Orphaned after the first year of coming into existence; dismembered before turning 25; having endured successive martial laws; with none of its prime ministers completing their tenures whilst one was even sent to the gallows; plagued by terrorism from within and outside; fighting foreign-funded proxy wars; countenanced radicalization of society; departed from rule of law and constitutionalism; looted with impunity and plundered with intent by the ravenous elite, Pakistan is the miracle of the 20th century. It is slowly and steadily descending to the status of a failed state with all institutions crumbling under the weight of their omissions and transgressions. The real victim that suffered the most from this colossal collapse of the state’s moral and ideological structure was the people of Pakistan. The constitution that embodied the sacred covenant between the state and its citizens were rendered worthless. A parallel system emerged that granted absolute and unquestionable power to the unelected offices over the elected ones. This glaring tilt in the power dynamics of the country, alien to our constitution, was accepted by all. The judiciary of yesteryear even proceeded dutifully to stamp it with legitimacy. Any governance system that does not originate from rule of law always seeks perpetuity, preservation, penetration and protection of its interests through force and resources under its command. This is achieved with a controlled and monitored process where the opposition to the system is crushed. Then, an embryonic and conceding mindset is created in the political and bureaucratic leadership that is eventually thrust upon the masses, persuading them to acknowledge it as having a genuine representative character. In the last 75 years, Pakistan has scuttled back and forth from one system of governance to another. Every time the main purpose, it seems, was to keep the population out of the power equation, even by those who relied on public opinion for their political ambitions. Our twin brother, India, experienced a period of stability after partition and framed its constitution in 1950. Jawahar Lal Nehru, riding popular support, ruled for about 16 years (1950 to 1964) followed by Indra Gandhi’s rule of almost another 16 years (1966-1977 and 1980 to 1984). These 32 years set the vision and direction of India, from which they profited immensely. Whereas in these 32 formative years, Pakistan had nine prime ministers who were all prematurely ousted, the first constitution of Pakistan framed and adopted in 1956 was abrogated in 1958 when martial law was imposed, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, a popular leader, was hanged by the orders of the Supreme Court. Fatima Jinnah, the mother of the nation, was tagged as an anti-Pakistan agent and Bangalis broke away; taking a chunk of Pakistan with them. Today, India is one of the biggest economies in the world with a proud foreign exchange reserve of close to US$ 570 Billion. Bangladesh, 20 years younger than Pakistan, after proclaiming independence, experienced turbulent times and even faced martial law and multiple military coups. But it too survived and was able to harness the torrents of tyranny. Today, Bangladesh has a thriving economy with foreign exchange reserves that touched US$ 48 Billion in August 2021. It would be interesting to add that since the 1990s, Pakistan availed 11 IMF (total 23 in 75 years) programs, Bangladesh three and India none. The last time India availed of an IMF program was in 1991! While the world around us prospered, Pakistanis struggled under the menace of constant debilitating instability that irreparably damaged the fundamentals of the economy. The main impact has been on the psyche of the population that was, by now, accustomed to an existence without rights and freedoms. The generation of the late 60s and 70s had a muffled receptivity, unable to launch any meaningful resistance to elite capture. They had offered a silent endorsement to the system as a means of their survival and generations after them. But all political pundits and historians know that systems come with a shelf life. Nothing is perpetual or permanent in this world. The rise and fall of empires point towards this undeniable fact. In the last hundred years, we have witnessed the decimation of various systems of governance believed by the creators to be indestructible. The untiring wheels of history have now entered Pakistan. April 2022 saw the fall of one government through a vote of no confidence, a constitutional move, albeit with many suspect shades. The VNC was successful in not only ousting a sitting government but also inspiring the sitting masses to stand up. In that sense, April 2022 can be regarded as a springboard for a grand awakening that followed VNC. We saw that from fear of expression, the nation catapulted into an unbridled, at times, reckless, domain of freedom of expression where every news and view, true or otherwise, against the sitting government was considered kosher. The clouds of despair suppressing free thought cleared rather unexpectedly and a sense of invigorating unprocessed awareness dawned upon the people of Pakistan. An unrefined yet liberating realization entered our national discourse where people, ousted from the power equation, vociferously stressed that they are included and counted. Many seasoned commentators advise caution and restraint, and rightly so. In the pursuit to seek an emphatic win, one must not lose sight of the costs. Social media provided the perfect platform that allowed the previously uninterested masses to openly share their opinions. The youth, women and middle-class families of Pakistan, hitherto apolitical and sitting it out on the fence while the plunderers ran scot-free, became genuinely politicized and joined their voices to assert their presence. This “X” factor bewildered many and continues to do so. There are no solutions to prevent the flame of self-realization from spreading to the core and contours of the country. Iqbal’s “Khuddi” or self-awareness has landed in 21st-century Pakistan just at the right time. This has happened before when sounds of aware reasoning challenged brute force. Faiz Ahmed Faiz, Ahmed Faraz, Habib Jalib and Famida Riaz wrote about the tyranny of their times. Some even faced retaliation, frequent incarcerations and a life in exile. They triggered the sensibilities of the masses through their words using soft artistic expressions laced with nationalist emotions brimming with love for the country and fellow men and women to warn, reform, educate and prepare their listeners and viewers against the damaging effects of an ignorant and silent existence. “Speak as your lips are free” (Bol ke lab azad hain tere), a classic rendition by Faiz, has captivated many generations. Irrespective of the political lineage, if one were to dispassionately measure the progress made over a specific period, then Pakistan, in the last 12 months, has achieved what it could not in the last seven decades. The general impression, which can be gathered, is that is not about winning elections or offices anymore. People are now claiming ownership of Pakistan as ordained in the constitution. Salus populi suprema lex (the welfare of the people is the supreme law) is now the new mantra that has irreversibly attracted the attention of the masses. People believe that events following April 2022 will be remembered as an era of unmatched awareness when the pretentious garbs of glory were removed and oppression was uncloaked; when the ordinary citizens peacefully demanded their rights and stood unarmed against aggression; when people accepted their conscious being and unburdened themselves from propagated prejudices; when the seats of power were confronted by the common men on the streets; when justice sided with the constitution and when the crusaders of hate and traders of acrimony were silenced by stern hands of the law. This unravelling will take time, even decades, to mature and will face many challenges in its advancement, but one thing is certain: it is as unstoppable as the moving hands of time. The writer is a corporate consultant, political analyst and author. He writes on social, political and legal issues and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.