Stories and pictures of human suffering, killing and displacement of millions of people on newspapers; scenes of mass misery, towns and people submerged in water on TV screens are constantly reminding us that the worst disaster of the century is not over yet. Media is also informing that this massive flooding in Pakistan is even worse than Indian Ocean Tsunami (2004), Kashmir earthquake (2005) and Haiti earthquake (2010).
And I also conformed to this belief of media until the same media informed that how all the preparations of 14th August have been called off because of this worst disaster.
So it’s that time of the year again which is associated with celebrations all across the country, flag hoisting at every building and house, firecrackers in all the alleys, national songs being played on TV & radio and of course those same old debates that ‘what have we achieved in the last this many years!’
It is 14th August, our 63rd independence day. A grand day for every Pakistani, a day to cherish with full fervor but with half of the country submerged in water, it is hard and somewhat cruel to even imagine celebrating.
Hundreds of people dead, millions displaced, waterborne diseases, affected economy, bad governance, mismanagement, disappointing leaders; there is so much to mourn over that it’s actually hard to choose anyone.
One common thing among all these issues is the factor of distress, disappointment, distrust.
Politics has been termed a dirty business, our economy faces the threat of huge collapse, our society is in the depths of miseries, in short political, economic, social all corners of the country appear bleak.
We are moving ahead in this darkness aimlessly wishing that our hands may get hold of that switch which would turn on the light and eventually eat away the darkness.
And amidst this darkness, this Independence Day, 14th August 2010 appears like a symbol to me signalling the way to light.
Because on this 14th August I am being reminded of the hardships that millions of people faced during partition 1947. Partition resulted in as many as 1.5 million deaths and nearly nine million non-Muslims migrated from Pakistan and almost 7,900,000 Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan. These people fearlessly laid down their lives and millions of property in order to reach a destination of their dreams.
As Pakistanis we must remember, that the emergence of Pakistan is no ordinary event, it is one of the greatest events of the history and a victory well-earned by the brave people who dreamt of a free land and made this dream possible with their firm faith.
Though I cannot feel an inch of happiness that those people would have felt upon reaching the soil of their homeland, Pakistan but today this thought gives me a message of hopefulness that this is not the end of our lives.
So what if we are still moving aimlessly in darkness, the important thing is that we are moving, and we are not dead.
We should never forget that we are the same people who fought for our rights 63 years ago to achieve a destination in which we saw the fulfillment of our dreams of living an independent life. The only difference is that we don’t see such dynamic leadership in sight that can steer us onto the right path. But that should not be made an excuse to shove the responsibility off our shoulders.
The reason I am compelled to compare the situation of partition 1947 and this flood disaster 2010 is that when I look upon at these pictures of partition and then the pictures of flood victims, I see the same grief in their faces waiting for a sign of hope but never hopeless.
And if our ancestors can achieve independence with such unflinching faith and continuous hard work then why cannot we fight to strive and save our nation from disasters and diseases in our society, economy and politics?
So now whenever we are reminded that the horrific disasters are not over yet, we must prove to the disaster that this nation has endured more terrible tragedies and has the ability to counter adversity. We shall overcome this calamity too and we shall rise again as a successful nation if we hold on to – Unity, Faith and Discipline.
As is said by Alexandre Dumas:
“Life is a storm. You will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next. What makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes.”