Ghairat hai bari cheez jahan e tugg o dau main
Pehnaati hai Darvaish ko taaj e sar e Daara
[Armaghan e Hijaz]
(In this world of till and toil Honour is of great value
Bestows upon the Dervish the crown of Darius!)
On 26th February 1948, the first US Ambassador presented himself before the Quaid-e-Azam. During the presentation ceremony, the American ambassador gave a speech, offering financial support and assistance to Pakistan. At that time, Pakistan was a very young state struggling to stand on its feet. It was pushed under the burden of hundreds of thousands of refugees, faced with an empty treasury, and a mountain of challenges. It was in desperate need of financial support.
However, this is how this man of integrity, the Father of the Nation, replied to the liberal and generous offer made by the US Ambassador:
“I thank Your Excellency for your friendly assurances of sympathy in dealing with our many problems. I also deeply appreciate your confidence that our traditions and our past will help us to fulfill the hopes and ideals of our people. In return I can assure Your Excellency that after having emerged from an eclipse which lasted over a century and a half, the people of Pakistan desire nothing which is not their own, nothing more than the goodwill and friendship of all the free nations of the world. We in Pakistan are determined that having won our long-lost freedom we will work to the utmost limit of our capacity not only to build up a strong and happy State of our own but to contribute in the fullest possible measure to international peace and prosperity.”
This gesture of the Quaid, whereby he explicitly refused to accept financial aid even in such desperate times, was meant to send a strong message to our future generations, to set an example of national integrity and to sustain our collective ego. We were an honourable nation with a great sense of self. We could not exchange our ghairat for US aid. We could not exchange one set of masters for another.
Yet, after the Quaid, our leaders deflected from this ideal of self-sustenance and not only willingly accepted but also exulted in this aid. This has continued until now when we have reached a point where we appear to be collectively infected by an immune system disorder – a diseased nation, dependent on others. This dependency has grown into an addiction of the worst kind, which appears to have incapacitated our nation. This aid is causing us to self-destruct on the inside. Our collective ego has been shattered to pieces, and our integrity gone with the wind! Burnt away by this poison of foreign aid which we allowed to be injected within our veins.
Self-respect is the only thing that keeps nations alive, and nations who thus beg for foreign sustenance cannot be choosers or architects of their own fate. The fact is, the myth that we simply cannot survive without foreign aid was actually shattered in 1998, following the nuclear attacks carried out by Pakistan, when the US imposed economic sanctions on Pakistan. Did we not manage to survive those sanctions, which were only lifted when another dictator sold the nation into American slavery once again?
I will not go into the details of what and how. I am not an economist, or an analyst, but an idealist who desires to see her nation standing on its own two feet, to be self-reliant and self-sustaining. I am a patriot who desires her nation to rid itself of the US aid, and of self-proclaimed “masters” who, instead of putting their own house in order, have the audacity to demand that we “do more,” ignoring our sacrifices and the fact that we are cleaning up their mess.
It is time we sincerely heeded the advice given to us by Iqbal:
Aye Tayer e lahooti, us rizq say maut achi
Jis rizq say ati ho parwaaz main kotaahi!
[Bal E Jibreel]
(O Bird, who flies to the Throne of God, You must keep this truth in sight,
To suffer death is nobler far Than bread that clogs your upward flight.)