Guest Post By Bilal Khan
This is a guest post written by Bilal Khan for Project Unify Blog. If you want to write a guest post then please contact us. The views expressed by the author and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Project Unify Team.
Pakistan is a relatively little-known country. I mean, don’t get me wrong, we are quite famous – for all the wrong reasons, that is.
The world knows us as a failed nation – a rogue state, some claim, on the brink of collapse, perhaps. And I don’t blame them. How can I?
An economy literally floating on the remittances by the Pakistanis working abroad and under a mound of debt (130 billion dollars, to be specific),
doesn’t exactly spell ‘thriving’. The political scenario is similarly grave. That is to say the least. A political battle is raging between the Supreme Court
of Pakistan and the Executive, and it is gearing up for a pretty epic showdown. That is all too good for the media ratings, but
what does it mean for the people? The common man who is still immersed in his struggle for the ‘roti, kapra and makaan’ (food, cloth and shelter),
that the honorable government had so eagerly promised in its election manifesto? What does it mean for the vast populace, which still has trouble coming to terms with its inevitable situation, a land with above 20 hours of loadshedding? A land with virtually no electricity and the person primarily responsible for the power crisis as the current Prime Minister of the nation? Alas, I believe luck too has forsaken our sinking ship in its time of need.
I mean, Osama Bin Laden being found within miles of the capital territory doesn’t exactly help the cause of the country that has already been termed as the most dangerous place on earth for journalists. And the world was quick to point out the ‘alleged’ role of the armed forces of the country in harbouring the world’s number one terrorist. Ladies and Gentlemen, I invite you all to witness the irony here. A country which has seen 40,000 of its troops lay down their lives and over 3.44 million civilians displaced from their homeland is being asked to ‘redefine its committment towards the War on Terror.’ These are the days when I find myself questioning. Asking, whether or not this was our war. I have lost an Uncle to this war but sometimes I am forced to wonder, was it worth it?
So, all gloom and doom. Not a ray of hope. Our economy isn’t recovering anytime soon, and our leaders refuse to return their illegal money stashed in Swiss banks to their rightful place. So why is my essay titled ‘I believe’? I do believe in miracles but do I believe our times are changing anytime soon? No. And yet, I believe. So what is it? What is it that gives me hope? What is it that forces me to see light at the end of the tunnel when all I’m surrounded in is a fog of despair? What, you may ask, is it?
In one word: The people. The people of Pakistan. My countrymen, who have been put to test in the short history of Pakistan time and again. When Pakistan was created in 1947, it consisted of a multitude of ethnicities, cultures and races. The four provinces each had their own distinct language while the national language, Urdu, was spoken by a mere 2% of the population. Working to resolve their differences, the nation, in the throes of its birth then had to see itself torn apart in the catastrophic events of 1971. West Bengal, in a bloody civil war, separated and emerged as a new country – Bangladesh. Nations rarely emerge from such devastating setbacks but these were no ordinary people. They fought, against time, against injustice, against the dubious leaders that were responsible for the wreckage.
In recent times, perhaps due to the rendezvous between the political forces and the nation’s courts, my people have run out of reasons to believe in Pakistan. But may I remind you, we are the nation with the 7th largest pool of scientists and engineers. We built an armed force to be reckoned with – the seventh largest in the world. The world criticized our nuclear mission but our intentions were peaceful and our mindset determined. Stability of power in the region of South Asia was a dire need of the time and so we developed our nuclear capabilities. A third world country going nuclear was an idea many ridiculed. But then we had leaders like Bhutto, declaring in no unclear terms that we will do it ‘even if we had to eat grass’. And grass we ate. There will always be those who continue to see our arsenal as a threat to world peace, but may I remind you, not a single major war has been fought in the region classified as South Asia since its development.
We are a blessed nation and we have to realize it. How many countries can boast of all four seasons? How many can claim to have the world’s largest irrigation system? How many can take pride in manufacturing almost 50% of the world’s footballs (including the balls being used in the Olympics)? Hell, how many countries are known as the roof of the world and have 4 of the 14 highest peaks such as K2 (the second-highest in the world) and Nanga Parbat? Hey, we have the eight wonder of the world people – The Karakoram Highway. A road on the roof of the world, as I see it.
Count your blessings, and have faith. Times like these bring out the best in us. Independence day is upon us and if we are the true sons of this soil, it is time to make a vow. A vow to make a change. A vow to BE that change. A trend has been witnessed in recent times of people blatantly criticizing the government, the establishment but that is not the solution. Ridiculing the system is never the solution. The very beauty of democracy is that we chose who leads us and if we stay at home rather than go out and assert our right to elect our leaders then aren’t we the ones to blame? And never think that we cannot make a difference. Never do that. Can’t we atleast contribute towards keeping our country clean? Or green? Remember that, next time you visit Murree or Naran. The beauty of Saif-ul-Maluk, Lake Dudipatsar and Lalazar, considered by many to be among the most beautiful places on earth, is waning not due to a ‘foreign hand’ but due to our negligence. And our carelessness. Contribute towards the society. It is better to give 100 rupees to the Edhi Foundation, working round the clock for the welfare of this nation, than to simply ‘like’ their page on facebook. Understand the difference. Don’t give up on this nation, please. Our home may be on seemingly uncontrollable fire, but it does not mean a pail of water in our hands won’t help in extinguishing it. Its high time we realize it.