Patriotism Is Just A Word…

Before I begin, I will clear it up that I am not a patriotic person. I prefer to keep quiet on the question of whether I love my country or not. I have never really thought about it and don’t feel like talking about it either. But I definitely respect what it represents. However, the fact is that I am surrounded by people around me who claim to be patriotic…yet I never saw them act this way.

Last year in mid august I read an article in the Dawn Review about a Pakistani woman married to and Indian man and living in India. It was about how she missed her country and the celebrations that took place around the time of independance, and how they differred from the one in India. She mentioned that in India people were not allowed to put up flags on their rooftops even on their independance day and that you would not find that day any different from Pakistan. In short, I really liked the rule imposed by the Indian government.

Independence day in Pakistan is a whole lot different than that. You start seeing badges, paper flags and large flags in all of the houses as August starts. You see stalls put up just for their sale. Kids are excited and decorating their homes in anticipation of August 14th. Even the media starts transmitting everything in green and white, playing national songs and displaying a countdown to the day. And on August 15th, August 14th never happened.

What you see after that disappoints you in a way nothing else can. Although the flags on the rooftops are taken down, the small paper flags are not. They wear down in the rain, lose against the wild monsoon air of Karachi and finally fall on the ground where they are either covered in mud, stepped on or thrown in trash. And then I ask myself: When someone can’t even respect their flag, how can you expect them the respect their country; how can you expect them to be patriotic?

Patriotism is a hype in Pakistan. Everyone claims to be patriotic but seldom is their anyone who truly shows to be one. Back in 12th grade when we used to have a discussion about patriotism, I had friends who claimed to love their country…but they could not stay in it. Even now I meet such people who claim to love their country but they cannot seem to stay in it (that is they don’t want to stay in it, even if they can’t go abroad.) Fact is that there are few people who are truly patriotic and want to show it in every way.

I don’t have anything against anyone going abroad for education or work. I think that even abroad, there are people that are in their own little way helping Pakistan either by proving to the world how good Pakis are in their dedication or by investing some their hard earned money back in their soil. And to me that is true Patriotism. But sadly there aren’t many people like that over there.

Even those who are here in Pakistan seem to complain about how bad it is when in fact they are the ones truly responsible for it. Pakistan is one of the eight most populated countries in the world. If everyone in here decides to make a small difference, according to their ability, in any way they can, they can all togethere make a big difference. Just for an example, if everyone starts to throw away their trash at designated locations (namely trash cans), the entire country would be much cleaner. But its always easy to complain than to find a solution and act.

The grass is definitely not greener on the other side. Every country has its problems but they don’t tend to advertise it like Pakistan seems to do. On the contrary, they seem to highlight the best people, the festivals, the simple ceremonies in their countries. That is the only thing making the grass greener. So why is it that Pakistan is unable to make its grass greener?

A relative of mine started a job in a newly formed company about 4 years ago. She told me then that the man that started the company was an Asian-American businessman in the States and the only reason he started the company was because he thought that when he was benefitting the country he later settled in, why shouldn’t he benefit his homeland. And in his own way, he created job oppurtunities for his countrymen. To me, that is true patriotism.

In short, I have observed people in Pakistan usually get into a hype about the independence day. Its all about the fun and the flags. But when no one even cares that its the flag of their country they are stepping on, they can never care about the land…and they don’t. And their claims of being patriotic are just false pretences…

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