As the first decade of the new millenium draws to a close, we are all, I believe, thinking about the difficulties that we have faced, but with a hopeful eye to the future. Pakistan has overcome many obstacles since its founding, and there will be new obstacles to come. But I have faith that our future will be bright when I talk to students and young people today and hear them speak most reasonably and logically, and listen to their yearning not only for greater democracy, but for a Pakistan based on the principles of Baba-e-Qaum.
The end of 1999 brought the coup that put into power Pakistan’s most recent, and hopefully final military dictator. Residul effects of Musharraf’s coup still trickle through our government and society, but we have made great progress establishing a stable democratic system. The government and military have great respect for each other, and even in their disagreements, political parties are showing more respect for the democratic process than during times in the past.
We still face a teribble enemy in Taliban jihadis who continue to bomb our villages, markets, and schools. We still face political struggles as the parties and leaders work through the many democratic setbacks that occured under previous dictators and anti-democratic regimes. And we still face some difficulties as we strive to unify society as one Pakistan with less regionalism and social divides.
Despite these difficulties, I still that we can look forward to a bright future for our country. I see the love of Pakistan in the eyes of our young people. Not the phony hypernationalism that is spewed across the airwaves by self-aggrandizing TV talk show hosts. Not the regionalism that creates debate about who is wearing what type of topi. These are young people with their whole future ahead of them who are talking not about pop stars and movie heros but about the way forward for a strong, prosperous, democratic Pakistan. Students and graduates who talk not about how to improve their own fortunes only, but the fortunes of their nation.
We will not wake up tomorrow to find the Taliban vanquished, to find peace in neighboring Afghanistan, to find the economy growing by leaps and bounds. But we will wake up with the tools and resources we need to make all of these things a reality, and a new day ahead of us to begin getting these things done. Pakistan Zindabad!