The sacrifices offered by Pakistanis before and after independence are almost unprecedented in human history. Although a state requires sacrifices during the times of crisis, natural calamities or war, the case of Pakistan is entirely different from any other as the Pakistanis, invariably and relentlessly, have been made to sacrifice. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was triumphant in creating a new country only because of the supreme sacrifices of the Muslims of the Subcontinent. But, ironically, the sacrifices that created a state were not rewarded with what was promised to the people; a life free of tyranny, oppression and excesses that Muslims of the Subcontinent had been suffering at the hands of the Hindus and the British rule for nearly one century.
Many people view Pakistan as synonymous with sacrifices because a large number of them were offered during the freedom struggle that started with the War of Independence (1857) and culminated in the creation of Pakistan in 1947. The hopes that people pinned on the ruling class, which were touching skies at the time of the creation of Pakistan, soon dashed and none of the successive governments did anything solid to live up to the expectations of the masses. The very nation is still being sacrificed at the altar of politics and the over-ambitious successors of the founding fathers of the nation are still oblivious to what has gone wrong with the country.
Sacrifices offered for the creation of Pakistan are laudable in the sense that those were offered in the name of a state where Muslims could freely lead their lives according to the tenets of Islam. The long struggle added a great impetus in the form of Pakistan Resolution of 1940. These crucial seven years — from 1940 to 1947 — witnessed an unprecedentedly extreme vigour and zeal among the Muslims and they finally achieved for which they had sacrificed everything they could.
The sacrifices of Pakistani nation also deserve praise when the Radcliffe Award was announced by the Boundary Commission tasked with the demarcation of boundaries of the new dominions as it was adamantly tilted toward the Hindus. The Commission demarcated the boundaries in such a way that many of the Muslim-majority areas like Murshidabad, Ferozepore, Zira etc., were given to India. It was so unjust for the Muslims that Quaid-i-Azam showed a great resentment and said, “It [the Award of the Boundary Commission] is an unjust, incomprehensible and even perverse Award … It may be our misfortune but we must bear up this one more blow with fortitude, courage and hope.”
Radcliffe’s unjust demarcation prompted an unending dispute over Kashmir — the heaven on the earth. Declared as a ‘jugular vein of Pakistan’ by Quaid-i-Azam, the very state was occupied by India immediately after the partition, triggering the two nations to involve in an unrelenting animosity and antagonism.
Pakistanis’ sacrifices continued even after the independence as the unfair division of assets of the United India between the two nations took a heavy toll on their economic conditions. India adopted evasive tactics in order to strangulate the nascent state. Out of Rs.750 million allocated for Pakistan, the country could not get the whole amount as India never wanted to give the money. Similar was the case with the division of military assets. Declining the formula set by the British government to divide the assets in proportion of 64:36, India came up with a proposal of paying Rs.60 million to Pakistan under the head of 16 ordnance factories’ assets. The division of Punjab inflicted another curse on Pakistan; it helped India usurp water resources, aggravating the menace to the level of water terrorism.
The loss of lives and the atrocities that Muslims had to bear on the hands of militant Sikhs and Hindus also epitomize great sacrifices for a noble cause. Those who, howsoever, remained alive reached the new impoverished state empty-handed. And, here again they offered sacrifices with the hope that better days would come soon.
The tribulations of the Pakistanis still did not end. Another hard luck befell the nation with the untimely demise of the father of the nation. Immediately after Quaid’s death, power-hungry political elite held the reins of the country. Instead of making the lives of the masses better, they started wrangling over petty issues. Modern China — the country that got independence only two years after Pakistan — was lucky enough to be run by leaders like Mao Zedong and his right-hand Zhou En-lai who steered the country to progress and development that is still unprecedented in the world history. But, ineptness of our leaders could be seen in the fact that they failed the duty of constitution-making in the country. Even if one was made, that lived only a couple of years and was abrogated in 1958.
Thenceforth, the nation was put to sacrifice on the altar of whims and wishes of political and military rulers. Thus the lust for power shown by the rulers turned the state into a battlefield rather than a place of peace and harmony.
FM Muhammad Ayub Khan usurped the power and once again the nation was made to sacrifice. Ayub Khan did everything he could to prolong his rule. Besides, the way Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah’s voice was muted further deepened the wounds. Country fought the war of 1965 with India and the miseries remained hitting the lives of the masses. The wounds of inflation, unemployment, illiteracy and other social vices kept festering. Then Bhutto entered the power corridors and this unique alliance of political and military leadership was responsible for the dismemberment of the Quaid’s Pakistan. But, the demoralized nation rejuvenated itself to again sacrifice in the name of democracy.
The eleven-year-long dictatorship of General Ziaul Haq further inflicted miseries on the nation. Then during the eras of Nawaz Sharif and Benazir Bhutto, though the democracy was the norm of the day, nothing changed and people were asked to offer sacrifices sometimes in the name of Debt Retirement Scheme and sometimes in the form of facing the international sanctions imposed after the nuclear tests of May 1998. The whole twentieth century was the era of sacrifices for the Pakistanis. Poverty remained prevalent, unemployment kept on soaring, education was an altogether neglected domain, ruling elite remained busy in political wrangling and the ordinary people kept on suffering and sacrificing.
The nation entered the new century with a new resolve but luck had nothing good in store for the Pakistanis. Then struck the fateful incident of 9/11 that rocked the entire world; Pakistan also was not immune to its adverse impacts. The ruler of that time, General Pervez Musharraf, decided to join the ‘anti-terror alliance’ that brought the war on terror to our doors. If General Ziaul Haq is known for his legacy of Kalashnikov culture, burden of three million Afghan refugees and destruction of an already-flagging democracy, then Musharraf would be remembered in history for advent of terrorism, rampant bomb blasts and another influx of Afghan refugees in the country.
In reaction to Pakistan’s inclusion in the war on terror, Taliban and other extremists got united and waged a war against the innocent citizens of Pakistan. Thousands of Pakistanis have offered sacrifices of their lives to make the country peaceful and free of terrorists. No one is immune to the terrorists’ rage; churches of Christians and other minorities’ places of worship have been attacked indiscriminately, mosques and imambargahs, political leaders and religious scholars; no one has been spared by the terrorists.
Nation’s wounds of APS attack were still fresh that Bacha Khan University at Charasadda was attacked, devouring many young students whom we call the future of the nation. We are still sacrificing but what our rulers are doing except offering only a lip service and some words of solace?
The seriousness of our leaders can be gauged from the fact that in spite of drawing up the National Action Plan, nothing solid has been done to implement it in letter and spirit. National Counter Terrorism Authority that was supposed to develop action plans against terrorism and extremism and to coordinate and prepare comprehensive national counterterrorism and counter-extremism strategies is still dormant. Our rulers live in castle-like abodes but the common people have been left at the mercy of the terrorists.
The ordeals of the nation are not over yet. We still have to make great sacrifices as our sufferings that have been caused by misdeeds, wrongdoings and imprudent policies adopted by our successive governments won’t end anytime soon. We are ready for this but our zeal and vigour to defeat terrorism and all sorts of social vices should also be reciprocated by the government in form of pragmatic policymaking. All available resources should be diverted to mitigate the sufferings of the nation. This is the only way our sacrifices can bear fruit and we can make Pakistan a country that our founding fathers had dreamed of.