From a Formerly Disillusioned Pakistani

The Sounds of Freedom by PSO

Today is the 75th independence day of Pakistan. This dear little country, so often dwarfed and swept under the rug with her neighbour India, has completed her 74th year as an independent state.

I find myself so often changing my opinions on this matter. Two days ago, when I was reminded that the independence day was near, I felt disinterested. What independence? Have you seen the state of the country? Have you seen the state of the people? Then yesterday, I saw a delivery man riding his bike proudly adorned with small flags of Pakistan on both its handles. And today, the 14th of August, I woke up to wishes of a happy independence day. I thought again, is the country happy? Are its people happy? Does this day deserve celebration? Why did the separation happen at all? Maybe it would’ve been better if it hadn’t. At least these two countries wouldn’t be ceaselessly bickering over every issue. So much blood could’ve been spared. Think of how bloody the events of the partition were…

Then it ocurred to me, would those people whose blood was spilled, want us to treat this day with such disdain? Would this day matter to them? Of course, it would. Why? Because they believed in the purpose behind the partition. They believed they deserved a land to practise Islam with freedom. They believed that they mattered.

So much of this has now been reduced to “What independence? Have you seen the state of the country? Have you seen the state of the people?” And perhaps, intentionally. We have come to believe our country, its purpose, its people don’t really matter much anymore. Where are we on the map? How many awards did we win in the Olympics? How does the world look at us?

Well, is that why we fought for independence anyway?

There are good people. And there are bad people. Neither of these define the country. What defines the country is its founding principle? Why did Iqbal voice his dream? What exactly was his dream? A land of Islam, by Islam, for Islam. Not even Muslims. Islam. Not a land of the people, by the people, for the people. A land where the word of Allah could be propagated and hailed with freedom. A land where people of Allah could worship Him and invite others to worship Him. Where the Azaan could soar high and proud.

So now, when I say, Happy Independence Day to my fellow Pakistanis, I say it with a proud, hopeful heart. Proud that we’re still standing. Hopeful that we will be able to restore our country to its intended glory. I don’t say it from a nationalistic perspective, I say it from a Muslim’s perspective.

This isn’t to say that all is well. This is to say that all can be well. If only we remember why we gained freedom in the first place… If only we remember it was Allah who made this happen the way it did… If only we remember to live in the present, to better the present, to create the present.

8 thoughts on “From a Formerly Disillusioned Pakistani

  1. I think we have to agree to differ on this Moniba. I could no more shout “Pakistan Zindabad!” than I could “India Zindabad!” or “Long live Australia!”.

    Nation-states are artifacts, not people. Their only function is to serve their people. To worship them for their own sake, to put them above the people they serve, to raise an artifact made by men above God’s Creations, that’s idolatry Moniba. People should not be ruled by their machines and seeing divine approval in such rule is delusion of the most dangerous kind, whether that divinity is God, Allah or a secular Utopia like those of Marx and Hitler.

    Yes, many have died for the ideal of their nation-states. For the coloured rags that flap on their flagpoles. And many have died for a different coloured rag in striving to destroy it. Using those deaths to justify further worship of the rags isn’t just the stupidity of the sunk cost fallacy that will lead more into death and suffering; it’s necromancy. Live for the living, not for the dead.

    I don’t pretend to know what it’s like to see your co-religious brothers and sisters persecuted by the Hindutva chauvinists ruling India right now. But surely you recognise that the ‘otherness’ of Pakistan is what’s empowered those people, just as the ‘otherness’ of India has raised fools and killers to power in Pakistan.

    There’s only One God, Moniba, and I don’t think the names you call Him/Her really matter. The truth of that God is beyond our words and beyond our thoughts. If we are touched by God it’s in the language of our hearts. And our hearts want us to be One too.

    Partition was a crippling wound to the people of both India and Pakistan and it still is. People who should have been joined are divided against each other and armed with nuclear weapons. Partition may yet be the death of all of you. Was that Iqbal’s dream?

    The subcontinent is a Holy Land. Perhaps that’s a curse. When people come to think the land is theirs by divine right there’s nothing they won’t do to each other.

    All land is God’s. All people are God’s. Borders are blasphemy.

  2. Hello. I expected your comment 🙂 and was happy to see it. I do agree, all land is God’s land. And when I say Pakistan Zindabad, I do not, even a bit, mean evil to any other nation.
    I did mention, I am not speaking from a nationalistic perspective. I would never raise the nation above the Creator. The nation exists by God’s will and must uphold it.
    I don’t care about the borders either. However, now that we have them, and now that the states do exist, I’m happy we have a relatively free space where Islam can prevail.
    Borders too have been created by Allah, no? As a way of identification. This isn’t to say anyone is superior than any other. Not at all.

    1. Borders too have been created by Allah, no? As a way of identification.

      I think that’s a very difficult theological and philosophical question.

      On the one hand, everything from the whirling of the cosmos to the flap of a butterfly’s wing is the will of God. On the other, without the possibility of free choice, both virtue and sin are meaningless. We’re nothing but puppets on strings and cannot be held responsible for anything we do. There’s no good or evil, just mechanism.

      So is the border the will of God or the folly of Mountbatten?
      If the border was the will of God, then what of the slaughter it entailed?
      Was that people choosing to kill each other or just more of God’s will?

      Are the separate identities ‘Pakistani’ and ‘Indian’ a dualism inherent in creation – like the separation of night and day or the lands from the waters – or is it a product of centuries of toxic British ‘divide and rule’ colonialism that poisons you to this day?

      In 1857 Hindus and Muslims joined to try to restore the Mughal to the throne and cast out those who’d turned them against each other. I’ve often wondered what the map would look like today had they succeeded. Could there ever have been another Akbar?

      1. I agree with you about the beginning part, yes. As I understand, Allah knows how it’s turning out, but we have free will and we choose our actions. Allah simply knows what will happen when we choose what we choose. And we definitely have the power to change our destinies. Through prayer and action. So it’s not like we’re just puppets. We do have control and must exercise it. And we must be held responsible for what we do.
        The line that was drawn was Radcliffe’s doing, if I remember correctly, and was an erroneous line. The bloodshed that happened was tragedy that cannot be justified. And these were human acts but perhaps a way of Allah’s plan. As Muslims, we believe more in the afterlife than this one, and any believer who dies for a good cause goes to heaven. So maybe those people were saved the trouble of this life, really.
        So in the end, nothing happens without Allah’s will, hence Pakistan’s creation was part of that will. It didn’t turn out how it should have, but we still hope it will, someday.
        And for the differences between ‘Indian’ and ‘Pakistani’… That one’s tough. I can easily tell you, married to an Indian, that we are completely same and completely different. This one is difficult to explain but we can both see how the environments of our upbringings have changed us.
        As for Akbar… I hope there isn’t another one.

    2. As you probably know, I don’t subscribe to the qualified dualism often (though not exclusively) promoted by the Abrahamic monotheisms. I don’t a ‘good’ and all powerful God that then necessitates a difficult explanation for all the evil and suffering in the world that is usually explained with a demi-urge like Shaitan/Iblīs or as divine punishment to a fallen human race.

      But if I did believe in that sort of thing I might be tempted to say that Modi Raj is indeed the will of God. A punishment for His squabbling children.

      (BTW, I think about you a lot Moniba, and wonder what you’re up to these days. Seems to me you don’t see your blog as a public diary of your life anymore – if you ever did – but if you feel like dropping me an email to let me know how things are with you I’d appreciate it. I’m especially curious as to how you went with your studies and whether you think your psychology degree contributes to your life – whether professional or personal, positively or negatively. Naturally I’m also very curious about where your faith has led you in recent years. I know we’ve both been moved to anger and frustration by the persecution followers of Islam are suffering the world over and would like to know if you’ve found a creative way to deal with that.)

      1. I wouldn’t reference Shaitan for all tje suffering.
        And hi there 🙂 You cross my kind often too. I was 110% sure I’d see you on this post 😀
        I ended up studying English literature, not psychology. With good reason and full choice. Psychology was my minor subject. Married and moved to Dubai. And am currently working here.
        I have actually turned to painting, as my creative release, and so I am more active on Instagram, which is why you don’t see me here much. I felt I had lost my ability to write and so turned to another medium. Slowly trying to regain the writing ability 😀
        How have you been?

      2. I trust you’re enjoying marriage and hope you’re enjoying Dubai. It strikes me as a sterile and artificial sort of place, especially compared to the subcontinent. Not that I’ve ever been there. I’m speaking purely from prejudice.

        If you could share some links to your art I’d be interested in checking it out.

        It’d be a shame for an English lit major to lose her ability to write though. I learned how easy it is to become completely deskilled in writing and speaking after I was depressed for nearly 10 years. One reason I started blogging was to try to get my skills back. I don’t blog so much anymore because I’ve got plenty of other writing to do these days.

        I’m kinda glad you didn’t devote too much to psychology. It was one of my majors and I’ve since come to learn how weak it is both as a discipline and as a healing art. I’m not saying all psychologists are useless, but I don’t think psychology contributes much to their abilities as healers. Compassion and rapport are what count. Without them psychology is probably more likely to harm than help.

        How have you been?

        My headspace is better than ever. I feel amazingly blessed that way. My body is increasingly a different story though. At least it helps keep me appreciative of each day as it comes and each minute spent with friends.

        I’ve been moving back into activism lately, so my anger, frustration and contrariness have a more constructive outlet again. The struggles I’ve taken up are pretty quixotic, so there’ll be no shortage of things to fight against for the foreseeable future.

        The line that was drawn was Radcliffe’s doing, if I remember correctly, and was an erroneous line.

        History isn’t my forte, but the impression I got was that Radcliffe did such a shocking job because Mountbatten’s idiotic timetable didn’t give him a chance to put in the sort of fieldwork he needed to do it properly. I’m not sure whether he was in such a rush due to political imperatives or if he just needed to get his wife out of the country and away from Nehru. And of course the still bleeding wound of Kashmir is down almost entirely to Mountbatten’s idiotic patronage of Hari Singh.

        And what’s your gripe with Akbar?
        He may not have been a good Muslim, but he was a great leader.

        I don’t know if you’re planning to visit India someday, but if you do try to spend some time in Fatehpur Sikri. Akbar kind of neglected the fact that cities need to have a water supply, but the ruins are eerily beautiful to this day. There’s something very special about that cool, marble mosque in the middle of those parched sandstone palaces and fortifications. I’ve never been taken by Mughal miniatures but they sure had an eye for architecture (and a tongue for cuisine).

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