72 Years ago today, through sheer tenacity, Pakistan willed itself into existence in an event known the world over as "Partition”, sending shockwaves that still reverberate until today.
I wish all Pakistanis a very happy independence day. Pakistanis made the right choice in electing Imran Khan to be their leader. The man is smart, well educated and well-traveled, and has no desire to rob the country blind.
Pakistan's ultimate challenge is reining in the pointless nationalism peddled by some powerful interests with a focus on somehow "liberating" or "conquering Kashmir. The Kashmiri people have never wanted to be a part of Pakistan, and never will. It would be a folly beyond comprehension for Pakistan to consider anything beyond diplomatic and rhetorical condemnation of India's decision to tear up its own constitution to satisfy Hindu extremists.
Pakistan has 210 million souls to feed, clothe, educate and provide a better life for. The ardent desire by Punjabi extremists and nationalists to drive the country into conflict, even if it is a low-grade terror campaign like those favored by Pervez Musharraf will be disastrous. Pakistan must accept that its bride Kashmir has given herself to another wooer. All Pakistan can and should do is demand is human and civil rights to be honored by India's supposedly secular government, though Mr. Modi has made it clear his immediate concern is the decimation of India's secular tradition.
Pakistan has the potential to be something more than a mere petty potentate with a penchant for cross-border violence and a strange fascination with poorly-brewed tea. The countries it feels beholden to Saudi Arabia, UAE, Qatar, and Kuwait are tiny in population and lack any level of intellectual sophistication beyond "Persians are bad, kababs are good". With 210 million people, should Pakistan's army realize that their unprofessional obsession with political power is the source of the country's lack of development, Pakistan can and will become the region's dominant power--Iran only has 70 million people.
But this will require a moral and ethical discipline wholly lacking in Pakistan's Punjabi overlords. The country must have new and intellectual leadership, and it must, repeat must, end its glowering obsession with india. Pakistan need not savor after Bollywood and Priyanka Chopra. It has plenty of talent, and Farsi is a far more colorful medium of expression, as is Arabic than Hindi anyway. Pakistan should look West towards its cultural ancestors, rather than longing for what Mr. Jinnah cast aside with Partition.
My hope for Pakistan remains that it will become a democracy, that its judges will cease to be corrupt and inept functionaries who hide behind the military: Mrs. Bhutto's killers must be found and tried. Terrorism must cease to be a trade worth pursuing. The bullying of Hindus, Christians and minorities must end. The caste system must be abolished. These are my hopes and prayers for Pakistan this Independence Day.
Pakistan is not my country, and it cannot ever be. But my grandparents sacrificed all they had to see it come to life. It is in their honor and memory alone that I pray for Pakistan to be more than it has chosen to be today, and that it finds peace with its neighbors and bretheren in India. Happy Pakistan Day.