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Good Government

Jinnah's Ideals

Ceylon is rich in material resources and talent and I have no doubt that under the guidance of her great leaders she will make rapid strides on the road to good government and prosperity and will play her rightful part in promoting goodwill and friendship throughout the world.

- Mr. Jinnah / Quaid-e-Azam

- Speech:  On Ceylon’s Independence | 4th February 1948

- Context: Message on the attainment of Dominion Status by Ceylon

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Deeper reflections

It is time for each citizen of Pakistan and Sri Lanka to get to work in building up their nations. Progress is reliant on their efforts, energy and imagination. There’s no exogenous force that can come in the way of a determined and organized people.  

In this article, we’ll focus on the values of good government as we’ve written extensively on economic prosperity via market-creating innovation here and here. Similarily, for promoting goodwill and friendship, please read our quintessential article here.  

When it comes to good governance, there’s a great narrowing of conversation towards fixing national institutions. However, institutions reflect a culture, they don’t cause it. Good laws and institutions are not sufficient enough to drive change. We must first define our values and create a culture that builds a self-propelling intergenerational momentum for a lasting impact.


Pakistani Values on Good Government



“Islam and its idealism have taught democracy. Islam has taught equality, justice and fair play to everybody. What reason is there for anyone to fear democracy, equality, freedom on the highest standard of integrity and on the basis of fair play and justice for everybody.” -Mr. Jinnah


Democracy rests on liberty and we are only truly free when we live under the laws of our own making. Liberty demands self-government but not the right to interfere with others. Only when we all sacrifice a little bit of our natural liberty, by submitting to the will of everyone else, can we be masters of our own collective fate. 


However, the common man in Pakistan has yet to experience such liberty and deliberative process because the law is not respected by those in the corridors of power than by the ordinary people. Our historic democratic aspirations are impeded by:


  • Politicians who have been venal beyond reason, and disrespectful of ethics of democracy no less than of the rule of law 

  • The military that has had a tendency to intervene when politicians fail. This intervention has been in fulfillment of personal ambitions, not of the national interest. 

  • The bureaucracy that has favored the certainties of authoritarian rule over the embarrassments and pressures of open politics. 


Despite these obstacles, the Pakistani spirit has endured and is more determined than ever to create greater awareness of its democratic values and regenerate its historical promises of building an Islamic democracy. However, let’s be conscious of the fact that the majority of the Muslims don’t truly understand what Islam means as they’ve been reduced to chanting Quranic passages from dawn till dusk in a language they don’t understand. The revitalization of Islamic principles of justice, equality, freedom, and tolerance will come from the educated and progressive youth of the country who will dominate the discourse on religion and its role in the State of Pakistan. 


Justice & Equality

“Then and then alone it would be possible for each one of us to realize the great ideals of human progress, of social justice, of equality and of fraternity which, on the one hand, constitute the basic causes of the birth of Pakistan and also the limitless possibilities of evolving an ideal social structure in our State. I reiterate most emphatically that Pakistan was made possible because of the danger of complete annihilation of the human soul in a society based on caste. Now that the soul is free to exist and to aspire it must assert itself galvanizing not only the State but also the Nation.”

- Mr. Jinnah 

In a democracy, the tyranny of the majority is a real danger. To give freedom to the strong to oppress the weak is not the way to secure the greatest possible amount of freedom in Pakistan. This means that we must endeavor to protect our minorities as all citizens of Pakistan are equal and dignified members of our nation. This is what the white in our flag represents. A denial of minority rights means rejecting Pakistan’s historical premise and basis. 


The Quran clearly states “Whenever he holds the upper hand, he rushes around the earth ruining it… though God does not like ruination” (Surah Bakra). A Muslim majority that holds the upper hand in Pakistan can not go ruining peace and subjugating the Ahmadi community. 


Whenever the Ahmadi community is brought up - there is a certain segment of our population, especially a certain class of Maulvis, that will act in the most agitated and violent manner. The Quran explains their reaction “Those are the ones who have purchased error at the price of guidance, while their bargain does not profit them nor have they been guided.”(Surah Bakra). 


Mr. Jinnah clearly stated “I have been asked a disturbing question, as to who among the Muslims can be a member of the Muslim Conference. It has been asked with particular reference to the Qadianis. My reply is that, as far as the constitution of the All-India Muslim League is concerned, it stipulates that any Muslim, without distinction of creed or sect, can become a member, provided he accepts the views, policy and programme of the Muslim League, signs the form of membership and pays the subscription. I appeal to the Muslims of Jammu and Kashmir not to raise sectarian questions, but instead to unite on one platform under one banner. In this lies the welfare of the Muslims. In this way, not only can Muslims make political and social progress effectively, but so can other communities, and so also can the state of Kashmir as a whole.” Further, Mr. Jinnah appointed Muhammad Zafarullah Khan, an Ahmadi, as the first foreign minister of Pakistan who excelled at this post and was the first Asian and the only Pakistani to preside over the International Court of Justice.

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The principle of justice demands that those who are compelled to obey laws and pay national taxes should have a voice in making the one and imposing the other. This principle applies to all our citizens: Jatt, Punjabi, Pashtun, Sindhi, Saraiki, Muhajir, Balcoh, Pahari, Hindkowan, Chitrali, Ahmadi, Kashmiri, Kalash, Siddi, Burusho, Wakhis, Khowar, Hazara, Shina, Kalyu, Balti Christian and others. 


Each human life is of equal moral worth and therefore, political decisions should pay equal heed to everyone’s interests and preferences. As such, every person within a political community ought to have an equal chance to influence the decisions that affect them, and no elite group or person should be allowed to hoard power for themselves. 


However, even the briefest review of Pakistan’s politics suggests that the real obstacles to the growth of democracy in this country are to be found in the political class and not in the behavior of the people at large. This class has restricted social mobility, hoarded power and excluded an under-priviliged majority by language, space, education and access to power. Every Pakistani city holds the affluent in one set of spaces; the poor in another. The citizens of Pakistan will remove this segregation and strive towards creating access to health, education and justice for the poor majority. A Pakistani’s aspirations, motivations, sentiments and endeavors are dedicated to working towards raising the living standard of the masses of Pakistan. This is best captured by Prime Minister Imran Khan “What I perceive is, above all justice, where everyone has the same law” and “It’s more important to try to do something for the crores of poor people of my country”.


Human Flourishing By Constant Improvement

“Remember that your government is like your garden. Your garden flourishes by the way you look after it and the efforts that you put towards its improvement. Similarly, your government can only flourish by your patriotic, honest and constructive efforts to improve it.”

- Mr. Jinnah   


The state is not merely a means for people to clump together in the same place but it exists for the sake of noble actions by its citizens through participation in public affairs. Some say, “We are unique in the way we regard anyone who takes no part in public affairs, we do not call that a quiet life, we call it a useless life”. 


Participation in politics is an important means of self-improvement. Neither the routine of our daily work, nor the pursuit of private wealth, nor the mere satisfaction of daily wants can fully cultivate our moral and intellectual faculties. Something to do for the public requires us to weigh interest other than our own and to be guided, for a time, by the common interest rather than our own selfish desires. By taking part with others, we improve ourselves and our community. 


We cannot take part in public affairs if a little more than half of our history since independence has been under military rule. Military rule thwarts the community in consulting, debating, iterating, evolving and constructing its own laws that shape human interaction. The military needs to understand that their entire existence has been gifted to them by a civilian leader whom we refer to as Mr. Jinnah. While, the military as an institution has repeatedly disgraced itself, it can still find salvation in following Mr. Jinnah’s directive: “You have fought many a battle in the far-flung battlefields of the globe to rid the world of the Fascist menace and make it safe for democracy. Now you have to stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and equality of manhood in your own native soil. You will have to be very alert, very alert for the time for relaxation is not yet there.” It is very important to have the support of the army to the national struggle and make the military and national ideals correspond with each other. 


We must ensure a stable and sustained period of democracy to develop a culture of constant iterations, ceaseless change at incredible speed and progressive re-adaptations of our institutions. Such improvements are most likely to be secured in the greatest abundance by limiting the sphere of authority, extending that of free individuality, and steadily striving towards equality of opportunity. However, that does not mean giving leeway to existing nepotistic and corrupt politicians as they, too, are a disgraced bunch. Their salvation lies in ridding themselves of nepotism. Fortunately, in a two-party system dominated by nepotistic dynasties (PPP & PML-N) -- a third party (PTI) has emerged triumphant that openly advocates democracy, meritocracy and equality of law. While some may argue that the PTI compromises of crooked individuals as well -- let us remember Mr. Jinnah’s words that are equally applicable for the PTI “The personnel of the League is far from perfect. It is no use making allegations; it is no use telling me that this man is bad or that man is undesirable. If you are really earnest - your only course is to join the League and make improvements." We will work towards self-improvement with zeal, enthusiasm, optimism, and confidence.

Truth over Expediency

It makes all the difference in the world whether we put Truth in the first place or in second place. Pakistan counts her full share of fearless truth-seekers in most departments of inquiry but we must tighten the grip of truth-seeking over religious matters. We can never let religious imagination come at the cost of truth. Tampering with veracity is tampering with Pakistan's progress. We must fight and do a lifelong battle against the forces of unreason. After all, a Muslim is nothing but a truth-seeker. The consequences of placing social convenience over truth will result in lowering the level of national life. We must prevent the deadly weakening of our moral fabric and that’s why it is every citizen’s sacred Islamic duty is to speak up against the Blasphemy law. Our laws and governance will be designed in accordance with the truth such that we liberate the energy of our citizens, maximize self-reliance and invigorate their public spirit.

While the world progresses, human thought stirs and knowledge extends, some of our brethren remain fast moored by ancient formularies. While the spirit of man expands in search after new light, and feels energetically for new truth, the spirit of the Islamic clergy is eternally entombed in outdated modes of thought and processes. Religious zealots claim that they have crossed the threshold of manhood that they will search no more. They virtually swear that they will to the end of their days believe what they believe then, before they have had time to think or to know the thoughts of others. They take an oath, in other words, to suppress the truth and exploit religion as a tool to keep our population entrenched in falsehoods. 


If we are to value the truth and consider it a commanding law to follow the truth no matter what, then we have to resist and overcome the conservative elements of our society so that our intellectual faculties grow as a community. There is hardly a single great controversy in modern politics, where our government does not find itself in immediate contact with the real or supposed interests, and with the active or passive sentiment, of religious systems and organizations. In such situations, the guiding principle for our government will be to uphold the truth over everything else. 




It is through the resurrection of our ideals and the preservation of them by each generation that we’ll nurture democracy in our country. It is through the work by all citizens together, that we’ll build up Pakistan. 

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Pakistan admires the principles of democracy, liberty, equality and fraternity raised during the French revolution. Learn Mr. Jinnah's point-of-view on our shared ideals with France.

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