The Betrayed Promise

Secular Pakistan

by Eqbal Ahmad

DAWN – 18 June, 1995

[Editor’s note: An Urdu translation of this article is available at Roshni]

Before I recall Mr. Jinnah and the aspirations which inspired the subcontinent’s Muslims to seek separate statehood, it is relevant to underline the price nations pay when the values and expectations on which a state is founded are systematically betrayed.

Since Plato’s time political theorists have acknowledged the centrality of legitimacy in the consolidation and continuity of states. Legitimacy refers not to the popularity of a government or given institutions thereof; rather it entails the title to authority which a system of power enjoys among citizens. A subjective attribute, legitimacy issues forth largely from objective factors—the values which shape state or government policies, predominance of the rule of law and prevalence of distributive justice in society and, above all, the degree of coincidence between promise and fufilment in terms…

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