Pakistan will celebrate its 75 Independence Day amidst a deepening political and economic crisis. While the country and its people have been characterised as resilient, some are of the opinion that the current situation is becoming increasingly untenable for many disadvantaged segments of our society. There is of course progress in some realms which must be acknowledged, but if we are to prosper in an equitable and sustainable manner, we will need to introspect deeply and undertake wide-ranging structural reforms.

With the currency depreciating to an all-time low, the country’s already burdened economy is experiencing record-breaking inflation, increasing debts and a depletion of its foreign reserves. The ongoing political instability has further exacerbated the economic crisis and our leadership is still struggling to set aside petty squabbles for the greater good of the country. This has perhaps been a perpetual issue.

However, while the economic and political crisis understandably dominates the prevailing discourse, one cannot forget the existential threat posed by climate change. This phenomenon disproportionately impacts marginalised communities around the country, but soon even the privileged will be unable to turn a blind eye towards it. Given the increasing frequency of torrential rains and floods, severe heat waves, falling agricultural yield and increasing risk of food insecurity, the urgency of the matter cannot be emphasised enough.

Adding to this is the continued fight against terrorism and extremism, something which the country has been grappling with for far too long. The opportunistic misuse of religion continues to haunt us as every other week there is an unfortunate incident involving a religious minority community. Girls, women, trans and non-binary peoples are subjected to various forms of discrimination, and while there has been an increase in awareness around these issues, we still have a very long way to go in terms of dismantling such forms of oppression.

Despite these challenges, the country has accomplished many feats in the realms of medicine, sports, art and technology. Pakistan is also one of the youngest countries in the world, with an estimated 65 percent of the population being under the age of 23. While this presents us with an advantage and immense potential, it is also a challenge at the same time because in order to tap into this potential, we will have to meet the education, health, employment and other basic needs of this young population. Our choices will determine which of the two it will be. The hope is that we do right by the country, its potential and its people.