Mr Jinnah, would it be too hopeful to think that perhaps this New Year we, in Pakistan, may suffer less from our own self-inflicted wounds? I find it difficult to believe that a leader such as yourself, and the qualities you carried, never rubbed off on your humble citizens. I am sure there are many among us who have some of your integrity and your love for our motherland.
A famous line from your speech given on October 30, 1947 in Lahore was: “Musalman museebut mein ghabraya naheen karta” in response to which the huge crowd went frantic with passion. So what are we so afraid of today and when did our passion for Pakistan die?
I look around and see fear on many faces. We, unfortunately, fear ourselves. It is the untruths that we have lived by that make us fearful of everything we should have believed in and been proud of, enabling our sense of nationalism further. If Jinnah had been here today, I am sorry to say, there would have been much pain in his heart at witnessing our state. Gone is the honour and will to fight for our own nation. We have been selling ourselves, little by little, each day, in so many ways that we have forgotten who we actually are.
What happened? Were we not prepared to appreciate living on our own soil? Is it that we crave instead a refugee camp on a foreign land or perhaps second-class citizenship in a country where our children shall always suffer from displaced anxiety whenever someone asks them where they are from?
I lived in America for several years and my children went through such incidents constantly. My youngest child, Zarmeen, was born in New York City and when she was three years old she participated in a pre-school function where children had to present a flag of their original nationality. I, of course, very proudly put the Pakistan flag on her dress. She looked up at me at that tiny age and said, “Mama, why are you putting this flag on my dress, I am American, aren’t I?” to which I answered that she was born in America but she was actually Pakistani. This made no sense to her and, frankly, didn’t make much sense to me either when I realised what had just happened. It was one of many incidents that eventually convinced me to bring all my children home a few years later, out of the fear that they would grow up never really knowing themselves.
We have been back 10 years now and I have to say I am happy to be home and have no regrets. But I am extremely saddened by the state of our identity. Even while living in Pakistan, I desperately search for it.
What happened? Where did our Pakistan go? Is all lost or shall we one day regain our sense of self-worth and passion? When do you think we will stop fearing and start living with pride?
When will Sindh feel the pain of Swat’s suffering? Will we ever reunite or were we never united to begin with? Will we find Pakistan within ourselves someday? Mr Jinnah, are we really the people you wished us to be?
Published in The Express Tribune, December 30th, 2010.