This March 23rd, admit that you do not love Pakistan

Published: March 23, 2016

For me loving Pakistan is loving the people who belong to this country; my people. It is this sense of belonging that creates a bond between a family, a tribe, a town and a country. PHOTO: AYESHA MIR/ EXPRESS

I do not believe that patriotism and the expression of love for our country ought to be limited to just a couple of occasions like March 23rd or August 14th. Yet here I am, writing a piece for one of these very days, which is less of a celebration and more of a concern.

I have said and heard the phrase “I love Pakistan” a million times and wondered what it really means. Love for the soil, the seas and the sand, for the land that is Pakistan’s territory?

For me loving Pakistan is loving the people who belong to this country; my people. It is this sense of belonging that creates a bond between a family, a tribe, a town and a country.

Love, as one of its characteristics, has the urge to better the loved one’s life. Selflessness is an essential ingredient of love. Benefitting one’s self at the cost of detriment to another is not love by any stretch of the imagination. Yet, that is what a huge majority of us do in our daily lives. We loot billions, while in offices of power, we manufacture and sell fake medicine risking each other’s lives, we provide substandard food items playing havoc with the health of our people, we lie through the teeth while selling products deceiving others into paying more for an item that is worth much less, we violate traffic rules putting the lives of our fellows in danger – all of this for a little benefit for ourselves regardless of its grave implications on the lives of our own people. I cannot even think of doing any of those things to anyone in my family, because I love them. If I can do it to someone else, I obviously do not love that someone else.

A soldier’s patriotism is often deemed unquestionable, for he is willing to sacrifice his own life for his country. This is an epitome of love, since life is the most valuable of worldly assets. It is this kind of love that one has for his family. Frequent and shameless vile actions of some in our society and inconsiderate silence of others, are acts unbecoming of an emotion as sincere and pure as love.

From being raped to committing suicide for denial of justice, the indifference of our society towards the victim speaks volumes of the care and concern that we have for that child, or others who may follow. If I am content and do not act as long as the threat stays miles away from my own daughter or sister, it is the sister and daughter that I love, not my country’s children, not my country.

We jump on an opportunity to criticise the vices of other Pakistanis, all the time ignoring our own ills. Pakistan bashing aside; bigotryintolerance and polarisation has made us opinionated and judgmental. Peaceful differences of opinion find no space in our interactions. We cannot agree to disagree. For the believer of each narrative, the believer of another is a traitor or a fool. Be it Malala YousafzaiSharmeen Obaid Chinoy, Shafqat Amanat’s unintentional mistake, or any other issue, we find ourselves at each other’s throats for having an opinion different than our own.

In times of tragedy like December 16, 2014, we do manage to stand together but we haven’t yet learned to stand united. At times political affiliations blind us, at others, religious beliefs turn us into blood thirsty primates.

Patriotic songs, flag coloured clothes, festive celebratory events, wearing the Pakistani flag on our chests and decorating our homes with it, are all testaments to the assertion, not the fact, that we love Pakistan. Our actions – not our words or shrieks – will give merit to our claims.

My love for Pakistan would not allow me to distinguish between a Shia Pakistani and a Sunni Pakistani, a non-Muslim and a Muslim Pakistani, a Punjabi and a Pakhtun, a male and a female citizen, a rich Pakistani and a poor Pakistani. If and when I love Pakistan, I will love them all; beyond cultural, ethnic, religious, political and social divides.

Unfortunate as it is, patriotism, like democracy, is turning into a fiction. It used to be a reality, may be owing to the fight for independence and then frequent wars with India our older generations were tied together in a national bond. But as time passes the grip loosens, the bond is breaking.

Tall claims, articles and promises won’t do us any good. We do not need a messiah or the perfect political leader to come and make us love each other, we do not need democracy or dictatorship for that either. To love our country we need to start loving each other, it is that simple.

Let’s not make any promises this March 23rd. Let us just try and love our country, before we go on to celebrate a love in waiting.


Zafar Zulqurnain Sahi

A Lawyer by profession. A Gold Medalist in LLB from Punjab University and has a LLM degree from University of Warwick, UK. He is also a former Member Provincial Assembly of Punjab (2008-2013). He tweets @ZafarSahi (

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Queen

    Very apt blog Mr Sahi. Hope we (Pakistani nation) can learn to better ourselves with time.Recommend

  • SAIF

    omg..all these attention seeking writers..Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Far away from my home I admit oh yes I do love my country. Every country in this world has flaws, has corrupt individuals, has turmoil. It doesn’t mean hope should be abandoned. On days like these we should have a retrospective and if not promise then even try of giving something back to the country. We should look for what is good in us and how to spread that good.Recommend

  • UT

    I love Pakistan. I loathe Pakistanis. Recommend

  • Usama

    Golden piece of words..Recommend

  • Unknown

    You need to admit that you dont love Pakistan. Do not try to force your disgusting thoughts on othersRecommend

  • HonkyTonk Man

    Dammit, its the 24th… is it too late to admit i don’t love Pakistan or do i have to try again 23rd March 2017??Recommend

  • Keyboard Soldier

    The idea of pakistan needs to be rewritten. The one constituted in 1940s was based on idealism, not on reality.
    The new idealogy of pakistan should be that there should be no ideology.
    We should just accept the fact that for good or bad reasons, the division happened in the past, but now we need an aggressive introspection that reverses our beliefs towards realism.
    The world has changed and is increasingly becoming more integrative.
    Just for the sake of an example, take the case of Belgium, or perhaps Canada for that matter. There is no ideological basis for these countries to exist, yet they are one of the leading nations of the world in politics and economics, respectively.
    Fortunately or unfortunately, the only institution that can lead a mental change for the masses is the establishment of this country, specifically the decision makers sitting in Rawalpindi. A strategic shift from their end should kick-start a reversal towards a better and more enlightened state.Recommend

  • Maverick_NZ

    Spot on by the author. All the technological development of the world’s leading nations, EU, USA are possible because first, their societies don’t back stab each other, and neighbours don’t hate each other. The collective effect of these puts pressure on their leaders to make decisions in favour of all the people, not just a select few. This leads to better environment of social, economical and technological advances.

    We are still stuck at the first step, stop hating each other. Parents in Pakistan teach their kids to back stab and out fox the other person, rather than acting with integrity and honesty. This is and will continue to be our failure.Recommend

  • Salim

    Well said. We are all hyper patriotic about the abstract idea of Pakistan. But we in our lives only care about numero uno and it is a dog eats dog approach to life. So we all hate the people of Pakistan alsoRecommend

  • Jatt Sher

    ‘Idealistic idea of Pakistan’?
    Open this link. It is the Harappa DNA Project, an American genealogical study which shows that Pakistanis (Punjabis, Pashtuns, Balochs, Sindhis) have different genetics as compared to Indians (Marathis, UPites, Biharis, Bengalis, Tamils etc.) Only Indian Punjabis who form only 3% of India and Pakistani Mohajirs who form only 8% of Pakistanis are similar. Pakistan (Indus Region) has historically been ruled by different empires as to Mainland and Peninsular India such as Indo-Greeks, Scythians, Huns, Acaheminids, Kushans and Parthians and has been more influnced by BuddhismRecommend

  • Read Below

    They do not. What you are reading is a fantasy based conspiracy theory no different than man has never landed on the moon and the earth is flat.

  • Jatt Sher

    It is a research done by an American genealogical institute. Pakistan (Indus Region) was only united by with Mainland and Peninsular India for only a short 80 years and that too by Buddhist Ashoka, before the arrival of Islam and later under Islamic Mughals and Christian British.
    Unless, of course, you reject all scientifc, historic and geneaological proof, this argument will be pointless. All this is very easily verifiable on the Internet, books, anywhere. You simply cannot call historical and genetic proof, which does agree with your ideology, as ‘conspiracy theories’.Recommend

  • Jatt Sher

    It is a genealogical research by an independent American genealogical institue. Unless, of course, you reject all scientifc and historical proof, this argument will be pointless.
    Pakistan (Indus Region) was only united with Mainland and Peninsular India for only a short 90 years and that too by Buddhist Ashoka, before the arrival of Islam. All this is very easily verifiable on the Internet, books, anywhere. You simply cannot call all proven scientific, genetic and historical evidence, which does not agree with your ideology, as ‘consiporacy theories’.Recommend

  • farheana12

    This is ridiculous. If you truly know your history, then you will be aware that Pakistan was created for all muslims of the subcontinent – so muslims from all over India came to Pakistan – from the South India, from North India, central India etc. and hence Pakistan population is made up of sizeable proportion of migrants from all over india who are true Pakistanis.

    There is no such thing as an ‘ethnic Pakistani’ because the existence of pakistan was primarily ideological. There are only ethnic Baloch, ethnic Sindhi, ethnic Pasthun, ethnic punjabi etc. of which only the Baloch and Pashtun can be said to have greater proportion of ANI genes – Sindh had a genetic lineage similar to Gujarat or Maharasthra in India, and Punjab is Indian btw.

    As it is India has higher number of ANI descendents than Pakistan!! Most Indians from Kashmir, Himachal, northern provinces, Punjab many from Maharasthra and west Bengal have sizable ANI genes. So that in that sense India can be said to be racially ‘closer’ to afghans and Iranians simply in terms of numbers LOL sorry…

    Also, just accept reality that overall, more Pakistanis are dark skinned as compared to North Indians in general (and less number as compared to south Indian people).

    Gees you guys are not Iran or Afghanistan! you are basically indian ethnically and genetically – just need to get over it and embrace your Indian heritage and your darker skin colour compared to caucasians – you need to accept your reality before promoting bad science :/ Loving your nation comes wayyy after that.Recommend