It was year 2015 when various think tanks watching regional developments in South Asia, predicted the rise of Pakistan by 2025. This stunned the policymakers and war strategists around the world who had been viewing Pakistan from a totally different angle. The intelligentsia belonging to Stimson, Hanns Seidel Foundation, Chatham House Asia, Russia and Eurasia, Think Asia, Global Conflict Tracker and other think tanks continued with gloom and doom theories about Pakistan, but none actually estimated the true resilience and potentials in the gruesome years of War on Terror. However, Pakistan not only fought the largest war but also won it, and now is moving well on the path of peace and progress. But this is not a new phenomenon, Pakistani nation has proved it many times since 1947. The forecast that “Pakistan would be key to any regional policy framework in the coming years” is now seemingly proving to be true.
The Seven Decades of Endurance
Reaching this point, Pakistan has come a long way since its inception. The journey wasn’t a smooth one. It endured the wounds inflicted immediately after the Partition – Kashmir has been bleeding ever since. The nation was young, and Pakistan was faced with a myriad of challenges such as scarcity of resources and enemies plotting to decapitate Pakistan. Yet we endured. In 1971, they struck at our heart, but we got up. We realized the true nature of adversaries we had and thus began our uphill struggle. The world closed in upon us, sanctions were imposed and attempts were made to isolate Pakistan. But Pakistan surprised the world every time. The world thought we could never do it. They didn’t know what we are capable of.
Not only we became a nuclear power, but this followed an indigenous defence and missiles capability program which stands out more robust and smart – an accomplishment that flabbergasted the world. We witnessed a time when Pakistan and its people touched the heights in almost all fields – education, science, technology, sports and trade, creativity and literature, art and theatre, culture and tourism, defence production and infrastructural development, economic and industrial growth, and what not?
During the course of that journey, the nation faced a number of external challenges, internal turmoil, natural, man-made disasters and came out triumphant. The Afghan War, influx of millions of refugees, economic and social disequilibrium, political instability and remote controlled chaos; earthquakes, floods and avalanches; and above all the two-decade-long asymmetrical terror war – all we endured with resilience and fortitude. In the words of an eminent defence expert: “They tried to destroy Pakistan with terrorism, they could not; with religious divide, they could not; with economic espionage, they could not; with attempts of breaking Balochistan, they could not; with ethnic divide in Karachi, they could not. They tried with flooding Afghanistan, with likes of Kulbhushan, they could not. They started worldwide maligning campaigns against Pakistan, they could not.”
Polish blogger Eva Zu Beck, who remained in Pakistan for 13 months summed up her observations: “If there is one word that describes Pakistan in its truest essence, it’s ‘astonishing’.” The beaches along the Arabian Sea, the energy of the cities, the stunning North, high mountains, vast plains, amazing plateaus and 4500 years of history – all are amazing. No other country has everything what Pakistan has all in one. All kinds of skins, colours, cultures, races; every kind of stone, gem and treasures underneath; all four seasons available throughout the year – only in Pakistan; all kinds of flavours and tastes, foods and fruits; diversity in everything, languages, people, communities and landscapes – everything is available in this country.
I must quote only one example of Pakistanis’ resilience. Pakistan had been subjected to invasion at Siachen in 1984. The enemy had gone ahead with years of covert planning and equipment. It was difficult for Pakistan Army to go up without the necessary gear at an altitude above 20,000 feet. But it was the matter of Pakistan’s honour and survival. It was Pakistan Army, the jawans and officers who volunteered for the task. No one can imagine how those brave men could do it, that too without protective gear and sufficient ascending equipment. Unbelievably, but it is a legendary tale and epic account.
Another unbelievable event happened in December 2001, when Pakistan was threatened by India as its military built it up for over 10 months. Pakistan left India panting in despair and withdrawing its forces back to the barracks in 2003. The natural disasters like floods of 1950 in Punjab, earthquake of 1974 in Hunza, drought of 2000 in Balochistan, earthquake of October 2005 in Kashmir and parts of KP, cyclone Yemyin of 2007 in Sindh and Balochistan, and floods of 2010 and 2011, which cost Pakistan dearly in terms of human lives, infrastructure and economy, can be quoted as a testimony of our basic instinct of survival – come what may.
Pakistan grew from a near zero balance in 1947 to a one time 25th largest economy of the world. We have a highly trained and most professional armed forces in the world. Pakistan has the world’s best Command and Control system for nuclear assets. We have ruled the game of squash for decades and have been champions of cricket, hockey, snooker and boxing. Pakistan produces 50% of world’s footballs and surgery equipment.
The Two Decades of Terror Inside
This was the most difficult time Pakistan ever witnessed. Leaders, scholars, teachers and doctors were killed. Our jawans and officers remained at guard fighting the invisible enemy. Then came the most fateful but symbolic day of December 16, 2014. The terrorists attacked Army Public School in Peshawar and we lost 151 innocent students and teachers. Cowards cow down but the brave turn such events into opportunity for a rebirth. The martyrs of APS symbolize the same. It tells that Pakistanis have a chemistry of their own. They don’t give up. Pakistan Army and its commanders led from the front, with the whole nation at their back. Together they turned the tide, swept away the scourge, broke the back of the prophets of doom and kicked them out to save our future. Still we have to go miles, yet we aren’t defensive anymore. Our goal and vision are very clear before us.
Our Manpower, Especially the Youth of Pakistan
The last few years have seen a wave of sociopolitical awakening in the masses. The youth are in fact the very genesis; they are at the forefront of this awakening. They have proved that they are to become their own leaders. The elders call it a ‘miraculous blessing’. And the world’s leading figures see this potential as the biggest asset for Pakistan’s rise. “Pakistani youths have enormous potential; they are among the five most intelligent lots of world nations.” A diplomat said: “Your younger lot seems sincere with Jinnah’s Pakistan; it is likely to work relentlessly. In schools, colleges and universities abroad, they are displaying not only their great talent, but they are demonstrating height of character, integrity and knowledge. They are true ambassadors of Pakistan.”
Numerically, 64% of the nation is younger than 30, and 29% of Pakistanis are between 15 and 29, an age group that we define as youth. Pakistan now has more young people than it has ever had, and this is forecasted to continue to increase until at least 2050. According to National Youth Perceptions Survey “The youth of Pakistan are full of potential, energy and ideas. What they need is an enabling environment that will allow them to take risks, innovate and engage productively.” Needless to mention many names of young Pakistanis who have established themselves in the fields of computer science, software and hardware industry, infotainment and information technology, and the list goes on.
Women’s Potential and Empowerment
True to its Islamic identity, the State of Pakistan ensured its women the more vibrant and independent rights, which forms the basis of our genesis to resist and stay strong in all circumstances. A Pakistani mother is bold enough to offer her sons for sacrifice. The issues of women rights and gender discrimination were addressed all the way through by giving them the right to vote in the very first year of the country’s formation. Miss Fatima Jinnah contested Presidential election in 1965 and Benazir Bhutto was elected the first Muslim woman Prime Minister. Pakistan enjoys ‘many firsts’ in the women ranks – recently the first female officer was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant General. Pakistani women have worked in whatever capacity they could, to help its progress. Many women have left an indelible mark in the history of our nation and they continue to do so.
Comparison with India
It is important to compare our society with that of India. We have a much brighter history of mutual acceptance than most of the contemporary developed societies. Frank Huzor in his book “Blood Demons” identifies Hindutva pervading in India and mob-based violence against non-Hindus, mostly Muslims. Despite ethnic and linguistic diversities, Pakistanis are living peacefully by accommodating each other. Pakistan is proud to have sound family traditions based on respect for head of the family and care for the young ones. We don’t make mockery of people’s spiritual and religious icons and the Prophets in the name of freedom of speech and expression. We are proud to retain such values and codes of ethics.
Heterogeneity of Society, Culture and Geography
Polish blogger Eva Zu Beck, who remained in Pakistan for 13 months summed up her observations: “If there is one word that describes Pakistan in its truest essence, it’s ‘astonishing’.” The beaches along the Arabian Sea, the energy of the cities, the stunning North, high mountains, vast plains, amazing plateaus and 4500 years of history – all are amazing. No other country has everything what Pakistan has all in one. All kinds of skins, colours, cultures, races; every kind of stone, gem and treasures underneath; all four seasons available throughout the year – only in Pakistan; all kinds of flavours and tastes, foods and fruits; diversity in everything, languages, people, communities and landscapes – everything is available in this country. “Pakistan is a paradise of influencers”, says Dutchman Huub van der Mark. Similar views are expressed by Australian tourist Brooke Saward and Elie Quinn of the UK. With their hospitality and resilience in the face of troubles, the people of Pakistan are survivors. A stunningly beautiful vast land from the north to the south with access to water and the most breathtaking and highest mountains in the world. Faith, above all, is the very basis of us which makes us distinct as compared to other nations.
Pakistan’s Standing Amongst the Comity of Nations
After our long war and subsequent victory in WOT, the international community now consults Pakistan on how to successfully fight terrorism. Peaceful overtures, despite Indian intransigence on Kashmir and provocations on the LoC have drawn world attention towards Pakistan to listen to its point of view and help resolve the longstanding disputes. Our contributions in peace missions under the United Nations are being recognized and acclaimed worldwide. The CPEC project has invited interest from around the globe towards enhancing trade relations with us. The project has further solidified Pakistan’s relations with China. We have gained much confidence on the foreign policy front and economic initiatives. Pakistan has a bright chance of coming out of the economic crisis in the aftermath of COVID-19 pandemic.
Looking back at the numerous developments made in just the past decade alone where Pakistan has not only rooted out terrorism, bringing increased opportunities for prosperity and peace to each and every corner of Pakistan, but also invested heavily into the development of various sectors. As we move towards the future, we can be sure that with its immense potential for growth, Pakistan only has more prosperity to look forward to.
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