I came into being on the fourteenth of August in the year 1947. My birth was the result of irrevocable sacrifices of many, and a gift to the Muslims of the world, especially those of the subcontinent. The day I came into being, people of all caste, creed and religion had space to practice what they wished. I was a blessing in disguise for everyone.
Growing up was difficult, for I didn’t have many resources. I had to work hard from the very beginning, starting from scratch, building up my defense, trade and infrastructure. Then there were those occasional squabbles with my neighbor, India, which left my already frail body wrenched and exhausted. Nonetheless, I carried on, owing to do it for my father, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, and for my children – the future.
My life changed when Muhammad Ayub Khan came into power. He took me into his care, and provided for me. Our relationship was a long one –it lasted seven years. In those years, however, my trade flourished, relations with neighbours improved and most importantly, I became social. People began to recognize me and I was invited to important conferences and meetings. For the first time since 1947, I felt truly accepted. However, our end was a sad one. Jealous eyes, poor decisions and power-hunters eventually tore us apart.
I adopted a liberal stance in 1971, influenced by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto who was, at that time and even today, much loved by all. He opened wine houses and casinos to increase the profit generated from tourism, and I obliged. It was also during his reign, that my biggest defense asset was set into motion: nuclear power. I was now able to ward of threats with one of my own.
I frequently began to fall ill, and in 1971, one of my arms was amputated. Despite the fact that I had just lost an integral body part, I felt relieved. It had never been much like the rest of me, and once it was removed, my body felt more wholesome and healthy. I could focus more on tasks ahead of me which, needless to say, were plenty. I had to school my friends and family, raise my children and provide them shelter, and these were only one of the few.
The years in between were hard, but I fought through. Here I stand today, sixty-seven years later, celebrating my birthday with a simple cake and a candle. However today, I am not happy.
I fought hard for my children, but today, they have disappointed me. Cutting each other’s throats for the sake of money, begging on the streets out for food, slaving away to other people, they have turned out nothing like I had expected. They die routinely, and yet, I am helpless. I am weak once again, and unable to break free of this turmoil.
My children have become their own enemies, and I’m afraid, very afraid, that one day, that is how they will perish. My struggle for them will be rendered futile. They will die, destroy their own property, kill their brothers and sisters, and one day, death will come for them.
I scream now to be heard, but the only voice is the echo of my own. The darkness which surrounds me is terrifying, but I hold myself steady and stare on ahead.
There, I see a speck of brightness, waiting to be touched. I look up and praise the Lord. For if it wasn’t for Him, there would never have been I, Pakistan, the Land of the Pure.It is because of Him that I believe in the impossible: a better life for my children.