As the country hits its 65th year today, the spirits of many are seen lifted; living and breathing green. The stalls selling flags and badges on the streets, clothes and other accessories specially designed to set the mood, walking the parade where many may even sing the national anthem after a year. Moreover, all television channels have monotone logos, the commercials itself are now playing with our emotions and using the spirit of our independence to sell their products.
I have nothing against the celebrations. I am a patriotic Pakistani myself, who’s all set for today fully color coordinated and in high spirits. I am one of you. But my point is – have we stopped to think even once where our country is headed? Why do we only come together on one platform every year on this day alone but hold onto to our differences the rest of the year?
When it comes to sectarian violence, why do we then stand across one another, open fire on Shia processions and fearlessly turn the country into a battleground? So where is the country headed? Is it gradually inclining with the hope that someday our youth will come to our rescue? Or is it a journey downward, straight into an infinite abyss?
Pakistan is a hard country. Our patriotism is tested every single day. We won an Oscar, which ended in a scandal and our athletes disappointed the country in the Olympics. What is even worse is to hear people say that this was expected.
We come together when we see the country rising, but point fingers at one another when our hopes begin to shatter. We live in this country complaining and unhappy but still live here for the luxury it offers. As Goethe said, "None are more hopelessly enslaved than those who falsely believe they are free."
We are forcing ourselves to drown into this endless hole of self-destructive oblivion. No one but we alone are responsible for where this country is headed.
Our patriotic spirits that have surfaced today will not help us end corruption, economic crisis, social disparity and political intimidation. It will not help feed those starving mouths, nor will it help shelter the homeless. It will not educate the masses, nor end their misery.
So how independent are we? What is this freedom if it doesn't include liberation from hunger, inequality, injustice and exploitation?
Freedom means to have the privilege to choose. So what does it mean when we don’t have a choice? In a country where politicians are neck and neck in battle, how do we expect them to look at the bigger picture?
So then it comes down to us, the high-spirited patriots. We must not let our spirits die today. When tomorrow dawns, live with the same sense of pride and responsibility that you have in you today. Our optimism and belief are two of the most important virtues, which keep us going despite numerous tribulations that keep us down, time and again. We just need to carry this legacy of determination, belief and hope forward, and one day we may eventually make a difference in who we are and again emerge as a respectable nation.
Let today be the day we promise to stand on the same platform; kindling one heart at a time towards a better tomorrow.