“A thoughtful mind when it sees the nation’s flag sees not the flag but the nation itself,” goes an old saying. Flag of a country stands for a universally recognized symbol of a nation’s glory and honor. It happens to be the embodiment of a nation’s history and sentiment. Its color, whatever it may be, is as sacred as blood; its cloth is an honorable as the collective security, liberty, and integrity of a nation.

It is a universally acknowledged phenomenon that the most recognized symbol of national pride and history, such as a national flag or a national anthem, demand a great deal of respect and a deep sense of allegiance on the part of its people. Such established universal norms as the prestigious status of a country’s flag are smooth, ever running, undisturbed streams of water. No change is ever expected to come their way. The whole nation agrees upon an uncontroversial agenda regarding the status of some of its very precious assets which stand as the nation’s pride and honor for all times to come. However, sometimes quite unnoticeably strange sort of ripples starts to disturb the smooth flow of the value systems formed by these norms. In the initial phase of their makeup, these ripples may appear irksome to the imagination of only a few in the society, and that too by chance. Such disturbances may die out with the passage of time, but they may also create bigger ripples developing into whirlpools in the long run, if allowed to go unnoticed or unchecked.

It so happened that one of the prestigious educational institutions in Punjab, namely the University of Gujrat, brought out its annual table calendar for 2018 with the most unforgivable negligence made on its cover page by the concerned authorities. The title shows the two flags hoisted probably on the main building of the said institution. To one’s utter astonishment, the national flag of Pakistan appears smaller in size and lower in stature, that too in the background. The picture has been taken in such a manner that the national flag stands behind the university flag in it, as though on the second position. The flaw in photography is such that the university’s flag takes a more prominent and prestigious position, overshadowing the crescent and star of our country in quite a blatant manner. One feels like debating over the argument whether the disgrace done to the national flag by the people concerned was a deliberate carelessness or unintentional negligence. It may be considered if one’s imagination is allowed to run free, an intentional attempt as well with some ulterior motive behind it.

Whatever it was, it certainly amounts to be bracketed as criminal. To one’s utter dismay, the people of the university did not realise this blunder even later during the course of the year 2018, which is now already drawing to its end. It is said that when a nation starts to crumble from within, its oneness begins to crumble. As it is this oneness with which a flag is identified. There is no denying the fact that we owe the best position, the best tribute and the best salute to the pillar of glory from which we all draw our strength to move on as a nation. The country is witnessing a strange phase of its history these days. If one starts to feel the pulse of change with time, it certainly is moving towards the most undesirable direction as far as the stability of our national solidarity is concerned. Young minds are being polluted through an unconscious, slow poisoning kind of process that would eventually derail them from the right path of thinking, thereby shaking the very ideology of Pakistan in the long run.

In times of yore, when Pakistan Television, PTV, reigned supreme on the screen, quotes from the speeches of the Quad-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and verses from Allam Mohammad Iqbal used to be a regular segment before the start of every news transmission. Every now and then, Madam Noor Jahan would chant the passionate poetry of Iqbal in her melodious voice. It was quite heartening to see even little children knowing Iqbal by heart, whether or not they understood him fully well. Our youth celebrated him at every level to the extent of worshipping him. Historical iconic figures like Mohtarma Fatima Jinnah and Sir Syed Ahmed Khan used to be the idols of academic activity. As of late, several attempts have been made to remove these heroic figures to the background from the main sources of communication and awareness, i.e., media and the educational curriculum of our institutions. If viewed from the backdrop of these circumstances, every error or omission that ultimately damages our slogan of ‘Unity, Faith, and Discipline” seems like a well-defined imported evil agenda set against the very spirit of nationalism in our society.

Right now, we have to fight the menace of terrorism, extremism, sectarianism, and provincialism all at the same time. In their place, we have to rejuvenate the spirit of nationhood among our people if we have to keep the fabric of our society intact. In this regard, the greatest responsibility lies on the shoulders of all the educational institutions of our country. They will have to chalk out a plan that aims at the promotion of everything that ensures the solidarity of our people as one nation. They will have to provide a panacea for the gradual erosion of our sacred values and assets that we have received as a legacy. They will have to equip the youth with the same sentiment that Iqbal once dreamt of, a sentiment which enlightens them in a desire to touch the skies like a falcon in the face of opposing winds, a determination that drives them crazy to jealously guard the very ideology of Pakistan. In this regard, let no such unhealthy environment take its shape, which is suitable and conducive for the virus of disharmony and disintegration to spread in the country. Let no ripple disturb the smooth functioning of our precious value system.

 

The writer is Asst Prof of English, is a gold medalist in Masters in English Literature from Kinnaird College, Lahore, and has done her M-Phil in English Literature from Islamia University Bahawalpur.

 sonia.bokhari72@gmail.com