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Getting to Know The Real Pakistan — (Part 1)

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve come across one too many posts about how bad a place Pakistan is. It’s never bothered me before, but this time, somehow it rankles. Writing off a country as backward, extremist, terrorist, and what not just doesn’t sit well.

And this isn’t the first time, jokes and posts putting down Pakistan abound and I remember them since being a child. From the age when I started to comprehend the concept of countries, I remember being told Pakistan is a bad place, the subtle message being that I must hate Pakistan, for in it lies the proof of my being Indian.

This messaging was everywhere, in papers, on the TV, in people talk. And yet I remember the fun I had had when my Grand-Dad’s childhood friend visited from Karachi. (The friend had chosen to move at partition.) He hadn’t seemed different from us, his description of life didn’t seem unreasonable, and he had the same cute cuddliness my Granddad had. I had really liked that Pakistani.

Then came the phase of college, when being a Muslim seemed tough with bullies repeatedly telling me to go back to Pakistan, calling me a Pakistan-lover, and other names. Stories and media reports didn’t help as they painted a tainted picture of Pakistan and I found myself slipping further on the anti-Pakistan route. My intensified hatred became proof of being a true Indian.

The anti-Pakistan sentiment by itself might have been fine but this isn’t a feeling that limits itself to a country or place, it transfers to people too. With time I found myself starting to believe that Pakistanis were awful people and that the country was a terrible place to live.

That belief lasted until a few years ago, when I met some Pakistanis and they shook up my beliefs, shook them up really well actually. They were a mixed bunch in gender, lifestyle, dressing,… They wore skirts, spoke impeccable English and didn’t hide behind the burkha or beard. They were just as normal as we were. They didn’t seem traumatised, deprived, or curtailed like I had been made to believe.

As I got to know them better, it got clearer that we were not different as people. Our lives, lifestyles, cultures, terrain, mindsets and more were so similar. I found that I really liked these Pakistanis.

Through them I also got to know Pakistan better and I realised that it wasn’t the inhospitable crazy country I believed it to be. Looking at one part of Pakistan and saying the whole country in unliveable and full of terrorists, is like looking at the Naxalite areas of India and saying all of India is a wasteland filled with Naxalites.

Media and the Government have been sending out filtered messages for years and years now. Slowly and subtlety playing with our minds until we now blindly believe that Pakistan and Pakistanis are terrorists, heathens, bad people and such. This nonsensical belief and our idiotic hatred of everything Pakistan works for the Government as they churn more money for their pockets out of our psychosis.

How do they make money? Ever wondered how much our defence budgets are? How much is spent on weapons and bombs? How much money is silently sidelined in each defence deal? If peace existed, this budget would not exist! And this is just one example.


When I first started thinking about writing this piece, I shared a post by HONY on Facebook. The responses confirmed that I wasn’t the only one who had been taken in by this bullshit about Pakistan. There were so many people out there, just like me – educated, well read, articulate and intelligent folk – who didn’t see beyond the propaganda being disseminated.

I reached out to friends in Pakistan, I wanted to hear their story. I wanted to know what they thought of Pakistan? What was their life like? Did they consider their country backward, extremist, terrorist, and such? What was their image of their country? And most importantly what was their image of ours?

Their response was unexpected, it overwhelmed me, and floored me. Like us they give ‘dil khol ke’. :) It was the responses that sparked the thought of sharing what they said and made this post a post in parts. After all a dialogue isn’t complete until, the both sides have spoken. 😀

Part 2 – Pakistan: As Shajee Sees It :)

 

Photo Credits: hswajid, AllauddinYousafzai, HONY

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