August is the month of celebration for Pakistanis, no matter where in the world they are. August 14 marks the anniversary of the struggle, and the colossal human and material cost paid for winning freedom for the Muslims of the subcontinent. Now, 73 years later, we need more than ever to understand that freedom comes with responsibility – responsibility to use every resource available to us for the progress and development of our country, to keep our identity distinct in the age of globalization, and also that of playing our role in ensuring the same for all the people of the world who are denied this right.
Women are at the forefront of Pakistan’s journey towards its destiny of achieving greatness. Not only are they a great pool of human potential that needs to be utilized to its fullest for the economic growth of the country, they also hold in their hands the tools to forge the path for future generations to feel pride in their national identity. In today’s world, due to increased cross-cultural interactions, one gets exposed to a multitude of values and ideas. In this context, one needs to have strong connection to their roots to stay true to their national identity. This is not to say that we should stagnate, we should be open to everything and look at the strengths and weaknesses of extrinsic ideas; evolution of our national identity should occur by looking inward and adopting only what meshes with our unique cultural context, without changing the essence of who we are. Women have to spearhead this evolution by being aware of our identity, and then evolving and passing it on to the next generation.
While we are celebrating our freedom, our hearts bleed for the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) who have not been allowed to breathe free, and whose identity has been under threat for over seven decades. Their circumstances have worsened since August 5, 2019, after India’s illegal action of unashamedly abrogating Article 370 and 35A of its constitution through a Presidential Order (later ratified by its parliament), thus stripping IIOJK of its special status and nominal autonomy, and enacting the J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019. As if adding insult to injury, demographic apartheid was further entrenched by enforcement of the J&K Reorganisation Order with immediate effect on April 1, 2020, under the mandate provided by Section 96 of J&K Reorganisation Act, 2019. It disempowers the state legislature from ascertaining ‘permanent residents’ and their right to employment, as was provided under Article 35A of the Indian constitution. This, coupled with the military siege and inhumane lockdown of the region since August 5, 2019, is the worst case of cruelty, and violation of basic human rights and International Law; it goes against all the values that we, as global community, hold sacred. Kashmir looks towards the world to carry out its responsibility of helping a brutalised and oppressed nation win their freedom just like the rest of us. India should be held accountable for its excesses without considering the geo-political and strategic implications. The hapless women and children of Kashmir need the world to stand up for them.
August 14, is the commemoration of our resolve to work towards making Pakistan a developed and prosperous state that is source of pride for all its citizens. Women in all their capacities should work towards this goal. In particular, as their role in raising the future generation, they should inculcate the values that would make for Pakistan to stand tall in the community of nations, because the act of a single individual can define how the world looks at us.
Wish you all a very Happy Independence Day. May Pakistan forever prosper! HH
Read 282 times