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Thursday July 07, 2022

Pakistan Day: From where to here and to where?

March 23, 2022

The heat of March, a rising political temperature, Minto Park Lahore, the year of 1940 and a hundred thousand beings with one cause that is the idea of Pakistan and the ideology of Islam. As the Lion of Bengal put forward the amalgamated idea of the struggle of the last forty years in the form of a separate state, the crowd uproars to the chants of “Pakistan ka matlab kia, La ilaha illallah”. These historic moments marked a landmark in the history of Pakistan. The humongous gathering affirmed the idea of a safe haven that would shelter them from the sweltering ethno-religious injustices in their region.

But let us fast forward to seven decades later; the soul-chilling cold of December, the district of Sialkot, a mob of 800 chauvinists, far lesser than that were in the Minto Park, lynched a Sri Lankan Buddhist to death in the same safe haven built to protect people from the same idea of extremism that terrified Muslims in a united India. One man against 800 humans with the same fire in their eyes they fled from, the same hunger in their hate they were a victim of, the same idea they pledged to put a stop to. So how did we grow intolerant and extremely non-rational as a nation? How did our safe haven become a monstrous den for us? The answer must lie somewhere here.

The resolution adopted on March 23, 1940, marks the ceremonial start of the struggle for a separate homeland named Pakistan. It was the junction of the previous isolated efforts that all built up to the demand, “geographically contiguous units are demarcated into regions which should be so constituted…the areas in which the Muslims are numerically in a majority…should be grouped to constitute ‘independent states’ in which the constituent units should be autonomous and sovereign”.

This affirmation was not only for a piece of land but also for the social order missing in the region of the subcontinent. The people who witnessed this historic moment envisioned a separate state with equal opportunities, equal representation, in short, a land where Muslims shall freely practise Islamic injunctions. However, through the sands of time, all we are left with now is just a piece of land, devoid of any order far less an Islamic one.

In order to rejuvenate the idea of Pakistan in its truest form, we must look into ourselves. We must open up the rotten wounds, untie the foul stitches and see our terrible mistakes with crystal clarity unless humanity is restored among us.

Our continuous abidance to our colonial masters did not let us serve the purpose we fought with them for. Our independence could not find a place in our minds and thoughts, for they were clogged with colonial ideas. The Objectives Resolution 1949 reminded us of our pledges again but we did not contemplate how to pursue it. The sacred task of implementing the Islamic order of peace for all was merely left to the debate if the word Islamic be included in the name of the country or not. The most we could do to preserve our ideology was to penalise people eating on the roads in Ramadan, or not going to mosques when the prayer calls were made.

The bitter truth is yet to come. This betrayal came not from the power centres, but from the generations of the same people who sacrificed their lives for that ideology. Unfortunately, we as a nation failed to save that ideology based on which Pakistan came into being. We are guilty of the hate preached by our religious and political leaders and the hate we are endorsing as an individual in our society.

We are the culprits of Mashal, Noor, Naqeeb and many others like them who are the victims of our betrayal of Pakistan's fundamental ideology. We are unable to protect our freedom of speech and are unable to protect the true teachings of Islam from the colonial hangover we are all obsessed with. The rotten wound is an abyss of yore.

Nevertheless, the light left by the innocent souls like Mashal and Noor still shines around. If we are eager to see, we can feel the little sparks that still make us conscious of the betrayal we have done. We are the one who rebuilt the trampled temples of minorities, who rallied for Noor and Mashal and demanded justice for them. We are the ones who try to identify the problem and voice it up, from the helms of power to the depths of our souls.

The reawakening gets a chance every year at Pakistan Day when the promises shine with full galore and makes us blind with their questions of fulfilment. If we want to free our coming generations from this guilt of not following the real ideology of Pakistan that we carry on our backs, we must heal the wounds as early as we can.

The Islamic ideology that Pakistan was built on called for a safe home for the minorities; it denounced nepotism, corruption, religious fanaticism, ethnic injustices, theological impositions, and advocated tolerance, faith, unity and discipline. The ideology was to practice a middle line between socialism and capitalism. The ideology was to make life easier for people. The ideology was to make the land a motherland for its people because a mother does not differentiate between her children, so does the state treat all with equal respect and love.

If we are to stand high in front of our ancestors, we must protect our politics from a handful of aristocrats, from a handful of religious fanatics and colonial hangovers; we must protect ourselves from them all.

This Pakistan Day holds an extremely important place because the present situation of the country has worsened largely. The socio-economic order is in shambles, women are facing extreme problems everywhere and the minorities are still trying to find their rights. At a time when the world at large is falling prey to disorder, we hold greater responsibility to be faithful to our ideology because we promised a safe haven seven decades ago.

Whatever course we must adopt, it is up to us to go full throttle at it if we want to achieve it. We should not be pinning hopes on any religious clergy, political dynasty or economic hitman. It was our pledge, the promise of a common person to serve the country honestly, and it is up to us to fulfil it and keep our heads high in front of our forefathers.

-The writer is a graduate student of Defence and Strategic Studies program at the Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. She can be reached at zainabafzal205@gmail.com

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