On Pakistan’s Independence Day

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Let’s celebrate the oft repeated claims; of being world’s 6th largest country, 7th nuclear power, resilient, transient, innovative, and producers of best food on earth.

Or lets tell a story, also oft repeated, also true, and different.
The story of recent olympics. Where world’s 6th largest country doesn’t field world’s 6th largest team, doesn’t win 6th most medals. In fact doesn’t win any. Or of world’s 7th nuclear power, which doesn’t defend itself from the terror within it. Or the story of a resilient nation stuck in a never-ending energy crisis. Which doesn’t come out of it. Only people come out. And that too, insidiously.
Or lets do neither of the above. Neither a story of oft repeated sentimental claims. Nor silly questions and judgments. Because anyone can tell them and quote examples. Anyone can offer insights. It’s equally easy to claim unseen success, as it is to predict doom and gloom. And almost anyone can cry wolf.

Hence on Pakistan’s independence day, I will do neither of the above. I will just tell a third story, almost untold. At least not repeated much. A story devoid of any excuse, or plea, or a bargain. Because Pakistan, just like any other country in the world, doesn’t need an excuse, a plea or a bargain… This is the story of a village far away from Lahore, and of a town across the mountains in the north, and of a busy prosperous urban center, and of numerous places just like these, and of places very different from these. In all these places, all within Pakistan, as we read it, there are thousands of people sitting quietly in a corner of their homes, praying. And in these, very ordinary places, where nothing counts, a student with $5 a day wage in a small time tandoor, tops the country’s bsc examination, and a sportsman with no coaching whatsoever, becomes world best fast bowler, and a programmer with no extraordinary skills, develops a software that runs corporations.

These simple everyday stories, often ignored, happen everywhere in the world. And so they do in our country too. The prayers are said everywhere in the world. And so are they in Pakistan too. And as long as these simple ordinary stories exist in Pakistan, I will continue to have a simple, extra-ordinary hope for Pakistan.

Because in the end it’s precisely the brilliance of such stories, beyond anything else, that counts.

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