The Quaid goes electronic

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Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was the man responsible for the awakening of the Muslims of British India and for carving out a nation out of an exploited and subjugated minority so that they could live in a country of their own and have their own cultural, religious and national identity. Never has one single man had such an impact on the course of events in history, he gave the Muslims of India the reason, coherence, expression and then the direction for the creation of a separate Muslim nationhood and a separate Muslim state out of nothing but hopes and aspirations. Indeed the Quaid was a man of a great stature, blessed with a vision and a dynamism that saw the ultimate realization of the dreams of millions of Muslims. Initially he was an advocate of unity between Hindus and Muslims but ultimately the machinations of the Hindu leaders (and the British) and the sorry plight of the Muslims convinced him that such a unity was not possible as they were two distinct nations having their own religion, ideology and culture.

It is indeed strange and sad that in this era of computer technology there is very little content available on the Internet on the Quaid and whatever little there is, it certainly is not enough. No official site exists. It is imperative that all aspects of the Quaid’s life and his never-ending struggle for the creation of Pakistan be made available in such a manner that easy access can be possible and maximum benefit can be derived. With this in view the Jinnah Society launched the first ever CD Rom and Website on the Quaid in an impressive function at the Governor House, Karachi on 12th August 2002. The CD Rom has been designed and developed by Enabling Technologies, Karachi who have also developed CD Roms on Faiz Ahmed Faiz and the 50 Years of Art in Pakistan. The Sindh Governor, Mohammadmian Soomor was the Chief Guest and Mr. Sharifuddin Pirzada was the Guest Speaker. The CD Rom has been based upon the Jinnah Anthology which was also compiled and edited by Mr. Liaquat Merchant who is the Quaid’s grand nephew and President of the Jinnah Society. The CD Rom, although based on the Jinnah Anthology has more content to offer as it also contains additional material such as articles and speeches of the Quaid and impressions and personal recollections of the Quaid’s contemporaries and a superb photo gallery which give it a more special flair. Begum Shaista Ikramullah, Yousuf Haroon, Justice J.A. Channa, Princess Abida Sultaan of Bhopal, Sahabzada Yaqub Ali Khan, Ata Rabbani and Syed Sharifuddin Pirzada dwell on their personal memories of the Quaid while impressions are given by Beverly Nichols, Lady Wavell, Aga Khan III and a host of others. Stanley Wolpert has presented a new tribute to the Quaid, Akbar S. Ahmad writes about what he calls Jinnah’s “Gettysburg Address”, Liaquat Merchant presents a study while S.M. Burke presents a historian’s perspective on Jinnah but there is much more. Some of the material contained in the CD Rom has never been published before and whatever was published was not easily accessible to the readers.

There is no doubt that this CD will be a source of great utility specially for students and for the younger generation who do not have access to such information at the present time other than books or whatever little information that exists on the Internet. Mr. Liqauat Merchant rightly said that it is imperative that the younger generation be made aware of the struggle that went into the creation of Pakistan and about the Quaid. In order for the CD to be available to everyone 10000 CDs are to be produced initially for sale in Pakistan and abroad. This is a most welcome step and will certainly be beneficial to many.

The Sindh Governor praised the efforts of Mr. Liaquat Merchant, the Jinnah Society and Jinnah Foundation and said that we could only mould ourselves into a disciplined nation by seeking inspiration from the achievement and struggles of the Quaid. Mr. Sharifuddin Pirzada said that the CD Rom was rich in matter and material written by men and women who worked with and met the Quaid or studied him closely. The Jinnah Anthology will not doubt re-emphasize Jinnah’s ideals, principles and visions particularly those relating to democracy, equality, justice and supremacy of the rule of law.

The Quaid’s had asked his people to follow the motto of “Unity, Faith and Discipline” if they wanted to succeed as a nation and as a state. Pakistan was achieved through the tools of Unity and Faith but to all intents and purposes we seem to have lost these tools now. A vast majority of the masses are denied justice, corruption and nepotism keeps flourishing, trampling on the rights of others has become common, division on ethnic lines continues, the gap between the rich and the poor continues to get bigger and our literacy rate is abysmally low, despite what the official quarters may say. This is not the Pakistan as envisioned by the Quaid. As far as Discipline is concerned this too is fast becoming extinct. The CD is an extremely good source of information about the Quaid’s vision of what the nation should be and he has given us sound indicators and advice to adhere to. But we seem to have fallen short of his expectations and visualizations and it is only due to the presence of some very good and practical people in the country that we are still able to hold our heads high. Perhaps the younger generation will be able to take a lesson from the contents of the CD and work their way through the maze and continue in the nation-building process.

As Mr. Jehan Ara, CEO of Enabling Technologies rightly said, serious efforts must be made to preserve our history and culture for the benefit of our future generations for they are the architects of tomorrow and the only way we can go about it is by using the medium of computer technology, the Internet. It becomes imperative for the corporate sector to get involved in getting more of our historical and cultural content converted onto the new medium. It is the only way of preserving our history.

Mr. Ikram Sehgal is Publisher and Managing Editor of Defence Journal (Pakistan).

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