This past weekend, the President issued two Messages: one on the Independence of Pakistan, and the other on Indian Independence. The Messages discuss the shared history among freedom fighters in India, Pakistan, and the United States, and address the many ways in which Americans of Pakistani and Indian descent contribute to the mosaic of American life. Take a look below:
INDIA INDEPENDENCE DAY
As Indians stood ready to claim their own fate on August 15, 1947, Prime Minister Nehru declared that a "tryst with destiny," forged years ago, would finally be fulfilled. His words recalled a history of struggle and future filled with hope. Today, sixty-two years since this appraisal, his words still exemplify India’s ongoing journey as it strives to reach new heights.
The history to which the Prime Minister alluded took root in a decades-long struggle for independence. In the 19th century, efforts to challenge aspects of colonial rule reached climaxes in the 1857 rebellion and the founding of the Indian National Congress. The struggle culminated in the civil disobedience movement led by Mahatma Gandhi, and the cause of independence achieved its goal when British rule ended peacefully. Praising Gandhi’s leadership of this movement, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. remarked, "if this age is to survive, it must follow the way of love and non-violence that he so nobly illustrated in his life."
India has attained unprecedented milestones as its democracy has matured. Boasting a vast diversity of ethnicities and languages, India constitutes the largest democratic union the world has ever known. Indian politics have given voice to women and countless minorities, and have demonstrated that Indians stand unified in their commitment to human dignity.
Economically, India is also forging a new path. Fulfilling the promise of internationally-competitive institutes of higher education, Indian professionals are leading their nation into a new phase of growth. From Bangalore to Boston, Indian scientists, engineers, and thinkers are generating ideas and prosperity that improve and save lives across India and the globe. In Bollywood and Hollywood, Indians contribute to films that captivate audiences in every corner of the world. As the Indian economy continues along this promising road, millions are being lifted out of poverty and are carrying the hope for a brighter future.
This vibrant and promising India has a natural friend in the United States. Our people are bound by common values and ideals, and Indian Americans contribute to all aspects of American life. Our fates are tied by the interconnected nature of our world and a shared vision of peace, prosperity, and respect for human rights. Marking Indian Independence Day, the United States and its people celebrate the realization of the vision Prime Minister Nehru described and the bright future it continues to portend for the people of India.
PAKISTAN INDEPENDENCE DAY
At the stroke of midnight on August 14, 1947, a new Nation emerged from the plateaus of Balochistan and the mountains of the North West Frontier Province. More than one hundred years after colonial rule had arrived, it departed. The Quaid-i-Azam would later explain, "The story of Pakistan, its struggle and its achievement, is the very story of great human ideals..." Over the course of its history, Pakistan has encountered and overcome great challenges, and Pakistanis have brought life to the great ideals that Muhammad Ali Jinnah described.
In the earliest days of the Independence Movement, Muslims, Hindus, and other religious groups banded together to turn back the yoke of British rule. In the early 20th century, many Muslims began to pursue a separate homeland for the subcontinent’s Muslims. This pursuit, lead by the Muslim League, ultimately pointed a people towards self-determination and, out of this effort, the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was born.
Since its founding, Pakistan has changed a great deal, but its people still carry forward the proud traditions of their forbears. The unmistakable rhythm of the qawwali and melody of the ghazal reverberate and inspire audiences in Pakistan and across the globe. Pakistani artists and poets elucidate the human experience as they explore time-honored themes such as devotion and love. World-class cricket, field hockey, and polo players participate in regional and international competitions, impressing all those who witness their skill.
The United States has been a friend to Pakistan over the course of much of this storied history, and the American and Pakistani people share deep ties and common aspirations. Americans and Pakistanis have both made sacrifices in the service of justice, democracy, opportunity, and the rule of law. Our Nation knows well the heritage of Pakistanis because of our own proud Pakistani American populations. Living in cities large and small, from the shores of New York to the sands of Hawaii, Pakistani Americans enrich our Nation’s diversity. Their professional contributions, family values, and religious traditions have strengthened our economy and enriched our culture.
As Pakistan enters the next chapter in its history, the United States supports the great human ideals to which we both aspire. Our children deserve the opportunity to receive an education and to achieve their dreams. Our families deserve the right to live freely in peace, to practice their faith without fear of insecurity, and to enjoy respect for the full range of their human rights. Today, as we mark the proud birth of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, the American people recognize our common future, and reaffirm our unyielding support for Pakistan’s democratic institutions and the Pakistani people. Working together, we can ensure that Pakistan rises above its challenges just as it has so many times before.
Kalpen Modi is Associate Director of the Office of Public Engagement