What kind of a Pakistan do you really want?
There was a time when one could see wall chalkings of the Ahaliyaan-e-Karachi every single day. But since the last few days, one can now see huge billboards all over the city by them, asking us about the kind of Pakistan we want, the Taliban’s Pakistan or Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan? I have been wondering for some time now about who these new Ahaliyaan are. The Ahaliyaans themselves have removed the veil of the Ahaliyaans covering them and are now announcing a referendum in the country. We were first introduced to the referendum when one dictator used it to give himself permanency as the head of state. The next time, it was another dictator who used the referendum to tell the public that it supported him and was strongly supported by our Khan Sahab who later withdrew his support from the dictator when he didn’t receive much in return of his supportive gesture and instead joined the dictator’s many opponents.
Soon, another referendum is due to take place. What you must do in this particular referendum is to choose either one of the two options: Quaid-e-Azam’s Pakistan or Taliban’s Pakistan? Let’s see what decision the public arrives at through the referendum. But I don’t need anything else. All I need is my Pakistan. I have been fooled with numerous names such as Quaid-e-Azam, religion and ethnicity. If you can bring it back to me, then please bring back my Pakistan to me.
I want a Pakistan where peace reigns supreme. A Pakistan where children can play in the streets to their hearts’ content and their parents need not fear that their children will be kidnapped. The streets are not blocked with barriers; neither are there impediments on ever step. When the husbands and brothers leave for work, their mothers, daughters, sisters and wives will not worry about whether or not they will even return.
I want a Pakistan where while walking on footpaths, in the streets, neighbours, in packed markets and even while waiting at traffic signals, one is not scared of being robbed at gunpoint in broad daylight. The people are not divided up into neighbourhoods and areas and there are no divisions on the basis of religion and ethnicity. Everyone would respect each other’s viewpoints; where one becomes respectful by hiding their head behind a beard and a topi. I want a Pakistan where hard-earned money is valued and whether it is a labourer or a street vendor, he returns home safe and sound with his hard-earned money.
I want a Pakistan where such a thing as the law also exists and it is not only followed and respected by the people but especially by those who make these laws and implement them. The police wouldn’t be just present to protect the rulers and their disciples but the people of this country would also be their responsibility. The representatives of the masses would be answerable to the masses instead of being answerable to the country’s real rulers.
I want my Pakistan to be completely free and pure of the malaise of weapons. Those weapons that can be found in every child’s hands be replaced with books that have been snatched from them. Schools, colleges and universities would be limited to teaching and learning entirely, not for those armed goons who rule the educational institutions entirely on the basis of their armed power and the spreading of their ideologies.
I want my Pakistan where education is everyone’s right. Where there is no quota system and admissions and jobs only take place entirely on the basis of merit. I want a Pakistan where instead of fighting over power, everyone remembers their respective duties that come with being in power. And the authorities are uniting everything instead of dividing it up. I want everything united. I want everything united with each other, just like it was in the past.
I want a Pakistan where healthcare is the responsibility of the government. The poor and rich alike can obtain treatment from the same hospital. Not like it is today, where the doctor who cannot be found in state hospitals by the poor will be found in the evening at a private hospital. Just like in education, healthcare has also developed divisions; either the poor can die a painful death or take hefty loans to save themselves. And medicines wouldn’t be like the stars that only the rich can take from their perch in the night sky.
I want a Pakistan where there are open fields, wide roads lined with trees. Nowadays, if there is an empty plot of land somewhere, a building ends up being constructed there. There would be something known as the footpath where the pedestrians could walk too.
Every individual would be responsible for whichever religion or creed he or she belongs to and others would not be responsible for it. Everyone would live according to their respective creed. No one should perceive any danger to their existence because of another person’s beliefs. I want a Pakistan where everyone is allowed to have dissenting opinions. When someone disagrees with your opinion, they wouldn’t be called names like kafir, traitor or enemy of the country and have to flee for their lives.
Where woman would also have equal rights; she would have the right to walk with her head held high beside a man. She would have the right to understand, hold her own opinion and express her likes and dislikes. Instead of being ushered into rallies and protests as if she were a sheep, she would possess the right to come and go as she wishes, according to her own beliefs. She would have the right to be able to excel in not just certain occupations, but in all occupations on the basis of her capabilities.
Gas, water, electricity and other such utilities would be equally provided for all people. Instead of how it is now, where utilities are being used by one person and being paid for by another.
The ones whose job is to protect our borders remain at the borders instead of planting themselves in cities. The judges would only provide justice and not bother with other people’s work.
I want a Pakistan where literature, art and music would be given preference. I want a Pakistan that reads and writes and has libraries in abundance, where everyone thinks and has the inclination for research.
Why must the rich only enjoy theater, music and art? I want a Pakistan where various modes of entertainment are available for the masses.
Most importantly, I want a Pakistan where when someone asks me for my opinion, it is not with threats.
But this is just what I want.
The elections are right around the corner. It will soon be clear what kind of Pakistan the public actually wants.
The author has dabbled in every form of the visual arts. An activist to the core, Abro’s work deals with social themes and issues ranging from human rights to dictatorial regimes. He is currently working for DAWN as an illustrator.