As we look forward to celebrate Pakistan Day with the usual pageantry and pomposity, we must also take a moment to reflect on the nation’s progresses, challenges and failures that will dictate the course of action for the year ahead. This day not only marks the Lahore Resolution of 1940, which set the groundwork for a separate sovereign state of Pakistan, but also the adoption of the first constitution of Pakistan, incorporating all the basic features of a democratic political system. This day holds significance because it commemorates freedom to practice religious and political rights, to treasure democracy and sociocultural liberty. Is Pakistan holding true to the ideology by which it calls itself free today?

The democratic system has suffered over the years at the hands of the ruling elite and the subsequent military dictatorships. A fair sense of political participation and socioeconomic justice among the masses remains elusive at best, whereas the dominant elite continues to govern the country on the highly elitist model that serves the interests of the dominant political and bureaucratic-military privileged. Transparency and justice are not synonymous with those that govern us; former military leaders tried for treason walk away scot-free and prime ministers continue to have authority to shut down investigations into cases of fraud. When will Pakistan summon up the courage to bring justice to those who need it most?

However all is not lost as the country hopes to see better days ahead due to the civilian-government partnership that is keeping widespread terrorism at bay. While the Pakistani army continues to do what it does best – protecting the nations sovereignty from external and internal threats – the government is trying to do its part by launching its own counter terrorism efforts. The Senate and Assemblies have passed an impressive array of bills, policies and action plans and while that might be one step in the right direction, how long will the masses have to wait for the implementation of these progressive laws? Will we see an end to violence against women or sexual assault against children with the introduction of a new bill? Will the 24 million children currently out of school in Pakistan be provided basic education and improved healthcare? As we take minor steps towards improvement, the government must reprioritise its efforts to improve the standard of living of the average citizen, not by building the widest highways and the longest metros but by providing children with schools and the sick and old with hospitals.