Photo Courtesy: Suffiyan Ahmad

September 6 is considered a big day in Pakistan and celebrated as ‘Defence Day’ in the memory of those who fell in the war of 1965. September 7th and 8th are Pakistan Air Force Day and Navy Day respectively and both dedicated to salute the forces for defending the country in the war of 1965. The war lasted for 5 weeks and ended with the UN mandated ceasefire. The days normally start with 31 gunshot salutes in Islamabad; floral wreaths are laid on graves of martyrs awarded Nishan-i-Haidar (Symbol of bravery award). Along with prayers, on these days, parades are held and an air show is arranged by the air force, which is a great sight to see. Fighter planes fly all over the country and some colored smog tricks are also played in the air. The loud engine noise, the nosedives, low flying, national anthems and tribute to the fallen airmen routine is more than enough to warm any Pakistani’s blood.

Pakistani nationalists, not the patriots, write a story different from what has been emerging as a factual record of what actually occurred back then. In green records it appears as though India attacked Pakistan after a few small skirmishes here and there. What is being kept from the history books and records is that Pakistan actually tickled India’s belly enough to puke. It is not a secret anymore but deniers will remain in denial.

Love for your country is a very positive trait. How you show it makes you a patriot or a nationalist. The voices you hear loud and clear supporting Army and mostly speaking against India, Israel, America or any other western countries, are nationalist voices. These are the people that are responsible for creating a wave of hatred among others rather than doing something productive for their own country. With this strategy, the focus shifts towards hate for another not love for your own.

By definition, a nationalist is a person devoted to “nationalism,” people who fight for political independence. It is often confused as a synonym to patriotism. A patriot by definition is a person who loves, supports and defends his/her country and its interests with devotion; a person who regards him/herself as a defender of individual rights against presumed interference by the government or any other group of people. Those rights can be the right to live to right of freedom of speech, right to walk outside alone at night like it used to be without getting mugged or kidnapped or right to keep your business open in Liyari without the fear of getting beaten up for not paying the extortion fee; the right to practice your own religion without a fear of being killed for being a “kafir” (infidel). I can go on and on but you get the idea.

The main difference between the two would be of political interests and how the two act. When you are defending your country’s political interests merely because you hate India, you are not a patriot. Nationalism has a negative trait to it, its based on resentment, hatred and or jealousy. Patriotism is pure love for the country and the acts resulting from it are only constructive.

George Orwell explains this difference, as “Nationalism is not to be confused with patriotism. Both words are normally used in so vague a way that any definition is liable to be challenged, but one must draw a distinction between them, since two different and even opposing ideas are involved. By ‘patriotism’ I mean devotion to a particular place and a particular way of life, which one believes to be the best in the world but has no wish to force on other people. Patriotism is of its nature defensive, both militarily and culturally. Nationalism, on the other hand, is inseparable from the desire for power. The abiding purpose of every nationalist is to secure more power and more prestige, not for himself but for the nation or other unit in which he has chosen to sink his own individuality."

Patriotism will get you out in the streets when kids in Peshawar are killed by Taliban, or raped and blackmailed in Kasur, and to demand for hate speakers to be arrested in the capital. Patriotism will make sure that all these issues are not brushed under the rug like it has. Patriotism will also get you to raise your voice against the extra judicial killings in the name of religion, and against other internal and external threats. Patriotism makes you Edhi and it makes you Jibran Nasir. Patriotism does not stop you from trading with India or Israel because you dislike them with passion or are against their existence. Patriotism has no race, religion, gender or ethnicity.

Pseudo mullahs like Junaid Jamshaid take the U-turn from being a patriot Dil Dil Pakistan singer to the one, preaching hate against the majority of the population of the country. He is not doing the country (or his religion) a favor by insulting women and turning into a born again Muslim neither is molvi burqa by pledging allegiance to ISIS.

One must wonder at this point that why am I bringing religion into this? Because, these religiously driven Mullahs are part of every major decision making in Pakistan, implementing religiously driven laws and giving religiously driven verdicts on others’ lives and liberties. They even take part in the legislation process that affects all citizens of Pakistan. All citizens include non-Muslim Pakistani. Pakistan was created a secular state but it was soon turned into a religious dungeon that has non-Muslims as a significant part of its prisoners.

In Pakistan, people by default do not separate national identity from a religious one. Well the majority at least. Anyone who belongs to the minority, admires India or defends Israel’s right to be a sovereign state is considered a traitor or an infidel.   Heck, you admire Dhoni playing well in the game of cricket, and you are a traitor. You admire Bhagat Singh as a brave patriot who fought for independence you are a traitor. You speak against restoration of capital punishment you are a traitor. Change your Facebook profile picture behind the rainbow filter and you are a traitor and an infidel. The ones scream loud against the all of the above are considered the true Muslims and true patriots.

Nationalism is selective and patriotism is a collective effort to work for the betterment of the whole country including its residents, not just the government or military. Screaming out loud calling Saif Ali Khan names and trying to insult him by calling him a woman doesn’t make you a true Pakistani patriot – it makes you a bigot. On the flipside, showing Bollywood movies in the country does not make you a traitor or any less of a patriot or nationalist for that matter, it actually helps boosting country’s economy which everyone knows, from IMF to chacha chai wala at the street corner, is down the drain.

The country where a renowned terrorist, Hafiz Saeed, can openly get to court and get a Bollywood movie banned, needs something more than just an airshow to preserve the integrity that is already in crumbles.

We all know what the country needs: far less holidays in the name of defense and religion and more work and voice from the liberals and the silent majority. Independence comes with a price, not the one that thousands already paid during Partition because we all know it has gone to waste. Jinnah must roll in his grave every day face-palming himself at the mistake he made in judging the people he left the newborn country with, and might be reconsidering his decition to break Hindustan. Oops, I just made a traitor of myself didn’t I?  

We all also know, but don’t want to admit, that the sacrifices soldiers are making fighting on Afghani Border or with Taliban in Zarb-e-Azb, without food and water for days, facing death, will go to waste if we keep supporting the hypocrite nationalists like Hamza Ali Abbasi, Hafiz Saeed, the leaders protecting Kasur rapists, and the ones calling to make friends with Taliban, who have self proclaimed themselves to be the true Pakistani patriots.  Specially, the ones spewing slurs to another person and stealing quotes from a brilliant (though homophobic, that's where we differ) Urdu Medium page in an attempt to rectify his image for using women as a means of insult.

Howard Zinn said that there is no flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people. Pakistan ran out of cloth to patch it bigger years ago. Creating a religiously suffocating society is not love for the country; it’s devastating to its existence and integrity.

It’s not all so bad though. In the country where one can kill anyone for being an infidel, anywhere, anytime, by any possible most brutal way you can imagine, there is a ray of hope. Just recently this week, news is circling that Federal Government is going to ban all acts for takfirism. Which includes punishing anyone calls anyone else kafir (infidel). It's great news but the government will have to amend the Constitution and Pakistan Penal Code which is due to be done for ages. Government must also abolish the blasphemy law that has taken lives of countless innocent Pakistanis for nothing.

The day that law is abolished and Constitution is amended will be the day to celebrate Defence Day and Independence Day . That will be the day when Aafia Siddique might also celebrate independence and feel protected. Nationalists on the other hand, will celebrate the liberation by breaking public property, burning tires and opposing abolition of any rule and law that is putting someone’s life and liberty in jeopardy. In Pakistan, nationalists do not detach religion from national identity. When they have a go against the Pakistani Hindus in hatred for India, and celebrate the murder of Jew journalist in hatred for Israel, they proudly stick their chest out as a hero.

In George Orwell’s words, “The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them."