<Music plays on television>
“Ay Rah e Haq k shaheedoWafa ki tasweero”
“Captain Ali Farooq has embraced shahadat today during a operation against a Terrorist militant group in Swat.”
The news reporter’s voice announces in a robotic tone.
I listen and grief overcomes me for a split second. And then my mobile beeps and my attention shifts. I don’t remember if I prayed for him or not.
Thousands of miles away, a 5 year old girl looking at the tv screen asks her mother with big innocent eyes, “Why is papa on tv”?
When her mother doesn’t say anything. She asks again, this time perplexed, “When is papa coming back home?”
The mother says nothing. She stares blankly.
“Mama? Mama, are you crying? Why are you crying? Are you sad?”
“I am not crying…..my dear. Why would I be sad? I am not sad. Your father has embraced Shahadat..……I…..” her voice breaks off. A silent tear rolled down her cheek.
The girl didn’t know what shahadat was. But she sensed it meant her father was not coming home again. She did not know whether to be happy or sad. Neither does mom, she thought to herself.
"Tmhe watan ki hawayen
salaam kehti hain"
It was a warm evening. A youth in his late teens sped down the road on his bike. He skillfully lifted the bike on one wheel. He glanced sideways to look at his friends who were riding next to him. He grinned proudly. And just like that, his bike ran into a car. In the next second, his body was lying on the road, in a pool of blood, lifeless.
When the news reached his home, his family was devastated. His mother stared into the distance for days as if the news had somehow sucked the life out of her.
Both young men died the same day. But in very different ways. One died protecting his homeland from enemies. He Became a Shaheed. A hero.
"Meray naghme tmharay liye hain"
The other died for the thrill of the moment. He was the eldest son of his family. A family who had lost their father last year. His mother had hoped he would become the man of the family. She couldn’t believe her son had left her like that in such a reckless manner.
Today on the evening of 14th August, the markets will be lit up. Flags will flutter with the wind, songs will be sung, shops will offer special Independence Day sale and will be swept clean by customers like hungry wolves. That’s just how patriotic we are. The love we display for our country is commendable but unfortunately it doesn’t run deeper than this. As a nation we are confused and lost, wandering about like aimless cattle.
True patriotism is knowing the reason Pakistan was created. It was created to provide a safe place for Muslims to live freely. It was created to protect the rights of minorities like Islam has commanded. It was created to show the world that Islam and the new age developments could flourish side by side. To create men and women who were educated yet humble, simple and free from shamelessness and audacity that plagues the west.
69 years after the bloody independence and here we are: still fighting each other. Muslims killing Muslims, brother killing sister for the sake of honor and people burning down churches in the name of a religion that condemns such acts.
A bomb goes off in the West. A terrorist group claims responsibility, claims to be followers of Islam doing Jihad by killing the infidels. And the rest of the Muslim Population watches on as mere spectators as a small number of mentally disturbed individuals distort the image of their religion. It is true that we are not the ones blowing up bombs but isn’t stopping evil kind of our responsibility too? The islamophobia that spreads across the globe is because of the silence of the rest of Muslim population that do no harm but secretly wonder in their homes whether the killing of infidels or perhaps innocents like this is a sin or an act of great reward.
We criticize the politicians, the system, and the government. It’s all their fault. But aren’t we the same. They haven’t done anything for the betterment of this country. But have we? What have we done for Pakistan? How does our existence benefit this land? All our life we think about ourselves, our education, our jobs, our life, our house, our families! Who will think about the family of the Muslim brother who barely has food to feed his family? Surely we can help them even if it is by doing the smallest things.
Today is another day. Another day of a purposeless life. A life dictated by my struggles to have more and more for myself. On 15th august, I will put away the national flag in my cupboard and once again go back to my life.
Does it even matter to us? The many thousands of soldiers who lay down their lives for this country. To make sure we are safe. Who orphan their own children to make sure you can go home safely to your son. The doctors who sacrifice their own social life, family time and leisure for the sake of saving a stranger’s life. The teachers, who work hard to educate, to civilize a generation that seems to be born with a love for disrespect and blatant insubordination.
There are so many things wrong around us, so many things wrong with us. Let us start bringing the change by changing ourselves. We are self-righteous, lack dedication for work, intolerant, uneducated folks who believe anything people tell them, who believe that love of religion should be expressed through violence and seldom look beyond personal gain and interest. Such is our condition. And we wonder why Pakistan isn’t moving forward. It is because of us!
Many years later, the daughter of Capt. Ali Farooq will be all grown up. She is a Doctor now. Her body is tired having seen so many patients that day but her spirit is alive. She recalls having spent all her childhood singing national songs and saying:
“One day, I will die for my Pakistan, just like my Papa.”
As she got older, she started saying,
“I will live for my Pakistan just like my Papa did.”
And there will be more like her.
No savior is going to come and save us all. Only thing we can do is change ourselves.
There are a million ways to die and the noblest of the deaths is dying after having lived for a noble cause.
Chalay jo ho gay shahadat ka jam pee kar
Rasool e pak ne bahon me le liya hoga
Ali (R.A) tmhari shuja’at pe jhomtay hon gay
Hussain (R.A.) pak ne irshad ye kiya hoga
Tmhe khuda ki razaain salam kehti hain