Thursday, August 20, 2009

The 14th of August


The 14th of August, Pakistan's Indepence Day, was approaching, and I, as a blogger, was ducking under pressure. What do I write? What do I say? My country hasn't exactly been doing well off late. I was looking for a reason to celebrate, beyond military governments, terrorist groups, joblessness, poverty - just one reason, but I couldn't think of any. So I found myself retreating.


But then I realised, it isn't always important to celebrate the day, here and now. There is room to think of glorius days gone by (there have been many) and hope for better days to come.


There is so much that Pakistan has achieved in its 60-odd years. Of course, we seem to be taking two steps behind every now and then, but we're fighting it. Most of us continue to be happy-go-lucky people, in the face of threats to life and property brought on by the war on terrorism. But we persevere. We go on vacations. We take our children out to parks. We eat out. We frequent the movies. We speak our minds and some of us, lose their lives in the process. We are a hospitable people. We go head-over-heels entertaining our neighbours or any foreigner for that matter, from the moment they set foot on our turf.


Of course, we have a weak state and have been plagued by rogue governments every so often. And it seems, we never really trust or like our democratically elected governments either. But then, who is happy with their leaders. Look what the Americans had to put up with for 8 years prior to Obama. And a lot of them still seem disappointed with the lack of 'change'. India claims to be the biggest democracy, and just see what Jaswant Singh's published thoughts have stirred there. A man who spoke his mind has been fired from his political party and his book, banned in Modi's Gujarat. Aisha Siddiqa, with her Military Inc. too faced the music in Pakistan. So what's the difference? Everybody creates reason to celebrate anyhow. As must we.


It makes one a nice moment to think that Ayesha Jalal, a Pakistani, had the balls to say what she thought about Jinnah and we teach her work in our universities as a must. We even discuss the pros of United India in our classrooms. So we, as a nation, are anything but apologetic and certainly not whimsical. I think that calls for celebration. We are a creative people. We can manage to conquer new heights in media and the arts, despite the lack of freedom of speech that plagues most developing nations. Our news people have been able to defy fears of the rod, in effect, executing several turning points in history. Our actors and musicians have managed both national and international fame and fortune, without compromising on values. Heck, we can pull off quality entertainment without the support of semi-naked women.


If that doesn't convince, there is always hope. When so many of our youth - despite joblessness, despite lack of opportunity, despite their securities under threat - choose to stay in the country, persevere and serve, there is hope. And if I may dare, we seem to be standing stronger than how we were, a year or two years ago. We have exposed our brittle enemies in Swat, we have upgraded our stock market ratings and we feel pride in our framed religion, Islam. No regrets. No apologies. 


To end with a bitter (and necessary) dose of realism and humility, our erratic cricket team managed to crash and burn in an away series immediately after winning the Twenty20 worldcup. And then, the labourer who shirks, the deadlines that are not honoured, the work that doesn't get done without a generous donation or two, the scheduled power outage that won't let me rant much further...


Long way to go!

14 comments:

Id it is said...

A brilliant analysis of why freedom can always be celebrated, especially if one enjoys it and believes it to be the fundamental right of every human being!

Freedom as a state of being and freedom as a tangible commodity that has to be gotten from another are two slightly different aspects of this highly prized phenomenon we call 'freedom' won't you agree...

Happy Independence Day!

Saadia said...

Thank you, Id!

R. Ramesh said...

hey friend..here my colleagues celebrated both indo-pak I-Day together...it was fun..hey..thanks for your motivating comments friend..always nice to hear fm u..cheers and best wishes..

slmnhq said...

Well said!

theBollywoodFan said...

Long way to go is right, but as long as the commitment to honesty and effort is there, things will be just fine in the long term.

Happy Independence Day to you! And Happy Ramadan!!!

Saadia said...

Thank you Ramesh. Average Joes like you and me celebrate these things together. It is the few bad fish, here and there, that cause all the rumpus. Happy Independence Day to you too!

Good to see you're still visiting, Salman bhai.

Jaydev,India said...

For the record, I dont think Jaswant Singh was fired for "praising" Jinnah. He was thrown out quite deservedly for attacking Sardar Patel who is revered by BJP,RSS and I guess by most "patriotic" Indians.
Anyway he was not killed or blown up..just fired from a party..no big deal.Comparing freedom in India with Pakistan is a big (with a captial B) stretch..We are not a theocratic state with blasphemy law..and now there is no problem even if you openly not straight..
Now beat that ;-)

Saadia said...

ANd thank God, we are not self-righteous! We recognise that we aren't perfect either.

ANd I don't feel such comparisons are a big stretch. You have serious issues of ostracizing certain sections of community (there are the untouchables, the Mumbai slums etc.) and then, the unity of all the states is a myth too. But I'm not here to belittle anybody. Just stating that all 'free' nations have big issues; just try and take it in that stride.

Jaydev,India said...

Just stating the facts don't necessarily mean self-righteous. I would any day love comparing our country with Bangladesh or Nepal on the basis of "poor social justice or poverty" than with a terrorist state with near unanimity of terror support. Now all the "self-righteous-I-told-you-so" articles are being written about in your newspapers when Taliban started turning on its masters both civilian and military. About approachability and stuff..dont know..I havent travelled outside my state Kerala..but definitely nothing institutional about it..and things are definitely moving upward as far as social justice and elimination of poverty..though slowly..

Saadia said...

"O ye who believe! Let not some men among you laugh at others: It may be that the (latter) are better than the (former): Nor let some women laugh at others: It may be that the (latter are better than the (former): Nor defame nor be sarcastic to each other, nor call each other by (offensive) nicknames: Ill-seeming is a name connoting wickedness, (to be used of one) after he has believed: And those who do not desist are (indeed) doing wrong." (Qur'an 49:11)

I stay mum. You don't seem to be here for dialogue, so no point in stretching this further.

R. Ramesh said...

saadia..thanks ya..stay connected

How do we know said...

Hey.. belated, but Happy Independence day to you.

Miguel said...

I ran into your blog after seeing your profile on Elance. Just wanted to say- you are an excellent writer. Keep up the good work.

Lash said...

Such is the world Saadia. It's nobody's fault yet is it everbody's problem :)