Tonight I am addressing you as a citizen of the poorest nation in the world. The economic conditions of Pakistan are miserable in the extreme. Such abject poverty exists nowhere except perhaps in India, a country from which we separated in 1947 because we rejected its iniquitous system, its exploitation and domination. Our people braved the hazards of partition to carve out Pakistan, the pure land of promise and fulfilment. In millions Indian Muslims made the great pilgrimage to integrate with the Baluch and the Bengali, the Sindhi, the Pathan and the Punjabi to build the largest Muslim state on the foundations of Islamic justice and brotherhood.
But now today after 23 years of tumultuous existence the country is being ripped apart by controversies based on regional prejudices and still in search of its moorings. In this span of time Pakistan has had two constitutions and is in the process of moving towards the third. There have been riots and tensions, a continuing economic crisis marked by general instability. East-West relations remain unsettled, the population has grown from 80 to 130 million and in the wake of chaotic conditions two Martial Laws have been imposed in the country.
We have gone up and down, sidewards and backwards but neither parliamentary democracy nor military dictatorship have been able to find a lasting solution to the problems that afflict Pakistan. Frustration and despair is writ large on the face of the people. We stand on the edge of catastrophe. A new class, small in number, of capitalist barons is unabashedly plundering national wealth while the overwhelming majority of the people is without food, shelter and clothing.
Unemployment and underemployment, both in the countryside and among the educated classes mounts menacingly. Our people have been cheated and humiliated, their feelings have been ignored. They have suffered from a massive deception. Shall we call this the lost generation or the generation that was betrayed? I leave it to you to choose the epitaph. But what about the future? Are the children of this tormented generation also destined to remain in the same squalour and shame?
The youth of today is losing faith in the future. The dream of Pakistan was not to end in the agony of its people. It was an invigorating dream. This dream was to mature in a great new society for the benefit of the common weal.
For you, my dear listeners, and for all those who have been the victim of the most inhuman exploitation known to contemporary times, this intolerable state of affairs has to be brought to an end. It is our moral duty to lift the people of Pakistan from the quagmire of poverty.
There was a time in the history of Islam when the great Omar declared that if along the banks of the Euphrates should a dog die of starvation the Khalifa of Islam would be answerable to the Almighty Allah. Here in Pakistan—in the largest Islamic state—men and women die of starvation by the thousands. Our children sleep on the streets without shelter.
Our toiling masses live an appalling life. This has to be changed.
So, ladies and gentlemen, and my young friends, the foremost duty of the Pakistani people is to wipe out poverty from the face of Pakistan. The problems we face are gigantic but I am not overwhelmed. I have an unshakable faith in the people of my country. Pakistan possesses the potential of being one of the most important countries of Asia. It has inherited the strategic frontiers of the subcontinent.
In two wars against India, a much larger neighbour, the people showed their mettle magnificently. Our people, both men and women, are hardworking. They have made tremendous sacrifices in the past and shall not found wanting in the future. Our soil is rich and we have sufficient resources to meet the test. Our ideology is inspiring and Islam our religion is the final message of Allah to man. In other words, we certainly possess the wherewithal to overcome the lingering crisis.
Let me make it quite clear that in truth there is no dispute over religion. Islam is not in danger. Islam can never be in danger. In the history of Muslim countries the decisive attacks against Islam have come from outside. In Spain the Muslims were conquered step by step by their Christian opponents. In Palestine, a foreign colony has been implanted and holy city of Jerusalem wrested from Muslim possession. Here again the attack against Islam has been external; men alien to the faith, that is Jews, have fought against Muslims. In India, there has been a long history of confrontation between the Hindus and the Muslims. In recent years, however, there has been a new and alarming development. Islam is being attacked from within. Muslims are being pitted against Muslims, in the name of religion.
There are Muslims who are proclaiming that other Muslims who do not accept their political views are kafirs and should be killed. One million Muslims in Indonesia were killed by Muslims because foreign powers wanted it so. The campaign that is being carried out in Pakistan is also quite systematic. Along with the propaganda in the false guise of religious zeal there is a phenomenon which is clearly linked with it. People who have been notorious for their hostility to Pakistan, some of whom villified Pakistan and its Quaid-i-Azam when it was formed, are today posing as the upholders of the Pakistan ideology. There are persons in Pakistan who are loudly proclaiming themselves as the sole interpreters of the Muslim faith. Dear friends, if you are Muslims, please reflect what this implies because the claim that there are self-appointed and final living interpreters of Islam concerns you closely. The Islamic world is divided into a large number of sects; classically there are seventy two. Each sect bases its authority upon its own interpretation of passages in the Holy Quran.
In the course of Muslim history there have been many tragic periods of sectarian persecutions but since many years, fortunately, most sects have learnt to keep the peace due mainly to the doctrine of tolerance established by the major orthodox sects to which the majority of the Muslims of Pakistan belong. This peace is now being broken deliberately by persons who are proclaiming that the touchstone of belief lies not in faith but in politics. This is a most dangerous development and it can lead to fratricidal carnage: but I can assure you, my countrymen, that we are determined never to allow another Karbala to take place, on the soil of Pakistan. This country was not made to become the Granada of Asia. The struggle in Pakistan is not between Muslim and Muslim but between the exploiters and the exploited, between the oppressors and the oppressed. If the citizens of Pakistan are provided with employment, with food and shelter, with schools and hospitals, indeed with normal facilities, we would be acting in conformity with the injunctions of the Holy Quran and the Sunnah. I repeat with all the emphasis at my command that Islam is not in danger in Pakistan.
The awakening of the people and their increasing determination to resist exploitation has endangered vested interests. That is why the vested interests are exploiting religion to divert the people's attention from the main point in dispute. And that is why, in contrast, we are making it plain that there can be no progress, no end to our miseries unless exploitation is wiped out. We require fundamental changes in our economic structure to be able to stem the tide. None of the problems are as serious as this one. For this reason my party has placed its central emphasis on the economic and social problems of Pakistan. This question must end the monstrous economic and social inequalities. The discontent we see around us will lead us to reform if we are wise, or to chaos if we ignore the lessons of history. Which shall it be? This is the burning question, and it must have an answer soon for we are now in a dangerous state of mental and physical agony. We stand face to face with the necessity of making a quick decision which may in all probability involve the fate of our nation. One thing is clear enough.
The preservation of the status quo will not be tolerated for long. Whether the answer to be made shall be for reform or for annihilation, that answer will be given by those who are dissatisfied with existing conditions. We are passing through a phase similar to the one that Europe witnessed during the Great Depression. Like the institutions of Europe the institutions of Asia are crumbling under the strain of an economic crisis. The same kind of polarisation is taking place here that took place in Europe about forty years ago. That is why it is so necessary that we grapple courageously with the existing realities.
The country is divided into two parts and there is much loose talk about separation, but basically the logic of common existence remain the same. This logic is rooted in self-interest and it transcends the weaknesses of geographical division. Perhaps, with the exception of this limitation the problems of neighbouring India are more serious than those of Pakistan. So, despite the depressing disparities around us and the mighty task ahead of Pakistan's leadership, I look to the future with confidence. I believe that we can effect a grand reconciliation of different interests. We are convinced that with the massive participation of the people we are in a position to find a comprehensive answer to the problems that have haunted us for more than two decades. This epoch, exciting and full of challenge, requires a fresh approach for building society anew on the finest aspirations of the entire population.
We have a long trail to cover. The unresolved problems are legion. The cancerous growth of corruption has to be arrested. We promise that we shall tackle the problem of corruption vigorously and with determination. We promise to the people of Pakistan that we will give them a clean administration. We pledge to you that our Government will consist of men of integrity. We solemnly promise you that we will strain every nerve to put an end to the host of social evils that have degenerated our society. We will do everything in our power to lift the curtain of ignorance. We will respect the cultures and languages of all our people. The autonomy of the provinces will be safeguarded, regional rights will come in great measure in the blossoming of our pluralistic society. We will come down with a heavy hand on crime and violence.
We will make every endeavour to control rising prices .We will provide fair wages; we will bring bureaucracy under the command of the people. We will remove the ghettos and clear the spectre of slums. We will restore the freedom of the press; we will make the conditions of the peasants and labouring classes the criterion of our success or failure. We will ensure that the judiciary remains independent. We will electrify villages and we will recognise student power, the fountainhead of our future.
We will fight inflation. We will fortify our defences and increase the wages of Government servants at the lower echelons. We will enhance pensions. We will protect the rights of the minorities. We will abolish black laws like FCR and carry the jurisdiction of the High Court to the people of Gilgit and Hunza, we will give equal rights to the people of the states that have not yet been integrated. We will mobilize our manpower; we will remove disparities and ensure employment. We will seek to give free medical aid to the poor. We will take flood control measures. Heavy industries will be owned by the people.
There are various methods of running nationalised industries. They can be run directly by the slate agencies, they can be run by autonomous state organs, they can be run by local organs, they can be run entirely autonomously. How each industry and enterprise is managed will depend on the actual circumstances. We shall bring into the public sector all basic and key industries. We shall take positive steps for creating essential industries that are needed to produce industries. Oil and gas and other natural resources will be nationalised. I need not emphasize the necessity of bringing the infrastructure under the control of the state. The transport will come into the hands of the people. At the same time we do not propose to nationalise industries that are functioning competitively and whose control in private hands is not detrimental to the security of the slate. Thus we propose to bring about a harmonious equation between the public and the private sectors to ensure that the people of the country stand to gain.
The rural problem is a complicated one and it requires energetic attention. Positive ways of dealing with the rural problem will be in the forefront of our programme. We cannot leave the fate of our peasantry entirely to the anarchy of private possession. There must be a bold and an imaginative agrarian programme aimed at. reformation. The remaining vestiges of feudalism require to be removed. State lands will be given to landless peasants, co-operative farms will be introduced on a voluntary basis. The small landowners will be exempted from the payment of land revenue and self-cultivation will be laid down as a principle of land policy.
It is necessary for the growth of agricultural productivity that surplus labour should be taken away from the land. Under-employment works as a deadweight on the growth of an efficient agriculture. We propose the founding of new cities, say about 200, which will be closely linked to the agricultural countryside as centers for processing agricultural products, as market places. as well as localities for establishment of small industries needed for agricultural economy.
These small towns are called "agrovilles." Their establishment is also a necessity in order to prevent the influx of surplus rural population into large cities which are growing out of hand into huge slums. Pakistan's "agrovilles" will be planned to offer Their inhabitants the amenities of urban life and full participation in civic affairs. Each such township will have its public square, its civic center, its recreation grounds. its mosque and schools and hospitals.
In the field of external affairs, we will put an end to foreign interference. We will reactivate foreign policy to give effective support to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. We will seek to resolve the Farakka dispute. We will not be dictated by any foreign power. We will not succumb to external pressures. We will not barter away our sovereignty.
These and so many other Gargantuan activities have to be undertaken with vision and vitality. We will bring our entire population into the service of Pakistan. We will change the pace of our economy, we will bring freshness and sunshine in place of darkness and dispossession. These are not empty boasts. I am not making tall promises to capture votes. Such radical changes have taken place in other countries and, Insha Allah, they can take place in Pakistan as well.
I am convinced that most of these profound changes can be made but I am equally convinced that none of them can come about under the present economic and social structure. That is why it is imperative to reject the present system of capitalism and to replace it by Islamic socialism. Only by this indigenous system of our own will we be able to banish poverty.
I am not the innovator of the concept of Islamic Socialism. I am merely following the doctrines of the Quaid-i-Azam, and of my conscience, by preaching Islamic Socialism with all the strength and power that I am capable of mustering. On the 26th of March, 1948. the Quaid-i-Azam said:
"You are only voicing my sentiments and the sentiments of millions of Musalmans when you say that Pakistan should be based on sure foundations of social justice and Islamic socialism which emphasises equality and brotherhood of man. Similarly, you are voicing my thoughts in asking and in aspiring for equal opportunity for all."
The principal lieutenant of the Quaid and the first Prime Minister of Pakistan, Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, said on 25th August 1949:
"There are a number of 'isms' being talked about now-a-days, but we are convinced that for us there is only one 'ism', namely 'Islamic Socialism, which in a nutshell, means that every person in this land has equal rights to be provided with food, shelter, clothing, education and medical facilities. Countries which cannot ensure these for their people can never progress. The economic programme drawn up some 1,350 years back is still the best economic programme for us. In fact, whatever systems people may try out. they all ultimately return to 'Islamic Socialism' by whatever name they may choose to call it."
These are not the only utterances of our two great leaders on this question. For want of time I am unable to quote their other speeches on the subject. Nor do I have the lime to quote Mr. Hussein Shaheed Suhrawardy, our popularly elected Prime Minister, who is also on record as endorsing Islamic Socialism.
Islamic Socialism is not alien to Islam. It is not in conflict with our beliefs. If British parliamentary democracy is not in conflict with Islam, I fail to understand how the values of equality and brotherhood which Islam gave to the world can be opposed to Islam.
Islamic Socialism means that we will have a socialist economy according to our conditions, covered by our own heritage, flowering from our own traditions and in conformity with our values and ideology. Only this kind of economic structure can provide equal opportunities for all, protect the citizens from exploitation and remove the barriers between the privileged classes and the exploited classes. Socialism is of direct interest to Pakistan, an underdeveloped country marred by internal and external exploitation.
The roots of socialism lie deep in a profoundly ethical view of life. We of the Pakistan People's Party earnestly maintain that the high ideals of Islam in relation to society can be attained only through a socialist system abolishing the exploitation of man by man. We believe that the nature of justice in the world demanded by our religion is inherent in the conception of a classless society. In this Islam differs fundamentally from other religions. Islam recognises no castes. Capitalist society has a class structure which is opposed to the equality and brotherhood enjoined upon Muslims by Islam. When we call our economic programme Islamic Socialism we are perfectly within our rights and also within the moral traditions of Islam. In the name of justice the Pakistan People's Party spells out Islam in concrete terms of fraternity and friendship but our opponents, the self-appointed monopolists' of Islam, condemn it in the name of socialism. Their manifestos, however, use the same language and the same words without calling it socialism. This only shows how they are desperately seeking to double-cross the people. Such people stand condemned by their own contradictions.
The real reason for the spiritual trepidation of big business and its hirelings is the prospect of nationalisation of industries and banks. Although at present we envisage only the nationalisation of heavy industries and other connected industries and not those that can work efficiently under competitive conditions, nevertheless because we start from the premises that the possession of the means of production in private hands is the cause of exploitation of the workers and the masses, a powerful conspiracy of vested interests has been hatched against the Pakistan People's Party. We are not afraid of this conspiracy. We are confident that with the support of the people we will destroy it.
Once far-reaching internal changes are brought into being and the economy of Pakistan harnessed on an egalitarian pattern, we will be able to establish internal tranquillity. The acquisition of this new strength will enable us to complete our mission.
Pakistan without Kashmir is like a body without a head. The ideology of Pakistan that is being now insidiously exploited by all and sundry, including those who opposed Pakistan, will find its logical articulation from our party in its drive for the liberation of Jammu and Kashmir. The people of Kashmir cannot be held in bondage forever.
It is my firm belief that a strong and vigorous Pakistan will be able to gather sufficient internal and external strength to redeem its pledge to the people of Jammu and Kashmir. The foreign policy of Pakistan will find new dimensions by the change in internal conditions.
Once this nation of a hundred and thirty million people is freed from the burden of exploitation, it will be able to defend a genuinely independent foreign policy. We often talk of an independent foreign policy as if that were possible to implement isolated from its requisite condition, an internal policy free from foreign interference. You must remember that I have been for years the uncompromising champion of an independent foreign policy, its exponent and practitioner when I was in Government and its persistent advocate after leaving office. There is no political party so committed as the Pakistan People's Party to pursuing a foreign policy fashioned to serve our vital national interest.
I have said repeatedly in public, giving all the cogent reasons, that we should break away from the entanglements of greater power politics. Knowing my own altitude, and that I speak on behalf of my party in this matter, you should accept my assurance that when my party comes to power, it will fulfil without delay the foreign policy objectives of our nation: never letting Pakistan to get inveigled into imperialist clutches, never permitting Pakistan to forsake its commitments to the people of Jammu and Kashmir, never allowing Pakistan to deviate from the path of Asia, never making it possible for the voice of our people to get silenced on questions of colonialism and external domination.
Such fundamental internal and external changes will release Pakistan from the strain of a perpetual crisis. It will enable the two parts of the country to remain united. I warn you fellow citizens, that if we do not turn quickly in this direction, which means that if we do not undertake revolutionary economic changes, we will soon reach a point when it will not be possible to combat foreign intrigues aimed at Pakistan's disintegration:
Ladies and gentlemen and my young friends, in my youth I spent the better part of my life in the service of my people. This has been so in the making of our foreign policy, in the great confrontation against India and in the people's struggle against dictatorship. Now after passing through many vicissitudes I see ahead of me another colossal challenge. We stand at the crossroads. We have to rekindle a sense of purpose. We have to embark on the task of reconstruction and reconciliation. I believe that I have a part to play in the fulfillment of Pakistan's purpose. In playing this part, please believe me that I shall always remain with the people, and never for a moment will I compromise their cause.
Countrymen, my friends, my brothers and sisters, I make this pledge to you solemnly as a Muslim and as a Pakistani.