What It Means to Be Pakistani

31 Mar

We’ve all heard the comments, some made for the sake of humour whilst others are more serious. We’re a controversial nation, with the minority of violent extremists trying their best to defame the entire populous of more than 170 million. The international community wonders, “If these aren’t their representatives, who are? Is it the corrupt and failing government? The cricketer turned politician leading under a banner for change and a new Pakistan? Is it the group of extremists that targeted polio workers?” It may seem a little tricky to state our identity in a clear, eloquent sentence, let alone a single word, especially considering the identity crisis we’ve been both the perpetrators and victims of for longer than I can remember. So who are we? What does it really mean to be Pakistani?

We’re a nation that has been exploited in the past by a combination of self-serving leaders backed by external powers with their strategic interests that have always been diametrically opposed to ours. We’re a nation that has not had the opportunity to give its youth hope of a better future, due to the lack of education and awareness that plagues our society. We’re a nation that pinned its hopes on the Bhuttos, Sharifs and even the odd military dictator, who shouted the slogans for change and prosperity but never fulfilled those promises when time came to deliver. We’re a nation that has failed to eradicate polio which will cripple future generations of potential that could have led Pakistan somewhere. This paints a dismal picture, but is the unfortunate reality. However, as with all stories, Pakistan is a country where there are two very contrasting stories.

Pakistan is the country that developed an economic plan adopted by countries like Malaysia, which stand where they are today due to the foundation those policies established. Our country is that country which took in an influx of Afghan refugees when our neighbouring country (historically always hostile towards us) was engulfed by conflict. We are the nation that produced genius in the form of Dr. Abdus Salam and Dr. AQ Khan (to name a few), sporting legends like Imran Khan, Aisam-ul-Haq, music gurus inclusive of but not limited to Nusrat Fateh Ali and Noor Jehan. We are also one of the biggest contributors to the UN’s blue beret peace-keeping missions. Pakistan is a country that has institutions like Shaukat Khanum Memorial Cancer Hospital that pose as examples in the international arena of what determination and commitment to fight against a disease like cancer can achieve. We come together in times of disaster, like no other country I have ever seen in the world. We rush to sites of bomb blasts to help possible survivors. We rush to help an old man cross the road because our culture teaches us to respect and give back to our elders and live as a community that helps the less able make the most of what they have.

Pakistan has natural resources any other country in the world would have exploited and used to benefit the economy. We have mountains like K2 and natural beauty in the form of valleys (Swat Valley to name one), rivers and plains. We have youth that wants to develop and learn but have never been given the opportunity, whilst the elite use their heaps of cash to acquire fancy degrees and never come back to their soil. Where does a country like Pakistan go from here; an economy that gets worse on a daily basis, a society in the midst of an identity crisis, engulfed in violence and bloodshed caused due to the hatred spread by a few? The truth is there is no single solution to Pakistan’s problems, but the answer lies in the belief that we can only move forward from here. We may have hit rock bottom, which leaves us with nothing to lose. We have to unite as a society, Muslims and non-Muslims side by side, struggling to achieve Jinnah’s Pakistan that is nowhere to be seen. It isn’t just about casting a vote or supporting a political party – it is about giving back and spreading awareness however you can. Those who have the means have a duty to their soil – a duty to educate those who have not had the same opportunities as them. If we are lucky enough to study abroad, it is our duty to make the most of our degree for our country and for those who deserve to be where we are but were left behind because they couldn’t afford it. If we are lucky enough to have parents that have supported us throughout our lives, emotionally and financially, it is our duty to stand by those young boys and girls who are the victims of domestic abuse in Pakistan. If our families are big political players, it is our duty to encourage those with lesser means such as Badam Zari (the first female from FATA to file nomination papers to contest the 2013 elections) in their struggle for a better and more equal Pakistan.

We must give back to Pakistan every day, in whatever capacity, to ensure our country does not suffer at the hands of another Asif Ali Zardari. We must end the tradition of dynastic politics where feudal lords hold a gun upto a farmer’s head and get a vote in the ballot box. We cannot sit silently and watch our brothers and sisters in the tribal belt murdered in cold blood by the US government and their drone attacks. We must ensure that when we see or hear hatred being spread against minorities, we stand up against this injustice. When we choose to turn a blind eye to our surroundings that is when we lose sight of what truly matters. So, stand up and be counted before you’re on the not-so-pleasant end of the spectrum where more than half our population is forced to stay till we get our acts together and move forward. 

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5 Responses to “What It Means to Be Pakistani”

  1. محمد شهزاد April 1, 2013 at 7:01 am #

    this is a very good article dear sister Allah ap ko khushion say nuwazy. mushkil yeah hay jin lougoun kay liay ap nay likha hay un main say kitny percent yeah english purh sakty hain please think about it my dear sis or please try to translate it so u can convey to those whom u wan to teach

  2. Tasneem Sadiq Shah April 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm #

    Excellent piece of writing.Proud of you Imaan.Keep it up!

  3. Ehsen April 2, 2013 at 9:39 am #

    Who exactly are the target audience for this post? A lot of local slangs, personalities have been mentioned here, which would require some references.

  4. aslam April 2, 2013 at 1:48 pm #

    Bring down Dr.Salam to the level of AQ Khan is a cruel cruel act.Salam was a scientific genius while Khan in most sober words had nothing to do with science Ms.Mazari

  5. saudbinyounis April 4, 2013 at 8:16 pm #

    Reblogged this on SaudBinYounis.

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