I have been robbed twice at gun point. I witness on an almost daily basis the gross negligence or ignorance towards the concept of civic sense. The traffic cops more often than not are more interested in lining up their pockets with ‘chai paisa’ rather than implementing the traffic laws and rules. The festive season in this country sees a surge in prices rather than a celebration of the occasion. Our current president doesn’t have the best of reputations and is widely thought of as a corrupt man with billions stowed away in Swiss Banks. The remaining political options consist of an idealistic autocrat, a tried / tested party from the center and a mixture of extremists, murderers and power hungry feudalists. There is a general lack in direction of where the country is headed or where the inflation and ability for the common man to survive in this country is going. The daily news in the papers consists of people getting robbed, murdered and tussles in the political corridors of this nation between its institutions and establishment. There is a growing ‘brain drain’ trend. People of my age or younger are eyeing exit strategies much more seriously than before.
However I did, still do and will continue to refuse leaving Pakistan and settling somewhere abroad as an option. Just as a clarity so that some people don’t start jumping on this – I am saying ‘settling’ abroad and not saying anything to people who go abroad for short periods of time because of being posted there by their employers or for studies etc.
I acknowledge all of the above mentioned problems that exist in our country. But at the same time there also exists good and the potential for greatness. There exists the human strength in coming together in great numbers at the time of a human need arising after a disaster (e.g. flood relief, earthquake relief in 2005 and 2011/2010 respectively). There exists the potential and talent of extremely bright minds in our country. Brilliant artists. Natural resources. Creative entrepreneurs. Wonderful musicians. Passionate sportsmen (especially in the past). Captivating play writers and performers.
Where people see political turmoil and a lack of dedication or a ‘Pakistan First’ spirit in our national leaders I see the great potential and vacuum for the people to make things happen themselves. I see inspiration from the examples of Shaukat Khannum Memorial Cancer Hospital, TCF, Teach For Pakistan, Edhi, SOS Village, overseas Pakistanis coming back to the country to give in their contribution in helping and maybe giving back something to the soil from where they rose. The chance and potential to do whatever we can and want to do better in this country will always remain. We just have to make that choice. We just have to actually be committed to that. We can continue to dwell in useless drawing room discussions about how things are going to heck. But what we can choose to do is acknowledge the problems and then maybe do something about them. Whatever we can do in our individual capacities. And I am certainly not saying that everyone needs to do this from day 1 of having such conscience. For some people it will take time to come to a stage where they can actually contribute in their own way.
Why I will never leave Pakistan is because of the above mentioned. Because I have had the privilege of a good education, a good life and getting up on my own two feet in Pakistan. Not anywhere else but right here. I have had the pleasure of a wonderful life overall in this country. So now I have a choice to build on that and eventually get to a point where I can give something back to this country. I am not and never really be interested in getting involved in fixing the political scenario of this country. I don’t believe that is where I can contribute. I believe in humanitarian causes more. I have already made a choice for myself and I hope and pray to Allah that I get to that point where I have the ability to implement what I have in mind.
Let’s actually start thinking of ‘Pakistan First’ as more than just a random party slogan or political mileage making sentence. Let’s make it a goal. Because if the people with the privilege and luxury of being able to make that choice do make it then perhaps little by little things will start to happen positively in this country. Let’s not just wait for a symbol of hope for change in this country to come into power to fix things for us. Let’s start trying to think and implement a plan of how and when we can contribute in fixing things ourselves.