The Pakistan that came into being all those years back in August 1947 was very different from the one which exists now. Today, as another day dawns in the country one may not be surprised to see an angry mob marching down the streets with a banner held high, flapping in the wind. The crowd protesting against load shedding which, in the scorching summer heat, has made life even more difficult than it already was. In Karachi, as twilight approaches and the lights in the sky fade out, it is suddenly ablaze again with flames that erupt from car tyres down on the Earth below. Another rowdy gang of teenagers goes wild with frustration at the country, the government! As hopelessness stains the air, there is nothing else to be seen for miles but hot, blazing anger. A sense of misery that is so powerful, is progressing, putting blindfolds on our eyes and firmly obscuring the vision of even the greatest Pakistani patriots.
Perhaps most Pakistanis believe that the dream brought to life 64 years ago, of a land where every one would live happily ever after, is now lost somewhere in the sands of time. However, one important question arises... is all hope truly lost? Is there nothing we can do to bring back the Pakistan of long ago? What most of us do not realise is that we, as a nation, have given up. Given up on our resources and all those things which can make a world of difference. It is very easy to sit in our living rooms the whole day long and talk about the deteriorating state of Pakistan, commenting on politicians and playing the blame game. It is very easy for us to protest, call on strikes, vandalise parks and streets, and burn vehicles. In other words, it is very easy for us to be negative about our country. The difficult task is trying to get up and do something about it. Most of us believe that the country is so down in the dumps that nothing we do will make any difference to it. It is high time that we negate this notion. One cannot expect to bring revolution within a dayís time and change is not something that comes overnight. It all starts with small baby steps, making efforts to bring betterment in our own little ways.
The most important thing for Pakistanis to do right away is treasure their assets. Dr. Saad Khan, graduate of King Edward Medical College Lahore, class of 2010, is an extremely competent doctor. With sixteen gold medals in twelve subjects and a hundred and ten hours every week in a post graduate surgery programme for twelve months, he was someone to be truly treasured. However, the government fired him along with four thousand and four hundred other young doctors who had gone on strike recently as their genuine demands were being denied by the Government of the Punjab. This churlishness made Pakistan lose a great professional. He has left the country, never to come back.
For this aggravated situation, our media is to be blamed too. Taking the doctorsí strike for instance, the doctors of the country were shown to have called strikes quitting their jobs, and putting patients into misery. However, it was hardly recognised that they were still performing their duties in emergency wards and senior doctors were still saving lives. The doctorsí side of the story was hardly depicted; how they worked two jobs, most of them, and how they worked for hours and hours without being truly acknowledged for their efforts.
Then there is tourism, which was one of Pakistanís greatest money making industries but today, all we see on television is how destroyed the valley of Swat is. Its beauty is forgotten and the news does no longer promote tourism in its folds. Load shedding, water shortage, poverty are all serious issues, but all we do is talk about them, without realising that switching off our computers instead of leaving them on standby, and closing the water tap securely may just help us in overcoming these problems, too.
The citizens of Pakistan need to realise that rebellion will only make matters worse. We must look up to the people who have made a difference. Abdul Sattar Edhi, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan, the founders of the Citizensí Foundation, Zindagi Trust, Selani Welfare Trust and many more like them. Teaching our own maids and their children, taking an orphan under our care, and even helping someone cross the street will instil in us a sense of achievement and satisfaction that might even surprise us. But are we actually ready to take the first step?
- Illustration by Mahaa Ejaz