I consider myself very fortunate that I was back home on what is one of the most important days of the year for myself. A few months ago I was under the impression that I would be sitting on a rain drenched Island some 3000 miles away from home, and would be experiencing this moment as just another member of the diaspora. That day is the independence day of my beloved nation and Today is that day the 14th of August, 2012, Independence day in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, it is now 65 years since that midnight on the 14th of August in 1947 when Pakistan came into existence and the whole world witnessed the dream of Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Dr. Allama Iqbal and millions of Muslims of the Indian subcontinent coming to a reality.
For many of us Pakistani's, the birth of the nation came at a great price paid by ancestors when the Indian sub continent was partitioned by Great Britain. Hundreds of thousands of Muslims from through out the subcontinent left their homes and made the journey to the new promised land. Pakistan was to be the fruit of years of hard work and political struggle a sort of Utopian dream for millions. The barbaric violence and atrocities that followed the announcement of partition meant many could not make it to the promised land. There were also those that were sole survivors of the treacherous journey from their large house holds. A very large number of those migrants came from East Punjab, which saw itself get completely ethnically cleansed of Punjabi Muslims, while the Urdu speaking lot was a diverse bunch hailing from all over the Indian sub continent. The Urdu language became a natural choice as the national language of the new nation since apart from Islam, this language was the lingua franca for millions of Muslims in the sub continent from Khyber to the Bay of Bengal.
I remember my time abroad, between 2004 and 2010 I have spent many independence days living on foreign shores. As an undergraduate student in Australia, there was little air of the Pakistani spirit and patriotism owing to the small size of the diaspora, none the less Pakistani students from universities across New South Wales used to get together and try and organize a get together. Such was the size of the Pakistani student community there back in the day that it required pooling together of Pakistani students from across multiple universities to make up a sizable lot. Now that I am back in the land of the pure the feeling of being surrounded by the white and green on the streets of my home town Karachi over whelming and I find myself facing a scarcity of words with which to describe my feelings of being home.
Even now, every time the national anthem I get some what emotional, be it right here in Pakistan or be it some where overseas. Not long ago in the British capital, I was at a Shakespearean play organized by a Pakistani theater company in the Urdu Language. Prior to the start of the play, the on stage musicians also from Pakistan played the national anthem. It was a really nice gesture on part of the audience as a whole which included many non Pakistanis to stand up in respect for the national anthem of a nation that was not there. It was touching moment, and one I will cherish for many years.
Though I have always been a patriot, my patriotism and my commitment to Pakistan has been questioned by many people over the years. The reason most commonly thrown at me growing up was that I am culturally too distant from Pakistani culture, there is nothing culturally or socially Pakistani about me. Upon reaching adulthood, I was witness to Pakistan's religious transformation, which added a religious element to accusations of my lack of patriotism where I got accused of cultural and national insensitivity due to my values differing from predefined societal norms and conventions. The latest addition to that has been my political support, some have accused of me being unpatriotic because I am not a supporter of a cult like personality who is trying to make inroads into mainstream politics. Not for a moment, did I let that push me away from feeling the way I do about my beloved home land, if anything such narrow minded accusations have made me value my unique individuality far more, and value my home land and my identity as a Pakistani. Even now when as the plane was making its descent into Jinnah International Airport after a long 7 hour journey from London, it felt that there was patriotic music playing in my ears. It could have been my iPod but all I could hear was Amanat Ali's 'Aye Watan Pyare Watan' followed by the relatively lighter 'Dil Dil Pakistan' by Vital Signs. I know very well who I am and who I am not, I was, I am and I always will be loyal and patriotic.