The 4 kinds of Pakistanis that dominate our population

This piece is originally published in The Nation Blogs.

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“We need to create a fifth kind that propagates equality and goodwill among people”

The voices from my childhood still echo in my ears: “Sab ek jaisey hain. Awaam ko loot rahay hain.” These words were the ultimate truth for me, until I was old enough to closely observe, feel and live for myself. Live the life of a Pakistani.

If I take a trip down the memory lane, I can recall the visits to our haveli in the village: maasis draped in chaadars from head to toe, with hope in their eyes. The hope for a promising future.

On the contrary, visuals of all-night extravagant parties on the farmhouses, in the capital, concurrently hog my memories.

Whether being approached by an adolescent for monetary assistance to get his school books, or by an aunt in the neighborhood with her obsession of gossiping, every individual I have interacted with has always left a certain impression on me.

As I grew up, I realized, it wasn’t accurate to generalize and stigmatize the entire nation as corrupt, extremists or anything else whatsoever. I learned every nation has dilemmas to own and fight off.

Likewise, our point of distinctiveness is our predicaments that create a wall of anonymity between Pakistanis and the foreigners, leaving false perceptions.

We Pakistanis are divided into four kinds. These are absolutely centered upon two factors: status and intentions.

Kind # 1:

It’s the people who can’t afford immoderate lifestyle. Most of them survive against the odds. They have to work hard for their daily survival. Nevertheless, they do not leave their moral ground.

I remember Chacha Makhan as an old – in fact very old – man. Seven years ago, he worked at our place in Peshawar. Adolescents and the memories of his late wife were all he had then. Thus, he was bound to bare all their responsibilities on his own.

Since his reflexes had also slowed down with age, he worked harder than usual to follow the instructions. He neither complained nor tried to adopt a shortcut to solving his problems.

Chacha Makhan’s trustworthiness and hard work has compelled me to acknowledge him in this kind.

Later on, his health did not allow him to work any further. But, even today, he visits us occasionally.       Continue reading

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Elections ’13: The Gloomy Hope

"Mujhe tarss aata hai apney mulk ke logon per, unki soch per, unki jahaalat per aur unn se zada mujhe tarss aata hai unn hukmaraano ki soch per jo apnay mafaaad ke liye apnay he logo ko jahaalat ki taraf dhakayle ja rahay hain"

“Mujhe tarss aata hai apney mulk ke logon per, unki soch per, unki jahaalat per aur unn se zada mujhe tarss aata hai unn hukmaraano ki soch per jo apnay mafaaad ke liye apnay he logo ko jahaalat ki taraf dhakayle ja rahay hain”

Elections of this year turned out to be quite a popular interest for our nation. For most of us, it was about political rivalries, supporting their affiliated parties, expressing their emotional attachment towards their leader, focusing on political statements and so on. But speaking for myself, it certainly meant to make me learn pivotal aspects of life which have always been right in front of my eyes but I never realized and paid attention to them until I went through it. I never learnt so much in depth until I became a part of it. Therefore, I say ‘you never know unless you face it’.  Here is what elections of this year taught me. But, what did you learn from it?

As the day of elections was approaching, I began to dread more and more. On one hand, I was surrounded by extreme zeal and zest for my very own motherland and with every passing moment I was moving closer to fulfill my one responsibility towards my country. On the contrary, I just wasn’t convinced to make a journey to my village to cast my vote. There was a fear of something strange, something I hadn’t discovered yet. And something I had no idea I would be discovering. My gut feeling of something bizarre happening was just not leaving me alone. But, to me my bit of responsibility seemed much more vital than a mere feeling.

Finally a day before elections on the 10th of May I travelled to my village along with my family. Where, everybody else was quite excited about the polling and vote casting, I continued to try to figure out the fact bothering me. But I failed to do so until the very next day, that was 11th May, 2013 – the day of elections.

For the first time in 23 years, I was going to take a minute step which would have contributed to my country on a bigger level. Due to my justified eagerness I woke up early morning, which I would have detested to do on any other day. Lying awake, looking at the rays of light falling in from the window, I wondered what was waiting ahead which had alarmed me to actually seek for it.

I waited till the afternoon to go to the polling station to cast my vote. And at last the moment arrived when I walked into my designated polling station. My first instant glimpse only caught women all around, draped in shawls. As I started walking ahead, I saw the closed doors with a policeman standing in the way, not letting anybody inside the booth; ladies continuously trying to fight their way without uttering a word. On reaching there and after a continuous protest, he let me and my family in. With just a step inside, it seemed the world had changed. As if I had travelled back to the era of dark ages. There were ladies covered in shawls, surrounding the tables of polling agents from all sides, desperately pushing each other; not aware of the concept ‘being civilized’. That forming a queue would have rather helped them. It certainly appeared that they were there for the first time too. None of them took the trouble to wait for their turn; rather every single woman seemed to be dying to vote as rapidly as possible. They crushed one another clumsily in every possible manner, none of them showing dismay to it either. I found them carrying an extremely different look in their eyes, which I was unable to comprehend. Some laughed at the fact of their own unawareness and others did not understand the purpose of them being there. In short, a wild scenario was right in front of my eyes.

I jumped into the pool of ladies and repeatedly requested the polling agent to sort out the procedure. But all I heard back was ‘you don’t know they don’t listen, they will never change’. But my question is had they endeavored to change them? Or explain them? Answer to that was certainly negative. At that very moment, I felt pity for the female voters as well as those sitting in a position to fix things but they just wouldn’t do it out of bizarreness, for it was too crowded and suffocating. I learnt, voters were simply not civilized enough to understand and those who were, didn’t care enough to find a remedy to it.

My frustration and empathy arose even further when I came across ladies who had no clue how to vote and who to vote; they put wrongly stamped ballot papers in the opposite boxes. Not even knowing how to fold a piece of paper. Seeing their innocence and their unawareness of their very own rights crushed my heart.

I believe this lesson was just not sufficient and I witnessed the so called ‘civilized and literate’ ladies abusing the innocence and exploiting the illiteracy of the ‘uncivilized’, by making them cast a vote to their benefit, which only added to my resentment. This was it when I learnt that our very own self-centered people gain advantage from their fellow beings by maltreating and using them; without them having a notion of it, without them understanding their individuality and without knowing their actual worth.

Proclaiming ourselves ‘humans’ would be wrong if we actually act and live like ‘animals’. We are living in a world where everything has been made too easy for us to snatch from others without being held accountable for it. Where there is a brighter side to every nation, there is a darker side as well and the concept of uprooting this dark side falls nowhere in our priorities. Or else, we would not be in this state in which we are today.

If we merely glance at people living in mud houses and shelter-less homes of small towns and villages, we would realize that they are living in sheer obscurity. This obscurity would not come to an end unless ‘WE’ lead those who have gone astray, to a path of light, instead of abusing their lack of vision. We shall bring them to the consciousness of their rights and responsibilities; bring them to the awakening so that they are able to separate right from wrong. We are privileged enough to live in big cities, attain all the luxuries and conveniently opt to ignore the circumstances of people belonging to such areas. But we tend to forget, anyone of us could have been in their shoes today. We could have been the ones living a vision-less life. It could have been our generations, going through such dilemma. Their generations are no different from ours, except for we make choices with our consciousness, whereas, they know nothing about what and why they choose or as a matter of fact ‘why they should’. We shall heed our responsibility which is to help those who are not in a position to help themselves. For they are not even aware they need help.