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Pakistan: As Shajee Sees It — (Part 2)

Shajee with his niece on Eid

Part 1: Getting to Know The Real Pakistan

In search of answers, wanting to know more about Pakistan and the life of people like you or me, (someone who has to make a living, has a family, has friends, lives a middle class life, etc.) I reached out to friends and I received info packed long answers. I’m sharing them as I got them, with a little intro and formatting though. 😀

Ahmed Shajee Aijazi…

 

Shajee and his brothers when they were all in Pakistan for his wedding

I met Shajee some years ago in Chaing Mai where he was attending the Foundry Workshop. He came across as a soft-spoken quiet sort but hidden behind this demeanour was a strong passionate person. Shajee lives in Karachi with his family and is a photographer by profession.

 

What do you think of Pakistan?

Pakistan is a great place to live in some ways and not that great in others, as I would think is the case with every country. There are a lot of great people here who are working for the welfare of the country. People generally are very philanthropic and charitable. We have people like Abdul Sattar Edhi who’s running the biggest ambulance service in the world and is a simple person, then we have the likes of Dr. Abdul Bari who runs an entirely free top-of-the-line hospital here for people who cannot afford good medical health. So, we have these great inspirational figures amongst us who inspire us on a daily basis, but overall, the thing that I would say makes Pakistan great is that the family life and overall family system of people is still intact, which seems to be decaying at other places.

Abdul Sattar Edhi who founded Edhi Foundation, the largest non-profit social welfare organisation in world.

Then in terms of Islamic scholarship, we have top notch Islamic scholars here in Pakistan and recently I came across a fact that the most hafiz of Quran produced in the world are also from Pakistan. Although this is one aspect that is distorted by a small minority to be used for their own purposes and agendas. But, I would say that there are other factors such as illiteracy, poverty and frustration with the ruling class, that play a role in this distortion as well.

 

What is your life like?

My life is pretty good, Alhamdulillah. We go to our work every morning, we spend the weekends with our families, go for picnics and other recreations. We don’t really face all that many problems as one outside of Pakistan would think. And in the recent times, the situation has got much better with this new army chief who’s cleaning up crime and terrorist outfits in a very good way, so things are definitely getting better then their predecessors.

Recently a bus tour of Karachi has started that gives you tours in a local bus as if you were a tourist. On the Tour with Frere Hall which is a British time building in the background.

 

Would you label the country as backward, extremist, terrorist?

I think it would be unfair to term the entire country to be that. Sure, there are people and groups who are like that, but the general population is not like that, at least in the cities. We have a diverse range of people who come with different mindsets and bring that to the public sphere.

 

Kemari Boat Basin @ Karachi

 
Is it really stressed on a day to day basis because of extremists and terrorism? Are Pakistani’s living in fear constantly?

Not at all. Never have I left the house thinking I would be hit in a terrorist attack. And from previous years, its gotten much better now. These news are getting lesser and lesser every passing day.

Being in Karachi, we do fear muggings and thefts, but that’s not the extremism and terrorism that you’re talking about. This is simply street crimes, which happen to be a part of every big metropolitan city. But, that’s also gotten better in the past year, as I said, since this Army chief came to his position, he’s been taking bold steps to even remove these criminals. And this is only particular to Karachi. There isn’t much of that in Lahore or Islamabad which are other metropolitan cities of the country.

Shajee and his wife at Swat, the town of Malala.

 

Or is all this talk of extremists and terrorism exaggerated stuff media feeds to the world?

Well, I think as HONY had put it, if there’s only one spot in the newspaper to put for Pakistan, obviously the most violent one or the dreadful one is the one that’s going to get published. So, yea, the media does exploit our image in the world. But, it’s definitely not even close to what the media shows.

 

What is your image of India? What do you think of it and it’s people?

The image I have of India is a land of very diverse people with a rich history. Although the governments of both sides get tangled in politics that leave the two countries at each others’ throats, but I don’t think the common man on both sides is interested in this animosity. The common man when he comes together with similar Indians, connects with them and doesn’t see them as much different and understands that they are a part of a similar human everyday struggle, that they go through. I definitely want to visit India and see all the places first-hand which we have only studied in history or seen in movies and interact with every-day Indians in the hope to find them similar to the every-day Pakistani.
 

More to come… :)

Part 1: Getting to Know The Real Pakistan

 

Photo Credits: All Photos by Ahmed Shajee Aijazi except – “Abdul Sattar Edhi” by Hussain – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons and “Kemari Boat Basin @ Karachi” by Faisal Saeed – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Flickr Commons

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