As all of us witness the country go through all sorts of turmoil, it is difficult to get into a celebratory spirit. And yet, as the day when Pakistan was created - August 14 – starts approaching, flags adorn cars, buildings and a kind of merriment begins to build up as the day gets closer.
And while we celebrate the birth of the nation for a day, and trample all over it, quite literally, the next day, the overall sentiment is jubilant on the day itself, made special by a countrywide public holiday.
Crowds come out in droves to celebrate. There are also people who remember what partition was like, how bloody, brutal, and gut-wrenching stories also exist. A part of this narrative is never spoken about openly, and we tend to gloss over the things that may not agree with our patriotic sensibilities on the actual day.
Each year, we encounter tone-deaf national songs, even though we do not need more than our current reserve. Is it falsehood or is there a light at the end of the tunnel? We asked a diverse group of artists the question below and present their answers to this simple yet complex reality.
“Things in Pakistan and globally may be a little bleak at the moment, but what’s something that makes you proud to be a Pakistani, or hopeful as one?”
“Our music, my artists and a few gems in the system.”
“I think Allah Mian’s biggest blessing to all of us is our sovereign homeland. There is no bigger blessing than being able to live in an independent country. When I hear stories of migration from my parents and how they came here [from India], amidst great struggles with a passion, the realities we see in the here and now are saddening, disappointing. What are we doing to this independent country? However, there’s always a silver lining. There is always hope. That very hope keeps us alive. Should the day come when this hope disappears, a human being ends. God only gives you what you can survive, and the struggles at the moment align with it. We need to believe that the current bleak climate will pass, and things will get better. This very hope is perhaps the most important thing for all of us as Pakistanis. My belief is that if you want to do something for Pakistan, it doesn’t need to be big necessarily. Whatever you do, if you do it with hon esty, and just keep this thought alive, then these prob lems will begin to fade away, whether it’s a mechanic, musician, accountant. Do what you do with honesty. You don’t need to do great, big things but apply honesty to what we do in whatever field we belong to. Pakistan is its people. There is a line in the national anthem, which is perhaps the most important one: ‘Pak sarzamin ka nizam, quwate akhuwati awam’. It speaks of our trait of the brotherhood between Pakistanis, and how our strength or power doesn’t come from a political party or the armed forces but from its people. If we start believing that, things will improve, as long as we conduct our selves and what we do with true honesty.”
“One thing that makes me hopeful is the future generation of Pakistanis. Because of social media, people are becoming more aware, and I think the younger generation, with the tools and technology available, is using them positively to create things, to mediate things. It’s easier for a person to learn music or become a music producer. In the same way, you have social activists work on something like Aurat March using social media platforms to bring people together. I am hopeful for them; I think they will stand for what’s right and navigate Pakistan to a different direction. My generation, I think, didn’t do much. I know I’m generalizing because there were some people who did a lot but overall, the next generation is more outspoken, intelligent, aware and they’re more ambitious and that makes me hopeful about Pakistan. It might take a while, though, before they are in charge or able to steer the country in the right direction in a harder sense than the older generation currently in-charge.”
“These are tough times, surely, globally and especially in Pakistan. But I think this is a phase and I hope that as a nation we will learn from all the mistakes that we made in the past. We have some amazing industries like agriculture, textile and our IT sector. Our entertainment industry is also making waves now globally with Pakistani stars featuring in international shows like Ms. Marvel. Pakistani music has gone global as well with songs like ‘Pasoori’. I think I’m very optimistic about all our industries, particularly IT and entertainment. It’s a tough phase but we’ll get out of it, InshaAllah. With every fall, there is a rise so we will see heights soon.”
“What gives me hope is our hospitality and charity, because I have seen and met people around the world and it’s tough to beat us in that.”
“I was just thinking about how far we are from what I was told as a kid. Resilience is a trait that I find unmatched. Pakistan’s folk depth (whatever is left of it) is what I feel amounts to something.
– Photo by Kohi Marri