Jeena yahan, marna yahan, iss kai siwa jaana kahan Apney yeh hi dono jahan, inn kai siwa jaana kahan A nations birthday is supposed to be an occasion for collective rejoicing and thanksgiving and, perhaps, soul-searching. We will be 64 years old on August 14 and have travelled enough distance to know what mistakes were made, what we did right and where we should have known better. When we see just how dependent we are today on outside forces to bail us out of every sticky situation, financial and political, it is crystal clear that this was not the plan. Today, 64 years on, we may be free but we are certainly not independent. All our decisions are made by others because they pay our salaries and our bills. Pakistan was supposed to be a progressive, modern, welfare society, focused on making itself strong through education, innovation and the recognition of merit. It has been the exact opposite with a steady decline in all areas. The only place where progress has been made is the unmanageable growth in our population numbers. Aside from that, barring a few important milestones, the report card is pretty dismal. In order to change for the better we have to unlearn some lessons that we have been constantly fed by the powers that wish to keep Pakistan the best country only for its privileged classes, without giving a fig for the majority. We have to unlearn and disallow the mixing of religion with political power. In a Muslim majority society, there is no need to wear our beliefs on our sleeves. We have lived through the times of General Zia and seen what sort of a referendum he had for his perpetuation in power. We have to stop being scared of the clergy and to start practising our stated values more than preaching them. We have to undo the image that the world has of us as 'unreliable. We have to stop budgeting for a huge fighting force and instead allocate resources for the forces of knowledge and enlightenment. We have to unlearn that we will disappear from the face of the earth if we do not toe the line of this or that power and become self-reliant. We have to unlearn that the have-nots are supposed to be kept in place. We have to unlearn a whole lot about the place of women in society. We have to unlearn that we are the chosen leaders to lead the ummah out of its throes of issues. Most importantly, we have to unlearn intolerance. The good news is that the new, educated, emerging generation of the country is convinced of the need for change and is willing to make its contribution towards this end. They know that in this sink or swim scenario, which mistakes cannot be repeated and display the courage to question, whenever given half a chance. They realise that issues like creating more provinces are far less important than providing security of life and food to the under-fed and the under-protected. They realise the importance of being at peace with other countries in the region for stability. They see through the sham of the existing system, which is nothing but a networking club for the elite. Perhaps, when its our 128th independence day in 2075, this new generation helped by the leadership they throw up, may have managed to turn things around. It has no choice but to do so, because Pakistan is both a dream and an idea which cannot fail. Happy Birthday Pakistan - here is to your health and prosperity Postscript: I have been in Stockholm for the past four weeks and found that the gentleman who is posted here as our Ambassador certainly does not think that it is part of his job to reach out to whatever little Pakistani community there is in Sweden. Somehow, our foreign service wallahs have long believed that they get cushy postings only to further their personal interests and thus both the projection of Pakistan and the seeking out of the existing Pakistani community in that country are very low on their priorities, if there at all. With Independence Day around the corner, there is no visible effort here to have the Pakistanis collect for a reception or an Iftar. I am sure there will be a small flag hoisting at the Embassy itself, but there is certainly no visible effort to involve or invite other Pakistanis who live here. So here is a task for the most fetching new Foreign Minister of our country. If she can get her band of ambassadors to correct their stance in these two pointed areas, it will benefit the country greatly. It was all over the press that Ms Khar was able to bag all the attention (no pun intended) on her recent visit to India and really vowed her audiences and the Indian media, who noted each detail of her attire and conversation. That she is pretty and well spoken, with the huskiest of voices, as well as brainy, just adds to her personality. At least, at the Foreign Minister level, if not Ambassadorial, Pakistan is making a good statement. The writer is a public relations and event management professional based in Islamabad. Email: