Value of Freedom

Our self-examination may give us an idea as to how much we value our freedom and how much we contribute in maintaining it.

Kahlil Gibran said, “Life without liberty is like a body without spirit.” It is quite disheartening to see some senseless social media sharing various real or fabricated quotes from Maulana Azad’s poor forecast for the future of Pakistan and others of his ilk who did not support the “Two Nations theory” and partition of the sub-continent. However, it is for sure that had Azad and his like-minded people lived long enough to see the miserable plight of Muslims and other majorities living in India, they would have definitely regretted their ill-boding and appreciated Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision. Regrettably, the sustained disinformation campaign is used by the enemies of Pakistan to add to the frustration of people, especially those who are accustomed to seeing the half glass empty, rather than being thankful for the half glass full that they enjoy with complete freedom.

As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed”; and that is how almost all the colonized and oppressed people of the world got independence and some are still struggling to regain or maintain it with colonial rule transformed into economic subjugation through new global economic structure regulated through the World Bank, IMF and other IFIs and new International security structure implemented through NATO and other somewhat similar military alliances. The two-nation theory (Urdu: do qaumī nazariya) was the basis of the creation of Pakistan. The two-nation theory in its simplest way meant that cultural, political, religious, economic, and social dissimilarities between the two major communities i.e. Hindus and Muslims of the Subcontinent made them two divergent nations. At the All India Muslim League Session at Lahore on March 23, 1940, Quaid-I-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah discussed that point and said, “I may explain that the Musalmans, wherever they are in a minority, cannot improve their position under a united India or under one Central government. Whatever happens, they would remain a minority, and by coming in the way of the division of India they do not and cannot improve their own position. On the other hand, they can, by their attitude of obstruction, bring the Muslim homeland and 60,000,000 of the Musalmans under one government, where they would remain no more than a minority in perpetuity”. The demand for a separate homeland based on Two Nation Theory was an expression of the deepest emotions of the Muslims of the sub-continent for their political & cultural identity, whose roots were embedded in the State of Medina founded by the Holy Prophet Muhammad (SAW) at Medina in 622A.D. Thus, Pakistan was created as the first Muslim State after the establishment of the State of Medina on the basis of Two Nation Theory and for the preservation of the culture and civilisation, Language and literature and Islamic way of life of the Muslims of the sub-continent. How many Pakistani Muslims today remember and realise the bounties of this hard earned Independence?

I happened to meet an Indian Muslim in Macca in 2018, who was well educated and a good businessman in India and abroad but felt insecure and a second-rated Indian citizen being a Muslim under constant threat for his life and property from the extremist BJP/ RSS Hindu followers who had been in power under PM Modi. Recalling his few visits to Pakistan to see his relatives, he said, “I was dismayed to hear a lot of undue cribbing by the Pakistani people against their governments and the state; probably they are ignorant of the great struggle for an independent Pakistan by their forefathers and the great sacrifices rendered by the Muslims of the former colonised sub-continent. The freedom seems to have come to them free and they do not realise what discrimination, atrocities and injustices Muslims and other minorities were facing in India.” I felt his pain and concern and was reminded of the great Mr. Nelson Mandela who stated, “For to be free is not merely to cast off one’s chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.” Somewhat similar emotions were expressed by first black president of the USA Mr. Barack Hussain Obama, “Our responsibility as citizens is to address the inequalities and injustices that linger, and we must secure our birthright freedoms for all people.”

The real value of anything can only be understood by those who have earned it or who have sacrificed their lives for it. Freedom also means liberalization from oppression. It also means freedom from racism, from harm, from opposition, from discrimination, and many more things. Valuing freedom is rooted in a deep love for autonomy, self-determination, and the courage to live life on your own terms. According to social psychology, people who truly value freedom often exhibit specific behaviours, sometimes without even realizing it. Our self-examination may give us an idea as to how much we value our freedom and how much we contribute in maintaining it. People who deeply value freedom often find themselves questioning and challenging disturbing societal norms. They aren’t afraid to step outside the box or swim against the tide, accepting personal losses. They embrace change and uncertainty; for them, change is an integral part of life. They have a strong sense of personal values; they might value things like Honesty, Integrity, Compassion and Courage. They’re not afraid to make mistakes and regard it as a part of the learning process. They aren’t easily influenced by others. They value their time; they focus on engaging in tasks and activities that resonate with their passions, and personal growth, or bring a sense of fulfilment. And they’re true to themselves; they don’t wear masks or pretend to be someone they’re not.

An individual is said to be free only if he resides in a free nation. A nation is said to be free if it has freedom as one of its principles and only if it has provided this to its people. In this way, individual freedom and national freedom are closely linked together. National values are a great indicator of the contribution of humanity, human qualities, attributes and qualities to the treasury of national and cultural heritage, created by everyone belonging to that nation. Restoring national values means giving them new content that is relevant to the present. In the contemporary world and especially in Pakistan, which has been confronting numerous internal and external challenges on multiple fronts, the tendency to fall into despondency and frustration are natural and can be fought back individually by undertaking the above stated introspection and collectively by keeping our faith in Allah, our national ideology and the constitution. The influx of information must be converted into knowledge by careful sifting, and the resultant wisdom needs to be reflected more through our actions rather than by words. Let’s not be someone who knows the price of everything; but the value of nothing!

Saleem Qamar Butt
The writer is a retired senior army officer with experience in international relations, military diplomacy and analysis of 
geo-political and strategic security issues.

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