Independence Day

What ails us?

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Pakistan did not have a natural birth. It came into being under peculiar circumstances. There was a long and turbulent struggle of decades behind it. It was, at the time of its creation, at the centre of a storm. International powers of the time were vying for influence in the region just as they are today.

The newly carved state was on its own without the requisite resources needed to run the day to day affairs. Worse, India that had got much larger and stable government machinery refused to give the due share to Pakistan. Worse still, as envisaged, the partition did not turn out to be a smooth affair. There was a large-scale migration across Punjab and there was huge massacre on both sides of the border.

The state of Jammu and Kashmir that was a majority Muslim state wanted to be part of Pakistan due to its religious, cultural and geographic links with Pakistan but its ruler did not listen to the people. There was a military skirmish soon after the partition that turned into a full scale war. The issue was taken to the United Nations which resolved to decide upon the issue through an independent plebiscite.

It is unfortunate that the same has not happened despite the passage of 70 years. This conflict has caused some four wars and multiple battles across the Line of Control.

Earlier this year, India violated the Pakistan airspace and dropped bombs on Pakistani territory. Now it has, without seeking consent of Kashmiri people, scraped an aricle of its constitution that gave a special status to the people of the valley. In spite of curfew and other restrictions on movement and communication, the people of the valley last Friday came out in droves and protested the Indian move.

This move offers the Pakistani people an opportunity to view this Independence Day from a different perspective, to reflect and introspect on where they stand and in what way they could have improved their lot, who is responsible for the stagnation in our development despite a promising start after a miraculous survival for the first few years, and how this could be set right. It also presents an opportunity to renew its approach towards this festering Kashmir issue. After all, there must be something wrong with the way our successive governments dealt with this situation or the conflict would have been resolved by now.

Seven decades is a long enough time in the life of a nation. There are many examples in our own region where countries with fewer resources at their command were able to climb the ladder much faster than us. They have a far better standing in the comity of nations, their populace leads a better life, and their streets are far more secure. An in- depth and thorough analysis of ‘what ails us?’ was never more expedient than it is now.