WHILE paying rich tributes to all those who contributed their share to the cause of independence and progress of the country on the 76th Independence Day, the nation expressed its unwavering resolve to protect national sovereignty and foil designs of internal and external enemies through united efforts. This determination was amply reflected in enthusiastic individual participation, gatherings of the civil society and events organized at the public level in all the four provinces, Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Kashmir. As pointed out by President Dr. Arif Alvi and outgoing Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif the unprecedented freedom struggle of Muslims of South Asia was for creation of a country where they could explore their potential and live a life in peace and prosperity in line with their glorious traditions, ethos, culture and values.
This year’s Independence Day has an added significance as it also marked completion of tenure of a democratically elected Government and installation of a neutral caretaker Prime Minister (Anwarul Haq Kakar) who hails from a smaller province, giving its people a greater sense of participation in national affairs. This change of power on the auspicious occasion of Independence Day augurs well for constitutionalism and prospects for free, fair and transparent elections that are deeply linked to the stability and prosperity of the country. There can be no two opinions that Pakistan achieved numerous milestones during the last 75 years in the face of various odds and challenges. Apart from worst natural disasters like earthquakes and floods, wars were imposed on the country but the nation and its brave defence forces jealously guarded the gift of independence and rebuilt the country. It is a matter of pride that our scientists, engineers and technicians live up to the national aspirations by mastering the world’s most complicated nuclear technology that made the defence of the country invincible. Similarly, despite population explosion that ate up scarce resources, our agriculture community worked hard to produce almost enough to meet our fast increasing food requirements. Thanks to the vision of framers of the Constitution we have a document that is catering to our needs despite frequent manipulations by different stakeholders. We faced consistent existential threats due to internal challenges and external conspiracies but our valiant defence forces and the premier intelligence agency, the ISI, foiled all such designs with full support of the nation. A few years back, the country was at the verge of virtual collapse due to menacing dimensions of extremism and terrorism but the threat stands somewhat decimated and normalcy prevails in areas and regions that were previously considered as ungovernable and unlovable. The nature of the external threats can be gauged by the fact that apart from physical aggression as highlighted by wars, the so-called hot pursuit by a power-drunk neighbour and foreign-sponsored terrorism, conspiracies are also being hatched against purely economic ventures like China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). Credit surely goes to defence and law-enforcing agencies for safeguarding interests of the country and giving a befitting response to aggressors and handlers of anti-state elements. It is, however, unfortunate that we could not exploit the full potential of the country for progress and development during the last seven and a half decades mainly because of political instability, bad governance and corruption. While South Korea attained the enviable status of a developed nation by implementing the blue-print for development provided by famous Pakistani economist Dr Mehbubul Haq, we are groaning under the burden of foreign loans and finding it increasingly difficult to pay back. Financial and economic vulnerabilities have forced the country to accept humiliating conditions of bilateral and multilateral donors, which impinge upon our political sovereignty. People of Pakistan, who were already under a great strain due to unprecedented floods/rains as well as Covid-19, witnessed back-breaking inflation which is stated to be among the highest in the world. And there seems to be no end to this phenomenon as millions are being pushed below the poverty line on an almost weekly basis. It is because of tug-of-war for power and influence that the governance structure is crumbling down, there is no respect for the Constitution and rule of law, people have lost hope in the institution of judiciary and corruption is rampant in all tiers of governance and in most of the institutions and departments. The civil and military leadership will have to come up with answers to these questions to secure the future of the country.