Letter to a young nation

Pakistan saw many ups and downs in the very beginning of its growth. Quaid-e-Azam left this world after Pakistan’s first birthday. His most honest and devoted colleague, Liaqat Ali Khan was assassinated. Then a series of misfortunes occurred: Many Martial Laws were imposed, the civil governments acted as slaves and puppets in the hands of external powers and the enemies of Pakistan. The economic conditions kept swinging and jeopardizing the existence and progress of Pakistan. Due to its diverse geographical boundaries and ethnicity, it was always under threat of being divided into many states. Up until now the separatist movements, are working hard just to weaken Pakistan. But miraculously, with the help of Allah Almighty, Pakistan not only survives and thrives, despite all the difficulties and the efforts of ill wishers, it emerges as a viable,forward looking nation. . – APP Photo



by Asad Badruddin


Nation states are made by forgetting. And remembering only partial bits of history that suit them. But mostly forgetting.

When my editor asked me to write about an image that was a source of positive inspiration from the past, I stopped to think about what could be the most appropriate memory to pick and write about. Should it be something in the 1960s when we won hockey tournaments, were squash champions and produced some of the best cricketers known to the world? During this period the economy was also booming and Pakistan was a model developing country for the world. But singular narratives are deceiving. If the 1960s were so rich in accomplishments why was it a preclude to the division of the country into two separate states just a decade later?

I search for other important and positive events after 1971. The horrible 1980s is obviously out of the question. Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s new Pakistan? Nothing came of it. What about Benazir Bhutto’s jubilant 1988 return to a beleaguered nation? Or the 1992 World Cup? I was not around for the former and was only two years old when we won the latter. My only memory of the World Cup is the footage I have watched through cassette. And since 50 per cent of Pakistan is under the age of 25 I am sure most of us are under the same predicament.

I write this letter to a young nation. We do not remember the MQM and MQM-H battles in Karachi, or the establishment maneuvered politics of the 1990s. We do not have any Faiz Ahmed Faiz’s or Ahmed Faraz’s whose shoulders we can rest hopefully. Nor do we have Nusrat’s soothing voice to raise our worlds. I write this article bearing in mind I am writing to Musharraf’s children. We have spent most our lives in dictatorship – apoliticised with cosmetic values and ideas about progress.

With this audience in mind I think two events in 2009 are worth pondering over in the 64th year of this federation. The first is the culmination of the Lawyer’s Movement and the reinstatement of the judges in 2009 by President Asif Ali Zardari. This came after the community of lawyer’s first pushed General Musharraf out of power and then later pressurised the reluctant PPP government to reinstate the deposed judges after the famous Long March knocked on the doors of the capital. Justice has not yet come to Pakistan, but its foundations have been set. The Long March marked society’s consensus for constitutionalism and for justice. It is also a landmark event for when previously disinterested segments of the population joined a political movement. Even at elite campuses like LUMS many students took part in the protests. It was a moment of political awakening for many people who had never been exposed to such populist movements. Where this awakening will take us remains to be seen.

Happiness is always linked with pain. How else can it be recognised? In March of 2009 saw one of the most painful moments of Pakistan’s history when the Sri Lankan cricket team was attacked by a group of armed terrorists in Lahore, thereby eliminating any possibility of Pakistan hosting an international cricket match for a long time. For a nation that lives and breathes cricket this was a stunning setback. In two months time however the Pakistani cricket team surprised us all by winning the T20 World Cup against the Sri Lankans in a tragic confluence of events. As a friend of mine told me after the final, ‘if we had to lose to anyone it should have been the Sri Lankans; they came to our country when no one else did.’ But besides the tragic irony, this World Cup was for us, the young generation! When crowds came onto the streets we could finally relate to what our parents told us about people coming out on the streets after the 1992 victory. This World Cup victory coming after the success of the Lawyer’s allowed us to hold our heads high for just a little while longer. It gave us a little space to close our eyes and enjoy a moment of jubilation, before the coming days of adversity.

There might have been better historical moments to choose from but I think these two are significant because they are recent enough to help us look forward. They remind us about the fruits of patience and hard work. They give us the strength to imagine new beginnings and reach for that light beyond the dark horizon. And to many in this young nation they are the only source of inspiration they have ever known.

The writer is a student at Tufts University studying Economics and International Relations. He blogs at octagonaltangents.blogspot.com

Source, Title Image
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