We are glimpsing an insider’s perspective on Pakistan from contributing writer Misha who is based in Pakistan. Pakistan is a South-Asian country located in the midst of Afghanistan, China, Iran, and India. And although its entire existence is based on Islamic ideology, the country has rich ethnic and religious diversity, which demands inclusivity more than anything. But Pakistanis actually take pride in their differences which makes sense because the very idea behind the creation of the state was freedom- all human beings are equal, and they are free to practice their faiths without any hindrances.
PAKISTAN | WHAT THE MEDIA WANTS YOU TO SEE
The post-independence period was a time for Pakistanis to rejoice but also grieve. The refugee and rehabilitation crisis and mass genocide that followed the creation of a new state in the region was too much for a new country to handle. However, Pakistan managed the situation as best as it could. Plus, there were other pressing issues that a newly formed state must tend to. The country needed a constitution, a military, industries, and a sustainable trade system. Initially, Pakistan did lag in certain sectors, being a new state and all, but it still managed to survive, and in fact, thrive, for a good 74 years- which is no less than a feat in itself!
Unfortunately, though, the Western media usually tends to construe the real image of the nation and portrays it as that of a ‘terrorist state.’ However, this is partly due to the country’s own negligence in shaping its image through its own media. Like any other country, Pakistan still has its fair share of problems, but like all others, it is also doing its best to solve those problems. Still, the media, including the Pakistani press, often capitalizes on negative news because negativity evokes a stronger response. But how bad is it really? Well, not nearly as bad as it is made out to be. Pakistan is still relatively new, and just like a toddler learning to walk, Pakistan has a long way to go before it can stand on its own two feet.
HOW FAR WE HAVE COME? FROM AN INSIDER’S PERSPECTIVE ON PAKISTAN
When we say Pakistan isn’t half as bad as you’re made to believe, we’re not kidding. In fact, I’m not saying this just because it’s my country. We’ve come so far from the helpless and struggling state that we founded in 1947, and personally, I would say progress is all that matters. A little bit at a time can make a massive difference over time, and Pakistan undoubtedly has a lot of undiscovered potentials. As of 1998, the country has achieved the status of nuclear power.
As Quaid-e-Azam, the father of the nation, said, “Pakistan is proud of her youth, particularly the students who have always been at the forefront in trial and need. You are the nation’s leaders of tomorrow, and you must fully equip yourself by discipline, education, and training for the arduous task lying ahead of you.”
And the Pakistani youth has definitely never failed to deliver! They go above and beyond to make themselves heard by the authorities because they understand that majority is authority. In fact, here are some of the progressive policies Pakistan has formed for the betterment of its citizens that show how the country is excelling on so many fronts every single day.
Pakistan cares about the environment, and thus, the government only recently launched the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Programme to plant billions of trees across the country. This would, obviously, not only help Pakistan but also the world in general. Also, the current prime minister of Pakistan imposed a ban on single-use plastic bags, which forced many people to switch to reusable cloth bags- a step in the right direction, no doubt.
SPORTS REFORMS FROM AN INSIDER’S PERSPECTIVE
Almost the entire Pakistani nation is a big fan of cricket, football, and other sports. Thus, these sports are widely taught in many institutes across the country. So much so, some universities like Kinnaird College for Women even professionally train their students to compete in the Commonwealth Games, Asian Games, and other national and international platforms. Hence, students are encouraged to invest in their passion for sports and even trained to help them reach their full potential. And you can see the progress in this area through the brilliant sportsmen the country has produced. For instance, athlete Ali Haider, who is affected by cerebral palsy, competed in the Tokyo 2020 Paralympic Games and won Pakistan’s first-ever gold medal at the Tokyo Paralympics. According to Radio Pakistan, Ali won by a margin of almost 3m which is huge, especially considering his condition. The athlete himself declared, “I hope to be a role model for other people that have a disability (and who) don’t compete in sports or take part in para-sports.”
Like any sane country, Pakistan always encourages its youth to pursue quality education, and the Higher Education Commission (HEC) even facilitates the students by providing a multitude of merit and need-based scholarships to help deserving students. In addition to this, many institutes throughout the country also offer private grants of their own to encourage education. After all, as Benjamin Franklin said, “An investment in knowledge pays the best interest.”
Pakistan’s army is ranked the 10th Most Powerful in the world, but what’s more, the military force has a considerably low suicide rate. This really goes to show the physical and mental resilience of Pakistanis as a nation and the patriotic spirit that drives them to give their best for their country.
HUNGER FREE MOVEMENT
Pakistan recognizes that hunger is not the result of food shortage but food wastage and food inequality. And thus, organizations like the Hunger-Free Foundation Pakistan and Rizq are working to end hunger in Pakistan. These organizations are primarily youth-led because they realize the potential of the youth to bring real change and secure the future of the masses. And this is definitely a step in the right direction. You can support the cause by donating here.
Additionally, contrary to what you might think, the only terrorism-related activity Pakistan is involved in is the fight against it. Pakistan has been actively contributing to the fight against terrorism and has actually conducted many operations to ensure the eradication of terrorism from the region. Thus, it’s safe to say that Pakistan was a serious game-changer in the war against terrorism.
IS PAKISTAN SAFE FOR WOMEN?
We’ve heard all sorts of stories about the way women are treated in Pakistan, and while there is some truth to that, the state has taken specific measures to safeguard the rights of women. Also, the government recently passed the Anti-harassment law for workplaces to ensure that women are safe at their workspaces. Plus, the Punjab police also launched the Women Safety App to prevent harassment in public spaces in the country. Overall, the country is generally safe for women, but there are some truly heinous cases that demand attention to facilitate Pakistani women further. We have laws, but there is a wide gap in the implementation of these laws. There has been an ongoing controversy from some extremist parties against the passing of the domestic violence bill, and this demands that the government take appropriate measures to educate the public about the cause.
IS PAKISTAN SAFE FOR FOREIGNERS?
Yes, foreigners, even women, can travel alone in the country because the public is very hospitable and open to guests. Some notable names are Eva Zu Beck and Drew Binsky, who have visited Pakistan and demonstrated how safe the country is. And being neutral parties, it is safe to conclude that Pakistan is safe, even for women traveling alone. In fact, the government has recently taken certain measures to promote tourism in the region, and thus, if you’re looking to visit, you must definitely check out these absolutely breathtaking places in Pakistan!
PAKISTAN | THE BOTTOM LINE
Pakistan is a very beautiful country, though sadly misrepresented in the mainstream media. However, the country is to blame for this as well, at least to a certain extent, because it is our own responsibility to invest in our media reputation. The country is made out to be a hub of bombings and terrorist activities. So much so, people believe Pakistan is somehow involved in the whole Taliban takeover in Afghanistan- though it couldn’t be farther from the truth. Pakistan is a really peaceful country on the whole, apart from a few issues here and there, which all countries are bound to experience at one point or the other. But what matters is that Pakistanis, especially the youth, are speaking up and demanding timely justice. And that’s all that matters at the end of the day- we, as citizens of the state, can bring change, and if we are consistently working towards that change, we are making progress. And so long as we are making progress, let’s just say we’re doing it right!
As Quaid-e-Azam rightly said, “With faith, discipline, and selfless devotion to duty, there is nothing worthwhile that you cannot achieve.”