THE Minar-e-Pakistan in Lahore's Badami Bagh, not many would know, is a favourite spot for suicides. So much so that the authorities had to close it to the public for a while. Poverty seems to be a recurring issue behind these suicides. As was witnessed several days ago when a man jumped to his death from the monument after shouting, "long live Pakistan, down with poverty". He was holding the national flag in his hands at the time. Other lamentations of poverty there might be, like the mother who deserted her three daughters in a market in Gujranwala the other day but the incidents at the Minar are most ominous. The tower was erected in commemoration of the day a political party demanded, on behalf of the Muslims of India, an independent homeland where they could live their lives according to their own hopes and aspirations. They wanted, in other words, freedom. But what is this elusive term called freedom? What exactly does it mean? The great Indian economist Amartya Sen famously gave - or should we say, made popular - the concept of development as freedom. That the shackles of poverty can be fetters as cruel as the authoritarian control of a dictatorial government. It turns out Pakistan has not fared well on freedoms, economic or political. We have replaced colonial masters and circumvented the prospect of Hindu domination only to replace it with the domination of undemocratic forces right here. But in the struggle for political freedom, we should not forget that freedom is not be limited to the polls and that of worship but should also entail one's right to a decent and respectable life.