Guest Post by
(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!