The resolution for Pakistan was passed seventy seven years ago. On August 14, 2017 we will be seventy years old. Salman Rushdi’s first novel was titled “Freedom at Midnight”. It was his own story, the two came into the world together. With fictitious names he narrated the events in the country in which he tried to settle but eventually left leaving his parents and their palatial residence behind. After the death of his youngest sister a few tears back, the Rushdis have all left.

My father, a worker of the Pakistan movement, was 27 years old when he entered, the new land to start life all over again. Clad in a bhurqa and hiding in a convoy of Madrasatul-Banat female students he crossed the border as there was head money for his arrest. All his companions who fought the Hindu mobs in self-defence in Ludhiana were captured and hanged. He could never return to his place of birth not even for the Golden Jubilee celebrations of his alma matter. Most people from Ludhiana were honest, simple and hard working, and settled here in Faisalabad and Gujranwala. Dr. Riazuddin who designed our nuclear device was also born in this city and got his early education there before joining Government College Lahore as a student of Dr. Abdul Salam.

We had the honour and distinction of being the first freeborn generation of Pakistan. Despite the struggle and sacrifice of our fore fathers our freedom was short-lived. In October 1958 Ayub Khan not only imposed martial law, he abrogated the unanimously agreed 1956 constitution but also imposed his own disgraceful version of 1962 which introduced thana politics and imposed third rate political leadership. Today the country has a serious crisis of leadership inflicted by the establishment, which unified to manipulate the will of the people. A new brand of ‘status-quo siasis’ were introduced who continue to dominate us till today.

In 1967 Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (ZAB) challenged the ‘status-quo mafia’. In March 1940 Muhammed Ali Jinnah stood on the stage at Manto Park, now Minar-e-Pakistan, to demand freedom for the Muslims of India. In 1971 ZAB stood at the same place as a leader of the Western Wing of Quaid’s Pakistan. The same venue was chosen by Imran Khan in October 2011 to announce his plans to build ‘Naya Pakistan’. Periods of freedom have been very limited (1947-1958 and 1971-77) for the people of Pakistan. The 1970 credible ballot and 1973 constitution stands out as the bench mark of democracy and people’s will.

The lawyer’s movement that liberated the judiciary and toppled the government of the fourth Khaki usurper sparked new hopes for freedom. Perhaps there will be no misadventures again and Pervez Musharraf will go down in history as the last Khaki dictator. The next challenge is to get rid of the GHQ propelled ‘Status-quo Siasis’. Decision in the Panama Leak’s case is expected soon which will be a test for the liberated judiciary. For democracy to function every institution has to play its role. Bureaucracy has been under siege with out of merit promotions, which have now been annulled by the Supreme Court.

The armed forces of Pakistan under Raheel Sharif have gallantly fought terrorism to preserve our freedom. As an institution they are playing effective role both for the internal and external security of the county. Their focus is now on the borders and barracks which it should have always been, political detours are not on the cards. Cheap shots like the ‘Dawn Leaks’ can help no one. The rank and file together with the junior officers of the Army are unhappy with this kind of under hand approach of the civilian leadership. There has to be an expeditious resolution with proper punishment for the perpetrators. Axing of Information Minister is not enough.

The people of Pakistan have been subjected to a unique menace called ‘Voter Teasing’. Citizens stand in lines to exercise their right to elect their leadership but the results are pre-planned. Zia used the term ‘Positive Results’. It all started first with a fake referendum followed by party less elections in 1985. Musharraf followed the same course and now their ‘Status-quo Siasis’ are indulging in similar foul play. For the sake of our freedom this must stop.

As the first freeborn generation of Pakistan, while we have been unable to deliver a stable democratic order, our struggle continues unabated. Four Khaki dictators have been toppled mainly through street resistance. The ‘Sarkari Establishment’ has now backed off to some extent as their choices have been contained but the menace of their ‘Status-quo Siasis’ remains to be dealt with.

A credible election is the most viable way forward to consolidate our freedom. In our lifetime we were able to establish the democratic benchmark in 1970, it is time to consolidate this approach. Electoral reforms, independent Election Commission and administrative support staff from other provinces for the conduct of the electoral process is paramount for the will of the people to prevail otherwise it will be more of the same.

Democracy was born in the bazaars of Athens with all its noises which cannot be silenced. Results of the failed experiments are in front of us in the form of untouchable and corrupt electables. Action against rigging after 2013 elections was unnecessarily delayed, if similar electoral manipulation is repeated again in 2017/2018 the reaction will be fierce, immediate and spontaneous. Freedom and its preservation call for struggle and sacrifice. Ayub Khan the chief tormentor of democracy wrote in his autobiography, “No one gives you freedom you have to fight for it, no one fights for your freedom you have to fight for your own freedom.” There should be no misunderstanding we are ready to fight; freedom at last is within reach.