THE nation celebrates today its 35th anniversary of independence with due solemnity and festivity. Like in the previous years, it will pay tributes to the memory of the valiant sons of the soil who had waged a bloody war against the Pakistani occupation army and embraced martyrdom. There will also be no dearth of appreciation of the contributions of the surviving liberation war heroes on this auspicious occasion. The nation will go on remembering this glorious part of its history that remains a beacon of hope and a constant source of inspiration.
The celebration apart, the anniversary of the independence day offers the nation an opportunity to search its soul and look in retrospect how far the basic objectives of the liberation war have been fulfilled. This is important in the context of the nation's endeavours to making things better for the present as well for the future. The people of the then East Pakistan waged the freedom struggle when political and economic exploitation by the ruling class coming from the then West Pakistan had reached its peak and the military junta tried to nullify their electoral verdict. Independence achieved through a bloody war has given the nation the political freedom, considered from a broader perspective. But what about the economic freedom which is considered important to make political freedom meaningful?
For both the issues of political and economic freedom, there are clear scopes for looking at the developments both positively and negatively. It is like seeing a glass half-full or half-empty. Barring the periods of autocratic rule in the garb of democracy or under military regimes, the country has been under democratic dispensation since the early part of the nineties. The electorates have been choosing their representatives freely and three democratically elected political governments have been in-charge of the affairs of the state. Yet the people do not seem to be happy with the quality of governance and the quality of politics that is being pursued by the political parties. When they find their country is being ranked as the world's most corrupt one for the five consecutive years in a situation where two major political parties are engaged in a sort of unhealthy rivalries, the people do have reasons to be frustrated. They want the political leaders to be accommodative and visionary to lead the country towards the goals of peace and prosperity. However, in spite of the failure of the politicians to deliver goods to the desired level, the people have not lost their faith in democracy with the hope that things would change for the better with the passage of time.
On the economic front too, there are both achievements and failures. Massive poverty is still a stark reality. But what is heartening is that the scourge has been on the decline for more than one decade and a half. The government and the 'development partners' have now focused all their attention to devising programmes to reduce the poverty level at a faster pace by enhancing the country's economic growth rate. The macroeconomic performance of the country has been laudable with an average 5.0 GDP growth rate throughout the '90s and in the subsequent years. The private sector has emerged quite strongly, in spite all the hurdles, and is making its mark in the economy. The country has also made remarkable progress in social sectors, so far as human resource development is concerned. The poor who constitute the bulk of the population have a built-in propensity to remain satisfied if their basic minimum requirements are fulfilled. But, unfortunately, the politicians, who occupy the seats of power by turn, have failed to satisfy even that for a variety of reasons. Pervasive corruption and poor governance are, of course, at the top of the list of those reasons. On this solemn occasion, the nation can only hope and pray that good sense would prevail upon the leaders and others -- who matter most in the affairs of the state -- to engage themselves in the task of translating the hopes and aspirations of the martyrs of the liberation war into a reality.