What we should keep in mind while celebrating Pakistan Day

“May the nation, the country, and the state,
Shine in glory everlasting!
Blessed be the goal of our ambition.
The Flag of the Crescent and Star
Leads the way to progress and

These are just a few lines from Pakistan’s beautiful national anthem, which will be on the lips of many on August 14th, Pakistan’s Independence Day. With awe inspiring lyrics, poetic rhythm, and powerful imagery it never fails to captivate the hearts of many Pakistanis. However, there are some aspects of Pakistan that have recently failed to stand up with to the message of its national anthem.

For one, hundreds of innocent Pakistani women are killed each year in the guise of “honor killings”. But, it isn’t until recently where the brutal killings of a Pakistani teenager and a pregnant woman have captured the angry eyes of people around the world, pushing Pakistan to bring justice to their murderers. Yet the Pakistani government continues to delay pressing charges and provide actions to snub the culprits. It also doesn’t help when respected mullahs (religious clerics) in Pakistan are encouraging these killings. A popular misogynistic one being Junaid Jamshed who recently was seen in a clip discussing with a group of men about a story of how Hazrat Ayesha (ra), one of the wives of Prophet Muhammad (saw), would often pretend being ill to receive attention from him. According to Jamshed’s perspective, he believes that if Prophet Muhammad (saw) could not reform women’s crooked ways, then ordinary men do not stand a case. In other words, even under the holiest of influences, women cannot be “fixed”.

This is definitely misleading and not what Islam teaches at all! Mullahs in Pakistan these days are blinded by power and undeniable fame from its people (who are mostly poor and uneducated) and they have no intentions for preaching God’s true message, which includes universal peace, unity, and definitely the equality and empowerment of women. The United States ratified the 19th amendment in 1920 which ensured that women had right to vote. However, the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw) granted Muslim women not only their voting rights, but all of their basic rights about 1,400 years ago.

Before the advent of the Holy Prophet Muhammad (saw), women were regarded as slaves and mere servants of men. The Prophet Muhammad (saw) laid out the principles of the rights of women and called to uphold their independent status. The Holy Quran clearly states that all spiritual rewards are open to women. They could achieve excellence in the afterlife while at the same time being able to participate in civil administration. So how can Pakistan be able to “lead progress” in this world (as quoted in the anthem) when they still seem to be stuck back in time where women were regarded as inferior to men? And to the point where murdering them is called honorable? How can they blindly follow someone who goes against the Prophet’s teachings and uses false interpretations as their means of propaganda?

Another negative aspect of Pakistan is that there is a serious lack of religious freedom. As a result of close-minded ideology, minorities such as. Ahmadi and Shia Muslims, and Christians have met with violence and bloodshed. Churches and mosques belonging to Ahmadi Muslims have been destroyed. All this is being done apparently to safeguard Islam.

As a Pakistani Ahmadi Muslim woman, my pain connects with all the minority victims who are being hunted by Pakistani officials day after day and who succumb to its violence. Even though I am lucky to be born in America, it saddens me to think that Pakistan has gone to such heightened measures of extremism.

Despite it’s flaws and imperfections, Pakistan still has many positive aspects that are hidden beneath its violence. Having the 6th largest army in the entire world, they helped capture terrorists from its border country, the war-stricken Afghanistan and the infamous terrorists Ibn al-Shaykh al-Libi, Ramzi Yousef (1993 World Trade Center bombing plot) and Khalid Sheikh Mohammed. Also not to forget the Pakistani doctor, Shakil Afridi who helped America’s CIA run a fake hepatitis vaccine program to confirm Osama Bin Laden’s presence in Pakistan. From an academic viewpoint, Pakistan also embodies the 7th world’s largest group of scientists and engineers; in fact the first Pakistani Muslim scientist to obtain the Nobel Prize was an Ahmadi Muslim, Dr. Abdus Salam.

To all the Pakistanis who are getting ready to celebrate Pakistan’s Independence Day, we should appreciate Pakistan’s accomplishments and growing achievements. But we should also keep in mind that Pakistan has a long way to go for ensuring justice and equality for its citizens and it is then we can say, “May the nation, the country, and the state Shine in glory everlasting”.

Sabiha Basit is a high school senior from Virginia, USA.
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