Patriotism is a splendid thing, but it is preposterous if it makes one blind to reality. It then becomes a rather pernicious form of idiocy, which would give individuals a refuge to ignore atrocities. Pretty much of what happens in my part of the world. Unfortunately, most of us are too hell-bent on preventing our country’s ‘image’. Moreover, we seek no limit while we are at it. For me it makes the Independence Day more of a celebratory gesture, than something that is meaningful. I would rather love my country despite all its flaws than to bury my head in the sand. With that as we celebrate our independence day this year there are a lot of things that need to be remembered, condemned and highlighted.
Over the decades, the meaning of independence and freedom has meant different things to our society. It has been a long journey from breaking through British Colonial rule to fulfilling the dream of a homeland and then rebranding it. With time, the ideology behind Pakistan has been moulded, manipulated, and tampered to serve the vested interests of our feudalistic politicians and democratic dictators.
On the 14th of August 1947 at the Inauguration ceremony of the Pakistan constituent, Quaid–i-Azam Muhammad Ai Jinnah said the following:
“I wish to emphasize that we appreciate the spirit in which those in the Government service at present and in the Armed Forces and others have so willingly and ungrudgingly volunteered themselves provisionally to serve Pakistan. As servants of Pakistan we shall make them happy and they will be treated equally with our nationals. The tolerance and goodwill that great Emperor Akbar showed to all the non-Muslim is not of recent origin. It dates back thirteen centuries ago when our Prophet not only by words but also by deeds treated the Jews and Christians, after he had conquered them, with the utmost tolerance, regard, and respect for their faith and beliefs. The whole history of Muslims, wherever they ruled, is replete with those humane and great principles, which should be followed and practiced.”
Finally, I thank you for your good wishes for Pakistan, and I assure you that we shall not be wanting in friendly spirit with our neighbors and with all nations of the world.
Now after 62 years we seem to have forgotten the lessons history taught us. These lessons were the pioneers to the struggle, which brought us a nation. However, we have forgotten that and chosen to embrace the ideology that was ingrained into our minds with over 31 years of dictatorship and the crippled democracy, which only served to fill the voids in between. Over the time, we have contested and negotiated our freedom. A feeling, that is multifaceted, and widely misunderstood. We seem to champion our freedom under someone else’s slogan, courtesy to the messianic orientation of our minds. The cockeyed notion, that one man can save us from the breeding hell, while we plod along meaninglessly sloganeering. One movement, which is the most perfect example of the messianic thought process, is the judicial movement. A movement that promised a lot without logic or rational strategy for deliverance.
Then we have the swat crisis, an exodus, which could have been easily avoided by prompt actions. The negligence and the infamous Good and bad Taliban game bolstered the strength of the extremist militants, and if that was not enough more time was wasted on negotiating the ‘peace treaty’ with the Taliban. Eventually coming back to sanity left us with only one option, something that could have been dealt with ages ago, the army offensive against militancy, causing the largest exodus in the country’s history after Partition. It pains me even more that many of our flaws are either pushed under the table or blamed on the previous government (or both in a convenient sequence). Both of the methods eventually leave the problems pending and piling up, eventually becoming more chaotic.
In the backdrop of the current situations and the past, Independence Day for me this year was a day to introspect. It pains me to see the abuse of power, lynching of minorities, constant sloganeering, and most of all the indifference towards some of our major issues. Issues like the Kashmir dispute only resurface when we realize the absence of something to whine about. There are innumerable issues that question our freedom today. We see the victims of Gojra hoisting black flags, the children of missing people of Pakistan putting up exhibitions saying “No jashne azadi for the missing people”. I think this is an alarming situation that needs to be looked into and acted upon. It goes out to prove that most of us will not be plodding along with mere celebratory gestures. For me this means that people actually acknowledge the day as an important historic event with all its essence. This is exactly why they choose to reflect this day to highlight how they feel being a part of the community.
The gesture by the victims of Gojra is a simple yet very strong notion that “They will not celebrate independence day because they don’t feel free to practice, they aren’t safe, and they don’t feel as much as a part of a community, as they deserve to be”
It is tragic that even our expressions of patriotism reflect violence. Aerial firing, maddening crackers and speeding motorbikes, the infamous motorbike stunts have caused seven deaths and dozens injured this year only, the stats of people losing lives to aerial firing remains unconfirmed. At the end of it all, the choice has always been ours to make, whether we remain apathetic or realize and act upon determines our future. The truth is we are a nation with great resilience that continues to move on despite the grievous situations. I see hope even in these condemnations, hope, and faith that people have finally understood the importance of being empowered. That a lot among us will not do or say things for the heck of it.
These gestures are symbols that many in our society are aware of their rights, and that for them the Independence Day means a lot more than just a celebratory gesture. Celebrating Independence Day is not only hoisting flags, painting green and enchanting slogans; it goes much deeper to the very roots of ‘freedom and right to exist (co-exist) as a society.’ Let us hope we all realize that soon and march forth to a much-needed change.
Pakistan Zindabad !
**Just a small incident while I was out for dinner with my family. A group of people gathered around the musician dancing and clapping on patriotic songs,upon a closer look I relaized they were all deaf and dumb. It made me teary eyed to see how passionately these people waved and danced while they could hear nothing, just reflecting their love and happiness on the independence day, a silent token of Patriotism.