Archive | July, 2012

What Should We Change?

12 Jul

“Okay, Imaan, you talk a lot about what you want to change in Pakistan – but lets say you were given the opportunity to change one particular thing, what would that be?” This is a question one of my friends asked me yesterday, expecting my response to be of the stereotypical kind; eradicate corruption possibly, maybe improve the economy – the usual. I thought long and hard about what ONE thing i could change that would bring peace, stability and prosperity into the lives of 172 million people, particularly the majority of the population suffering deprivation of basic human rights.

So finally i said, “Well, if there was one thing i could change, it would be the mindset of the population.” Rather shocked and infuriated at my response, a few of my friends responded, “You’re always stuck on this, Imaan, move on yaar, there are other problems – theres people dying!” What i wanted them to understand, and what i want everyone reading this to understand is that Pakistan is a country that has no shortage of crises. We have an energy crisis, water shortage, starvation, poverty, illiteracy and a government plagued with corruption. However, we have no shortage of solutions. With the right leaders, an effective team and a determination to be the change that we wish to see in our society, Pakistan can very quickly be put on the right track. So, why did i say i have such a problem with the mindset in this country? Why is it that countries with Islamic heritage like Turkey (which is now secular) and Malaysia develop, whilst Pakistan is left to rot. This is essentially because, unfortunately, as a whole, we suffer from the problems associated with having a warped mentality. People who wish to bring a change have their characters slandered and maligned on public forums and in the media. So how can the honest people even get a chance to come forward? If we say anything about progressive values and minority rights, our lives are under constant threat, as we saw when Taseer and Bhatti spoke out against a Blasphemy Law, which remains till this day the reason why Muslims and non-Muslims in Pakistan are persecuted and murdered. We must understand that our religion, the religion of the State, i.e. Islam, is one with one of the most progressive values. What does Islam teach us? Does it teach us to kill, rape and steal? Ofcourse not, there is no religion in the world that teaches us values detrimental to mankind. We must work for the rights of those that have been persecuted since the introduction of this law. At the end of the day, whether our illiterate Maulvis like it or not, the law is a man-made law and if we truly believe in our faith, we are very seriously disrespecting it by going against its values, such as securing basic human rights, especially for minorities.

Similarly, this mindset extends to the elite which thinks they can get away with anything, even murder and the highest degree of corruption. We have prime examples in our midst, holding the country’s most significant official posts. In Pakistan, the law is unequal – there are fundamental loopholes in the law which allow the law for the rich to be completely different from the law applicable to the poor. And when the law is perfectly suffficient, the system is such that no one is equal before the law, and those with cash in hand and loaded bank accounts are always above the law. We have to look inwards and see little things we do on a daily basis – ask yourselves: do i throw trash out of my car window while driving? How many times have i picked up rubbish from a public place and disposed off it in the proper way? Do i break the signal when no-ones looking? Have i driven over the speed limit and gotten away with it? Did my parents send me abroad to study and have i just stayed there because i feel i owe nothing back to my country? Everyone of us is flawed in our own way, but it is time to rise above these flaws and look out for the greater cause – a better Pakistan. It is with this in mind that i ask all Pakistanis, whether they are Ahmadi, Shia, Sunni, Christian, to realize that our country is in need. It is in need of us to rise above our religious differences and petty disputes. Our responsibility does not begin and end with voting responsibly – it encompasses actively participating in the system; working within our means to ensure that others who lack awareness are educated on what choices entail what consequences. Yes, not everyone has to be a politician, and ofcourse, not everyone SHOULD either, but we must all understand how important each one of us is in the scheme of things. So from today, when you leave your house, don’t say “what can i change?” All Pakistanis should stand united and say “what should we change today?”

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What Should We Change?

12 Jul

“Okay, Imaan, you talk a lot about what you want to change in Pakistan – but lets say you were given the opportunity to change one particular thing, what would that be?” This is a question one of my friends asked me yesterday, expecting my response to be of the stereotypical kind; eradicate corruption possibly, maybe improve the economy – the usual. I thought long and hard about what ONE thing i could change that would bring peace, stability and prosperity into the lives of 172 million people, particularly the majority of the population suffering deprivation of basic human rights.

So finally i said, “Well, if there was one thing i could change, it would be the mindset of the population.” Rather shocked and infuriated at my response, a few of my friends responded, “You’re always stuck on this, Imaan, move on yaar, there are other problems – theres people dying!” What i wanted them to understand, and what i want everyone reading this to understand is that Pakistan is a country that has no shortage of crises. We have an energy crisis, water shortage, starvation, poverty, illiteracy and a government plagued with corruption. However, we have no shortage of solutions. With the right leaders, an effective team and a determination to be the change that we wish to see in our society, Pakistan can very quickly be put on the right track. So, why did i say i have such a problem with the mindset in this country? Why is it that countries with Islamic heritage like Turkey (which is now secular) and Malaysia develop, whilst Pakistan is left to rot. This is essentially because, unfortunately, as a whole, we suffer from the problems associated with having a warped mentality. People who wish to bring a change have their characters slandered and maligned on public forums and in the media. So how can the honest people even get a chance to come forward? If we say anything about progressive values and minority rights, our lives are under constant threat, as we saw when Taseer and Bhatti spoke out against a Blasphemy Law, which remains till this day the reason why Muslims and non-Muslims in Pakistan are persecuted and murdered. We must understand that our religion, the religion of the State, i.e. Islam, is one with one of the most progressive values. What does Islam teach us? Does it teach us to kill, rape and steal? Ofcourse not, there is no religion in the world that teaches us values detrimental to mankind. We must work for the rights of those that have been persecuted since the introduction of this law. At the end of the day, whether our illiterate Maulvis like it or not, the law is a man-made law and if we truly believe in our faith, we are very seriously disrespecting it by going against its values, such as securing basic human rights, especially for minorities.

Similarly, this mindset extends to the elite which thinks they can get away with anything, even murder and the highest degree of corruption. We have prime examples in our midst, holding the country’s most significant official posts. In Pakistan, the law is unequal – there are fundamental loopholes in the law which allow the law for the rich to be completely different from the law applicable to the poor. And when the law is perfectly suffficient, the system is such that no one is equal before the law, and those with cash in hand and loaded bank accounts are always above the law. We have to look inwards and see little things we do on a daily basis – ask yourselves: do i throw trash out of my car window while driving? How many times have i picked up rubbish from a public place and disposed off it in the proper way? Do i break the signal when no-ones looking? Have i driven over the speed limit and gotten away with it? Did my parents send me abroad to study and have i just stayed there because i feel i owe nothing back to my country? Everyone of us is flawed in our own way, but it is time to rise above these flaws and look out for the greater cause – a better Pakistan. It is with this in mind that i ask all Pakistanis, whether they are Ahmadi, Shia, Sunni, Christian, to realize that our country is in need. It is in need of us to rise above our religious differences and petty disputes. Our responsibility does not begin and end with voting responsibly – it encompasses actively participating in the system; working within our means to ensure that others who lack awareness are educated on what choices entail what consequences. Yes, not everyone has to be a politician, and ofcourse, not everyone SHOULD either, but we must all understand how important each one of us is in the scheme of things. So from today, when you leave your house, don’t say “what can i change?” All Pakistanis should stand united and say “what should we change today?”