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Pakistan: From Nabia’s Point of View – (Part 3)

This series started out with my thoughts on Pakistan and it’s image propagated by media and Govt. I’ve been unhappy about how the country is depicted and the actual ‘true’ state.

Continuing on the question trail, of getting to know Pakistan and it’s people, this time I have Nabia joining me. Nabia fits the mould and yet she doesn’t, she a package of surprises. I’ve met Nabia just once in Chiang Mai but thanks to Facebook, I keep getting news of her. And things to do with her are fun, I tell you, every picture with her in it is packed with energy and joy.

Nabia Amin Lakhani

 

Nabia with her father in 2010

The only sister to three brothers, Nabia is the youngest in the family. She was born and brought up in Karachi but has lived in Islamabad for a couple of months and visits quite often too. She has also been to Balochistan, Murree, Lahore, and Quetta.
A graduate from Karachi university in arts, she has done the montessori course and has been working as a teacher for the last ten years. She is currently taking a break from teaching to concentrate on her upcoming wedding.

 

What do you think of Pakistan?

I love Pakistan Fatema. Yes there are issues here, but then these same issues are everywhere in the world. Only difference is that since everyone calls Pakistan a terrorist state and Muslims in Pakistan or anywhere else are known as terrorist, it gives the world a completely different look of this place.

I have lived here all my life, yes we are dealing with terrorism etc. but then who isn’t? I have family members living abroad and they only watch news about Pakistan, so for them to even come down to Pakistan and experience it themselves is not an option because media exaggerates everything. Yes, we have been mugged, robbed, harassed, but then so many others have gone through the same Thing in their country as well!

It breaks my heart that Pakistan is seen as a place that one would never want to go to because they are afraid that they would get killed! I mean, come on!!! I’m glad with the article that Humans Of NY shared because he actually highlighted the good parts of this place I call home. When I was younger, I wanted to go away from Here, but now that I’m older and have seen some places myself, with my own eyes, I realize that every place is alike. Pakistan is no different.
 

 
What is your life like?

My life here is amazing, I’m independent, I can go anywhere I like, I can do what I like.

 

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

Backward, extremist … No. I won’t ever label Pakistan that way, because Pakistan has not pushed me to sit at home behind closed doors because I am a woman.

There are some maulvis who want women in burqas but then that’s their view, and these people are usually the ones who give Islam a bad name.

I wish you would come down here once and experience it for yourself.

We wear what we want to, we do what we want to, we go and work wherever and however we want to. So how is this place backwards ?

An Old photo of Nabia’s Parents.

When my brother went to India around 2 years ago , he had to go to the police station every morning and inform them about his plans for the day otherwise they would follow him and his friends everywhere .. Only because he was a Muslim from Pakistan. It’s unfortunate that all this happens now, but believe me, I live here and I can tell you… Pakistan is not what the goras or anyone else portrays it to be.

Everyone should not be labelled the same just because of some lunatic who goes around killing people in the name of Islam. These people have given my country a bad name and I pray everyday for the betterment of this country.

It’s the best! Believe me.
Been to America and when I came back, I was the happiest person.

 

How do you define normal? What do you think is a normal life? Do you lead a normal life?

Normal for me is what I’ve seen growing up … Family, friends, home, work. And that’s exactly the kind of life we have here. My life’s very normal Shukar Alhumdolillah. We have the same kind of life here like anyone else has anywhere else in the world.
 

Badshahi Masjid in Lahore

 
Anything you’d like to add or say?

All I want to add is that everyone should come to Pakistan and see it with their own eyes and then make a judgement about this country.

And people should not restrict their visits to Islamabad, Lahore and Karachi only, they should go up north & any other places that that can visit and see how beautiful Pakistan really is. If you think Switzerland is beautiful :) then you really haven’t seen Pakistan. It’s gorgeous!

 

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

My image of India, hmm, the only thing that pops up in my head after reading your question is: ” my brother from another mother” :) :) :) :)

I honestly feel that India and Pakistan are the same and I pray that we can be civil to each other, make friends with people in India and vice versa and invite them here. I feel we have SO much in common that it’s not even funny.
When we watch Indian movies, we get an idea of what Indians are like or how things are in India, and it’s all the same as Pakistan.
 
You can also read – Pakistan: As Shajee Sees It

Photo Credits: All photos have been taken and belong to Nabia Amin Lakhani.

October 22, 2015   4 Comments

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

October 15, 2015   No Comments

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

October 8, 2015   2 Comments

Video Wednesday: Qissa-e-Parsi | The Parsi Story

Parsi’s are an integral part of Indian society. They may have come to India only in the 8th and 10th Century but yet they have become a part of the fabric of this country.

Legend has it that when Parsi’s first came to India and asked King Jadhav Rana of Gujarat for permission to settle in his kingdom, he asked them how they would live here in the midst of people who were not their own, not like them at all.

The leader of he Parsi’s asked for a bowl of milk and sugar. When these were given to him, he mixed the sugar in the milk and offered it to the King, asking him to separate the two. The King looked at him perplexed and he explained – ‘Your people are like milk and we Parsi’s are like sugar. We will become part of your people and add sweetness to your society.’

Even today, this seems to hold true. Anyone who knows Parsi’s or has Parsi friends will vouch for the wonderful people they are, sweet natured, kind, gentle and with an great sense of humour. They are people who are not just great with numbers but also good at heart.

I came across a video about them them the other day and couldn’t help but smile with fond memories of my Parsi friends. Here’s to some wonderful Parsi people I’m met and dear friends I’ve made over the years. Salute.

March 11, 2015   No Comments