You belong to a minority group in Pakistan, why don’t you migrate? Every one of my friends from your community have left Pakistan, don’t you want to?” I asked my friend who is a non-Muslim Pakistani. His answer came as a surprise but it was so beautiful, it revealed the deep devotion he and his family felt for their beloved homeland Pakistan despite all the issues they faced. “Why should I leave Pakistan? This is my country, my home. My family has been living in this country for many years and my ancestors lived here even before Pakistan was created. My children like myself were also born and raised here. Pakistan is my identity and I will never leave it. Yaar, we are going through bad times - but the whole country is going through them not only my family or me. However, I cannot leave my home, my country - the soil that holds the graves of my parents and ancestors. Will you leave? When anyone asks me such questions I feel vulnerable as if I am being asked to prove my patriotism.”
He had not finished, he continued, “When Pakistan is playing cricket we support and cheer for the same green shirts like the rest of Pakistan. Why? Because it is my team too. When Pakistan is called a terrorist state, I am fumed as much as any other Pakistani - it is as if someone is insulting my mother. When my soldiers die, I pray for their souls and ask God to bless them. I don’t think that though my religion is different from theirs, I cannot bless them for laying down their lives so I can live peacefully in my country.”
“Quaid-e-Azam is the founder of my country, not only yours. The green and white flag of this country shows that despite my religion, I am an integral part of this country as the Quaid had envisioned. The flag is not complete without both the green and white parts. And I am the white part of the national flag - I complete the flag. In his presidential address to the Constituent Assembly of Pakistan on August 11, 1947 the Quaid made it clear to all that Pakistan was not only for the Muslims, but for the non-Muslims as well.”
He has made a strong point and I felt ashamed for asking such a childish question. I felt humiliated as if I had asked him to prove that he was a Pakistani, as if I had the right to ask him to prove his patriotism for his country. Who was I to ask him to prove his patriotism? He is as much as a Pakistani as I am.
It would be ridiculous to think that Pakistan is complete without the ‘white’ in the national flag. If you look around yourself, you will see that our country’s population has always been a blend of different types of people hailing from different religions and cultures. A Pakistani is a Pakistani and no one should make them feel vulnerable in their own country just because they are not of the majority religion in the country.
It is the duty of the members of the majority religion to make the society and country safe for all including Pakistanis from the minority groups. According to Pakistan’s Constitution, every Pakistani has fundamental rights, so no one should doubt anyone’s feelings for their country.
Patriotism is similar to the emotion and love one bear for their parents, which cannot be measured hence no one should be asked to prove anything. Unfortunately, we are seeing more and more people brand others as being unpatriotic and even worse. This is not a healthy situation and only leads to making people feel vulnerable and unproductive. They spend more of their time trying to prove they are as patriotic as everyone else is, and stressing themselves out.
Pakistan is a country that was created in an area that has seen many different cultures come and go, forming an interesting blend of a rich cultural mixture. If you travel across the country, you will come upon old and new landmarks from different eras, cultures, religions and languages revealing the interesting mix of time. This has always been a land of tolerance and assimilation and love.
We are lucky that we became part of this interesting region with the creation of Pakistan. We should try to live in harmony with people from different backgrounds so that we leave a favorable impression for future generations to study.
Let us live in a way to preserve our heritage and culture in all its different colours and shades for the future generations to enjoy. It is not too late to love our country and prove our patriotism by following the lines on which this country’s founder Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah had envisioned it. Only we - those who make the green and white part of the flag - can make Pakistan whole by working together for its betterment. So let us close ranks and move forward for the country without belittling the patriotism of the people of Pakistan.