VThe past two days have been depressing, both here and around the country. The air is beset with despondency, frustration, uncertainty and doubt. With information sources in disarray, no one knows what to believe, who to trust, what to think. It was to be expected and I will not lie; my mind too has been overwhelmed with confusion. For that is exactly how the oppressors want us to think. They want us to sink ever deeper into cynicism, apathy and self-doubt. They want us to turn away while the country bleeds, to lie listless while the fire consumes the heart and soul of this abused nation.
It is in this frustration, in this dejection, that we must find our strength. The strength to stand up and reclaim this nation from those who have purged it of all that was whole and good. For, my friends, I fear we may not have another chance; this country may not have another chance.
For decades, generations have stood by as this nation was exploited, subverted, pillaged by its own leaders; Leaders who told us to sit quietly while they bled the very soil of this land. We yearned for justice, for peace, for development, for honesty and accountability, but received little. Over the years, many of us lost faith in our own identity – we were no longer ‘proud of being Pakistani’. Skepticism and cynicism became inherent Pakistani traits. Our culture, our traditions, we slowly lost touch with. Successive 14th August’s passed without a whimper; Pakistan, we felt, no longer belonged to any of us.
Today, at the most critical juncture that this country has seen in its turbulent history for decades, we have an opportunity – maybe our last – to change all of that. Today, we have the chance to salvage our country’s future, to save it from destruction, to save it from the very apathy that threatens to devour it whole.
Why are we protesting, people ask me? To usher in another corrupt politician? To open the doors for another dynastic arrangement that exploits whatever’s left of this tattered nation? What are we fighting for?
To them, I extend one simple answer; we are fighting for Pakistan.
We are fighting because soon, there might not be anything left to quarrel over. We are fighting for the country’s future, a future where people are socially and politically conscious, where injustice is not complacently tolerated, where the masses are empowered and equal. Where the most destitute denizens of society can seek the same justice as its rulers. Where corrupt politicians do not dare steal from the nations coffers. We are fighting for institutions that can ensure this, for institutions that prevent the abuse of despotic and political power, institutions that protect our rights. And unless that is ensured, none of Pakistan’s myriad of problems will be solved, however much our Messianic General wishes us to think so. And yes, make no mistake about it; we are fighting savage, unrestrained oppression.
Yes, the fight will be long and hard. Along the way, it will be beset with disappointment, with frustration and restlessness.
But, for once, I want being Pakistani to mean more for me than cheering a cricket match victory, or mindlessly waving a green flag on the 14th of August. I want to ‘be’ this country, to feel one with it, to be proud of it in all respects, to heal the wounds that decades of turmoil have wrought upon its crumbling visage. And, in these darkest of times, I pledge, as Allah is my witness, to do my utmost to make that happen.
And no, this fight does not end with the end of the emergency. This fight continues until we can truly claim to have made a difference. Until we have purged this country of all the anathemas that threaten its survival; from military rule, to corruption, to inequality, to intolerance, to terrorism, to socio-political apathy.
I am making a humble plea now, to anyone listening or reading, my colleagues at LUMS, students, teachers, parents, Pakistanis. Please join us. Please wake up and save this country. It is not the responsibility of one individual; all of us have a part to play. If we let this one opportunity slip us by, history and more importantly, God, may not ever absolve us. We must act with the faith that courses through our veins, with conviction in our beliefs and in the values that we are fighting for. And we must move quickly, for our nation cannot sustain much more. Collectively and Substantively, we must speak out and come out.
In Complete Unity.
May Allah bless us all.