“Hindustan had become free. Pakistan had become independent soon after its inception but man is still a slave in both these countries – slave of prejudice…slave of religious fanaticism…slave of barbarity and inhumanity.”
–Saadat Hasan Manto – 1912-1955.
Pakistan is not just our homeland. It is the land of our dreams, created from the vision of all those with who strengthened its roots and had their blood seep into its soil when it was but a nascent sapling. Our dreams conceived this sacred piece of land. On the March 23, 1940, the Muslims of the subcontinent knew what they sought. They sought independence.
Freedom, they say, is the most innate human desire, very expressible and rarely suppressible. It was this very spontaneous want that invigorated us to set on a journey that took away our most prized possessions from us. On August 14, our dream of independence was materialised, or was it? Only a few years after its inception, in 1958, the right to political choice was taken away from us when Pakistan fell under a repressive military rule; one regime followed by another. Time and again democracy faced countless hurdles. Our political independence was threatened by our own countrymen. Zia’s era suppressed minority rights under so-called Islamic policies which were used as a ploy to retain his own power. Religious freedom was taken away. Freedom of speech was curbed.
In 2016, the situation is no different. With the Quetta terrorist attack throwing us in yet another fit of fear, we no longer feel unharmed. Kidnappings in Punjab have exposed the criminal negligence of our police force. Judicial systems are waiting for the government to bestow some attention upon them. The state’s economy is staggering. Political parties are still busy pointing fingers at each other. This is the face of our celebrated independence; with death tolls going up and the economy going down. We must celebrate the struggle it took to get us here, but also sit together and think about what comes next; how we can improve this gift that our ancestors gave us. For all those who talk about partition of 1947 in the sense that it gave us independence, it must be noted that independence is not territorial, it goes far beyond that. It’s time that we realise that and work towards making a better country.