On the 62nd Independence Day

PakindedayAs Pakistanis celebrated their 62nd independence day on August 14, the leaders made quite a few statements:

  • The Prime Minister declared that the terrorists and fundamentaists will be deafeated.
  • Mr. Nawaz Sharif asked the army to sever ties with Pervez Musharraf.
  • The army chief declared that the Pakistan army will defend Pakistani Azadi with Honor.

So here we are after 62 years of freedom: Our leaders still sound defensive and our national fabric seems to have been weakened over the years. Let us read these statements, for that is what I do read texts. First of all, out of the three statements, two are related to internal threats and one to an external threat. All these statments also represent the very ‘object of knaowldge’ that these three figures must adopt as their own in order to maintain their current status and its attendant priviliges.

The Army chief must, like always, point to an external threat, for that underwrites the massive spending on the Pakistani war-machine. Needless to say that when it really came down to ‘defending’ the Azadi, our illustrious army lost all three major conflicts (Four if you count Kargil). They have, however, successfully conquered their own nation four times. The General’s statement, therefore, is meant to remind the nation that there is an outside threat to the national independece and the army, therefore, is necessary to safeguard against this threat. This outside threat, mainly India, is now normalized in the textbooks, newspaper editorials, and other media. Needless to say that India does not need to do anything to harm  Pakistan: the Pakistani leaders and the army are already doing the job pretty well.

Mr. Sharif’s statement, as we all know, stems from a personal vendetta against Musharraf, but I find it very interesting. This is the first time a national leader has openly declared that there should be no more military takeovers.The issue then is to make the constitution supreme and make an example out of whosoever defies it. In this case, Mr. Sharif can kill two birds with one stone: empower the constitution and settle scores with Mr. Musharraf.

The Prime Minister, one of the very few honorable politicians in Pakistan, mentions the biggest threat that Pakistan faces: the fanatics who claim to know the mind of God and must teach it to others through violence and torture. How Mr. Gilani plans to ‘defeat’ them without a long-term plan is beyond me.

It seems Army is crucial to the successful implementation of all three declarations: Outside threats, prosecution of Musharraf, and defeating of terrorists. So, here is my question: Does anyone have anything positive to say on this 62nd birthday or have we practically wasted the last 62 years?

I Leave you with a poem by Faiz, sung by Iqbal Bano: ھم دیكہں گے

Masood Raja

Originally from Pakistan, Dr. Masood Ashraf Raja is an Associate Professor of Postcolonial Literature and Theory at the University of North Texas and the author of "The Religious Right and the Talibanization of America" (Palgrave, 2016).