August 14: Celebrate for what?

Mark your freedom when you can respect the freedom of your fellow Pakistanis, be it Hindus, Christians or Ahmadis.

Mohammad Jibran Nasir August 14, 2012
A cricketing hero in his capacity as the brand ambassador of a mobile network company is telling the youth of this nation that,
"Kion kay ajj agar hum dobara jhanday lehrana shuru kardain toh yaqeenan jhanday garna bhi shuru kerdain gay"

(If we start waving our flags today  then definitely we will once against start hoisting our flags every where.)

An advertisement well-made indeed.

Good drama that touches that ever so sensitive and emotional patriotic chord in our hearts, making us believe that just by being Pakistanis we are the greatest nation in the world. I was even tempted to buy another mobile connection just for texting 'Happy Independence Day' till I realised how shallow was that message.

Every country got the chance to wave its flag at the opening ceremony of the London Olympics 2012 and we all know that the athletes who managed for their flags to be hoisted as they stood on the winners' stand were the ones who put in hard work day in day out, who showed dedication 365 days of the year and who were backed by national sporting bodies which kept national pride and interest at heart at all times since Beijing 2008 games.

None of them was a Pakistani! It is not just sports we have lagged behind in for so long, we have also become a sad excuse for a sovereign nation.

A corrupt government, a weak and politicised notion of rule of law which apparently hinges on the existence of one man in the Supreme Court, a deteriorating economy, a polarised society and every religious occasion being less of a harmonious event and more of an excuse for putting the security in the country on red alert. However, there is still an ever swelling arsenal of nuclear bombs so, bravo! (that was sarcasm just to be clear).

I don't intend to spoil the festive mood but I do not get why we celebrate August 14 as if we didn't get freedom 65 years ago but got it last year. Is it perhaps because as a society we haven't progressed but regressed with every passing year? With the flag hoisting ceremonies, the flag marches and the flamboyant ad campaigns of multi-national companies all aim at getting the youth charged up about a day which actually marks the anniversary of our collective failure as a nation.

Stand up for the anthem and hoist the flag but do it not to mark independence unless we take pride in being ignorant morons. Do it to remind yourself that the anthem is a promise that this is the land of the pure and that this promise has not been kept. It has not been kept by our leaders, our elders, our peers and even by us.

Every gang rape victim, every acid attack victim, every Hazara's murder, every Ahmadi living in fear, and every Hindu framed under the blasphemy law are just a few things to name that hinder my heart from wanting to celebrate.

Every mother selling her children out of poverty, every father committing suicide after failing to provide for his family, every madrassa preaching a narrow and conservative notion of Islam is what stops me.

Every school preaching a westernised notion of what culture and religion should be, every news channel exploiting the misery of the people and desensitising viewers, every private car with an MPA and MNA plate, are things that have weakened my faith in celebration.

Moreover, every elected representative with a fake degree, every student who cannot afford quality education, every patient who cannot afford health facilities, every mall which charges an entry fee so it can filter out different sections of society; all create a heap of reasons for me to be in no festive mood today.

Every imposter who is celebrated by the media as a religious guru and the fact that I just wrote these ills at the top of my head right now, remind me that I should not fool myself with the August 14 celebrations which instil in our minds a fabricated notion of pride.

Just reading the examples given above highlight to me how far we actually are  from being a civilised society. Mark your freedom when you can respect the freedom of your fellow Pakistanis and enjoy your rights with pride when the same are available to your fellow countrymen. Observe this day as a reminder that we all have a duty to fulfill.

Let us be Pakistan, before we celebrate Pakistan.

Follow Jibran on Twitter @MJibranNasir
Mohammad Jibran Nasir A lawyer and civil and political rights activist. He is the co-founder of Elaj Trust, Pakistan For All and Never Forget Pakistan. He tweets @MJibranNasir (
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Saleema | 11 years ago | Reply
Big Rizvi | 11 years ago | Reply The author's feelings are almost as same as mine.
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