Today was a usual day despite the platitudes churned out by the media and the struggle to ‘celebrate’ something. Naeem Sadiq’s email was instructive as it said many things that I wanted to write today:
I decided not to celebrate the 14th August this year, to record my personal grief, shame and solidarity with the innocent citizens of Gojra, who were killed , wounded and burnt, for belonging to the same God, but a different religion. In my room I will fly the Pakistan flag at half mast, I will put my TV off, have none of those “milli naghmey” and sing no national anthem. I am sad, ashamed and distressed. I will call up all my Christian friends to say I am deeply sorry and I apologise.
I do not wish to celebrate the birthdays of a land where the Mullahs spread hate from the minarets of their mosques. Where 20,000 Muslims unite to kill a few hundred Christian men, women and children. Where the administration provides bullet proof vehicles and multi layer protection to its leaders but will do nothing to protect the life and property of its ordinary citizens. I am ashamed that not one person, the CM, the PM, the Governor or the President resigned from his job as an admission of failure to perform their primary duty.
There are plenty of flags, parades, speeches and ceremonies, but no real sense of guilt, remorse, or reform. The Dawn newspaper alone has 24 ‘ad’ nauseam ads, sponsored by the government departments, with the tax payers’ money, most carrying the pictures of four members of the same family. All under the garb of a “Happy Birthday to you, dear Pakistan”. The theft and plunder of peoples’ money does not pause for rest, even on the 14th day of August. Should not a state, at a minimum, protect the life and property of all its citizens, to deserve ‘a happy birthday’.
I love my country, this is the only one I have. It is our identity and our future but being a Pakistani is a painful compromise with so much that is not in our grain. In one year, we have treated millions in the northwest like cattle, burnt non-Muslims and our state has withdrawn behind high fences and barriers leaving the citizens to deal with the menace that is not of their making. The Baloch Pakistanis are alienated and the Sindhis are fearful of the coming storms. The leader of urban Sindh calls Partition the biggest mistake and the poor ..well they are just toiling despite sixty two years of Independence. The recent success of the military operation is a glimmer of hope.
Let us pray that next year things are not as grim as they are today.