[Originally published in The Nation]
Dear Young Pakistani!
I understand how these times are testing of your patriotism, but let me tell you how these times are actually a golden opportunity for you to prove your worth, your love for the country, and desire for a better future.
You must have been hearing a lot about how Pakistani society has degenerated into moral chaos, how we as a nation are worthless ‘cockroaches’, and how we as a nation are deserving of calamities such as the catastrophic flood. These are all baseless generalizations that you as the youth should take up as challenges, and rather than accepting such fatalism, prove them wrong instead.
For those of you who were disheartened by the beating to death of two brothers in Sialkot by a mob, don’t be disheartened. Use this event to realize the importance of justice, the importance of rule of law. Many of you went out on the roads of different cities of Pakistan demanding justice to the deceased brothers. Excellent. Be involved. Stand up and question any wrong that you see happening around you. Refuse to consent to injustice; otherwise you are one of the spectators of the mob-justice scene in Sialkot.
Many young hearts felt for the Ahmeddi community when they were attacked while praying earlier this year. More hearts clenched upon hearing of mistreatment of the corpse of a patriotic non-Muslim young man. Many of you are still haunted by the killings of Christians in Gojra last year. Take these opportunities to promise yourself to protect, respect, and treat equally all humans, and all Pakistani citizens, regardless of their personal beliefs, faith, or way of life.
In his speech at the Dhaka University in 1948, Jinnah said: “Freedom which we have achieved does not mean licence. It does not mean that you can behave as you please and do what you like irrespective of the interest of other people or of the state. A great responsibility rests on you and now more than ever, it is necessary for us to work as a united, disciplined nation. What is required of us all is a constructive spirit and not a militant spirit. It is far more difficult to construct than to have a militant spirit. It is easier to go to jail or fight for freedom than to run a government. Thwarted in their desire to prevent the establishment of Pakistan, our enemies turned their attention to finding ways to weaken and destroy us but they have been disappointed. Not only has Pakistan survived the shock of the upheaval but it has emerged stronger and better equipped than ever.”
For those of you who are disappointed in some in the Pakistani cricket team. Don’t be disappointed. Make a promise to yourself not to be involved in bribery, in fixing, in betting. If you play cricket, take this opportunity to prove yourself as an honest and dedicated sportsman. Play the game according to the rules, and be the pride of the nation. You should also realize that the Pakistani cricket team hasn’t gone wrong; just a few individuals that are part of it might have.
Many of you have given up hope in the Government of Pakistan after hearing of corruption charges and inadequate response to help flood survivors. Don’t give up hope. The Government runs on the taxes each one of you pay in one way or the other. Demand better performance of the Government. Aspire to join the civil services. Aspire to become a politician. If you will not take a stand, if you will not work to remedy wrongs, then nobody will. Feel the thrill of being the first to oppose dishonesty, corruption, and indiscipline. Call up the civil authorities when you see street lights on during the day. Request shop owners to use minimal electricity. Ask those over taking you in queues to respect everyone’s patience. Nobody can or should go against you when you stand for what is right.
Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah in a message to the All Pakistan Educational Conference in Karachi on November 27, 1947, said: “What we have to do is to mobilise our people and build up the character of our future generation. In short, this means the highest sense of honour, integrity, selfless service to the nation and sense of responsibility, and we have to see that our people are fully qualified and equipped to play their part in the various branches of economic life in a manner which will do honour to Pakistan.”
Avoid talking negative of others. Instead, spread positive energy; something that will multiply to benefit everyone.
Don’t believe everything you hear until you’re sure. Don’t get bogged down by the media’s portrayal of your country. Everything is what you make of it. Be objective in your observation. Consider yourself lucky to have a media that informs you of unfortunate incidents. Be glad that you have a judiciary that takes a stand against injustice.
You have to realize that issues amongst people arise in all corners of the world, not just Pakistan. There are bad people in every country, not just in Pakistan. Therefore, you need to be smart and treat these issues as human issues, not national. But on a national level, you must push for policies that regulate all individuals better, for the benefit of each citizen of Pakistan.
Finally, as a Pakistani, always remember three core values: unity, faith, and discipline.