What of unity? | Pakistan Today

What of unity?

We need to find a way out of this mess together

The zeal that takes over most Pakistanis during the first two weeks of August, quickly dies on the 15th of August. Some attribute it to the Independence Day of our arch enemy; the one from whom independence was gained. This hostility has remained for decades, but for the first time in a long time, the central theme of independence wasn’t a consensual hatred towards the other counterpart or the feeling of a miscalculated victory. This was different. Perhaps because for the first time people realised the magnitude of problems facing the country, and the slim chances of an upbeat economic revival in the next five years.

To say that the celebrations were marred, would be an over exaggeration of the mere reality, there is much division on understanding what the celebrations are for. Needless to say, celebrations persisted. Even with a divided ideology, and a fractured sense of nationalism, the Independence Day holiday is celebrated with the most revered social media posts and conviction that dies down with the celebration of arch nemesis’ freedom.

While some shy away from the fireworks and the traffic jams on the road for fear of days when all was gloom and there was little joy associated with booms and blasts, others try to understand what this brand of freedom means to them. Inclusion is a decisive tactic that somehow puts years of execution behind us and allows us to put a mask on the society which breeds on these differences. The mesh of it all somehow manages to find its way in the greens and white, and all manage to stand together as one, in one big celebration.

If all the rest of the days could be like this, perhaps we could be celebrating. Perhaps being around for longer, the norm could’ve reduced its significance. The ‘freedom of press’ has engendered an era where a large section of society are aware of the myriad problems facing the country, but unaware of the solutions that can be sought to solve these. Independence is a one-day celebration of what we’ve achieved, by the logic of which we need to work the rest of the year.

Now that we’ve realised that such and such problems exists, we have to move forward in understanding and finding plausible solutions to each of these. After 71 years of independence, taking one element at a time isn’t possible. The mesh of problems that exist in the country have to be unfortunately, dealt with at the same time. This appears to be a problem faced by most governments, however, in Pakistan when the narrative gets so quickly divided over what part of which religion falls under the paradigm of nationalism, starting from here would perhaps get us closer to understanding the depth of this unity we hold so dear, on one day of the year.

To say that the celebrations were marred, would be an over exaggeration of the mere reality, there is much division on understanding what the celebrations are for.

Our religion has been over stretched in terms of its functionality. Perhaps it is time we let it rest and find a bigger camp under which we can all gather and grow. This can be an ideological camp, predominantly driven by a set of ideals that can steer this half-drown ship towards a new and clear path. President Nixon was right in quoting that a new ideological shift is needed every 70 years. With this 14th August, Pakistan has completed its 71, and now requires a new shift for the next 70.

Removing religion will cause more confusion than it can remove, but building an all-inclusive narrative might be the way forward. While many gasp at the word ‘secularism’, that too by journalists who spew separatist agenda and instigate the classes against each other; this statement is aimed at creating an understanding that there can be more things we all hold in common, that we can resort to.

If the rhetoric for economic development is sold to the masses in terms of ‘job opportunities’, ‘better salaries’, and ‘higher standards of living’ will get more people aboard and allow them to stay focussed in helping the government achieve these parameters. At the moment, when people are waiting for effects of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to set in, promise of a better lifestyle will align the national narrative to be steered in the direction it is already taking.

This isn’t just restricted to economic activity but socio-economic wellbeing of a large section of society who might actually be set free of their worries this way. At the moment, people are deeply concerned about the economy and are fearful of what might happen if concrete steps aren’t taken to correct the amounting balance of payments deficit. In times of necessity, ideology can take a step back. And in this case, a religion-based ideology which always seems to steer away consensus, should.

It is time we all move forward in revitalizing our economy because only on the basis of this can we move forward as a single nation, together!

May we let Pakistani prosper, always!

Remshay Ahmed

Remshay Ahmed is a Lahore-based freelance journalist and a published author of Foreign Policy of Pakistan (2000-2016): A Game Theory Analysis. She can be reached at [email protected]