Pakistan, the Land of the Pure, the miracle of Almighty Allah and a blessing bestowed upon the Muslims of the sub-continent. Clutched from the jaws of the British colonists and hard-liner Hindu nationalists, Pakistan, without a shadow of doubt, is a divine endowment. Even after its auspicious birth, the dark forces of manipulation, exploitation and treachery did not yield. Regional and International conflicts surrounded Pakistan from the very beginning. External threats were complemented by various internal rivalries. Corruption, illiteracy, terrorism and political upheavals have hampered progress but as the saying goes, “why do we fall?” The answer, “so we can rise back up”. With all these challenges, Pakistan continues to fight for its place among the greatest nations of the world. On the 70th Independence Day, the nation is prepared and committed to a better tomorrow.

70 years have passed since the independence of Pakistan. We, as a nation, have many achievements. We enjoy a unique predisposition among the people of the world. Pakistan is fascinating as well as robust. As of 2017, Pakistan is the sixth most populous country in the world with a median age of 23: a young nation. Ironically, it also has the sixth-largest standing army in the world. Pakistan is the only Muslim Nuclear Power. According to the World Bank, Pakistan has the World’s largest and fastest growing middle class, signifying its unique potential for immense growth and progress. Pakistan has been unanimously declared as one of the leader countries among the emerging and growth-leading economies of the world. On the agriculture side, it was announced by the United Nations that Pakistan has one of the best agricultural sectors in the world producing more wheat in a year compared to the whole of Africa and South America. In a way saying, that Pakistan alone has enough food to feed a continent. Pakistan is also the fifth largest producer of cotton and fourth-largest producer of milk in the world. On the humanitarian side, Pakistan is ranked among the top charity giving nations of the world and at the same time has one the world’s largest refugee populations which includes mostly Afghans, Kashmiris, Iraqis, Africans and Rohingya muslims travelling from China into Pakistan. The Government and people of Pakistan have received these refugees with open arms and there have been minimal cases of maltreatment as compared to statistics compared with refugees in other countries. Almost 7 million Pakistanis live abroad and duly support the country. After exports, remittances from hard working Pakistanis living in the Middle East, Europe and North America are a vital financial resource. With these thoughts, one can surely hope for a better tomorrow but the road ahead is laborious and demanding.

It is common word in Pakistan that military interventions derailed the process of democratization in the country. Military dictatorships did more harm than good. So much so, more than two-third of the National debt accumulated during military rulers. Authoritarian policies and draconian laws enacted by martial laws degraded social and cultural fabric. With growing awareness coming from penetration of technology and media, it has become a consensus that democracy is the only way forward. It is imperative that the educated silent majority of the country engages with the masses and they are brought in the effort to strengthen democracy. All sectors of society need to make special arrangements to imbibe democratic norms and meritocracy in all wakes of life. On this independence day, educational and research organizations should spread the realization of equality, freedom and justice through students, scholars and academicians and professionals from all walks of life. It is through the united effort of Muslims as a nation that the country came into being; it is high time the same spirit is awakened once again.

The greatest threats to Pakistan are terrorism, corruption, sectarianism and illiteracy. For decades, the common public has unloaded these complications on the shoulders of the state. This independence day should carry that message that the State exists to achieve collective goals and objectives and needs support and active arms to achieve the mission that was set by the great leader Quaid-e-Azam. Let us write a new chapter in the history of State-Citizen partnership. Through transparency, accountability and honesty, let us set our house in order. It is the only way to break the vicious cycle of poverty, crime, illiteracy and intolerance. The Government of Pakistan belongs to us and we are to be governed. As they say, it takes two to tango. Corruption is not a phenomenon that exclusively lies in the dominion of public offices. We the people of Pakistan must also take the moral high ground. Corruption is to be rooted out from the grass roots to the highest hierarchy of the nation. That can only be achieved through education and awareness of our rights and obligations. The literacy rate in Pakistan stands at an alarming 58 per cent. It is not only the sole burden of the Government to tackle this grave problem, it also challenges the future and well-being of every person living in Pakistan. On this day, let us join hands to fulfill our roles as responsible citizens and lead our homeland out of the darkness of illiteracy, intolerance and extremism.

Another important aspect that needs to be commemorated on our independence day is the vision of Pakistan and its place among the Muslim majority countries. Pakistan holds the key to resolving the Kashmir issue. If it was not for the diplomatic and moral support of the plight of Kashmiris, the freedom movement would have been quelled by the Indian Government long ago. Pakistan has provided shelter and a homeland not only to persecuted Kashmiris but also to Muslims who have had to bear the brunt of cruel communal conflicts that the Indian Government has failed to address. In our progress and security, is the protection and support of these peoples. Moreover, Pakistan, as of 2017, is the only country created in the name of Islam. Pakistan has always played a key role in the resolution of conflicts and in promoting unity among Muslim majority nations. Pakistan with its forward thinking and progressive approach needs to remind the Muslims of the world that they follow one Almighty Allah and His beloved Prophet(pbuh). Unfortunately, the states of affairs of Muslim countries are far from stable. Pakistanis must rise to the occasion through sheer hard work and commitment to become a great nation so that it can lead the Muslim countries of the world to unite against the oppression of the likes of Israel. The prosperity of the region and Muslim-majority countries of the world is tied to the elevation of modern nations like Pakistan and Turkey.

Lastly, as citizens of free Pakistan, we must reflect on the values and principles which were in the minds and hearts of those who fought and sacrificed for our freedom. They portrayed inspiration from the values nurtured in the country through ages. Now we are living as an independent nation, which is enjoying all the beauties, charismas of their own homeland. Being an independent and self-respective nation, it’s our duty to serve our country with our best. We should work whole heartedly and with complete devotion for the development of our beloved homeland, we should not forget the sacrifices of our ancestors and national leaders who made Pakistan a reality. It is time to work with passion which was in the blood of our national heroes who fought for our freedom. On this Independence Day, let us rethink our plans, our actions and their outcomes. It is our duty to make Pakistan the jewel of the sub-continent and a beacon of light for the Muslims of the world.

(The writer is Chairman, Jinnah Rafi Foundation)