Every year on August 14, Pakistan commemorates Independence Day. Yet, 69 years after independence, many would say, “How can Pakistan be independent when there is poverty, crime, corruption and other deviations of the society present.” However, the talk will not be about why Pakistan is not independent from poverty, crime, corruption and other deviations of the society because that has nothing to do with Pakistan’s independence, but by the people who governed the state for the past 69 years, therefore talk of the topic will be that “is Pakistan independent from its former occupant’s influence?” Despite being an independent state and saying that Pakistan has its own culture, religious freedom, language, and government, Pakistan is still slave to its former masters. The influence and system of the former masters is still present in the country. The question if we ask from any Pakistani, “From who did Pakistan got its independence?” The answer would not be unanimously same that Pakistan got its independence from the British Empire, as some people would answer it differently that it got its independence from India (Bharat). Historically accurate, Pakistan got its independence from British Empire. “Are we free from the Indian or British Empire’s influence?” The answer would be unanimously “yes”, owing to the high spirit patriotism but unfortunately the answer is “no”. Pakistan still has the influence of its former rulers: India and/or British Empire, whichever the people believe were their former rulers. Even today, you can still spot the influence of the British Empire or India and they are not clandestine but most Pakistani would generally ignore it and some who are wise would know of it but would tend to be silent. Their influence is not to be blamed for the current problem in Pakistan, for it was the rulers in the past 69 years who have created the problems. However, their influences have created decline in Pakistani nationalism in the country. We owe it to their influence that we as Pakistani are patriots but when it comes to nationalism, we are away from it. Would it have been possible if Pakistan were not to be influenced by their former master or masters? It worked out great for United States, which is the first country in the history of the world to break away from British Empire and had introduced system and society quite different from British and to this day, United States still have their own judicial system, governmental system and societal system much different from the British. Similar is the case of Bangladesh, which got its independence from Pakistan and has eradicated all Pakistani influence since its creation. The pros are there that if it were not for the British we would have been lost without a proper judicial system, governmental system and societal system but there are also cons of the British’s influence. Many believe without English, there are no good jobs opportunities, as Urdu language does not guarantee jobs even though the bitter reality is that proficiency of any language does not guarantee a job. This notion has something to do with English being Pakistan’s official language and its legacy is still visible today. Even today, we can still see that English language has amalgamated in Urdu language. For example, we will never find a store named “Azam shandar dukhan” though we would generally do come across, is a store written in Urdu but spoken in English “Azam Super Store”. We also do not know the Urdu word for English words like road, television, radio, computer, school, university etc. Even if we do come up with a word for it in Urdu like the Spanish or French did, it would sound so new, different and funny that we would not try to use it. We are discouraged from our cultural dress and encouraged to wear Western dress when going to offices, schools and universities, job interviews and weddings. The education system is divided in Pakistan, where there is Pakistan sponsored education on one side and British sponsored on the other. A person would consider a great privilege for his/her children to be in British education system, which is though quite expensive but worth it because people believe O-Level and A-Level people get good jobs easily and higher salary even though it’s not true. Rulers in Pakistan thought of themselves as monarch because of British monarchical system before and after partition and they still think of themselves as monarch even though reality is that the British prime minister has more power than the unchallenged British monarch does. Yet, the rulers never pondered on this fact and neither did Pakistanis themselves. However, those who say, “Pakistan got its independence from India”, do not know that Indian influence is still around Pakistan. Pakistani society is more or less, like the Indian society because of the shared culture, linguistic and tradition that has persisted before Pakistan came into being. For example, many Pakistanis would go watch Indian movies not because of lingual indifference but because of societal similarities as well, regardless of religion dissimilarities. Such similarities will not be found in Hollywood movies even if a person has proficiency in English thus Pakistanis would favour Indian movies more. Still, even the Indian influence has cons such as we owe it to them for influencing the caste system. Religious intolerance is also something of an Indian influence during and before partition and is still present in Pakistan after the partition. Bollywood movies are so entertaining that we forsake Pakistani movies and lose faith in our film industry unless it has some elements of Bollywood in it. Just a day before this year’s independence, a debate is going on with a friend of mine, “Which two Bollywood movies should we watch on Sunday, August 14; Moen Jo Daro or Rustam?” Our food is no different from Indian as well. A few days ago, I been to renowned eatery that had an Indian city name but typically served Pakistani food that bore Indian names and were expensive but taste no different from a cheap Pakistani food I could find in a typical restaurant. Even when going to a Pakistani wedding, no one can deny for a moment that by putting religion aside, it is more like going to an Indian wedding. Pakistani people need to understand that as a nation they are patriots but this foreign influence has made them forsake their nationalism whereas the Indians and British are proud of their customs and systems and we, the Pakistani people, by following their traits are only making them prouder. These influences have created social stratification in our country where being a Pakistani means nothing if you are not pseudo-British or pseudo-Indian. Even though, these influences have been implanted for more than a decade and are difficult to change but it is not immutable therefore, we must learn to accept culture within Pakistan and think towards nationalism, which is verily present in our country but not to an extent. If we fail to understand this then the answer to the question, “Are Pakistanis independent?” would be unfortunately simply “no”. The views expressed by this writer do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Daily Times.