In Pakistan this day marks the passing of the Lahore Resolution. Republic Day of Pakistan was first observed in 1956 when Pakistan officially became an Islamic Republic (previously Pakistan had the status of a Dominion). The main events of this day include a full military parade and the awarding of honours at the Presidency (Presidential Palace) by the President. Every year, on March 23, the Pakistani people commemorate their National Day in remembrance of “The Pakistan Resolution” passed on March 23, 1940, in the historic city of Lahore which is also the day the country was declared a republic.
I have been thinking about March 23 and feeling very good about a holiday in the middle of the week. That should indicate what agonies my mind must be in at work and otherwise. A holiday in the middle of the week! I could jump for joy! But then the more serious part of my brain kicked in and reprimanded me (as usual) and I started thinking about Pakistan Day in another light. The truth is, I do love this country. Annoying as it is, it is my country. I was misguided as a younger person with falsehoods about it in Pakistan Studies in school. Then, as things started dawning on me, the love burned a hole in my heart – flawed as this nation (it’s people, mostly) might be, I feel compassion for it and – love and a strange kind of respect. I find myself standing whenever the national anthem plays anywhere – the same national anthem I lip-synched to as a child in school assembly, bored out of my mind. Things change. I am angry but not ashamed. My green passport does not shame me. It gives me grief but it does not shame me. I am Pakistani. I am not pakistanian, pakistilian or a paki. I am Pakistani.
March 23rd was when when they decided that Pakistan should exist, right? I feel its a good day to make resolutions. Everyone can make their own Minar-e-Pakistan (if a 60 foot phallic monument works for you, so be it) and decide what it means to be Pakistani. I have some suggestions (just suggestions, people – not trying to impose. Also, they’re just my resolutions):
- Do not be ashamed. You might get treated like dirt when you travel out of the country, but do not feel ashamed. Hold your head up high like the Minar-e-Pakistan. The phallus shall prevail!
- Get misty-eyed whenever a national song or national anthem plays on the TV, radio, in a film or anywhere else. Make sure everyone notices your patriotic tearfulness. This will guilt-trip others to emulate your actions.
- Always tell people you are Pakistani. Don’t give in to provincial racism even if your heart makes you want to (oh, I know you want to).
- Speak in Urdu like you know it. Or, speak in any other Pakistani language (face it, we have a lot of languages but they’re all essentially Pakistani) like you know it.
- Love your country – it’s the only one you’ve got. Unless you have another one. But seriously, this is the only country I’ve got and I feel like I belong to it. Or rather, that it belongs to me.
- Take responsibility for being Pakistani. Which means you must try to do something about it – as long as it is peaceful.
- Art and culture are good – not haraam. Promote art and culture – they define us.
- Do something meaningful for the country and it’s people. That does not mean that you have to bomb the fuck out of it. It means you can teach tolerance and build trust and love and all that jazz.
The above might sound shallow in places but I’m in a funny mood. Food poisoning explains most of it. It might be my deranged mind’s attempt at humor. It could also be from a twisted kind of love for my land. In light of the current events in the country, it’s difficult to keep a straight-face or a straight-mind. And we just got hit by a small earthquake here in Islamabad. That usually turns me into a raving lunatic.