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Reflections and resolutions

March 23, 2019

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Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

To be honest, in the recent years I haven’t really been very excited or jubilant whenever a national day arrived, be it August 14 or March 23. I know, confessing this means inviting criticism and the likely label of an unpatriotic person. But I am making this confession today because this year, I really want to celebrate — celebrate the revival of my belief in my countrymen and the renewal of the hope that all is not lost, that we, as a nation, are still united and can come together when needed.

A crisis or problem brings out the best and worst in people. It certainly brought out the best in us. We just came out of a situation where we were on the brink of a war, but this war was unlike any other our country has fought before — it was a war that would have, in all likelihood, turned into a nuclear war. Our enemy did everything in its power to incite us — leaders, media and people beating the war drums as loud as they could.

Thankfully, we — our leaders, media and people — chose to side with peace and, most importantly, stayed united and faced the threat with strength and sensibility. Our enemy failed miserably to weaken us or send us into disarray. We should be proud of the remarkable way we faced this catastrophic threat, how prepared our armed forces were and how our politicians, for once, let go of their differences to come together and stand with the government’s decisions. Our media too didn’t get hysterical for war and didn’t promote or spread false propaganda.

Besides preventing war, we were able to show the world that Pakistan sides with peace, we are not the perpetrators of unrest and violence. Pakistan managed to send a message across to the world that, though we do have atomic weapons and weapons of mass destruction, we will do all it takes to not use it to attack. We need those as self-defence. We are not a threat but are ourselves under threat.

And we also defied expectations, both ours and of the world, when we managed to successfully hold the T20 matches of Pakistan Super League (PSL) in Pakistan and each team played with the full participation of international players and mentors. All this when the echoes of war drums were still rising from across the border is definitely a feat to be proud of.

We couldn’t have done it without the extraordinary efforts and resolve of our leadership, security forces, those responsible for the management of the event and us, the people of Pakistan. We proved that international cricket can come back to Pakistan and the international PSL team members proved that it is safe for them to play in Pakistan. We owe a great part of the success of the recent cricket revival to the faith these cricket stars placed in us and gave their best to offer us some amazing sporting moments.

Some of what I have talked about so far may seem a bit too political and serious, but as the youth of our nation, the leaders of tomorrow, you need to understand and realise all that is taking place in our country and the world. Only this way will you be able to prepare yourself to be a constructive member of society and strive to make the world a better place than it is right now.

You must always choose the path of peace and negotiations, you must never get incited by the hate speech that you hear. Answer it firmly, but calmly, with words of wisdom and peace. The victory will always be yours at the end. There are lessons to be learnt in every episode of history and this is the lesson we need to carry forward from the events of the recent weeks and months.

So today, we have much to celebrate and be proud of as we mark yet another Pakistan Day, the day when the seeds of our own independent country were sown 79 years ago, at a meeting of the All India Muslim League in Lahore. The resolution for the establishment of a separate homeland for the Muslims of British India was passed then and our dear country came into being seven years later as a result.

There is no need to go into further details of the resolution now, you have all read it in school and much has been written about it over the years for everyone to be familiar with it. That was the efforts of our forefathers and freedom fighters. Now on the day we celebrate and remember that historic day, we need to do more than sing patriotic songs and drive around waving the national flag.

Illustration by Ahmed Amin
Illustration by Ahmed Amin

We need to make some resolutions of our own, of what we want the future of our country to be. We need to make the resolutions that reflect our current state and needs, our future dreams and aspirations. Right now is the perfect time to do so when our patriotism and national unity are several notches higher than they usually are; when we have more confidence in our abilities, as proven by the recent events.

There are so many things that we can pledge to do as individuals and collectively. And I know that none of you are thinking ‘What can we do?’ or ‘What we do won’t really make a difference’. These defeatist thoughts are common in older people who have become too disillusioned. You, the young ones, are the dreamers and the doers, nothing is impossible and too unattainable for you once you make up your mind.

So make up your mind that you are going to make some resolutions that will bear beautiful fruits one day. All over the world now, children are becoming more active and taking up challenges that should have been taken up by adults or supporting adults in their endeavours. They are becoming activists of all kinds, starting campaigns that have become drivers of change in their community and beyond.

Resolve to carry the vision of our forefathers — of a prosperous and just nation where people of every caste, creed and religion live together in harmony — further and beyond what has been done so far. Truthfully speaking, what has been done so far hasn’t always been in the best interest of our nation. We now need to learn from our mistakes and resolve not to repeat them.

The resolutions we now need We all need to resolve to bring about peace in our country and the world. Activism for peace can be done in many ways.

The resolve for it needs to start from within you. You need to consider everyone as equal and having as much right to things as you. This concept of equality, which is strongly embodied in the teachings of Islam, will automatically lead to peace as we stop discriminating against others.

Much of the unrest and discord within our country, and between countries globally, is the result of a nation, religion or ethnicity considering itself superior and more entitled than the others. Deep-rooted bias against others needs to end. Only then will we love others as we love ourselves and peace will prevail.

The good thing is that many young people today, thanks to the world becoming a global village, are more accommodating towards others who are different from them in anyway. Our schools, neighbourhoods and cities have become more multicultural, with the result that our friends are from different types of backgrounds. Meaningful friendships and relationships are now formed on the basis of common values and ideals than on common language and ethnic or religious backgrounds.

We need to carry it further and reject the prejudices that have weakened our nation over the years. We also need to show the world, by our words and actions, that Pakistan and Pakistanis are peace-loving, as we recently did.

Let us make a resolution to improve the condition of our country — economically, politically, environmentally, etc. — rather than wait for adults, the government and those with better resources and positions, to do it for us.

The most reliable way of having something done is to do it ourselves. So let us commit to study well and work hard to be able play a greater role in the progress of our country. Let us stop wasting resources — of all sorts, such as paper, water, electricity, fuel, money, clothes, etc. We will not only be saving a lot of our own money but also saving these resources to be used by others and in the future.

Another important aspect we need to focus on is to be aware of what is happening around the world. Thankfully, these days people are far more aware than they were earlier. But we must not treat the news of what is happening anywhere else in a detached manner, as something that is to be liked, commented and shared on social media. We need to strive to follow the good examples, and both avoid and raise awareness against the wrongs being suffered elsewhere.

There are so many examples of young achievers and activists around the world and all the information is available at fingertips for most of you. Read about them, learn about their work and see how you can replicate that to benefit you, your community and our country.

Happy Pakistan Day!

Published in Dawn, Young World, March 23rd, 2019