A classic mathematical problem has had some of our readers leaving angry comments that we had been putting up the wrong headlines saying Pakistan marked its 72nd Independence Day.
“72nd not 73rd,” wrote Muhammad Rauf in response to this story.
“72nd* independence day dude. High on what?” wrote someone called MM.
In our defense, we would like to say that we are not high on anything. If anything, we are still in food comas from Eid dinners and lunches with family.
But yes, we do understand that it is a perfectly valid question: Is Pakistan 72 years old or 73?
The answer is a matter of mathematics and semantics or word-meanings. It is the 73rd Independence Day and the 72nd year of Pakistan’s existence.
We follow how the State or government calculates it. Consider:
August 14, 1947 was Pakistan’s first Independence Day. That is what the Riyasat-e-Pakistan says. It named the first day of our existence as a country Independence Day.
If you include our first independence day and count forward, we have had 73 Independence Days or Youm-e-Azadi.
According to this calculation, in 2019 we have our 73rd Independence Day.
But yes, if you counted the number of years of Pakistan’s “age”, it is indeed 72. In that case, if we were to use the formula people use for their birthdays, our first year of existence wrapped up in 1948 when we became one year old. That would have been our first “birthday” like humans celebrate it.
This is sort of like the classic mathematical train puzzle. You count how many poles a train has passed if it travels a certain number of miles. Poles are a mile apart. For example, if a train is going for 72 miles, it crosses 72 poles plus 1, the pole where it started.