The state just celebrated seventy-five years of independence. The people of the state are also celebrating seventy-five years across the provinces: KP, Punjab, Sindh, and Balochistan. However, there are some questions to be pondered over on this occasion. First, has the state been successful in creating a nation? Second, has the original state existed since its seventy-five years of independence? Third, why does the state get to decide the loyalty of a citizen? Fourth, what has the state provided its citizens with? Coming to the first question of nationhood, we all are either Sindhi, Baloch, Punjabi or Pathan but not always Pakistani. This has been repeatedly demonstrated in our megapolis Karachi—a microcosm of Pakistan, where ethnic riots often break out. The spirit of nationhood has also failed to gain traction over religious beliefs, resulting in sectarian strife, time and again, all over the country. However, during its seventy-five years, the state has not explained to its citizens why ethnic and sectarian divisions have been accentuated over time and why the culprits and their foreign sponsors are never exposed. This ethnic divide has consumed the citizens to the extent that they cannot come to a consensus on issues of national interest. An apparent instance is the lack of presence of big dams since the 60s, resultantly the citizens (not the state) suffer alternately from floods and droughts.

Coming to the second question of seventy-five years of existence for the state born on 14 August 1947. The original state lost one-half of itself in December 1971. But there is no mention of the debacle or any results learned such as statesmanship, dialogue, and inclusivity being the only solutions to any political problem. However, the state decides and hence decided to absolve itself of any blame for the debacle. Resultantly, the ‘I am right’ notion has been further ingrained in the state’s psyche, and the state does not listen but instead uses brute force to silence any dissent or demonstration. Third, Pakistan was created by its founders to be a homeland for its citizens where they can be free, live independent lives free of any exploitation and prosper. And the state was to help its inhabitants achieve the founders’ dreams. However, after seventy-five years, the various organs of the state such as the judiciary and police have matured as tools of exploitation for the state and the people are the serfs of the state. Thus, now we are in an environment where the state taketh and giveth much less.

Fourth, the state took it upon itself to decide a person’s loyalty. Quaid-e-Azam was the father and creator of the State of Pakistan; and the Quaid’s sister, Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah, ably helped her brother accomplish this gargantuan task. However, the state later declared Fatima Jinnah an ‘enemy of the state’. And since then, the state, to absolve itself of its failures, has been declaring its citizens ‘traitors’ and ‘enemies of the state’ with impunity. Further, to conceal its failures and arbitrariness, the state always created bogeymen to blame. The oft-repeated words to conceal systemic failures have been: past governments, vested interests, establishment, and a foreign hand. And the state’s craftiness has been to always be there. Again, this scenario is being played out, but probably with the exception that all the boogeymen are on the stage, and the public is watching the puppetry not realising where this drama will lead us. Thus, the state failed in its mission to create a nation and give direction and meaning to its existence. But the final question is: How many more years or decades are required before the state realises that we cannot be our own worst enemy for much longer?

The writer is a freelance columnist.

Pakistan was created by its founders to be a homeland for its citizens where they can be free.