Imagine Independence In An Occupied Land: A Kashmiri’s Message On Pakistan’s Independence Day

By Shaista Safi

I read an article, “Why Should I Celebrate Independence Day” where the author believed that because the motto of creation is yet to be achieved, why celebrate Independence Day? To some extent I agree but these same people don’t think likewise when it comes to their personal lives. Have they achieved everything in their life? Have they attained all their goals? Have they completed all their responsibilities for which they were sent to this world? Answer would be a big NO but yet they celebrate their birthdays with full passion. Appreciate what you have Pakistanis; your Independence Day is your birthday. And every year you plan to be better, to be stronger and wiser. When your life is not a burden on you, why should the life of your nation be a burden?

These negative and depressive blogs and writings on national days of Pakistan are now becoming a norm. I agree Pakistan once again is going through “a tough time” but is this something new to you and me? We have witnessed worse, but look how Pakistan is rising again, and one can only rise after seeing the darkness. Even the stars need darkness to shine! As Iqbal said:

جہاں میں اہل ایمان صورتِ خورشید جیتے ہیں
اِدھر ڈوبےاُدھر نکلے، اُدھر ڈوبےاِدھر نکلے

The faithful in this Universe live like sun
They set here, to rise there; to set there, to rise here!

I am not fond of fireworks, one wheeling, and firing, and lighting up all buildings on Independence Day, for me the word “Independence” is meaningful may be because I am a Kashmiri. When I was searching for the meaning of Azadi (Independence, freedom), I knew the meaning in Urdu and Kashmiri; the meanings are same, but to my shock it means the same in Hindi too. So the dictionary is yet to be politicized, or may be the Hindi dictionary soon will relate the term Azadi with terrorism as they are openly doing it with the freedom struggle of Kashmir.

It’s a request to all those ladies and gentlemen who think celebrating Independence Day is a burden; try to imagine spending few moments of your life in an occupied land, not asking you to actually spend your time there, but just imagine because your life is really precious to me. You Pakistanis have an occupied land in your neighborhood; no need to go far to Palestine or Syria. Some of my Indian friends will say, why you don’t ask people to imagine themselves in “POK”. To them I say that friends I want people to feel occupation. I don’t want them to feel jealous as probably the safest place under Pakistan is “Azad Kashmir” with no terrorism at all.

So let us imagine getting ready to visit Indian Occupied Kashmir! One should prepare a check list before going to any new place; one must check out the weather, best places to eat, tourist spots, shopping centres and more. But in case of IOK, check out the safety requirements first:

What things you will need if a bullet hits you?

What first aid you will need after pointed pellets are sprayed on you?

What identity you will show to prove yourself to be a patriotic Indian?

What legal steps you should take if AFSPA is applied on you?

Which jail you might be sent to if PSA is slapped on you?

Do tell your family and friends where to protest if you are included in the disappeared persons list!

When packing the stuff, do add basic necessity items like fresh air, water, generator to produce electricity, body shields, helmets, some stones for your self-defence, milk, rice or noodles because you won’t get anything in IOK as its under curfew, and the life stock is almost finished!

You also get to save your time because you don’t need to check out what places to visit as Indian Occupied Kashmir is all locked down, so all you can visit are streets where young Kashmiris will show you how to resist and what the word courage actually means; streets which show you how to respond to heavy ammunition with pebbles; streets that would teach you the meaning of oppressed and oppressor. You can also visit hospitals and see what this conflict is doing to the children of Kashmir; see how Kashmiri doctors are trying to save the patients and are protesting against the oppression too . You can visit our graveyards; those are the only places you will see people in peace as only a dead Kashmiri is a good Kashmiri for India.

Come back in your real life now, no tears, no shivering, no goose-bumps. This is how insensitive we have become, seeing so much blood, deaths, injuries, now this all seems a routine to us. We are the ones who can change this insensitivity by giving importance to each and every life. Feel important and make others feel this way too. Raise your voice in a pitch where people can hear you, write in a style where people can understand you. Just look at the people who are wishing to be like you, free like you are. Appreciate your Azadi and help others to achieve it!

As a nationalist or religious person, whatever you identify yourself as, the reasons for the celebration ofAzadi are the same. Do not focus on the negatives. Look forward to the positives, aspire to be better, greater and then work on it together.

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