Amidst all the political chaos and social disintegration, the common Pakistani like you and I hardly found anything to cheer for this 14th August.
I remember last year’s Independence Day being celebrated jubilantly across the country. I myself was part of the 14 Acts for Pakistan initiative.
But this year, people’s hopes and dreams regarding patriotism and nationality seemed not only crushed but also non existent.
A few friends and I went around interviewing people as to why they thought the country was not rejoicing over Azaadi.
We received mixed responses.
An old man standing in front of a bank said, “It is impossible to live in this country anymore. I am 70 years old, I collected money to invest in the bank and live off the profits. But the 6% annual profit I get barely covers the expense of my transport to and from this bank. There is no life in Pakistan.”
A young man, in his late twenties commented, “My heart is dead. I celebrated last year’s independence day with the hope that things would get better. But after what has happened in the previous elections… all the rigging and the same old ‘jamhoori chors’ feeding on my country and it’s people… my heart is dead.”
After a few more comments much like the ones above, I was completely dejected, my own enthusiasm had ebbed away into nothingness. We decided to take a rickshaw and head home.
The rickshaw driver was a middle aged man, his face full of premature aging lines much like the average Pakistani man. Stress takes away happiness from a person’s eyes. But I noticed, this man’s eyes were twinkling with a faint glimmer behind his cello-taped square spectacles.
We passed by a stall of kids selling flags and badges and the rickshaw wala spoke over the disgruntled whrooms of the vehicle.
“Hamara Pakistan acha hai. Mulk acha hai. Log achay hain. Theek horaha hai ye sab. Koi hona chahiye jo hukoomat ko bata sakay ke awaam khush nai hai. Ye awaam jo apko vote deke power main lai hai, khush nai hai.”
I replied, “Lekin awaam to nai lai inko. Hamara vote to zaya hua.”
To which he said, “Koi baat nai, kuch saal lagenge lekin sab theek hojayega. Main parha likha nai hoon, inter pass hoon, isi liye rickshaw chalata hoon. Lekin mere dono behen bhai doctor hain. Mere bachay school jatay hain. Main mehnat mazdoori karta hoon takay unko achi taaleem doon aur vo Pakistan ke liye kuch karain.”
“Aap jaisay parhay likhay log hain is mulk main. Khushi hoti hai apko dekh ke. Imran Khan ke saath haina aap log bhi?”
To which I had no response. I couldn’t tell him no because I didn’t want to break his heart. My arguments seemed to hold little value when I compared them to his sentiments.
He went on and on about the county’s state. He seemed to know everything that was wrong. People throw trash on the road, break signals, people are corrupt, people have given up hope, there’s little emphasis on education, we criticize our own heroes and we don’t have tolerance as a nation. [At this point I wish he had a Twitter account]
After he dropped us to our destination, I realized a few things. For starters, Imran Khan had given people hope. He might not be competent to run a country looking at the current situation of KPK but he had given the common man an alternative.
Secondly, the people of Pakistan are not all ignorant.
And lastly, I got the answer to my question.
Why would I celebrate Jashn-e-Azadi this year?
For the countless labourers, the mazdoors, who despite of everything wrong, keep their chins up and keep working for this country.