Athar Osama August 14th, 2007
By: Athar Osama
Today is the Sixtieth Anniversary of the Independence of Pakistan. Today, sixty years ago, Pakistan came into being as a state established for the Muslims of the subcontinent to fashion their lives according the requirements of their own religion. Sixty years have gone by and Pakistan has a come a long way from a weak and fragile–almost by design–state that was declared a geographical absurdity to one that has not only survived but, in some ways, thrived as well. In other ways, though, Pakistan continues to struggle to define itself till this day. It is a state where power belongs to a small elite group of individuals and not to the people. It is state where it cannot be said with surety and conviction that the govern-ors govern with the consent of the governed. It is a state where extreme poverty still exists for as many as half of the country’s population and a country that continues to score among the lowest in the world on key indicators of human development whether it is education, health, mortality or economic and political freedom–alongside countries of sub-Saharan Africa.
While we should all be thankful to Allah Almighty for giving us this piece of land, that we can call our home, and its people, our people, we should also not leave any stone unturned to make this piece of land the envy of the world. We are far from that aspiration and there is a long way to go. In fact, some of us may argue that we aren’t even moving in the right direction. Ironically, Pakistan is a country that has not yet come to terms with some of the most important questions that must define a country’s march into the future:
- What is the purpose of its existence (e.g. Whether it was created as a state for the Muslims or an Islamic State?)
- What should be the system of governance that would be put into practice (e.g. Democracy or Dictatorship), and
- And how do we, Pakistanis, see Law and Constitution, whether the latter is a mere piece of paper to be followed, if convenient, and discarded, if necessary or defines “rules of the game” that must be adhered-to to bring order and stability to our lives.
No wonder then, that every now and then, we, Pakistanis, find our country at a crossroads. It is also no surprise then that on this–the 6oth Anniversary of Pakistan’s Independence–a lot of Pakistanis are asking themselves the same question. What was Pakistan created for and why does it exist? Understanding Pakistan has engaged with this debate before (here, here, and here) as we looked at the passage of the Objectives Resolution (here). We add two new perspectives to this debate in this Aza’adi Special Edition of Understanding Pakistan.