My six year old granddaughter Zara is all excited to celebrate the 64th birthday of Pakistan. Every year when this day arrives, it brings back many beautiful memories. Poverty, homelessness, travelling in the worst circumstances, leaving behind our homes; nothing looked ugly, nothing felt difficult. I was a young and energetic teenager, a student for whom going to school had multiple reasons. Of course, my parents like all the others, wanted me to be a successful man but there was something else in my blood which pushed me every day to an institution where we met, planned and strengthened our ideas. The most wonderful and rarest of the blessings of that time was a true leader in the shape of Mr Jinnah. Our energies were different. Our blood was gushing more powerfully than many others in the united India. We were so close to the goal, a dream was to come true towards which I had seen my grandparents and parents struggling with all their devotion and commitment. Our lives were like those of a tenant’s who was eagerly waiting to move to his own house. We were struggling for a home where we could live according to our wishes independently, where we are not answerable to any ‘Landlord’ except the True Lord, where no one else could impose his rules and regulations on us, but God. I had lost many friends, uncles and cousins during the struggle. A lot of blood was spilt, but not wasted, I was sure. Everyone was talking about ‘the time’ which was near and as sure to come as a written fact. We could see it coming with our very eyes.
14th August 1947 was the day no less than Eid for us. My forehead was prostrating in front of Allah whom we had made promises with; a deal that we made about implementing His laws, if He gives us a land with no interference from anyone. My eyes were tearful with my heart jumping in joy and humble with thankfulness to God. Our ‘haveli’, our decades old business, our property and valuables, jobs and careers; nothing was a hindrance to travel to our new born homeland. We were desperately seeking for this day of ‘Independence’ when we are nobody’s slaves but the creator’s. The very thought of the long awaited moment when we’d kiss the land was working as adrenaline in our blood vessels. Days or nights didn’t matter, we were moving. A big number of people lost their lives in this transit but the caravans wouldn’t stop. Nothing could halt the sea of these charged and sparked people who left by choice everything they had, for a dream, a promise, a struggle and a mission. We had broken the idols of colonial captivity and seen Iqbal’s dream becoming a reality under a selfless man called Jinnah and we were all motivated for a better tomorrow.
Zara shakes my arm to bring me out of a very true movie saved in my eyes and dearest to my heart, which I watch every now and then but more so in August every year. She wants me to leave gardening and come indoors as she wanted to show me her green outfit that she bought for school celebrations.
I am a 79 year old frail man with no physical energy left in me. I have seen these 64 years like a Banyan tree that bears the most scorching sun and also refreshing rains. I have been an honest man and have given every drop of sweat to this land. After seeing Zara’s glittery green dress, I sit back to analyse why this land of mine is in a mess. There is still bloodshed, poverty, homelessness, displaced people, and this actually is ugly and painful. Independence from all worldly masters is what we strived for. The proposed dream of Iqbal who left us many years before Independence Day was based on faith i.e. to live according to the Rules and Laws of Allah with no interference from anyone. The whole struggle was based on this fact and the demand of separation was based on Muslim majority areas. But this is the very foundation which some people are questioning today. 64 years down the road, listening to a discussion in a TV show as to whether Pakistan was created in the name of Islam or not is absurd and extremely painful. Such conversation and the dishonesty that prevails on individual and national level is equivalent to breaking the pact that we made with Allah and betraying the blood which, I still have faith, wouldn’t go waste.
Following Islam at individual level or practising ‘Sovereignty belongs to Allah’ at national level, is still a myth. The injustices in the society, the bloodshed, the linguistic divisions, the social deprivation, and inequality of men on material grounds, are surely ugly. The idol of colonial times is not entirely broken either. Our identity is still vague. We still worship some worldly gods and that too happily. My people are still unsafe not because of a foreign regime but due to some men who are from us, look like us and speak the language that we understand and claim to lead the country and hold the governing offices. Our decisions are not taken by our own men or in our own interests. Many of our sons and daughters have been sold for foreign money. Many are missing for years. Many are bombed to death by monstrous drones. Big fish get away with everything. Poor get crushed in the cruel ‘system. Foreign spies are willingly welcomed through front doors and helped to escape through backdoors after killing our men… Too much, too ugly!
I miss Jinnah, someone who could look daringly into the eyes of the colonial monsters , walked with a head up high, knew the worth of this nation and could say a bold ‘NO’ in the best interest of his people. The frailest of nations we were but we stood behind him with strong faith and formed a force which no power in the world could beat. With no money, no alms, no arms and no treasures, the people turned into a tornado and broke all the barriers to achieve the goal. I miss a leader, who could take us to the door of true ‘independence; which I am still seeking.
But, all is not ugly. There is something extremely beautiful about today as well, despite the thick clouds of despair. It’s the devotion on the new generation and the youth and its unshaken affiliation to this gift of Allah, Pakistan. The energies being brought together to pull the country out of the mess and the growing awareness of the problems we face, is a silver lining. The magnitude is small when I compare it to the force pushing us into the ditch, may it be foreign hand or our own enslaved leaders or demoralising media elements. But, same was the case in 1947. The two opposite forces were not comparable in strength and magnitude and would never be. It’s faith and trust in God which has always made our side of the scale heavier and that’s what is required. Allah will fulfil the promises of His bounties if we fulfil our promises that we made with Him more than half a century ago.
I feel tiny hands wiping tears off my face while I sit in the arm chair with my eyes closed. I open my eyes to see my Zara, my faith and hope for Pakistan, the surest reason to smile again.
Mayoos to nahin hain umeed e sehr se hum..