14 Things to Be Grateful for on this 14th August
As the spirit of freedom wafts in the air this month, azaadi kiosks, musical odes to the Partition, green and white flags, surprise sales on your favorite lawn collections and your torrent downloads being full of Ali Azmat’s national-songesque hits have returned.
And this year, it’s no ordinary Independence Day. It’s our country’s 71st birthday!
Despite the drastic political shift that has taken our nation by storm this summer, with the Panama case riling up PML-N supporters and amusing the PTI-ers, or the usual substandard state of things around the country, this month and the patriotism it oozes still prevails, unaffectedly victorious. What with the naya Pakistan sentiment swimming in our minds as the next PM prepares to mount the horse, the country is buzzing with anticipation. Though many Pakistanis right now are busy mourning the disqualification of Nawaz from premiership, or if you’re a goner for the Naya Pakistan philosophy, haranguing the harassment allegations against Khan Sahib, this nation needs to realise that the true essence of Pakistan doesn’t lie in their political loyalties or preferences, but in our culture, our land and our history.
We are compelled to think of all the things in this wonderful sohni dharti that we are indebted to, that we adore, and that we couldn’t imagine life without. All the way from our tantalising foods to the surreal natural beauty we’ve been generously gifted with, our intricate culture to our advancements in the millennial world, Pakistan is one country that continues to show resilience and be a home to us amidst the political and diplomatic clutter it is struggling with.
As young Pakistanis, our views on our country have become tainted with negativity, ingratitude and scorn from all the hubbub we hear from our disdainful elders. This is our time to reclaim our patriotism and be the citizens this country deserves through everything we make it suffer; after all, the youth is the future and hope for Pakistan.
So here are 14 things both you and I should be grateful for on this 14th August:
1. The food. One plate of Pakistani food can soften even the stoniest of hearts. Be it spice or sweet, biryani or falooda, we win at conjuring food that not only rewardingly feed our famously pudgy and food-loving stomachs, but have been internationally applauded multiple times. All hail the street food too. I couldn’t imagine surviving the day without a samosa or a plate of chaat.
2. The music. I won’t lie; Bollywood may beat us at the dance items, but it would be blasphemous to say that Pakistani musicians don’t have the most sweetest and versatile of voices. Look up Atif Aslam, Shafqat Amanat, Meesha Shafi, Ali Zafar, Rahat Fateh and the current national sweetheart, Momina Mustehsan, and the list is endless! Our composers are no less; the mellifluous tunes we hum along to on the radio can’t be borne from anywhere else. So, it’s safe to say that we bag the melodies quite smoothly.
3. Our rich and long history. Pakistan may have a short history as an independent country, but our lineage has seen countless civilisations, empires, poets, revolutions and been home to events that have changed the course of world history. We’ve been enslaved, freed, liberated and have picked up a culture more intricate than anywhere in the world. I love to break out into long, tedious lectures about Humayun’s utterly dumb rule or the mystery behind Mohenjo Daro every chance get, and if you’re not like me, you should learn to like to know about it.
4. Our freedom fighters. This one always manages to tear me up. Recalling the struggle of the freedom fighters who won us this piece of land to call home is a harrowing but focal part of being a Pakistani. Their strife went miles to liberate Muslims in the subcontinent and their benevolence remains a lesson that still echoes across the tides of time. If we have nothing else, we have those amazingly brave men and women to thank for this life we live today, freely.
5. Our strong and unrelenting cultural ties. As Pakistan embarks on the road towards modernisation alongside the rest of the world, I pride in the fact that we have, if not all but most of us, sustained and preserved our culture as we progress. You still see ajrak in the stores, shalwars on the racks and kola-puris on passing feet all around you. There are thelas of gol gappays right in front of Hardees, papri chaat where there are.Though deeply faulted at times, our culture is raw and beautiful. It’s warming to see that as the world loses its identity and roots in the race to modernise, we still hold it sacred.
6. Our growing feminism. For decades, Pakistan has conformed to the patriarchy without much question but now, as a teenaged Pakistani girl, it swells my heart to see feminism grow and be endorsed in Pakistan. From Sharmeen Obaid to Muniba Mazari alongside other visionaries and activists, Pakistan is gradually becoming a place that provides a platform to its women and is, though painstakingly slowly, on the road towards a country that establishes unprecedented equality between both genders, condemns discrimination and allows men and women to live in peaceful co-existence.
7. Finding cheap books. Okay, it’s about time I come clean about this. PAKISTANI BOOKSTORES ARE HEAVENLY AND VERY, CONVENIENTLY INEXPENSIVE. And I, a certified bookworm, thrive off of it, as do many of you. Perhaps not relatable for all Pakistanis, but Pakistanis love a good deal, and always go for the cheapest option so don’t lie to me, people.
8. COKE STUDIO’S VERSION OF THE NATIONAL ANTHEM.
9. How we’ll always be prettier than others. I know this might come off as literarily immature, but don’t tell me you’ve never admitted this to yourself. Considering we’re celebrating our separation from the tyranny of the united India, it’s fair enough to let off a little light joke here and there. The others may be skyrocketing in the world both diplomatically and economically while we’re lagging, but my dear Pakistanis, be assured that beauty is the one category where they’ll always come second.
10. The fact that we won the Champions Trophy and defeated India once and for all. Pride restored. This year saw the most monumental showdown in our country’s cricket history when we gave a harsh defeat to our one and only arch-nemesis, India. The euphoric celebration shared by the entire nation after the nine unending years of consecutive defeat was unreal. In fact, cricket may be the only bringer of joy and that little whip of positivity Every time you feel low, remind yourself that OUR. BOYS. DID. IT.
11. The natural beauty. From the cliffs overlooking sandy beaches in the South, to the picturesque deserts in the center and the skyscraping peaks in the North, our country has it all. The landscape changed constantly as you travel, proving a sight for sore eyes. Personal favourite? The North. No less than any French Alps or Swiss peaks! Plus, the photographs those mountains bear are to die for; no wonder
12. The awesome dramas. Pakistan produces the best TV dramas in the South Asian region, hands down. Our costumes, scripts, plots and cinematography are and have consistently been classy and pertain a standard not easily matched by any other industry in the region. Better yet, the industry has revolutionized as of late and is now aiming to break through taboos and discuss social issues previously left in the shadows, hence gaining more appreciation than ever! Am I proud and grateful that we’re finally liberating ourselves of senseless social issues? A whole gulaab jaman-and-samosa YES.
13. COKE STUDIO. I know what I said about music before, but in all honesty, without the Coke Studio franchise, Pakistan’s music industry would’ve completely died down and catapulted into decline, despite the buck-load of talent we have. I know I can’t wait until August every year to hear the latest classical redo’s and original tracks the Studio has in store for us. (Eh, not really, just want to see what new memes Umair Jaswal will bring us this season)
14. The FREEDOM. Pakistan’s partition was an event that shook world politics for the best. It was a feat never taken up before, with a mass migration of a scale never seen before. The ardour of the first Pakistanis and the thousands of innocents massacred that eventually got us the homeland we had been yearning for, is a debt we can never repay. Today, we have the liberty and freedom to practice our religion, embrace our culture and be free to speak our minds because of those early Pakistanis. That is the very essence of this country: freedom. Hard-earned, ardent, freedom.
In our daily banter about politics, terrorism and economic fluctuation, we too often forget to acknowledge that the greatness of this country lies much deeper than that. There’s an unprecedented amount of pessimism that’s become inherent when you’re Pakistani, which compels us to assume the worst of every situation. Agreed that we aren’t in a prime period of our history but we should learn to hope now. After all, that very hope was what got us free on 14th August, 1947, seventy years ago.
Remember your history. Salute your people. Read up on how you got here, sitting in your car, your couch or your chair, reading this article. Think about it.
So this #71stIndependenceDay, share what you are grateful for.
By Shizah Kashif