Patriotism Isn’t Flags And Parades. It Is All About Serving The Nation
As we celebrate our 75th Independence Day, I can’t help but think about how we define patriotism. “I love Pakistan” is a tagline bandied about, with Pakistani flags flying from rooftops, amid official parades and hooligans dancing on the streets to patriotic songs like ‘Dil Dil Pakistan’.
August 14 has sadly been reduced to just another public holiday. National pride is displayed through car stickers, television logos and online profile photos. Our patriotism flies out of the window when these decorative buntings and flags are left lying on the floor.
Patriotism isn’t sabre-rattling and chest thumping. Patriots do not need certification, and prove themselves through character and conduct. Patriots seek to honour our founding fathers and freedom fighters.
We all talk about responsibility, ownership, and change, but we need to back our words with actions. We only focus on problems instead of finding solutions. Pointing fingers of blame, and paying lip service, is a way of absolving oneself of responsibility.
Unfortunately, both the conservatives and liberals have hijacked the portrait of a true Pakistani and defaced it for their own ends. It is vital that we redefine patriotism through just one word: service.
Patriotic service, which can come in many forms and not just military, can be carried out through efforts to improve the lives of those around us. What will help the country get out of its current morass of problems is putting in the time and effort to make positive, tangible changes in our communities and societies.
Patriotism is giving back to the country as gratitude for the blessings and privileges that we have been lucky enough to receive. Propping the entire nation upon stilts of success requires collaboration and alliance. A community of selfless, devoted, and allied civilians, functioning for a prosperous Pakistan, is what patriotism ought to mean.
While celebrating this Independence Day, let us reflect if our patriotism is in line with the vision of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, who would have every reason to deplore us today. Our unity has become conformity, faith turned to extremism, and discipline crumbled before agitation.
Would Jinnah be in peace today, given safeguarding minorities was his priority and life’s work?
Would Jinnah not have condemned this violent and intolerant society where corruption, sectarian divisions, poor human rights, and dreadful plight of women, persist?
To understand the Quaid’s vision, think of a rainbow. For, no section of what constituted Pakistan was ignored in his first cabinet.
I still believe there are many who have some of the Quaid’s integrity and love for the motherland. Let us resurrect Mr Jinnah’s vision of a nation where religion, caste, or creed, in his words, “has nothing to do with the business of the state”.
What still makes me proud to be a Pakistani are the brave and resilient people who honour their nationality and take pride in the nation’s accomplishments; who acknowledge the nation’s shortcomings and consider themselves as responsible ambassadors of the country; who highlight the good in Pakistan but try to fix the issues within.
If reborn, I would choose to be a Pakistani again. From natural disasters to pandemics to fighting terrorism, my nation has bounced back and stood back up on its feet.
Pakistan is definitely not a failed state as projected by our hostile eastern neighbour, and certain western media channels, but a vibrant one with tremendous untapped potential. God willing, there is no power on earth that can undo Pakistan.