Today is 14th of August, the day Pakistanis mark as their independence from the British Raj. We got a separate piece of land but the question that must arise in every Pakistani’s mind on every 14th of August is that if we are truly free? If we are no more under the British Raj, does it mean that we are free? I don’t think so. Are we really free to go to our religious places? I don’t think so. Do we have the freedom of speech? I don’t think so. Do we have enough food to eat? I don’t think so.
We are still living in a country which is not free. We are the slaves of those who are in power. The unfortunate thing is that we don’t even have the freedom to speak out against the beasts who are sucking the blood of the common people of our country. Our minds are in a control of powerful institutions.
The people of Pakistan think whatever those powerful institutions want them to think. Those in power can easily manipulate and infiltrate the mindset of general public through mass media propagandas by repeatedly promoting the state narrative on media channels.
Your voice matters. If you are living in a free state, you have the right to say whatever you want to say. You can criticise the people or the institutions who are in power to demand a better world. Freedom of expression is the only way to demand justice for marginalized communities. Freedom of speech is the beauty of any democratic country but unfortunately this basic democratic right of ours has been criminalized; you can go to jail for criticizing a particular institution. And ofcourse it’s the same institution that has the most say in our country’s policies.
You can’t raise your voice for student rights. You can’t voice your opinion against the oppression of women. You can’t demand the safe recovery of the people who are forcefully disappeared. Because if you do so, you’ll soon become the one who has disappeared.
You can’t even demand fundamental human rights for the people of Pakistan. We are not free if we cannot criticize our institutions and hold them accountable for our miseries.
If we talk about the student’s rights, we can see that they have no rights. There is no political freedom in educational institutions. The most pathetic thing is that student unions are still banned in Pakistan. Student unions play an important role in politicizing the youth and ending the authoritarian rule in the educational institutions. Students get a proper platform to raise their voice and have a say in the administrative policies.
If we want to celebrate freedom, we must first achieve it properly. We need to raise our voice against the people who are in power. Those who are suppressing all dissenting voices. Political understanding is necessary for every individual to point out the real culprits and oppressors. Together, the masses must stand up against all those forces who hijacked our freedom movement and gave us new chains in the name of freedom. We must speak now what we are not allowed to speak. It is high time that we snatch back our lost freedom.
Jab Tak Janta Bhooki Hai
Hr Azadi Jhoti Hai
The writer is a graduate of Forman Christian College University Lahore. He identifies, politically, as a Seraiki nationalist.