Yesterday, the nation celebrated the birth anniversary of Jinnah, the creator of Pakistan who created history by winning a separate homeland for Muslims on an ideological basis, which was an unparalleled event of the twentieth century. We will see a deluge of messages by the political leaders and eminent personalities paying tributes to the benefactor of the nation and reiterating the implementation of the vision bequeathed by the Qauid knowing that they had betrayed it by failing to follow it. That marks sheer hypocrisy on their part as they all have salivated to perpetuate the archaic colonial system of governance and built their fortune by exploiting avenues of corruption that it affords. Jinnah not only won a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent but also identified the issues that confronted the new state, which needed to be addressed on a priority basis and how Pakistan could be made happy and prosperous. Addressing the constituent assembly on 11 August 1947, he said that the first duty of the state was to maintain law and order so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects were fully protected. He observed that bribery and corruption were poison and needed to be put down with an iron hand. He also identified black marketing, nepotism and jobbery as other ills afflicting the society, which had to be eliminated. In regards to putting Pakistan on the path of prosperity, he said, “Now if we want to make this great State of Pakistan happy and prosperous, we should wholly and solely concentrate on the well-being of the people, and especially of the masses and the poor. If you will work in cooperation, forgetting the past, and burying the hatchet, you are bound to succeed. If you change your past and work together in a spirit that every one of you, no matter to what community he belongs, no matter what relations he had with you in the past, no matter what is his colour, caste or creed, is first, second and last a citizen of this State with equal rights, privileges, and obligations, there will be no end to the progress you will make.” The detour from the vision of the architect of Pakistan has brought the country to crossroads. It is regrettable to note that after more than seven decades since the creation of Pakistan, we, as a nation, have failed to tread the path envisioned by the founder of Pakistan and implement the priorities outlined by him. All the ills identified by him have made deep inroads into the social fibre and we have taken a detour from the path envisioned by him to put Pakistan on the road to prosperity. The political leaders as well as the military dictators who ruled the country have promoted an elitist culture leaving the masses in abject poverty. Their top priority has been to orchestrate longevity in their regimes. The masses never figured in their scheme of things. This has not only hindered the socioeconomic development of the country but has given rise to fissiparous tendencies and also caused the emergence of a host of social fault lines, marring national integration and unity. The detour from the vision of the architect of Pakistan has brought the country to a crossroads. Our survival as a respectable and vibrant nation surely hinges on path correction on a priority basis by going back to the drawing board to rediscover our national ethos and the way we were supposed to follow regarding the consolidation of gains of independence and economic prosperity. Pakistan has endured innumerable tragedies including the dismemberment of the country. But the rulers, particularly the politicians refuse to learn from the past follies. The present confrontation and political polarization are pushing the country towards the edge of a precipice. There are men on both sides of the aisle who are beneficiaries of the archaic colonial system of governance and have built fortunes thriving on the inbuilt avenues of corruption in the system. They have a vested interest in the perpetuation of that system. The country needs a break from this unenviable situation by bringing systemic changes to remove the obstacles in pursuing pro-masses policies. That will require breaking the hold of the elitist classes on political power. It can be done by switching over to the system of proportional representation. Most of our political woes are the outcome of the single constituency system which promotes power politics and perpetuates the hold of the elitist classes on political power. The switch to proportional representation under which people vote for parties instead of individual candidates effectively eliminates the role of the electives in horse trading and destabilization of the governments. The change will also eliminate the manipulative power of the non-democratic forces in making and breaking the governments as well as get rid of power politics, which has been the bane of our socioeconomic development. Drastic changes in the system of dispensation of justice are also needed. This is possible only when the political forces abandon their self-seeking agendas, and cooperate in effecting the required changes in the system. There is an imperative need for a national dialogue to save the country from drifting towards anarchy and chaos. It should be remembered that development is always culture-bound. We will have to create a culture which is conducive to development and instrumental to promoting the well-being of the masses. While one can take inspiration from the philosophy and growth model of another country it cannot be implemented lock stock and barrel in Pakistan. We will have to evolve our growth model tuned to our national ethos and culture. It is, indeed, a daunting task given the permeating situation. Perhaps a beginning can be made by letting the bygones be bygones to enlist the cooperation of all the political forces, which undoubtedly have support among the masses. False egos must give way to national outlook if a real change in the fortunes of the people and the country is desired. The writer is a former diplomat and freelance columnist.