According to the old joke, “all countries have armies, but here, Army has a country”. This was on full display as the nation’s capital came to a full halt for “Pakistan Day Parade” that consisted of little more than a celebration of Army. There was always something that bothered me a little about this, but I couldn’t really say what it was until I read this Tweet.
Four provinces, ten languages, dozens of ethnicities & hundreds of years of culture but no – lets get some gunships on. #sorrynotsorry
— karachikhatmal (@karachikhatmal) March 23, 2015
It’s amazing how something so profound can be captured in so few words, but there it is. I realised what was bothering me wasn’t that the Army was featured in the celebration, but that it felt like Army was the only thing featured. As if Pakistan were an Army, and not a diverse nation of millions.
With the alienation of so many communities, Pakistan Day could have been an opportunity to put on display the various cultures and languages that make up our country. I am imagining a parade in which everyone was not dressed in a uniform, but in the different traditional dress of their community.
I am imagining a parade in which religions were represented: Sunni, Shia, Sufi, Ahmedi, Christian, Hindu…all marching together as a demonstration that even though in some ways we are different, at the end of the day we are all Pakistanis.
I am imagining a parade in which, instead of weapons, there were displayed representations from Punjabis, Sindhis, Pashtuns, Baloch, Hazaras, Saraikis, Kashmiris, Chitralis, Mohajirs. Where everyone is cheering and appreciating each others cultures, and remembering that it is from this combination that Pakistan is made.
Instead we were shown troops. Officers. Missiles. Fighter jets. Drones.
Pakistan Day 2015 was a proud day, but it was also a missed opportunity. We were reminded of the strength of our armed forces, but we once again ignored the essence of what it is that’s worth defending.