Daily Briefs

Photo : The Express Tribune

14 August 2020, Friday, Vol 1, No.106

Pakistan at 73: Celebrating the Independence Day

Pakistan's independence day, as the country celebrates its 73rd. The brief today looks at how Pakistan looks back, retrospects and looks at the challenges ahead

PR Daily Brief | PR Team

In Focus
Pakistan at 73: Celebrating the Independence Day

"Holding the torch of Unity, Faith and Discipline"
The primary focus of the day in the media and elsewhere inside Pakistan was its 73rd independence day. 

As Pakistan celebrates, there were a series of editorials/analyses in the media looking back at the last 72 years, taking stock of the situation as it exists today, and also looking at the challenges ahead of the country.

The messages from the President and Prime Minister looked at the situation, and also had a heavy dose of India, more importantly, what is happening in J&K!

The Express Tribune quoted the President Dr Arif Alvi's message, calling upon "every Pakistani to work for progress and prosperity of the country. He urged them to stand united when faced with any challenges" and also stating: "As we commemorate this Independence Day, we should not forget our brothers and sisters of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJ&K), who have been subjected to harsh brutalities by the Indian security forces." ("Independence Day: President, PM urge nation to remain steadfast when faced with challenges," The Express Tribune, 14 August 2020)

For Imran Khan, the Prime Minister, the independence day was "an occasion to pause and to reflect as to how far we have been able to achieve those ideals that led to creation of an independent state." However, he also added: "From the hostility of a neighbouring country, with its known hegemonic intentions, to the scourge of terrorism and from coping with natural calamities to fighting pandemics, our nation has always shown resilience and perseverance. Today, we reiterate our pledge to remain steadfast and embrace every challenge holding the torch of 'Unity, Faith and Discipline'...(Pakistan's) heart [is] profoundly grieved by the sufferings of our brethren in IIOJK who are facing military siege since past one year." ("Celebrations of 73rd Independence Day begin with traditional zeal across the country," Dawn, 14 August 2020)


(Image Source: The News)

Looking back: From the days of partition to 2020
The Partition Narrative: The lost generation, and the new notes
An article by Dr Norman Sattar identifies the central theme on an individual level as the losses including the loss of identity, and at the national level as that of survival and struggle. The author says that in the partition accounts by Anam Zakria, Qudratullah Shahab and Khushwant Singh, the ‘lost generation’ that kindles the narrative of sacrifice, personal loss and transplantation becomes the narrator. Sattar argues that the personal narrative is becoming weaker and the Partition’s core narrative, that of struggle and survival, is prevalent with Indian diplomatic and communal activities (including the 5 August 2019 move) strengthening it. The article speaks of the scenes of violence and migration that are aired on the occasion of Independence Day and says that national culture and psyche constitute important aspects of the national cohesion. (“Partition narrative: Journey to Pakistan,” The News International, 14 August 2020)

The forgotten Principles
Maryum Urooj Khan says history shows the dilution and compromise of Pakistan’s core guiding principles - faith, unity and discipline, pearls of wisdom from the father of Pakistan Mohammad Ali Jinnah. An imbalance will be chaotic. Unity, that is crucial to foster political integration, smooth execution of policies and ensure equality, has been heavily compromised in Pakistan. Ethnic fragmentation and gender-based discrimination are proof. Khan says that the principles are quickly eroding. Faith has been subjective in the individual and national levels, also widespread lack of understanding of Islam exists. Faith is misinterpreted. There is a lack of discipline across personal, institutional and national. The author concludes by urging fellow citizens to follow these principles. (“Pakistan’s forgotten principles,” The News International, 14 August 2020)


 (Image Source: The News)

73 Years: Taking Stock
The emergence of Civil-Military Governance

Faruzan A. Butt in an analysis, reflecting on the day in The News Internationa, has highlighted an important aspect of Pakistan's governance today. She writes: “Today, following the impact of COVID-19, the Pakistani state is seeking to assert itself in spaces hitherto characterized by its absence. From attempting to better map the formal/informal economic sector in lieu of launching the Ehsaas Welfare Program to instituting local governance reforms aimed at enhancing collaborative crisis management, the state, in the wake of an unprecedented disruptive pandemic, has been allowed room to revisit the existing social contract...This echo of blended civil-military governance speaks of a collaborative formula from the days of the pre-Raj Mughal rule in the subcontinent. Thus, the organisational strengths of the military are instrumental in aiding the institution of joint civil-military developmental and humanitarian roles, even as the state struggles to transcend the hurdles of a fractured polity."

She further writes on the failure of the State to construct "powerful symbols that are representative of the political and cultural imaginaries underlying nationhood." According to her, "these symbols which may inspire a diverse collective towards joint action, birthing a spirit of sacrifice and compromise necessary for the realization of a national project. The state’s inability to generate discourse capable of producing such symbols has been compensated, to a degree, by the exercise of affective power by the Pakistani military in establishing itself as the guardian of the nation’s ideological frontiers. Nevertheless, the viability of any state structure rests in its capacity to incorporate counter-cultural voices and alternative discourses, to construct a ‘national’ imaginary which allows for such ideals as unity, faith, and discipline to find purchase. This the Pakistani ‘state’ has repeatedly failed to do, even as past administrations struggled to impose, top-down, a Western understanding of the democratic practice, itself rooted in the bottom-up political agency.

She also writes: "Thus, ‘identity’, for the Pakistani nation, remains a contested term, summarily reduced to a geographic focus whereby territory emerges as the primary determinant of Pakistaniyat. The inability for a national ‘imaginary’ to encompass multiple identities i.e. ethnic, sectarian, class-based, communal etc. is partly a consequence of the state adopting political models which are not equipped to process the interaction of crosscutting identities possessed by the same individual, with each being subject to activation according to the context in which he or she is placed.” (“Military-civil ties: Social contracts and alternative imaginings of the ‘Nation-State’,” The News International, 14 August 2020)

Women in Pakistan Today
Women in Pakistan have had their own share of struggled this year with the outbreak of the pandemic with the fear that the socio-economic benefits which they have worked could be lost again. While domestic violence has continued to increase due to financial constraints and other businesswomen suffer from drastic loss of pay due to inadequate infrastructure and improper transportation since the virus broke out, they have also had to bear the extra burden of house responsibilities with lockdowns being imposed. Further, increased poverty has left women's education at stake for many still do not want to send their girls back to school but to rather send them to earn. However, looking back, the crisis of 1947 or the pandemic of 2020, women in Pakistan have never been lesser heroic than men, with many believing that “No struggle could ever succeed without women participating side by side with men.” Although the road to women's right development has been rusty, women have continued to serve as well as birth fresh beginnings. (Ayesha Khan, “The other half of Pakistan,” The News International, 14 August 2020)

Media in Pakistan Today
From being a single, state-owned Television Channel and Radio, to numerous private networks with dozens of news, entertainment and educational channels as well as the several English and Urdu dailies and the onset of social media have allowed for the news and updates to make their way inside Pakistani households all over the country. The role of Media in Pakistan has thus changed with the times, this fourth pillar of democracy has continued to play a critical role in nation-building, forming narratives as well as stimulating change with the media playing both a pronounced as well as a vicarious role in shaping the newer generations. However, the likelihood of a bigger boom of media revolution a possibility as the country progress as a result of the increasing number of internet and mobile users as well as the huge youth bulge. Thus, the government and concerned authorities will have to ensure that these services are regulated as per international standards. The new media age has already begun, and must not be retrained through red-tapism or superfluous regulatory laws. (Sarmad Zia, “Changing role of media, ”  The News International, 14 August 2020)

Achievements in S&T: The Rise of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission
Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) said to be one of the most respected Research and Development (R&D) organisation has not failed to deliver especially during this challenging time of the pandemic. PAEC started supplying the first line of defence in the form of sanitizers and disinfectants to healthcare facilities immediately after the first few cases were reported. Further, the 18 PAEC hospitals are helping the government address the healthcare needs of Corona-affected patients besides already providing diagnostic and therapeutic facilities to cancer patients. Further, in terms of international cooperation, PAEC started conducting an annual meeting of researchers and scientists in Pakistan. PAEC has taken the initiative of using nuclear technology to improve the productivity of agriculture sector through the introduction of new crop varieties, pest control technologies, plant nutrition, water management, animal health and productivity and food decontamination and preservation. In the use of nuclear energy for generating electricity, PAEC is operating 5 nuclear power plants including KANUPP in Karachi, and C-1, C-2, C-3 and C-4 in Chashma Mianwali which have helped create a thriving community. (Muhammad Aftab Alam, “Serving nation in all spheres of life,”  The News International, 14 August 2020)

What was promised and what has been achieved
Zubeida Mustafa in her analysis in Dawn, has dispassionately looked at what was promised to Pakistan in 1947, and what has been achieved in the last 72 years. Though she was critical, she is still hopeful.

She writes: " What must be remembered is that there were some freedoms we were expecting when Pakistan was created. I will mention them briefly: 1) freedom of thought and expression which the British had not allowed (remember Jallianwala) and we believed we would get; 2) freedom of worship for all faiths (that was promised by the Quaid-i-Azam in his Aug 11, 1947, speech to the Constituent Assembly); 3) freedom from exploitation, a process that colonisation is historically notorious for. Aug 14 is an occasion to introspect, especially for the youth’s sake."

"Unfortunately, we have never been granted these. You will agree if you look at the clampdown on the media — sometimes less and sometimes more but always there — and the blatant efforts made from time to time to turn Pakistan into a theocratic state, something that would inevitably result in discrimination against the non-Muslims and the minority Muslim sects. As for exploitation, one has to see the marginalisation of nearly 60 per cent (the figure might be greater now) of the population that lives below the poverty line and is denied its socioeconomic rights, leaving them with a “nasty, brutish and short” life, to use Thomas Hobbes’ phrase."

"One should not despair. There is a way out. It is, however, a difficult one. Education could have been our only salvation." (Zubeida Mustafa, "A way out," Dawn, 14 August 2020)

What Next: Challenges Ahead                         
Six critical areas of Foreign Policy
A n analysis in the News brings out critical foreign policy areas that Pakistan has to consider. First, the hegemonic contest between the US and China, along with the resultant peaking of clashes with India. Second, the balance of Iran-Saudi rivalry as Islamabad seeks to appease both powers. Third, the peaceful completion of the ongoing Afghan peace process as another Afghan civil war would jeopardise Pakistan’s security. Fourth, the optimum highlighting of the Indo-Pak Kashmir dispute and garnering of maximum global attention for the same. Fifth, implementation of steps to curb terrorism within the nation’s borders and exiting FATF’s “grey-list”. Lastly, ensuring economic development and internal political stability. (“Foreign policy challenges,” The News International, 14 August 2020)

Internal Challenges: A harsh introspection
The editorial in the News International looks at internal challenges of Pakistan such as “rising inflation, poverty, unemployment” and the population’s feeling that the governments lack a plan to save the nation from the lull. The lack of political consensus is worsening issues within the country and the Covid-19 situation. The article urges the population to strive for an egalitarian society that ensures equality, parity and inclusion. The author says that mere survival is insufficient; Pakistan must thrive. (“Independence Day,” The News International, 14 August 2020)

The editorial in the News International critical of the situation states that rising inflation, poverty, unemployment and the lack of faith in the government to address the same are some among the several issues that Pakistan continues to face today. Further, the ongoing sugar crisis and atta crisis suggest proves that the country has not been able to make any progress in the socio-economic sector. The need of the hour is for political parties to stop the bickering and come to terms that an already existing crisis which has been aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic needs to be addressed. which has been aggravated by the Covid-19 pandemic. The editorial suggests that on this day as the country celebrates Independence Day the mission adopted must be that the country works towards the dream of an egalitarian society so that the further generations can benefit of a country guarantees welfare to all its citizens. Adding it is time to move from mere survival to a time of thriving. (“Independence Day,”  The News International, 14 August 2020)  


"Among the several major challenges before us is the dangerous drift towards pernicious and retrogressive ideas that run counter to Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s ideals and that could in the long run pose a threat to Pakistan’s fragile democratic structure. The evolution of these anachronistic ideas is a subject unto itself, and even though they took birth in the aftermath of the Quaid-i-Azam’s death, they gained momentum after 9/11 and the subsequent rise of international terrorism"

 "August 14 thoughts," Dawn Editorial  (Dawn)

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