Saturday, June 03, 2006

A forsaken father

Outside Pakistan there are few salutary images of the homeland. One that comes to mind is the Empire State Building lit in green and white on August 14. Another that could warm the cockles of any Pakistani's heart is the portrait of Jinnah that hangs at the entrance of the magnificent dining hall in Lincolns Inn. Accomplished individuals are legion at the Inns of Court and for Pakistan's greatest citizen to be honoured thus is significant.

Then there is Pakistan - where the sacred is regularly defiled. This time it's the turn of Jinnah's birthplace. Bureaucrats in charge of the renovation of the home have been accused of embezzling funds for the project. In a long history of pelf and corruption this particular mischief will likely be become a mere footnote; yet, the juxtaposition of Jinnah and corruption is full of pathos.

Over lunch at the aforementioned dining hall, I once explained to a judge the meaning of Jinnah's appellation, Quaid-e-Azam. "Well, as things have turned out, I'm not sure how happy he'd be with that association," was the wry response.

For a reminder of the values the Quaid hoped to impart to the custodians of his progeny, click here and listen to a sample of his speeches.

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