FREEDOM OF THOUGHT

Atif Hassan (atif.hassan@dacb.edu.pk)
Aug 17 - 23, 2009

Pakistan has turned sixty-two this year. An evaluation process has begun to assess its post-independence performance. An evaluation of Pakistan's performance in social, economic, and political terms leads to a much-repeated question: How independent are we really?

Geographic independence does not always indicate other types of independence, especially economic, geo-political and independence of thought. How independent we are in economic terms is obvious from the statements of various rulers who keep accusing their predecessors of accepting tough conditionalities of financial institutions, most significantly the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. In turn, their successors blame them for all the wrongdoings and the cycle goes on. Speaking of our geo-political freedom, it was totally compromised from the very beginning when Pakistan aligned itself with the United States during the Cold War. Finally, the collective impact of economic and geo-political dependencies has snatched the independence of thought from us.

We are a nation, which is tortured by its actions, being deprived of its state of independence. This nation is caged by their deeds and greed along with many other evils that are becoming common. When an American senator described the national greed for money, the whole nation was angry but did not correct their ways.

Pakistanis living abroad prefer living as second-rate citizens rather than coming back to their homeland. In foreign lands, be a little out of line and they too could be tagged as extremists. This has become a very complex affair and is further being complex by a blend of surprisingly awkward policies, most of which are dictated from outside.

It should be kept in mind that dependent nations cannot form independent institutions. We are considered the slaves of the West, IMF, World Bank, and the WTO and therefore, we are slaves to our so-called leaders who are slaves to their masters of the west. A great revolution like China and Iran is needed to grant independence of thought to this country.

Can a weak, dependent and divided country withstand massive external pressures? The economy is hitting all-time low. People are considering Pakistan as a virtually bankrupt country. We hardly managed to escape bankruptcy by knocking at the IMF door. The electricity shortage disaster has paralyzed our industry. We keep begging foreign donors and loan givers brazenly hailing them as "friends of Pakistan".

As we are heavily dependent on the foreign aids, our self-image as a great nation takes a deep dive when compared with the reality of our helpless existence as a poor and dependent country.

The fate of countries can ascend and descend just like those of individuals. But, we cannot allow ourselves to descend from elegance in our eyes as a nation just because our state is weathering a storm. No number of conspiracies can work against Pakistan if we as a nation show no tolerance for the conspirators amongst us.

The law and legislation of Pakistan is very simple these days. It consists of only a single sentence, "might is right" and this is well-accepted social principle.

What Pakistan appears today is not the dream that Iqbal articulated for a separate native soil for Muslims of India. The extremists waving their flags on government buildings and propagating a version of Islam that Iqbal resisted, while the peaceful activists are behind bars. It is time to reclaim Iqbal and save him from the clutches of forces that have been attempting to maintain the status quo. His vision starts from the self and then reaches for the society and the Universe. His philosophy was independence of thought along with the geographical independence.

It is our liability to step forward and help our country in its growth. But, the question is have we really ignored our liability towards our nation? Have we ignored those countless sacrifices of our ancestors to this nation? Sadly, the answer is a yes. What we are giving to this country is simply nothing. It is in fact because of the lack of loyalty amongst ourselves that we are so hesitant in helping our country to flourish. Patriotism does not just mean love to country but a responsibility that a citizen has to have. The Irish literary Critic, George Bernard Shaw quotes 'Patriotism is your conviction that this country is superior to all others because you were born in it'. Such an intense feeling of patriotism is what we are in desperate need of, and as soon as this feeling penetrates in our hearts, nothing would prevent our country from flourishing.

In these tough times may Allah help all Pakistanis and make us self sufficient in every sector especially in our patriotic thoughts so that we may not look towards west anymore and become independent. May Allah make Pakistan a true Islamic State. Ameeen.