Mishaal ManzoorAs Pakistan witnesses its 66th Independence Day, it is affected by destitutions and calamities. However, the democratic process for the first time has been smoothly moved on with peaceful transfer of power from one democratic government to another without militaryintrusion. On the other hand the ethnic riots and sectarianism seems to shake the future of Pakistan. Generally, both on-going ethnic and sectarian conflicts are due to different reasons and their incidents take place separately from each other. Karachi and Quetta are the places which have been adversely affected by boththese conflicts.One can also say that economic reasons propagated the ethnic conflict that has now becomethe foremost reasonfor the entry of the sectarian factor. These are the ground realities and we need to accept them as they are.We have different sects, religions and cast that should be socially accepted as well as given due rights.  Shia killings are causing social issues and provoking civil violence.Being a Pakistani and a Muslim we must realise that cast system has nothing to do with Islam or Pakistan, this is just an epidemic fever that has curbed our society giving rise to ferocity and violence. Islam promotes equality; it is a peaceful religion that emphasises on tolerance, justice and respect for all. Quaid-e-Azam was totally against the idea of sectarianism, he promoted equality and acceptance.He emphasized on the need of having parliamentary democracy in Pakistan. We have already suffered the loss of East Pakistan by opposing his advice. Now if this process is interrupted then we will have to face the similar yet direr consequences. We shall stop fanning the sentiments of hatred so that stability can be developed in this region. The Taliban have a different view, they want to set up khilafat system, which is not practical in today’s time because we cannot find anyone pious like Abu Baker (R.A), honest like Omar (R.A), brave like Ali (R.A) or benevolent like Usman (R.A) at this point of time who meets the exact criteria of being a Khalifa, hence nobody can be chosen with full consensus. Islam is the State’s religion and that is for a fact, but for practical terms we need to establish peace in this region so that justice can be done on equal basis.Talibanisation cannot penetrate unless the members of society are tolerant of it. Apparently, the conflict of Muhajirs with both the Pashtun and Sindhis is the cause of Muhajirs’ isolation adding to their constant deprivations and distress. In Quetta, a Hazara Shia is faced with more challenges of survival at the hands of the Taliban than a non-Hazara Shia and similarly a non-Hazara Shia is facing more challenges of survival than a non-Hazara non-Shia. This is creating adverse effect on the economy as these unrests hurts the religious sentiments hence, adding fuel to the fire andaggravating the situation. Despite all these impoverishmentsand turbulences the proud and spirited people of Pakistanhaven’t lose hope.The cruel attack of terrorism, the constant power outages, the economic meltdown, which has contributed to inflation and unemployment, has made the life of ordinary Pakistanis miserable. If that were not enough, the unprecedented floods have taken a huge toll of life and property. Yet it goes to the credit of the Pakistani nation that they considerthe fact that this country emerged out of the Indian Sub-Continent on 14 August 1947 after great deliberation and a massive struggle. The Pakistani nation is conscious of the fact that independence is a gift, which should not be taken for granted. We shall give great credit to Pakistan’s founding fathers for their perseverance, willpower and steadfastness that the British and Hindus were forced to grant the Muslims their rightful place as an independent nation. The people of Pakistan have the capacity and capability of standing unified whenever challenged. Our patriotism is neither one of the nation without the individual, nor of the nation without the world. While we place ourselves under the protection of a specific nation, we should hope that the natural-given talents of every individual in the nation can be realised so that they can make the greatest possible contribution to the betterment of this country.Entire nation needs to stand united to fight the menace of fierceness. Terrorism is the nuisance that frets at the roots of any society, causingdevastation. All the progress, all the success achieved and the advantages of development gained can be thrashed if the disease of terrorism strikes it. Pakistan has been pushed in the storm of violence and extremism. It is only the will of the people that can defeat terror. If the people are united, backed by the armed forces and supported by the government, they can eliminate the virus ofterrorism and eradicate this epidemic forever before it invades into the entire society. In order to do so, the entire nation has to bear the responsibility of guarding not only its external frontiers but its intellectual and moral boundaries too. This is a role for the media to fulfil. It needs to portray and promote national and provincial harmony to strengthen federation. Opinion builders need to entomb in the minds of people the importance and need of being united at this time.At this critical hour, Pakistan’s survival lies in selfless national solidarity. For this we need to shun the conspiracy of external enemies against the integrity of the country, our political leaders must avoid exploiting any crisis and stop fanning the sentiments of hatred amongst each other. The present adverse situation demands sacrifices of individual selfish interests and giving priority to the national solidarity. n

This news was published in The Nation newspaper. Read complete newspaper of 15-Aug-2013 here.