It’s almost that time of year. The day Pakistan gained independence 67 years ago. The 14th of August. The day that reminds us that we are free. The day that we vaguely remember as the day our forefathers sacrificed everything so that we could live freely!

Today however, the meaning of freedom is very different than what was envisioned 67 years ago.

Today freedom is not synonymous with the right to decide our own future; it doesn’t mean freedom from oppression. We still don’t get to decide any of these things. Rather, freedom for many of us Pakistanis is – with all due respect – “fuzool bharam”.

To many of us, freedom is:

  • To park my car wherever I want to and buy mangoes. ‘But sir’, I ask. ‘What about the freedom of others to drive on the road?’ Bah! Who cares about others!
  • To get protocol at the airport because your mamu has an important friend. ‘But sir’, I ask once again. ‘What about rules and regulations for the protection of the public’s rights?’ Bah! Public? Who cares about the public?! I am free to do what I want.
  • To tell off a police-wala when he asks you to stop at a check point, just because you work as a small clerk at a semi-government organization and have a green number plate. ‘But sir’, I try one more time. ‘You aren’t the prime minister!’ Bah! So what?! My number plate and his are of the same color and I demand the same treatment!

At times freedom is also about “fuzool allegiances”. I.e. the freedom to:

  • To kill your brother, father and son just because you are not from my “qaum”.
  • To call you a kaafir because you don’t pray the way I do.

It is also about “fuzool money”.  I.e. the freedom to:

  • Have billions of rupees in your bank account but your gardener still earns a measly PKR 4,000 from which you deduct money when he kills your precious rose by mistake.
  • Dodge paying any taxes and then complain about the state of the infrastructure and compare it to that of America.

My dear Pakistani readers, this is what most of us are today, nothing but ‘fuzool’.

As a nation we have no dreams, no aspirations, no vision, no direction and above all, NO FREEDOM!

14th August is much more than a holiday or a parade. It symbolizes unity, discipline and faith; things we do not value anymore.

This 14th August I have just four words of advice for my fellow beloved countrymen and countrywomen who genuinely love their country and want to see it change for the better:

Please Change Yourselves First!!