When your country is turning 70-years-old it is only natural to celebrate. The best way to show our patriotism is to wear green and greet each other a happy Independence Day. But the story usually ends there. Our bickering does not stop about the country. Even media outlets run mostly depressing stories highlighting the need to do something. While there is no disagreement with the fact that it is high time we do something for our country but it can only begin from within us as Pakistanis. We need to endorse our country and feel responsible for our actions. It starts from something very simple; we need to feel happy about our country. For once let us explore the positive aspects. A look around the country reveals that we are blessed with the best ‘mix’ of land possible. Nobody really needs a course in geography to ascertain abundance of mineral resources in the west and the rich fertile land in the east. Let us not forget that this is a time likely to be known later as the days of the ‘launch pad’ for Pakistan. With Chinese knocking on our doorstep for implementation of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) projects, it is not very hard believe that the best place to be in business right now is Pakistan. One of the best possible initiatives in this direction comes from the people of Balochistan: the biggest province of Pakistan rich in mineral wealth. The province is the backbone of our energy reserve and now the gateway for future commerce in the form of Gawadar port. Needless to say there have always been elements active against full utilisation of Balochistan’s potential and they largely attain their objectives by disturbing law and order. Their malicious campaigns know no bounds, as these are the same people who want to shift the global attention from their own atrocities in Kashmir and their insurgent efforts in the form of spies, especially post-CPEC kick-off in 2013. The CPEC aims to explore mineral wealth as well as develop industry and trade in the region and despite relentless smear campaign by propaganda pundits, has seen immense progress. The people of Balochistan stand tall and fight the negative by reiterating their spirit of patriotism time and again, especially after the seminar held in Indian city Agra last month. An unprecedented answer has come in the form of ‘Yaum-e-Azadi’ celebrations” organised by the Government of Balochistan. These celebrations stand testament to the people’s sense of patriotism and commitment. Number of colourful events are being held across Balochistan with people pouring in from all over to participate in various sporting/ educational events, youth seminars and grand flag hoisting ceremony; the main message to the ‘ill-wishers’ out there is pretty loud and clear. One of the highlights of the event is the ‘Balochistan Excellence Awards’; held for the second year in a row. These awards acknowledge the achievements of locals towards making Pakistan a progressing and prospering country in the field of education, arts, social work, sports, culture and science and technology both at national and international level. It is an unprecedented event in recent times and a befitting response to all those who think that external forces have a chance within Pakistan. It also goes to show how Pakistanis are at the forefront of making all the difference not only in their lives but also in redefining Pakistan’s image to the rest of the world. If we look at our endowments then we’ll find ourselves blessed endlessly. All three sectors – agriculture, industry and services – are proof of that. However, let us not forget the turbulence we face with Indians in Indus Water Treaty with depleting water supply and an antiquate irrigation system. Effective external lobbying at concerned forums and better internal management is one of the key factors for survival in the rapidly shaping environment. If we are to enter the modern era with our head held high, working on the economy will only help partially. The country must develop a proactive foreign policy. CPEC stands to offer a good time to forge new alliances especially in the wake of developing situation at regional and international levels. A little reflection will take us a long way in realising the true value of our country and our resources. There is no time like now to come up with plans to boost accountability and rule of law. There can quite simply be no progress if there is no paradigm shift in people’s mindset. We need to own our country and build it. So let us not dream anymore and take practical steps towards countering all that is negative. We need to endorse the positive aspects and let the world know we own Pakistan and we need to take practical steps to make the most of whatever comes our way. This seems to be the ideal formula to survive and thrive in times to come. The writer can be contacted at [email protected] Published in Daily Times, August 9th 2017.