We are an Islamic Republic and should feel very proud of being independent Muslim citizens of an independent Muslim state. However, the pressures being exerted upon us by the Western world and our front-line role in the war against terror have shattered the entire concept of our independence and pushed us into servitude so much that we now feel ashamed in following our own values and religion. First, innocent Pakistanis were handed over to the American government so they could be tortured brutally at Guantanamo Bay and other US prisons. Now attacks have been launched at the madrassas, the grass roots institutions of teaching Islam in this country. The Minister of State for Education yesterday went to the extent of saying that Islamiat, as a compulsory subject, is a burden on students indicating it should now become optional. We must wake up to face the conspiracies being hatched. -UROOBA ALAM, Karachi, via e-mail, April 22.