Guest Post by Maham Ali: Initially shared on Facebook
On August 14th, the Pakistani nation celebrated Pakistan’s 61st birthday. Just like any other Independence day, green and white flags were fluttering everywhere, young children- mercifully oblivious to the worst ever crisis Pakistan is going through-were seen running and waving the flags of Pakistan, shouting slogans and singing national songs.
As I sat watching the news about this young Pakistani woman, Dr Afia Siddiqui, who is one of the many people sold to the Americans by our very own Government (refer to page 237 of Pervez Musharraf’s book, ‘In the Line of Fire’), I wondered what Independence means to an individual and a nation.
Independence! To me, this word means freedom: freedom of speech, freedom to think freely, a safe place, free from the tyranny of dictators and corrupt politicians. The Declaration of Independence means that such a nation could form and be prosperous.
However, even after sixty one years, inspite of the sacrifices made by our great leaders to create an independent nation, I am forced to ask these questions: Are we truly independent? Do our leaders have a vision for our country? Are we heading in the right direction? How can we call ourselves independent when one of the main pillers of democracy, the judiciary is not free and fair?
In my twenty years long life, the last eight have spent under the rule of a military dictator who came with the sham mission of putting democracy on the tracks. How ludicrous! I often wonder why a lot of people consider dictatorship a system parallel to democracy. It is high time that we accept that democracy is not an option, it is a necessity. My question is, if a dictator or military rule is a system in its own right, why do the dictators hide behind the façade of democracy? Why did our dictator president had to create his own political party and sully his hands in a dirty game called politics.
Dictatorship in my view is a palliative. Since all powers rest with one person, its easy to create an illusion of peace and order; whereas democracy is inherently noisy and disorderly.
Let me explain this with an example. Suppose there are two teachers. One teacher only believes in giving lectures to the class and doesn’t allow any student to speak his mind or ask questions. Naturally, there would be silence in her class. Whereas another teacher in the same school holds interactive sessions with her students and the students are allowed to give their opinions and can have healthy arguments with each other. This class would have a certain level of noise and excitement.
I leave it to the reader to decide which teacher is promoting creative thinking and tolerance.
I have been supporting as a young Pakistani, the Movement for an independent judiciary for the past one year very strongly. During this period, I was asked by a lot of people why I consider the Chief Justice my role model. Some of my friends tried to discourage me by saying that the very judges who’s restoration I’m demanding may be lacking integrity and don’t exactly have impeccable professional records. My sole reason to put my trust in these judges is that in a world where everyone has a price tag, they chose to stand up and be counted (unlike the group of our ex-servicemen who decided to speak the truth only after having filled their coffers). Besides, its better to have your dreams broken than have no dreams at all.
As Albert Schweitzer said, “Civilisation can only receive when there shall come into being in a number of individuals a new tone of mind, independent of the prevalent one among the crowd, and in opposition to it- a tone of mind which will gradually win influence over the collective one, and in the end determine its character”.