Amidst excited throngs of men and women standing outside the Quaid’s mausoleum in Karachi, a small boy lifts a miniature Pakistani flag and waves it enthusiastically to show the love, respect and honor with which he treats a man who is politically unknown to him, but who still lives in the depth of his heart. For, men are known, not by their faces but also by the marks they leave on earth.
The 67th independence day of Pakistan came, shone, and now is setting back, rather wistfully. For the country, which was formed out of chaos, anarchy and disorder, is still bathed in gore and blood, thanks largely due to the efforts of those trying to undermine it.
History shows Pakistan as a country of resolute determination and will. Few countries—or for that case, nations—could have survived to see a 67th birthday after experiencing a bloodcurdling migration spree that left thousands dead and others homeless. Fewer countries still could have forborne international political pressure when their right wing was being detached. Hardly any country could have remained steadily plodding on the road to prosperity after being hit by a humongous earthquake in 2005. Pakistan did all three.
But behind this optimistic veil lies shrouded the wrinkled face of the Pakistani patriot, who stands in despair. He despairs at the state of affairs with India. He despairs at the economy—that frail child of government which sustains development. He despairs at unemployment, at terrorism, at drone attacks, at the stunted growth of peace, at justice, at tribalism, at provincialism, at religious extremism, at liberal fascism, at- practically everything. He finds enough to despair at, and less to hope for.
But this state of affairs is one that results, sooner or later, in any country beleaguered by sporadic transitions between dictatorship and democracy. While you’re at it, a third voice chips in, meek, but growing stronger every moment, calling for a return to the caliphate system.
The problem the young mind of social reform is seemingly unable to diagnose is one that lies within. In 67 years, with an industry swerving on the edge of doom, we have progressed more than any of us could have estimated, without losing our sanity. Even today, the solution to most of the problems our esteemed young professionals bring to light lies in a collective reflection on the malady of individual corruption that ails us, and finding a cognitive cure for it.
There are many positive aspects that can be brought to light in the face of all problems. Pakistan stands proud among the short list of countries that possess nuclear wealth. Pakistan boasts the youngest IT professional. Pakistan ranks high among the countries who have vowed to suffuse peace and light in this world. Pakistan inches a mile everyday towards its goal of economic prosperity, at a rate almost unbelievable for a country whose Northern frontier is engaged in a heated war with terrorists. Pakistan represents the most moderate and most practical system of government which applies Islamic principles in conjunction with modern needs. Pakistan is the sole champion of countries who are still struggling to find a direction. To top it all, Pakistan is the pioneer of a system where ideology and practicality form a melange named as Islamic nationalism, the goal for Indian Muslims sacrificed so much.
The achievements of Pakistan are many. Pakistan represents the face of tolerance from the Islamic perspective. Solidarity and unity in Pakistan stand not only for a collective moment of silence on a tragic accident, but for a common strength of purpose in the hour of crisis. Punjabi, Sindhi, Baluchi and Pathan may offer singularly divided perspectives, but they are all driven by a common purpose, and it would not be wrong to assume that despite all differences, they will still fall back to that common purpose even at the moment of absolute chaos.
Still, life is not a bed of roses. Pakistan has to grapple with quite a lot of problems. The flailing state of the economy presents one of the biggest challenges yet to be reviewed and—if possible—solved. There are other problems too, which require attention than has been previously given to them.
In short, Pakistan is way ahead of what we had originally envisaged, but still needs a bit of honing to step in line with the modern nations. It can be viewed as a progressive nation, where, despite all differences, the rich man and his slave still meet in the mosque for daily prayers, sitting cheek by jowl on the prayer rug. Pakistan has a future, and our responsibility is not so much as a social reformer as trying to contribute to that future, whatever we can. Whatever happens, Pakistan has lived and continues to live among the hearts of millions of people whose heartbeat is attuned to the rhythmic contractions of the nation’s pulse. Pakistan Zindabad!
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