A few days ago, I saw some posts on social media (Facebook) and I came to know that some self-declared philosophers are of the view that whether or not you celebrate Independence Day on August 14 (or 15), it does not matter much because Pakistanis are not mentally independent yet. Such posts, as an intellectual norm, are usually not read by serious people. But I couldn’t ignore it when I saw so many posts like this one in my news feed. So, I decided to write a blog on this Independence Day, for people of Pakistan, and especially for Pakistani social media intellectuals to discuss three points. One, why do people celebrate days? Two, why does it matter to celebrate Independence Day on 14 August? Are we independent in this highly interdependent modern world?

Let’s begin our journey.

Symbols have, in a utilitarian sense, a remarkable significance in human society. Symbols have been as important for the people of Stone Age as for the modern era sophisticated and civilized nations. To convey something important, from cultural norms to public message, we need and use symbols. For instance, this picture tells a lot about these signs.

Historically speaking, symbolism has played a significant role in the development of human civilization. There have been symbols held by different societies and nations; be it religious, cultural, political or intellectual. Any nation that possesses certain symbols feels pride in owning and celebrating them. For instance, Muslims, who can afford, go for Hajj every year and throw stones at the Satan or fast in the holy month of Ramadan. What is this? Some religious practices based upon the very philosophy of symbolism. Also, Easter for Christians and Holi for Hindus carry substantial symbolic value.

In the modern world, special days are celebrated almost globally; like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Valentine’s Day. These days have greater historical and cultural importance and people celebrate them to honor a relationship, a personality or an institution. Essentially, this shows how important that very subject is for certain part of humanity.

People do celebrate special days for special reasons. Those reasons can be cultural, political or purely intellectual. But the crux of the matter is that celebrating a day for a specific reason demonstrates the extraordinary significance of a particular phenomenon in our social or political life. (I am not here to debate whether we should celebrate days like Valentine’s Day or not; as it lies outside of the scope of this piece)

The question is: why is it important to celebrate our Independence Day on August 14? It is very interesting and very important for us to discuss this. As stated above the special days reflect the importance of certain personality or relationship, and by celebrating a day people acknowledge the significance of these subjects. Pakistanis celebrate their Independence Day on August 14. This day, on one hand demonstrates the significance of freedom, and reminds of the sacrifices of our ancestors, and on the other hand it unites the whole Pakistani nation under one flag. If nations are united they can never be defeated or destroyed, no matter how strongly they are attacked.

Meanwhile, innocent political analysts curse people and blatantly say that celebrating Independence Day is meaningless and that it does not matter whether it is celebrated on August 14 or 15. This is a political symbol which unites our past and present and gives us a guide to determine our future. Negating the fundamental political importance of this actually reflects one’s own level of ignorance.

This day carries a long history and celebrating it means to acknowledge and own that very history. Look at present day Turkey. What happened to them? There is confusion amongst the people of Turkey. They have been disconnected from their past. Now they are trying to reconnect, because without establishing that fundamental civilizational connection they are unable to know who they really are.

So, Pakistanis must remember their history, should own it and ought to celebrate it if they don’t want a state of confusion like present day Turkey.

Let’s move to the last point of our discussion that is very interesting: are we independent?

The question is a very important one for Pakistanis. There is profound confusion that has been intentionally created while discussing this subject. Everyone believes to be independent yet shows reluctance to treat others as independent. Interestingly, for liberals, all conservatives are, regrettably, slaves who are not living in the present age, and at least, mentally they are struggling somewhere in sixteenth and seventeenth centuries or even in the Stone Age. For conservatives, the phenomenon is described exactly opposite to what liberals narrate.  They argue that speaking English, wearing jeans, and questioning religious beliefs in Pakistani society is actually the demonstration of intellectual slavery, smartly imposed by the West. In other words, for conservatives, all liberals are smartly indoctrinated zombies.    

And it is concluded by both schools the other one is a group of mental slaves who do not live independently.  

Ironically, both liberals and conservatives do not consider each other intellectually different sane minds; rather the tag of slaves, most likely of traitors, is given to those who see the world differently and describe it in novel frameworks.  

Will Durant in his book The Lessons of History has remarkably argued that for the survival and progress human civilization both liberals who want change and conservatives who oppose change are important.  

And in political world the term independence has an entirely different meaning.

Look at Kashmiris:

Think about Palestinians:

How about our own ancestors who were subjected to all atrocities between 1857 and 1947?

What does one conclude?  

It is a bit excessive to confuse intellectual differences and political affiliations with the broader definition of independence.

And, compromising with other nations, in this highly interdependent world, to protect one’s own national interest is never tantamount to slavery. Without cooperation with other states in this globalized world one’s own survival becomes questionable. But still the point is that states are, within the broader framework of world political order, independent to a significant point to decide their own matters.

To conclude: we are independent people. We are not Kashmiris or Palestinians who have been struggling for their independence since long. Let’s celebrate our independence.

Happy Independence Day! Pakistan zindabad!