I would rather sit on a pumpkin, and have it all to myself, than to be crowded on a velvet cushion. Thoreau Perhaps, it is high time to assess where Pakistan stands after 64 years of independence, and educate the young generation about the historical facts that led to its creation. Although the youth celebrate the Independence Day with a lot of vigour and enthusiasm, yet there is a possibility that they might not be well aware of the great sacrifices rendered by a majority of the Muslims of the subcontinent to achieve independence from a colonial power. Equally worrisome is the fact that a part of the 'fading generation now feels that the prevailing conditions in the country do not justify the sacrifices that were made by the people in 1947. It is, therefore, of utmost importance that both of these generations - young and old - are not only made aware of these sacrifices, but also honest efforts are made by the federal government to ensure that the thick clouds of despondency that seems to have enveloped the nation are driven away. Indeed, hope must replace despair In the present situation, this will be no mean task because, except for a few of our elites, the vast majority of the people are losing hope and some are even questioning the usefulness of democratic norms for Pakistan. However, this surely does not mean that everything is lost. For instance, one could see the resolve and enthusiasm of the Kashmiris in the Indian held Kashmir when they hoisted Pakistani flags in Srinagar, in fact across the disputed valley, sending a loud and clear message to the occupation forces that the time was fast approaching when they would win their freedom from India. Another point that needs to be noticed is that while Pakistanis celebrated their 64th Independence Day, Dr Ghulam Nabi Fais case was referred to a grand jury to determine if there was enough evidence for a trial. Dr Fai, who heads the Washington-based Kashmiri American Council (KAC), was arrested after the US-Pak relations took a nosedive following Americas unilateral action to kill Al-Qaeda Chief Osama bin Laden in direct violation of Pakistans sovereignty. This led to Dr Fais arrest to specifically undermine the cause of the Kashmir struggle mounted by him in the US. However, the Government of Pakistan once again did not play an effective role to condemn Washingtons action to subvert the cause of the Kashmiri people, and forcefully answer the questions raised by the Indian lobbyists in America. Sid by side, the US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, in her recent visit to India, had publicly said that New Delhi must play a more assertive role in Asia, meaning thereby that the Americans are willing to help India implement its hegemonistic designs in the region. So, the question is: Would the democratic dispensation in Pakistan allow the US-India nexus to succeed in the region? It is not only the governments duty to protect the integrity of the State, but also initiate measures that will cater to the needs of the masses thus ensuring progress and prosperity in the country. Due to multiple reasons, unfortunately, the PPP-led government has not been able to come up to the expectations of the people of Pakistan, and the economic burden on the poor has increased to a level where it has reached a breaking point. Problems like inflation, unemployment, and prolonged and unscheduled fuel and energy shortages have retarded the countrys economic growth. It is, therefore, the duty of the ruling elite to urgently put in place new initiatives that would result not only in spurring economic activity, but also helping restore hope in the people. In case immediate steps are not taken to control the deteriorating situation, and the present slide continues, the questions that are beginning to be raised against the independence struggle might become more frequent with the passage of time. Another issue that needs serious attention is maladministration or corruption in government departments. It has damaged Pakistans image in the international community and weakened its economic edifice. Even in India, as a debate on the Lokpal Bill in Lok Sabha continues, there is a consensus between the government and the opposition that an accountability system must be put in place, which is transparent and covers all sections of the government and society. In Pakistan, however, corruption seems to have become a part of life and in certain cases it has reached to such levels that are not even tolerated in a banana republic. Hence, the government must adopt appropriate measures to cut this cancer at the roots, and allow things to return to normal. While all this may seem to be pessimistic readings of what is going on in the country, it would be in the fitness of things if a pledge is made to realise the dream of the nations Founding Fathers - Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Allama Muhammad Iqbal - so that a strong and prosperous Pakistan can emerge. To achieve this, it is necessary that every Pakistani must work hard, raise productivity levels, and establish honesty as a hallmark of their character, only then will the dream of Quaids Pakistan become a reality. What we saw in the last 64 years was merely lip service to the ideals propounded by the Father of the Nation, and no real effort made to convert his dream into reality. n The writer has been associated with various newspapers as editor and columnist. At present, he hosts a political programme on Pakistan Television. Email: zarnatta@hotmail.com