National Security Debates - We become what we focus on! Part I

National Security Debates - We become what we focus on! Part I

Written By : Air Marshal (Retired) Masood Akhtar
Founding Fathers' Vision and National Security

Recall what did Mahathir do when the Malaysian Ringgit came under pressure during the currency crisis? He confidently blocked the trading of his national currency on the international forex trade. Something one can’t normally do in today’s globalised world. Also remember when the British pointed fingers at the Malaysians for the so called kick-backs in a potential trainer aircraft deal? Mahathir’s reaction was so firm and aggressive that the UK government had to scramble its foreign office for damage control. And when his Deputy Prime Minister Badawi was frisked on a visit to the US, Mahathir’s response was so firm that the Americans were forced to make appropriate amends.

His firm response was made possible through the backing of a strong and a united nation! He gave Malaysia a strong nationhood through an all inclusive “Malaysian Malaysia” identity, and abandoning the previously held a Malay ethnic national identity. This was as per the first of the nine challenges he set for his Vision 2020, “To form a nation that stands as one”. 

Secure nations are sure of their National Identities (defined as who we were and are to day). They are also confident of their Common or National Purpose (defined as shared values and beliefs). Both these statements are derived out of history the Founding Fathers’ Vision (FFV).

We fortunately are rich in the literature for our FFV. Chronologically we have six documents i.e. Meesaq-e-Madinah, The Last Sermon, Allahabad Lecture by Allama Iqbal, three versions of Pakistan Resolution, Quaid-e-Azam’s 11th August 1947 Address to the Constituent Assembly and the Objectives Resolution. We may debate more if the readers suggest.

Unfortunately we have not read these, leave alone critically debate them to derive our National Identity and Purpose from. These are neither taught at schools, colleges, universities; nor at the Services’ Academies and Staff/War Colleges. It thus was no surprise that over sixty of us grade-20 officers from both the civil and military bureaucracy in a course had almost never known or critically read these documents. Can we be good Pakistanis without knowing the raison d’etre (reason to be) of our nation or have belief in it? No wonder our provinces, institutions and groups (racial, linguistic and religious) are going their own way. For example the Taliban are asserting their extreme right identity against our national mainstream moderate beliefs. The result: extreme National Insecurity!

As per universal paradigms of national security, we derive our Common Identity and Purpose out of the FFV. The Frontier Post is starting a debate on these documents. We request the readers to debate, comment and derive the guidelines for the values of: National Purpose (Equality of all people, institutions, provinces, Liberty/Freedom and Fraternity/Brotherhood); Personal values (Integrity, Service before Self and Excellence in Whatever We Do); National Values (Pluralism, Federalism, Constitutionalism, Internationalism; Equal Rights of Minorities; Joint Electorates etc)? Additionally do these give us the basis for our Common National Identity and the basis for evolving our National Interests?


Document 1: Meesaq-e-Madinah (By Ziauddin Kirmani)

Within a year or so, the Prophet (PBUH) chalked out a Charter of Rights for the citizens of Madinah, laying the foundation of a city State, wherein various elements in the body politic pledged to cooperate on the principle of coexistence in the common cause of security and welfare of the State. Dr. Hameedullah, in his informative and scholarly work, Al-vathaa-‘equas siyasiyyah (Cairo), has re-constructed some 47 clauses of the pact from the available texts.        

Salient provisions of the historic pact are rearranged below in a particular order to bring out in relief the salient features of the Muslim polity in its earliest stage.

1.      This is a document on behalf of Mohammad, the Prophet (PBUH), as between all Muslim from the Quraish and the Medianites and those who follow them and are thus attached to them and strive with them.

2.      One Nation of Muslims and Jews “They from one community (‘Ummatul Vahidah”) apart from other people.

3.      Pluralism and Freedom of Religion “And the Jews of Banu “Auf form one community (“Ummatun”) along with the Muslims. Shall have their own religion and the Muslims shall have their own religion – their associates as well as themselves – except one who transgresses or commits a wrong. He shall be inviting trouble only for himself and his own people.

4.      Equal Rights “And for the Jews of other (mixed) tribes (named in the document) the rights and obligations shall be the same as for the Jews of Bani Auf, except, one who transgresses or only for himself and his own people.

5.      Equal Rights “And the associates of the Jews shall be considered at one with them (that is the main tribes).

6.      Sincerity and Fraternity “And the Jews and the Muslim shall bear their own expenses. They shall help each other against one who fights with the people of this covenant. Among them there shall be goodwill and sincere counsel rather than foul play.

7.      Common Obligations “And the Jews and the Muslim shall share expenses in the state of war.

8.      Lawfulness “And it will be unlawful for the people of this covenant to disturb the peace of Madinah.

9.      Common Defence “And they shall help each other against one who poses a threat to Madinah.

10. Social Justice “And none shall do wrong to his ally and the aggrieved shall be entitled to all help”

11. Mutual Security “And the idolater shall not render any support in person or money, to an (idolatrous) Quraish (of Makah) nor shall he intervene in his behalf against a Muslim”.

12. Mutual Support “And neither the (idolatrous) Quraish nor one who helps them shall be given asylum or protection”.

13. Unity of Command and Leadership “And none shall (hereafter) dissociate oneself from the contracting parties unilaterally except with the permission of Mohammad (PBUH)”.

14. Unity of Leadership “And if there arises any new situation or any dispute that may threaten its violation, the matter is to be referred to Allah and Mohammad, His prophet”.

Apart from the main Jewish tribes living on the   outskirts of Yathrib (Al–Madinah), the idolatrous tribes within the city, too had quite sizable Jewish content which had to be bound separately and expressly by this pact. Separate alliances were, however, signed later on with the three main Jewish tribes of Banu Qainoqaa’ Banu an-Nadeer and Banu Quraizah, who were held responsible on subsequent occasions for subverting the loyalty of the Medinite tribes bound by the pact. For in spite of this seemingly foreign element, these idolatrous tribes functioned peacefully as well knit social units.


The second point worthy of note in this historic pact is the most catholic basis of the Muslim polity that if non Muslim agreed, of their free will, to cooperate with the Muslims to promote and defend a society based on the socio economic principles enunciated by Islam, various religious communities could co-exist in an Islam oriented ideological State as equal partners under a covenant welding them into one political entity and guaranteeing full protection to the religion, culture and personal law of each contracting community, subject only to over riding considerations of human values, public morality and decency. The clear expressions of ummatun vahida min doon-an nass’ in (2) Ummatun ma’al-momineen’ in (3) in the above cited document are of great significance and worthy of attention of the students of political science. It goes without saying that the basic requirement for the success of any pact is goodwill and sincerity on the part of the contracting parties. But in an arrangement like the one envisaged, the success depended, more on the generous treatment by the dominant element than the technically correct conduct of other partners.


Note: While the commentary is by Ziauddin Kirmani, the emphasis and topics of various tenets are added by the scribe. We request the readers to publish their comments/critique in all newspapers and magazines for a wider debate. Let us make Pakistan more secure!

The writer has been CI at NDC and a visiting faculty for “Statecraft and National Security” at the National Security Workshop and the Administrative Staff College. E-mail: mak366 @