Medicine has its limitations. If the cancer spreads beyond a certain limit, doctors unfurl a white flag. Science is an ardent disbeliever in miracles, yet it cannot challenge the dexterity inherent to will power. Against all odds, if still there is a fierce avidity to live you can rate one thing for sure: the game isn’t over yet.
No points for guessing who holds synonymy with this case on state level. Failed state on free fall, no hope, white flags are things attributed to us for quite some time now-rather decades to be precise. Yet here we are today, on the 64th anniversary of our birth. Every year we are declared on the brink of collapse and every time we bail out more time. So while we don’t have much happy news to cheer about on 14th of August, we deserve a pat for surviving one more year and standing on the 64th stair. And this by no means is sarcasm. No nation has seen or suffered as much as we did; the circumstances in which life comes to stand still or nations collapse all together. Yet, despite all infelicities we didn’t embrace a dead end. The brink yet waits to be crossed, for no matter how bad things are-we are obstinate survivors.
Paradoxically, we also have the same adamant fervor when it comes to staying in mess, or dipping in our feet a few more inches down. It hints a dilemma of being cut in an ardor to live-yet not knowing how to live.
My earliest memories regarding this day is seeing too much green and hearing patriotic songs on television; the same ones every year and those very same ones even the next year and so on. Same I can say about the president’s speech; different face, same words. The significance of this day is not to look back, learn from our malfeasances, and see through our errors and to think out solid routes for steering the ship back to track. It’s just a formality-a green one.
This year is no exception to these traditional national rituals. We gather for celebrating the country we attained with the objective of protecting our interests, for cherishing the fruits of independence. Yet, here after sixty four years we have a part handcuffed in the same chains of deprivation and fighting for identity. Yes, there is a province called Balochistan. A classic example of the fact that we don’t learn from past mistakes and that fate punishes you for doing that-quite severely. History is just re-telecasting the 1971 episode.
Now before I speak about the unequal administrative and economic incidents that have led to this bitter tug I do acknowledge one vital baseline. The tribal system in Balochistan was not any easy barrier to surpass while carrying out the welfare ventures. As much as the biasness on the successive governments’ part is true, some albatross also falls on the tribal infatuation to monopoly power. Despite all this, we should have foreseen what’s coming, especially after the acerbic dose of East Pakistan separation. We took the issue casually, underestimated the consequences, failed to do more and here we are now.
Now coming to the more lugubrious note of this tale, what can’t be denied is the insouciance that Balochis have suffered under our shade since ages. It’s not a conflict that was born overnight, rather the roots of this transgression stain decades. What more can elucidate this than the fact that Balochistan was not even given the status of province as long as 1970? One would have thought things got better after this but the tides took an even uglier turn. The discovery of the biggest gas reservoirs in 1953 should have changed the fate of Balochis in terms of prosperity and economic activity. What happened was more than just contrary. Household and commercial gas was supplied to Punjab from Sui as far back as 1964 but Quetta was connected to gas in 1986. Today, even the remotest areas in Punjab and Sindh enjoy fuel supply, but out of Balochistan’s 26 districts only 4 are supplied gas. The poverty and illiteracy rate is also highest in this region. After this state of affairs, what is happening isn’t something that should raise eye brows in surprise. While many may try to wipe the ugly scars by attributing it to separatists or foreign hand, the thing is they are also not born from empty spaces. If loopholes are provided, someone is bound to pound upon them. Things may be slipping out of hand, but if we resolve to incentives and reforms instead of force and coercion then worse can be saved.
Today is a new beginning, what is direly needed is to address this issue in forefront of the outline of our new chapter. If not done, painting everything green won’t solve our problems even by a long shot.
Seemingly, the crucial issues at national level are usually not enough for us. We take even a step forward and meddle in international affairs only to land from the frying pan into the fire. Every year there are those promises of progress and welfare. But issues like our foreign policy, that have yielded nothing but consistent trouble for us are not revisited-even after 64 years. We suffered from our foreign policy of alliance in past, all we did was to repeat the same blunder in 2001 in Afghan war. Instead of trying to hold our fragile pieces intact, we ventured out to play proxy wars with big buddies. Now with nothing but terrorists and extremist plunderers in our hand in return, we have more in mouth than we can chew. And again, today marks a new chapter. Serious in-depth re-examination of such affairs will do better justice to the partition sacrifices than a few television programs dedicated to 14th August.
The last year devastating floods during monsoon spell of July are also an example in this case. According to Pakistani government data, the floods directly affected 20 million people, mostly by destruction of property, livelihood and infrastructure, with a death toll close to 2,000. So after a year, again we are at the mercy of monsoon rain, hoping that this time the sky will be a bit kinder. Careful planning of combating future catastrophes by dams and water channeling networks is something we forgot to decide on last 14th August.
The house of cards hasn’t crumbled to ground yet. Despite all this mess that has landed us in a quagmire right now, we are a nation born to live. Our lives are eclipsed with violence, daily blasts, political and social turbulence. Still, owing to our abnormal immunity life goes on. Streets are not deserted, markets are still in constant hustle-bustle, and we as students still eat in the same cafes blown to bits previously. We have learned to live in hard times and it is this very resilience that proves our unmatchable fortitude. It serves as a token to hope and faith. All that waits is to direct this energy in the right direction and remove the obstacles that cloud our path. Today is no ordinary day. We are embarking a new journey. A better future is only possible if the priorities at the start of the day are sorted out right. Let’s hope today is not just about waving flags.