Category Archives: Opinions

The Flag and the National Anthem

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Guest Post by
Majyd Aziz
(Ex President Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industry)

The two very uplifting assets in every citizen’s soul and heart are the Country’s Flag and the National Anthem. The Pakistan Flag, dark green in color, with a white vertical bar, a white crescent in the center, and a five-pointed star, and the National Anthem, words and music by the Jullandari-Chagla combo, instill a rousing sense of patriotism in the 170 million denizens. Every year on March 23 and August 14, the younger generation craves to hold and to wave the flag. One can see the gleam in their eyes when they do that. They truly show their love for the flag, even though they may not yet know what the Muslims of the sub-continent went thru so that today they can proudly raise and wave their very own flag.

The electronic media highlights the two days with nationalistic zeal and fervor. Special programs are telecast and the viewers obtain patriotic passion with national songs, with nostalgic interviews, and with lively musical extravaganza. The print media publishes informative supplements with advertisements galore and the usual motivational messages from national leaders. Of course, in cinema halls and at important functions, the National Anthem is regularly played and, at times, the green and white waved with gusto.

The flag is ever-present and symbolically and ritually raised up and down the poles outside the official buildings and at the Wagah border. The flag is still much desired by political aspirants who want it on their cars, so the world and the street policeman can distinguish between an ordinary citizen and an elected (or even unelected ‘advisor’) VIP. The flag is also evident on the table where billions of dollars worth of MOUs are signed and where the signatories clumsily get up in unison and exchange the documents.

After the fall of East Pakistan, political parties, whether nationally based, province-based, city-based, or even tonga-based, have had their own flag. The politico-religious parties too have their standards. The ethno-political organizations need a flag to identify them too. Student organizations proudly display their own brand of flags. It seems that flags now play a prominent role in this nation’s political opera. So much so, that when some parties come into power, their own flag takes precedence over the national flag. This is the heartrending tragedy.

Whenever the National Anthem is telecast on the electronic media, the viewers can see the marvelous and scintillating sights of Pakistan, whether historical buildings and monuments, picturesque mountains and rivers, hustle and bustle of towns and villages, wheels of industry in motion, scenes from farms and markets, or of course the cherished culture of the nation. The euphoric feeling one gets makes one proud to be a Pakistani.

However, the time has now come for some private TV channel to induce some soul-searching in politicians and those that profess to be national leaders. The time has now come for another video of the National Anthem, but instead of depicting the nation’s glories, this video should vividly and unabashedly present what is wrong in this country. The time has now come for showing the agonies and cries of rape victims and their families, closed factories and their workers out on the streets without a source of income, loadshedding and miserable citizens, stinking slums and rat-holes, mountains of garbage in the streets and lanes, proliferation of pollution and smoke-emitting vehicles, cops extorting bribes rather than managing traffic, policemen beating up protesting citizens and indiscriminately using tear-gas, tragic after-effects of suicide bombing, young students getting third-rate education in shanty edifices and broken down buildings, animals being blatantly misused and tortured, young lads with their throats slit due to the menace of kite-flying, the pathetic and resigned look on patients and their families at government hospitals, empty sports stadiums and arenas because the foreign teams are nervous about the law and order situation here, and for showing the economy in doldrums while the rich and famous display disgusting opulence and excessive waste.

This may sound distressing or disrespectful to many people. This may be construed as an unpatriotic act. This may be interpreted as portraying a sordid image of Pakistan ala Slumdog Millionaire. All right. Do not show it. Send CDs to people who matter, the powers that be. Maybe, just maybe, there is a touch of nationalistic sentiment in them. Then they might endeavor to improve the destiny of the people and the country rather than indulging in juvenile antics, demagoguery, corruption, and straight-faced chicanery. Maybe they might practice what they preach that it is always Pakistan First.

A day will also hopefully arrive (one such day was August 14, 2009) when the citizens of this motherland would stand together, united, and with eyes on the flag, their hand on their heart, and, like the Americans, declare with patriotic fervor, “I pledge allegiance to the flag of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, for which it stands, one nation under Almighty Allah, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.” This is one super way to make a great nation and a great people!

 

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This year on Pakistan’s Independence, mend some Broken Windows

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August 14, 2009: Pakistan turns 62, and the Blaagers (name given to Paki bloggers) celebrate by Going Green and Trending #Pakistan on the Twitter Trends (similar to when we trended #PakCricket and Twitter was a Sea of Green). And while I was among those involved in this effort and fully supporting it these past days, a strange void was felt inside. A nagging thought that maybe Going Green and making it to the Trending Topics were feel good measures; a sense of Patriotism that rises up at occasions like this and then conveniently is put in storage for the next appropriate Pakistan Pride moment. We owe it to Pakistan to move beyond just superficial lip service to the ideals of Jinnah and our founding fathers. We must do something to stall the downward spiral we see our beloved country in.

I just finished reading The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell recently and one particular discussion in the book stuck with me: The Broken Windows theory. This thesis put forward by James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling in 1982 and further discussed by Kelling in his book Fixing Broken Windows: Restoring Order and Reducing Crime in Our Communities gives us a great insight on the problems Pakistan faces right now. We have essentially become a community where there are too many Broken Windows.

So just what is this theory?

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it’s unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside.

Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.

Basically, the premise is that a Broken Window sends a negative signal and people start slowly treating the area around this Broken Window as rundown and derelict. The idea is that if you want to make a big change sometimes the best thing is to change seemingly trivial things. As these trivialities add up we reach a tipping point, and soon we know it the area is no more what it used to be.

Building Up Pakistan

So just what am I talking about? What windows are we breaking? Whether it is that 50 rupee note you slipped the policeman to avoid a ticket for talking on the cell while driving, or the fact that you just flaunted every traffic law that exists while driving an unregistered car without a driver’s licence. Or it is that empty Coke bottle you just threw from the car’s tinted windows.

Patriotism is not just about the paper flags you have decorated your street with, it is also about taking those flags down once the celebration is over. It is not about the huge flag on top of your house, it is also about removing that illegal and unislamic Kunda your house is running on. It is not about blaring National Anthems from your car stereo, it is about respecting the traffic laws as you do so. It is not just about being enraged at the disappearance of the Quaid’s photo from the President’s House, it is about living the ideals of the Quaid.

This year, on this Independence Day, let us resolve that we the Citizens of Pakistan will not shed our Patriotism when the clock strikes midnight. We will instead mend Broken Windows, clean up our mess, and implement the dreams and ideals on which Pakistan was founded on. And as pane after pane is fixed, we will Insha’Allah soon see Pakistan become Evergreen.

“It ain’t easy being Green” – Kermit The Frog

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Pakistan – No Longer A Living Monument Of The Quaid?

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Yeh Mera Pakistan Hai, Yeh Tera Pakistan Hai
Yeh Mera Pakistan Hai, Yeh Tera Pakistan Hai
Iss Par Dil Qurbaan Iss par Jaan Bhi Qurbaan Hai

Yeh Meray Quaid Ki Jeeti Jagti Tasweer Hai
Hazrat-e-Iqbal Ki Khwabon Ki Taabeer Hai
Yeh Watan Pyaara Watan Sarmaya-e-Iman Hai
Iss Par Dil Qurbaan Iss par Jaan Bhi Qurbaan Hai

The above is a popular Pakistani patriotic anthem (YouTube recording here) which could be (very poorly) translated as:

This is my Pakistan, this is your Pakistan
This is my Pakistan, this is your Pakistan
On it we are ready to sacrifice our hearts and lives

This Land is the living monument of my Quaid
The realization of the dreams of Iqbal
This Land, our Beloved Land is the investment of Faith
On it we are ready to sacrifice our hearts and lives

The First line of the Second Verse talks about Pakistan being the “Living Monument of my Quaid” (Quaid being an Urdu word for Leader) and refers to “Quaid-e-Azam” (The Great Leader) Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the Founder of Pakistan, is the man who was the face of the movement for an independent Pakistan. A statesman who dedicated his life to the cause of obtaining a separate homeland for the Muslims of the Indian Sub-continent, he is to Pakistan what George Washington was to United States (and more).

The photo of the Quaid is seen in every Government office as a mark of respect to our Founding Father. This has been the tradition since the independence of Pakistan and one that is deeply ingrained in our society. Unfortunately, it seems that the days of that respect is over. Far from being a “Living Monument of The Quaid” it seems that even a picture of the The Quaid is no longer deemed necessary.

The President of Pakistan, Asif Ali Zardari, hosted a dinner at the official residence in honor of the Pakistani Cricket Team for winning the Cricket Twenty 20 World Cup recently. The following photo (provided by Associated Press of Pakistan) was taken at the event.

Where Is The Quaid?

For those who are unable to see it properly in the picture above, the four photos in the background (from left to right) are as follows:

President Asif Ali Zardari (co-Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party)
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari (Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party)
Benazir Bhutto (Former Chairperson of Pakistan People’s Party)
Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto (Founding Chairman of Pakistan People’s Party)

What a deplorable state our nation is: The photo of our beloved Quaid has been replaced by the those of leaders of the ruling political party. I am sure The Quaid is turning over in his grave as I write: to be replaced by a Twenty Year old College Student or a person with the dubious nickname of Mr. 10 Percent. Has our nation fallen to this level? Have we taken the leaders of our political parties to be of importance above and beyond the Father of Our Nation? Why are there photos of PPP’s leaders in President’s house anyway? The right to be up there is not for any political party or dynasty but for the men who struggled to provide us this nation. It should not be Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto up there but Sir Allama Muhammad Iqbal. It should not be Benazir Bhutto up there but Madr-e-Millat Fatima Jinnah. Bilawal Bhutto Zardari should not be on the walls but rather Choudhary Rahmat Ali. It is indeed a sad day for Pakistan and its legacy.

The Entire Nation should protest against this travesty.

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