatic leader and a devout well-wisher of Indians. His career may well be divided into the periods of pro-United India struggle and advocacy for separation, but it cannot be impeached by dividing into ‘sincere’ and ‘insincere’. He was off to find the destination of freedom for Indians. While his determined walk to freedom, however, when once Jinnah felt himself let down by the Congress leadership, he chose his own course: he made independent decisions and proved them right. He led his nation upfront through thick and thin even before the creation of Pakistan and did not give up at any stage. Once freedom was achieved, he undertook the task of building the empire of freedom, practically establishing the guiding principles of ‘unity, faith, discipline’ and ‘work, work, and only work’.
History bears witness to the fact that their violation has cost us beyond our wildest imaginations. Jinnah cannot, however, by any principle, be held responsible for the wrongs Pakistanis have committed throughout their history. Why Mr. Jinnah passed his judgment on the most critical issue of national language? He wisely advised the nation to adopt Urdu as their ‘lingua franca’, for Urdu was the gift of Indian Muslim civilization and guardian of their cultural heritage (refer to Urdu-Hindi Conflict). For all practical reasons, English could not be ‘localized’, nor could any of the provincial languages perforce supersede others. The choice was indeed limited though the opponents used it as an excuse for schism afterwards. Many may object to Mr. Jinnah’s decision(s) in today’s remote scenario. However, such criticisms carry no weight in the face of reality: achieving the unachievable.