Frank Islam (Washington): As we enter the holiday season and approach the new year, I want to take this opportunity to extend my heartfelt best wishes to and for Pakistan and Pakistanis.
Because of Covid-19, 2020 has been a trying year. We have all had to try harder. We have done so across the board and it is paying off. Vaccines are now being distributed in the U.K., the U.S. and in other countries and will soon be distributed in Pakistan.
That is a reason for hope and to be of good cheer as we enter the holidays. I am confident that we will have many other reasons for hope and good cheer in 2021.
That said here are my wishes for Pakistan and Pakistanis for:
- The upcoming holiday of Quaid-e-Azam Day
- The Pakistan national and religious holidays to be celebrated in 2021
- The issues that are confronting Pakistan domestically
- Pakistan in the South Asian region,
- Pakistan’s relations internationally.
My wish for Quaid-e-Azam Day, the birthday of Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan on this December 25, is that we remember two things that he told us:
- The first is, “With faith, discipline and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.”
- The second is, “No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you.”
My wishes for Pakistan’s national holidays in 2021 are as follows
For Kashmir Solidarity Day, I wish that the opening of the Karpartur corridor facilitates conciliation and collaboration to replace the combat and conflict in Kashmir
- For Pakistan Day, I wish for a parade of peace with citizens locked together arm in arm to demonstrate that civic engagement is the best weapon
- For Labour Day, I wish that all workers be recognized appropriately for the contributions that they make to ensure the growth and development of Pakistan
- For Independence Day, I wish for the Pakistan democracy to become stronger and unity among all the citizens of the country
My wish for the religious holidays is that they be used to continue to demonstrate the love, understanding, and respect that we Muslims have not only for those of our own religion but for those of all religions.
My wishes for the issues confronting Pakistan domestically focus on poverty, education, jobs, corruption, and climate change.
- For poverty, I wish that the government’s ongoing efforts to reach out to those in dire straits increase and significantly reduce the number of those in need of assistance
- For education, I wish that all Pakistanis receive the primary and secondary education and the advanced education required to be productive members of the workforce and responsible citizens
- For jobs, I wish that Pakistan create and bring new industries in the service, technology, and other sectors to generate millions of good-paying jobs
- For corruption, I wish that the reform initiatives make good government and business practices the order of the day across the nation
- For climate change, I wish that the environment is protected and restored in a way that is both climate-sensitive and jobs producing
My general wish for the region is that the South Asian nations forge a meaningful alliance that moves them closer to being an interdependent community producing economic, cultural and societal benefits for all. My specific wish for the region is that 2021 brings India and Pakistan closer together working on a new beginning and establishing agreements that are fair and balanced for both sides.
My general wish for Pakistan internationally is that it continues to grow in status as a developing nation and to emerge as a player on the world stage edging us toward more united nations. My specific wish internationally relates to Pakistan’s relation with the United States.
It is that the relationship changes from the transactional one that was had with the Trump administration to a strategic relationship with the Biden administration. That relationship would produce a fresh start in bilateral relations and pro-Pakistan policies from the United States.
To sum it up, my overriding wish for Pakistan and Pakistanis is a happier, healthier and holier new year. In closing, I will share this thought.
During the entire month of Ramadan, we engage in fasting from sunset to renew our faith and redirect our thoughts from focusing only on daily activities to reflect upon and do things to benefit society and most importantly to help others who are in need.
Given that, my final wish is that 2021 is a year of reflection, renewal, and redirection in which Pakistan, Pakistanis, and partners from around the world come together to make those wishes come true.
Those are my holiday and new year’s wishes for Pakistan and Pakistanis. May God bless us all and grant those wishes as this year ends, in the new year, and in the years to come.
(Frank F. Islam is an Entrepreneur, Civic Leader, and Thought Leader based in Washington DC. The views expressed here are personal)