Marria Qibtia S Nagra
INEXPLICABLE in its exposition, freedom be it of nations or individuals, is an unrivaled blessing. Emanating from a desire for liberation and sovereignty, it materialises itself solely through faith, of which there stands no concomitant. For the Muslims of the subcontinent the ignominious subservience to Hindu domination not only impinged their psycho-social wellbeing, but consequently impelled them to collectively work upon the realization of their dream for the creation of a homeland, where their basic civil liberties would be guaranteed and where impartiality would be a right, not a privilege for few.
On Independence Day, each year it is the creation of this sacred land Pakistan that comes to be celebrated. For Pakistanis, this significant occasion mandates an affirmation of their patriotism, a pursuit that sadly finds much expression in material pomp and show than in the desire to imbibe from the struggle of the forefathers and following their footsteps. Be it the wearing of flashy badges of the national flag on the chests or the senseless quest of the people of our generation to erect the largest flag in the vicinity on the rooftop of their buildings , the heart of the matter is that seventy years of creation, have failed to imbue in us the quintessence of patriotism. If patriotism entails expressing compassion for ones homeland, then is it true adoration that comes to be manifested in all the materialistically superficial endeavours that we as a nation resort to in claiming eternal love for the motherland? Is not such superficiality amounting to betraying the spirit of patriotism and of love itself?
Sagacity demands that true patriotism should be an exercise that enables the Pakistani nation to engage in an exegesis of the factors that are swerving it from the ideological basis of its creation, and are therefore hindering its prosperity. Fore mostly of all, the concept of unity, faith and discipline, espoused by Jinnah is something that we as a nation need to hold steadfast to, since this is our only panacea against internal and external agents of unrest. It was not without a reason that Jinnah believed unity and discipline to be the granters of power and sanction, necessary for greater progression.
Next, justice and equality, need to be given due pertinence, since an ignorance towards these is resulting in the malignance of the social setup. The remnants of our collective pre-independence past should be sufficient enough to enable us to comprehend the role of impartiality in national progression and development. However, the practice of selective justice practiced quite conveniently by those at the helms of affairs, tells another story altogether. While the former PM Nawaz Sharif was being sent home by the honorable Supreme Court on account of being “not honest” as a result of the non-declaration of his assets, a kangaroo court in Pakistan – a Jirga in Multan, decided upon the fate of a young girl, ordering her revenge rape as a means to even out the offense of rape her brother had committed. Such vile occurrences reinforce the unquestionable constrictive social dynamics of the Pakistani society and shed light upon the morose tradition of using women as pawns in resolving familial disputes, whereby their bodies become combat zones on which scores come to be settled.
Moreover, patriotism also entails embracing the communal diversity that ornaments the social demographics of the state. While delivering an address on August 11, 1947, Jinnah stressed upon this notion, contending that, we all are equal citizens of one state and that caste and creed …has nothing to do with the business of the state. Despite the founding fathers explicit reference to an embracive – socio-political practice, Pakistan today cannot boast of revering its minorities. It is not without a reason that the Hindu population in Pakistan which was estimated to be around 23% at the time of the inception of Pakistan, has been reduced to a mere 6%. Moreover, Aurat Foundation in a report testifies that 1000 girls in Sindh alone have been coerced to convert to Islam, under physical and psychological duress.
True patriotism also involves professing the role that women can play in nation building, where they are not treated as mere proxies or extension of male political potential. It was women leaders like Begum Fatima Jinnah, Begum Shaista Ikramullah, and Begum Jahanara Shahnawaz who played a major role in making the Pakistan movement a success. Similarly, it was the women groups who were the first ones to stage massive protests against Zia’s dictatorial regime, manifesting their unwavering compassion for democratic cultural values. However, the recent case of MNA Ayesha Gulalai, and the scathing criticism meted out to her in response to her claims of being harassed by the PTI leadership reflects the convenient sadism with which women in politics are accosted, something that should be sufficient enough to pulverize our souls.
Today, as the Pakistani nation does stand free from the sadistic episodes of direct physical cumbrance, it stands virtually enslaved, all due to the inability of the successors to work upon heralding the dictums that the Pakistan movement professed. For a nation, aspiring for greatness, it is time that it redefines patriotism in true letter and spirit by working upon the areas mandating collective attention, since this is the only recours.
— The writer is a freelance columnist with profound interest in English Literature, Psychology & IR.
Marria Qibtia S Nagra