By Hassam Ahmed
After eight decades of Pakistan Resolution, this country has established itself as one of the most important players in the global system. Being a developing state, we continue to progress with an unstable, yet progressive and evolving politico-economic journeyafter more than 70 years of independence. Despite losing East Pakistan, fighting an unending war with India on Kashmirand spending more than two decades in war on terror, this country is still sovereign enough tostrive for peace, economic prosperity and a dignified global repute in the international system. Over the course of history, Pakistan has produced the greatest sons of the soil across diverse sectors. From the founder of Pakistan Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah to the current Premier Imran Khan, the greatness of Pakistan lies in the enthusiasm and passion of its citizens to strive for the honor, dignity and esteem of Pakistan.
While keeping in view our strengths as a nation, we need to be well aware of our weaknesses and drawbacks that has over the time halted our capacity to progress as a nation. Individual achievements become the pride of the nation, yet it is the collective efforts and accomplishments that makes a state significant in the international system. Founder of the Nation Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had categorically set forward the direction of the nation. He highlighted that,
“You are free; you are free to go to your temples. You are free to go to your mosques or to any other places of worship in this State of Pakistan. You may belong to any religion, caste or creed—that has nothing to do with the business of the state”.
Words of Quaid-e-Azamestablished the identity of people of this state at the time of creation of Pakistan, yet unfortunately over the course of history, we as a nation lost the will, courage and direction to work for the prosperity of Pakistan. Social, Religious and cultural fundamentalism has sown the seed of identity clashes amongst the people of this state that has impacted the progress of Pakistan. It is time for Pakistani political parties, its institutions and its people to reprioritize their goals. Economic prosperity, culture of tolerance and acceptability is the only forward for the state of Pakistan. Geographically located at a highly securitized region, we as a nation have to remain vigilant and cautious. Economic interdependence and peaceisthe only way forward, yet it cannot be at the cost of national sovereignty. Peace is desired yet defense of the state is a priority and every Pakistani stands behind our security forces, if the existence of Pakistan is challenged.
What needs to be highlighted and acknowledged is that every year 23rd March is celebrated with great zeal and enthusiasm, yet the actual message is overlooked, particularly by the youth of Pakistan which accounts for more than 60% of the population. Living in the times of Information warfare, efforts are required to strengthen our ideological basis. 23rd March reminds us of the commitment and dedication of the Muslims of subcontinent to create a separate homeland. Though Pakistan was created on the basis of La Ilaha Illalah, yet people from diverse ethnicities, religious affiliations and backgrounds accepted the idea of Pakistan and accepted it keeping in view the traditionalist narrow approach of Hindu leadership in the subcontinent. Today Pakistan is home to diverse ethnicities, religious and cultural backgrounds and linguistic affiliations. Kartarpur Corridor is one such example where Sikhs from across the globe visit Pakistan. Religious, cultural and sectarian harmony needs to be promoted as diversion will only create conflict amongst ourselves, that will not only impact the progress and development of state but will also passively impact the global repute of the country.
While highlighting the actual meanings of Pakistan Day, let’s not forget our Kashmiri brothers and sisters who have been fighting for decades against the Indian brutalities. Leaders like Syed Ali Gillani, Mir Wayez Umar Farooq, Dr. Qasim Faktu and Asiya Andrabi are the pride of this state and their sacrifices and affection for Pakistanwill always be highlighted at all national and international forums. This nation is indebt to such heroes who despite being under the worst oppression have always chanted the slogan “Hum Pakistani Hain-Pakistan Hamara hai”.
Pakistan is in dire need of economic prosperity yet we as a nation need to be united, focused and committed to our cause of making Pakistan one of the greatest nations of the world. Our destiny is clear and now it isresponsibility of our leadership to negate any ideas of diversions and intolerance and unite this nation for the achievement of a common purpose. An economically developed and ideologically strengthened Pakistan should be our resolution as a nation on this 23rd March.
–The Writer works as Managing Director at Institute of Peace and Contemporary Affairs (IPCA)