Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi Pakistanis living in the Kingdom recently commemorated their country’s 70th Independence Day in Jeddah with the participation of diplomatic missions and various organizations and associations. The celebration reflected Pakistanis’ pride in their country, which came into existence after the Muslims of the subcontinent struggled, strived and made sacrifices to create a country under the leadership of a great leader named Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who became the first governor-general of Pakistan. Moreover, subcontinent Muslims and Hindus sacrificed their lives to end the British colonization that ruled the subcontinent for over 200 years. The English regarded India as the jewel in the British crown.
I was invited to the symposium organized by the Pakistan Repatriation Council (PRC) in Jeddah and attended by prominent figures of the Pakistani community. We listened to the recitation of the Holy Qur’an which was followed by poems and chants glorifying Independence Day. Short speeches highlighting the efforts and sacrifices involved in creating today’s Pakistan were delivered. Today, Pakistan undoubtedly plays a prominent role among the countries of the world.
In the speeches, the speakers called upon the Pakistani government to repatriate the stranded Pakistanis who have been languishing in camps for 45 years. Sayed Muhammad Ishfaq Badayoni, the guest of honor, said that while independence was a great accomplishment under the leadership of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the real difficulty lies in protecting and maintaining it. Muhammad Zareen Khan, from Kashmir, stressed that Kashmir declared in 1940 that it would join Pakistan.
When I took the podium, I thanked the PRC for organizing the event and for their invitation. In my speech, I said that Pakistan’s Independence Day was not only a significant day for Pakistanis but for all Muslims all over the globe. We all are aware of the difficulties that surrounded the creation of Pakistan and the sacrifices made by the Muslims of the subcontinent and the great efforts exerted by Muslim leaders at the time of Jinnah’s leadership.
These sacrifices made Pakistan a reality on the ground and a powerful country. Suffice it to say that it is the only Islamic country possessing nuclear capabilities similar to the ones possessed by some other countries around the globe. It is the sixth largest country in terms of population.
As you all probably know, the idea of creating a country for the Muslims of the subcontinent is not a new one; in fact, it is an ancient one. It was Abu Al-Rayhan Muhammad Ahmed Al-Biruni, a Muslim scholar, who came up with the idea in the 11th century CE. Al-Biruni visited India where he studied the habits and traditions of Indian society and then wrote numerous books in which he highlighted the difficulties facing Hindu-Muslim coexistence.
I then talked about Sir Syed Ahmad Khan, a social activist, who started a movement for the intellectual renaissance of Muslims following the failure of the revolt against British colonization in 1857. The British held Muslims largely responsible for it.
Then the Muslim League came into existence and its members under the leadership of Jinnah fought hard until the Lahore Resolution was issued in 1940, which regarded the creation of Pakistan as an unwavering objective that must be achieved. Seven years later the objective was achieved and the independence of Pakistan was declared. Pakistan was created to embrace all Pakistanis. However, its independence will not be complete, its existence will not be realized and its dreams will not come true until those who sacrificed their souls and fought tooth and nail for its creation have been repatriated.
Today there are 250,000 stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh. Neglecting or forgetting about them will not absolve the Pakistani government of its ethical, human and legal responsibility toward them. After all, they were Pakistanis from day one, from the time they left their original homeland in India and immigrated to Pakistan. They were Pakistanis who stood by the Pakistani army to protect the unity of Pakistan and they will remain Pakistanis until Judgment Day. I call upon the Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to repatriate them and finish what he had started during the time of his previous tenures.
Ehsan Al-Haq, who is in charge of the PRC, took the podium and thanked all speakers and attendees and reiterated his calls for Sharif to submit the report of the parliamentary committee, which he ordered to be formed last week. He reminded the audience of the previous suggestion of the PRC to repatriate the stranded Pakistanis through private financing. He commended Sayed Jilani and his comrades for raising the Pakistani flag and demanded that Kashmir hold a referendum. He called upon civil institutions to help the stranded Pakistanis in Bangladesh.
— Dr. Ali Al-Ghamdi is a former Saudi diplomat who specializes in Southeast Asian affairs. He can be reached at email@example.com