It’s that time of the year again – 14th of August and many Pakistanis have once again turned delusional. For many living abroad, the day seems to be just another reason to entertain themselves through music or to party all night at Gerard Street. Or perhaps relay their happy independence day remarks to fellow Pakistanis with a prayer or two here and there. However, this year, even within the country itself the same extent of preparations were not seen. A country that has not been able to live up to its own name; the Islamic Republic of Pakistan more than half a century later, I am hoping that reality has finally started to hit the masses. We are by no means independent and we need to get real about this reality. Talking and boasting about the talent that the country possesses or the great amount of wealth that it has is just that: talking & boasting. As an individual who is just over two decades old, I can tell you that the extent of passion, confidence and trust one had in the long-term success of the country has tremendously diminished. Today, this applies to all facets of life within Pakistan ranging from the country’s leadership, politics, religious organizations, education, army and even sports.
“With the prevailing unrest, inflation, no electricity, water and fuel, we have no reason to celebrate the day,” said Sara Khan, a student. [Source]
Six notable incidents that display the lack of freedom and security that our country has – mind you, the number six is heavily undermining many other notable reasons – are the reasons why I will not lie to anyone and wish them a happy Independence Day this year. They don’t include our president’s trip to Europe during the flood crisis, or the release of Raymond Davis. Neither do they mention GEO Tv playing an Indian song to mark Pakistan’s freedom nor do they have any mention of the robberies & murders carried out as a daily part of life. But rather events and incidents that have really left a negative mark on the county since 14th of August 2010 till now. Events through which we have still not learned a lesson and in fact have become even more inhumane. Events that imply that we are heading no where, but down. Incidents that really make me question, what independence is everyone pretending to celebrate?
1. Sialkot Boys Tortured to Death
Just a few days after celebrating last year’s Independence Day, a mob located in the well known urban town of Sialkot showed the world what our independence meant to us. The reasons perhaps are still not clear as to what the crime of the two young boys aged 17 and 15 was. However, regardless of the reasons, anyone who had seen or even read a description of what had happened to them would not have been able to fathom it. In the holy month of Ramadhan:
Stations showing the video blurred out some of the more graphic images of the boys’ bloodied bodies, but several faces in the crowd are clearly identifiable, including several police officers in uniform who watched.
‘It is not the kind of incident any civilized society can afford,’ he said. ‘The whole of Pakistan wants the people involved to be punished. And we are getting demands from the nation that they should be hanged at the very place where they murdered the two brothers.’
2. Yawm-e-Shahadat-e-Ali (as) & Al Quds Day Blast
As sectarian violence grows day by day in Pakistan, it is now a sort of a custom to hear about a bomb blast or an attack on religious processions being carried out or mere target killings against specific sects. While still in the holy month of Ramadhan, a triple blast ripped through a procession in Lahore; responsibility for the attack was taken by the well known terrorist organization Lashkar-e-Jhangvi. Just a few days later, when one would have thought that a rally taken out against the unjust occupation of Palestine would have been able to bring together all sects – another attack took place.
A suicide attack on an Al-Quds day procession of the Imamia Student Organisation (ISO) at Meezan Chowk in Quetta on Friday killed 55 people and injured over 100 others.
The casualty figure is expected to rise due to the intensity of the explosion as around 2,500 people were present in the rally.
Al-Quds Day is an annual event on the last Friday of Ramadan, expressing solidarity with the Palestinian people and opposing Zionism as well as Israel’s control of Jerusalem.
3. Spot Fixing Allegations
It’s not just the politicians or many of the so-called religious associations guilty of corruption. Even Cricket was not spared in the months after Independence Day last year. Just when things had started to look somewhat decent for the Pakistani cricket team – considering the fact that they had continuously been hammered in many of the past series, amazing new talent was just about to go down the drain. Three key players, namely Salman Butt (the then captain), Mohammad Asif and Mohammad Amir were in the middle of spot-fixing allegations and are now currently suspended from playing for different terms.
According to a report in The News of the World, Majeed accepted £150,000 to arrange a fix involving Pakistan’s new-ball bowlers, Mohammad Amir and Mohammad Asif, whom he allegedly asked to bowl no-balls at specific moments of the match. The paper also alleges that the team captain, Salman Butt, and the wicketkeeper, Kamran Akmal, are involved, along with three other unnamed cricketers.
4. Pakistan’s Involvement in the Atrocities Against Bahrainis
We thought Saudi Arabia was bad? Our nation hasn’t been any less when it comes to aiding the Bahraini government with carrying out oppression against civilians. The oppression in Bahrain is continuing till today months onwards and knowing that our nation is and has been explicitly involved in the process is disgusting to say the least.
In March, as a government crackdown on pro-democracy protestors intensified in Bahrain, curious advertisements started appearing in Pakistani media.
“Urgent requirement – manpower for Bahrain National Guard,” said one.
“For service in Bahrain National Guard, the following categories of people with previous army and police experience are urgently needed,” said another, with “previous experience” and “urgent need” underscored.
The categories included: former army drill instructors, anti-riot instructors, retired military police, and former army cooks.
In the following two months, on the back of visits to Islamabad by senior Saudi and Bahraini officials, sources say at least 2,500 former servicemen were recruited by Bahrainis and brought to Manama, increasing the size of their national guard and riot police by as much as 50 per cent.
5. Osama bin Laden & the USA Destroy the Army’s Reputation
The reputation of the Pakistani army over the years – perhaps even decades – has totally been tarnished and this year of independence saw great new steps towards further deteriorating it. While our army was aloof to the presence of the world’s most wanted man living within an Abbottabad complex, the US army made themselves at home by landing right on top of the building and finishing the job that they had started almost a decade ago. I don’t believe there is much more to say on this topic, except that if this event doesn’t make us question our independence, then I’m not sure what will.
That American helicopters could fly into Pakistan, carrying a team to kill the world’s most wanted terrorist and then fly out undetected has produced a stunned silence from the military and its intelligence service that some interpret as embarrassment, even humiliation.
There is no doubt that the raid has provoked a crisis of confidence for what was long seen as the one institution that held together a nation dangerously beset by militancy and chronically weak civilian governments.
6. Rangers Gun Down Man and Leave Him to Die
Almost a year since last Independence Day, we have clearly learned nothing from the Sialkot incident. Once again, regardless of the reasons for what the man had done, getting shot by those who we are meant to trust and being left there to bleed to death is not something that boosts confidence amongst the people in the nation. It further makes us question the integrity of our so called independence and what it really entails.
Footage of the incident, filmed by an unidentified cameraman, was broadcast repeatedly on local television stations.
In it, a soldier can be seen dragging the man, then throwing him towards half a dozen armed comrades, one of whom then shot the 19-year-old twice at point-blank range as he begged for his life.