This Year’s Youm-e-Shuhada

The 5th Youm-e-Shuhada, held at the garrisons all over the country, this year served a special purpose. It was an occasion as every year since 2010 for the nation to pay homage to the ultimate sacrifices rendered by its martyrs for the cause of their motherland. But more than that, it also served to awaken the nation from its disgusting slumber. It was a timely wake-up call to a people who seem to have become shamelessly insensitive to their own existence.

I attended the ceremony at Yadgar-e-Shuhada in Lahore where thousands of people including the families of Shuhada as well as serving and retired officers of the armed forces, parliamentarians, media and civil society members sat spellbound for more than three hours witnessing the tales of heroism and experiencing the rejuvenation of a new spirit that we as a nation needed so badly. It was indeed a solemn occasion not only acknowledging the supreme sacrifices given by our martyrs but also sharing with the families of Shuhada their sense of pride and fortitude. The experience touched every soul and made every eye tearful.

To me personally, the scene of a Pakistan-bound refugee-packed train in a documentary film came as a nostalgic subconsciously taking me to the fateful train journey that my own family (I was only a small child then) undertook in 1947 while migrating from India to the newly-created State of Pakistan leaving behind, like millions of others, their hearths and homes, their landed properties and their ancestral history of thousands of years to submerge into a new larger national identity. No sacrifice then was greater than freedom. No wonder, for my family as indeed for millions of others, it was a momentous decision to opt for Pakistan.

Memories of many scary moments and painful experiences from those days are still seared into my mind. I cannot forget the moments when our train after crossing into Pakistan steamed into Harbanspura Railway Station with everyone on the train crying with joy and raising spontaneous slogans ‘Allah-o-Akbar’ and ‘Pakistan Zindabad. ‘At that crucial juncture in our life, as our three-month long journey ended, tears of joy filled every eye at the end of that fateful journey. Here on the Shuhada Day, while feeling a similar soul-jerking ambience all around, I asked myself what has gone wrong with us as a nation.

Indeed, a nation, like an individual, is an organic entity which goes through different life-stages from birth and infancy to the identity crisis of adolescence, then evolving into a robust maturity and adulthood, and if not nourished and sustained through institutional strength with political, economic, social and moral steadiness, fading into decline and decadence. These stages are partly the result of government policies, priorities and patterns of governance, partly of the way leadership functions or malfunctions, and partly of the changing perceptions and preferences of the people. As a nation and as an independent state, where do we stand today?

With Quaid-e-Azam’s early demise, Pakistan was orphaned in its very infancy and lost the promise of a healthy youth with acute systemic deficiencies and normative perversities restricting its orderly natural growth. After the Quaid, it was left without any sense of direction and in a state of political bankruptcy and moral aridity. It started cutting itself into pieces, losing within less than quarter of a century not only its own half but also its very rationale that had inspired its founding fathers to struggle for a separate homeland for the Muslims of the sub-continent.

The real Pakistan disappeared with its tragic dismemberment, and whatever was left is the pillage ground for its self-serving rulers. We are still not decided on some of the vital questions related to our statehood. It is unsure of what its own original rationale was and what it stands for today. Pakistan came into being in the name of Islam and democracy but it has lived without practicing both. A country, which was considered ‘twentieth century miracle’ of a state and which was fought and won entirely through democratic and constitutional struggle now itself struggles haplessly for genuine democracy and constitutional primacy.

In recent years, the so-called liberal elites and our pseudo intellectuals have been wilfully distorting our history misleading the youth that Pakistan’s birth was only ‘an accident of history

To make things even worse, in recent years, the so-called liberal elites and our pseudo intellectuals have been wilfully distorting our history misleading the youth that Pakistan’s birth was only’ an accident of history’ and that the India-Pakistan border is no more than an artificial ‘thin’ line drawn on paper. They are enough to believe that if we were to erase this ‘thin’ line, there would be no India-Pakistan problems and we would live happily thereafter at peace together as ‘one people’ with no need for any armed forces. They are sadly mistaken and need a tutorial in history to know that Pakistan is not an accident of history.

This distinctiveness of the two communities was evident in the ‘encounter’ between Hindu and Muslim cultures that began over a thousand years ago, leaving a profound influence on both. They have met at thousand points, on battlefields and at festivals, around market places and in homes. And yet, they have remained distinct and far apart.
A deep study of the history of this land which some of us are seeking to distort proves that the differences between Hindus and Muslims were not confined to the struggle for political supremacy, but were also manifested in the clash of two social orders.

As early as in the beginning of the 11th century, Al-Biruni had observed that Hindus differed from the Muslims in all manners and habits. This is exactly what Quaid-e-Azam, in his address at the Lahore session of the All India Muslim League on March 22, 1940 had also stressed making it clear that Hindus and Muslims belonged to two different religious philosophies, derived their inspiration from different sources of history and, indeed, represented two different civilisations whose very foundations are based on conflicting ideas and concepts. The only difference between the writing of Al-Biruni and Quaid-i-Azam’s speech was that Al-Biruni made calculated predictions, while Quaid-i-Azam had history behind him to support his argument.

Those of us familiar with the history of the subcontinent know why having lived together for centuries, Hindus and Muslims remained poles apart in their attitudes to life with a different worldview altogether. Pakistan came into being as a result of a long struggle and with unquantifiable sacrifices. It is now a reality with its borders drawn in blood that cannot be erased, not even through any ‘goodwill’ gestures that some of our ruling elite and media friends are eager to make.

It is time, we as a nation realised that our survival as an independent state is predicated on our ability to preserve and safeguard the country’s independence and territorial integrity. We must act and behave like a nation. At this critical juncture in our history, we cannot just leave ourselves to vagaries of time or at the mercy of our corrupt and incompetent rulers and vested local and foreign interests inimical to Pakistan’s existence as a sovereign state.

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