We have, over the decades, lost significant chunks of our history. Much of this has been caused by the deliberate attempts at distortion and tampering undertaken over the years by leaders in an attempt to serve their own purposes. The results have been a confused, uncertain society within which bigotry and ignorance have thrived. This, of course, has had disastrous consequences. We see them all around us today.
One of the jigsaw pieces we have lost from the large picture that should come together to form the historical background for our society is the speech made on August 11, 1947 by Mohammad Ali Jinnah to the Constituent Assembly of the nation that would come into formal being just a few days later. In that speech, the Quaid-e-Azam had laid out his vision for a state in which all citizens were equal regardless of their community, colour, caste or creed, and were free to worship at whatever place they chose. We have, of course, strayed very far from this line. To return to it, we would need to recover our history piece by piece — and this is in itself a difficult task.
Some of the problems involved have surfaced in the news that All India Radio (AIR) has agreed to hand over two recordings of speeches made by Mr Jinnah to the Pakistan Broadcasting Corporation (PBC). Both these speeches deliver a message of tolerance and we hope they will be used by the media at home: perhaps, the Quaid’s voice and words will have some impact. Sadly, no recording of the August 11 address has been found; AIR says it is not present in its archives. It is unfortunate that no effort was made before 2012, when the then director-general of the PBC wrote to his counterpart at AIR, requesting the August 11 speech, to retrieve this part of our history. It is unfortunate that it has not been found and we have lost something immensely valuable, quite possibly for good. We as a nation stand poorer because of this.