A Pakistani, and proud of it



It was the year 1947 when the Muslims of the previously unbroken India thrived on hope and prosperity as they watched Pakistan triumphantly gain Independence and acquire recognition as a distinct country on the map, albeit sandwiched between two massive countries, Afghanistan and the notorious India. For the very first time, we were convinced that this marked the advent of eternal peace and success.

She, Pakistan, sprawled beautifully over the vast Arabian Sea, presenting her remarkably pronounced land area that totaled the collective land areas of France and England. Boastful of one of the highest peaks in all lands, harboring some of the most beautiful landscapes the world has to offer, refuge to some of the oldest archaeological remains in existence, and a nation to starry-eyed enthusiastic minds; she was home to us all.

67 years and running, she now seems to be fast deteriorating. The land is distraught; the mountains appear weak as the once scenic landscape has powdered to dust owing to the endless barrage of bullets and bombings. Here it seems, human lives are increasingly devalued, and bad news is always on the rise. The country is collapsing like a house of cards, or so the mass media projects.

The crux of the problems amassing the country today is that everything Jinnah stood for has been dissolved. A Muslim state, in Jinnah’s mind, was modern, but not altogether western. Jinnah believed in clinging to our identity, our morals and our values. It was Islamic yet not fundamentalist. Iqbal and Jinnah anticipated Islam in it’s true, real essence; accepting to change and continuously evolving, progressing. The day the people of Pakistan can understand and work on their ideas, they will make their way out of their prevalent identity crisis.

In face of trying times it is difficult not to worry about the new challenges springing up every passing moment. About one in three Pakistanis are still surviving on less than 50 rupees per day. Nearly 12 million of our children do not have the privilege of being schooled. And worse still, less than 0.5% per cent of our population pays the income tax. The National Debt that we bear rolls at $60 billion, with the result that larger than 60% of Pakistan’s federal revenue goes straight to paying the debts and interest yearly.

Resilient as ever, Pakistan has squared her shoulders and embarked on the hard path of economic reform, bent on improving governance and battling dwindling energy crisis. This, is one of the many steps that the country needs to take to pave its way to glory.

Pakistan, throughout its history, has been plagued by endless democratic shortfalls, widespread exploitation and corruption, and the menace of excruciating terrorism. A country that can stand back on it’s feet after major devastations since it’s traumatic birth – from overcoming the partition of the subcontinent, the bloody breakaway from East Pakistan, the earthquake in the year 2005, the assassination of Benazir Bhutto in 2007, to the horrendous floods in 2010 and to other countless horrors including the scores of rampant brutal target killings – and can give back to it’s people has great potential.

The nation continues to bask in the hope of a better tomorrow for their homeland. Our nation is radiantly diverse, vivacious and proud. Pakistan has a self-motivated and young population, an ever-growing high tech sector, and an amazingly prominent and robust civil society, exemplified by the likes of brave, exemplary individuals such as the real-life saint Abdul Sattar Edhi, the real-life hero Perween Rahman (the lady who was attempting to bring sewer and water services to the poorest of the third largest city in the world, and mercilessly murdered), Irfan Khudi (an activist who perished in a bomb blast in Quetta as he helped the victims of another bomb blast a couple of minutes earlier), and the warrior Malala Yousafzai among other heroic, brilliant individuals.

The nation is privy to the reports about extremism taking over the country day in and day out. The sole reason that there may be a threat of an extremist taking reins or of a breakdown of the dream that our Pakistan is, is owing largely to the silence of our people who have gone on to allow the likes of our political ‘leaders’ to rule our concerns. Our greater part of the population including the educated youth recognizes them and deems them as mindless, and devoid of any aspirations and vision. There is dire insufficiency of intellectual structure that can safeguard against the terrors and oppression of both, the Taliban fundus and the highly miscarried Westminster style parliamentary system which inadvertently serves to make dictatorship a simple resort in a country with defenseless masses, wrecked and crippled institutions and a blatant lack of transparency in dealings of governance and responsibility, rather than facilitate democracy.

Such times call for all Pakistanis to take a stand, and let nothing violate their principles of justice, equality and liberty; not simply for their countrymen, not merely for Muslims everywhere, but for all of humanity.

The strength of a country lies in it’s people, and Pakistan is proud to have it’s people epitomized by starry-eyed optimism, and combat the ongoing crisis head-on. Brilliant, young minds from across the country have been making a name for themselves the world over since time immemorial.

Pakistan’s people pay great heed to values and relationships, and are strongly bonded to one another in a way that is uncommon in other countries – it is an attribute, in fact, that other nations would do well to follow. Pakistan has all the makings of a great nation – what the country needs to better itself is for the country to have a fair government system, equality, peace and prosperity, a finer quality of life, and high-quality education for all.

Pakistan has long been home to geniuses –  from budding photographers, app developers, engineers, doctors, scientists, journalists, to teachers, writers, filmmakers, singers and whatnot. Celebrated examples include Arfa Abdul Karim Randhawa, the computer prodigy who secured the youngest certified Microsoft Professional title at the age of nine, and Ali Moeen Nawazish who set the world record by passing 23 A-levels. Malala Yousafzai, peace ambassador, has become a household name and an icon for millions of people across the globe today. Another noteworthy example is a journalist and documentary filmmaker, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, winner of an Emmy for her documentary ‘Pakistan: Children of the Taliban’, and an Academy Award for ‘Saving Face’.

Even in the face of all adversity, our people are rallying against all odds, each intent on making the world a better place. I firmly believe that with a nation so resilient, Pakistan undoubtedly has phenomenal potential and will rise to to great heights.

–       A Hopeful Pakistani