At an early age as we attain our elementary education, one of the first things we learn, is about our homeland, Pakistan. We are taught that Pakistan consists of five provinces: Sindh in the south, Punjab to the east, Baluchistan to the west, NWFP in the north and Kashmir. With great pride and fondness we learn that these provinces are home to different ethnic groups with their own unique set of traditions, culture and language. All of which have voluntarily fused into one nation, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the first country to be founded on a religious ideology. A nation built for the very purpose to serve us Muslims living in the Indian Subcontinent but before we venture onwards, let us return to our schooling.
Progressing from elementary to secondary education, we slowly learn things aren’t exactly what they seem to be. Kashmir as a whole is not apart of Pakistan but in fact only a portion of it called Azad Kashmir belongs to us while the rest falls under India. “Okay that’s fine, we still have four provinces children” is the reassurance we get from our teachers and then so begins the domino effect as we proceed to a higher class. A good portion of the The North West Frontier Province (we were never told why it was called such an obvious name) is the Federally Administered Tribal Areas or FATA, although the name says it is federally administered, is it in fact administered by itself and then comes Balouchistan , it too follows the same real status as the NWFP. Oh yes, I nearly forgot to mention the part that we had more than just “five” provinces at one point, in fact we had this place called East Pakistan but we decided 20-something years into our independence that we don’t need it anymore as we have just enough goodies to go around on this side of India.
Back again on the more important side, down to only two provinces, in desperation we embrace what we can. Entering the latter years of our teenage life, we wonder how does this country survive on only Sindh and Punjab? Maybe if we pay close attention to the radio, there may lay some further truth kept hidden from the future generations. “Lahore, Karachi, Islamabad…” Wait a minute, how is it that these are the only places that are really developed? Are you trying to say that a whole country runs on a few cities? Isn’t the rest of Pakistan developed as well? The point for the history lesson is that we are brought up pre-conditioned, fed all this fallacies and then some. Let us face the ground realities:
We gave away half our country. Let me repeat myself. We GAVE AWAY HALF our country. We say we are all true Pakistanis and Muslims but unfortunately as history tells us, we have yet to live up to even a ounce of that claim. Too twisted and caught up in self-interest we have lost all forms of nationalism that the founding fathers and true patriotic followers built for us. Those people, mind you weren’t a mere dozen so men and women standing with cut out cards on a street corner, they were a few generations of Muslims who dedicated and sacrificed their lives for this cause. The cause being, future Muslim generations would be able to live in a land of their own without any form of oppression. Oh Jinnah must be rolling and tossing frequently in his grave if he were to witness what has become of his dream. Welcome to Pakistan, home to sectarian conflicts amongst the provinces, feudalism, polarization amongst socioeconomic classes, liquor and drugs are easier for the poor to attain than a decent meal, let alone three.
Where are we? Who are we? The questions are endless and most are still unanswered. Why? The answer to that particular question is simple and fortunately for the layman has no educational pre-requisite. We have succumbed to a race of people that reproduce generations into materialism, extremism and above all oppression. Ironically, it is the very oppression which we wanted independence from. Jean Jacques Rousseau said “Man is born free but everywhere he is in chains”. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are chained from liberating our minds, following our childhood dreams and living peacefully amongst our fellow Muslims. Don’t get me wrong, people before us have thought about all this. The privileged and the lucky few have gone abroad, been exposed to the world, have come back after several years and genuinely wanted to change the circumstances back home. Unfortunately, those patriotic few weren’t able to free Pakistan from its shackles. Parents and older generations tried and failed and mostly just discourage and force their children to follow suit. Either we get killed in encounter or fall into the downward spiral of apathy and corruption. No one wants to see their loved ones die or live in complete fear for a cause that doesn’t reward them directly and immediately. That is a justified reason which everyone can relate to and understand but we forget one thing in the process, our past. The trains to and from Pakistan during partition did not have smiling faces and families making their pilgrimage with an optimistic mind for their future; they were mostly filled with dead bodies and scarred survivors.
Pakistan is a pluralistic state, filled with potential. It’s location in the subcontinent makes it an important player in world. It’s about time we realize all this and use our resources wisely while we still can. Let us rekindle the flame, which we all know has burnt out. The most effective way is to resort to the basics. Let us reify Pakistan’s ideology, revive nationalism and start a polyphonic movement. We must be practical, realistic and above put impetus in our cause. Spread the word and mobilize the masses. Stop focusing on the differences and start talking about what we all have in common, our history and our dreams. The future is ours; we must take control of our own destiny. No more dependency on some invisible hand or waiting on others to do the work for us. If we want to make a change, we will have to sacrifice. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither was Pakistan.