Pakistan’s Image Insecurity and The ‘Aal Iz Well’ Syndrome


As written before:

‘Since the onset of Pakistan’s engagement in the War on Terror, the country nosedived in its entirety; politically, socially and economically. Not only was this unfortunate plunge a harbinger of possibly, the worst of times for it but heralded the introduction of a gamut of negative stereotypes in relation to Pakistan and its citizens.

Largely owing to the almost-routinely involvement of Pakistan or any individual with even a faint connection to it in incidents or reports of terrorism, the spread of these stereotypes fixed its image as ‘The most dangerous place on Earth’’

This particular instance had consequential effects on both sides; of the Pakistanis and the rest of the world.

Concerning the latter, [ for most of them ] Pakistan’s picture became what was a hodge-podge of stereotypes and words such ranging from terrorism, terrorists to poverty, illiteracy and bloodshed.

For the Pakistanis, grivieances were nurtured of being portrayed in the single shade of negativity in international media, an obejction or grouse justifed at times, while many ventured and are venturing to show the ‘real’ image [ As said in the Pakistani lingo ] and positive angle of their country.

With each passing day, as the worsening of Pakistan’s state ensured its quick descent into chaos with degeneration in every quarter of the country – certain approaches developed amongst the people – one of them associated with ‘insecurity of image’, after being swung onto a somewhat defensive edge by the quick spin of events involving the country.

This evolved into an attitude relating to ‘Hear no evil, Speak no evil, See no Evil’ [ Which in some interpretations, ‘is used to refer to those who deal with impropriety by looking the other way, refusing to acknowledge it, or feigning ignorance.’ ]. Many Pakistanis chose to shut their ears, close their eyes and sew their lips to silence when it came to the ills in the society and country. This has eventually lead to a self-concoted national ignorance, that has inevitably given birth to a sociteal conspiracy of silence.


As the numbers who chose to immerse themselves in this practise grew, a culture of shame, conspiracy theories, denialism and dogmatism flourished with it due to which any pinching incidents or facts that proffered chances for clamant introspection were tossed away by the dismissive wave of a hand after much nugatory tub-thumping and dramatic statements on the media by individuals.

With the PTA reporting over 22 million Pakistani internet users, which is about 12% of the total 180 million population, this concept and societal mindset slid onto the virtual world.

Plenty of these Pakistanis have been vociferating their opinion that no news regarding the country should be posted or discussed on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter [ where many have friends from other countries ] that sharpens the features of the poor picture that lots hold globally of Pakistan. This is the extent of the ‘image insecurity’.

One wonders how would the prevention of posting unfavourable Pakistanis news [ Say, cases of the treatment of minorities here, rape victims etc ] on these sites from reaching a handful of foreign people help in this digital age and era of electronic media where even a minor happenings are broadcasted or published through hundreds of channels and sites to millions all around the world within split seconds of their occurance.

Also, as of yet Pakistan has, in fact – no image at all. And it is food for thought, that if social networking sites could be tools for revolution, can’t they be instruments to stir a societal change? It is defined, that societies are the footing for nations that inhabit countries. Any change within the society will affect the nation which will inevitably reform/rebuild Pakistan’s perception positively that will come in its ripple effect.

But for that, the bizarre approach needs to abandoned. Pakistanis must shed the guise of ignorance and keeping mum while being cognizant about plagues and cultural malaises.

The people must be made aware of the innumberable and untold stories and issues stinging the core of Pakistan’s culture, society, politics and nation. They must be awakened from this sleep of dormancy that has been prolonged for too long a time, 64 years.

Debate should be initiated about them at all forums [ The internet, the streets, national media or at homes ] after this.
One of the reasons for the palpable and glaringly low tolerance in Pakistan is the absence of debate and arguments among people, which has helped to foster and instill a proclivity in each person for sheer insularity and unwillingness to hear opposing views – that if heard, are answered by profiling [ labelling someone as a RAW/MOSSAD/CIA Agent or a ‘liberal facist’ ] , judgements and fatwas rather than refuted by facts.

The stimulation of discussions will so, instill gradually a sense of open-mindedness along with stirring people to comprehend the situations, think, measure their words and then freely express their opinions.

Debates might also commence into finding solutions for the problems they are based on and individual efforts may be encouraged to apply those. Joint efforts may also be made. And the more the pandemonium and clamor of the people is, the more it is bound to reach the corridors of power and ensure decisive action.

There is an idiom in Urdu; Kabotar ka billi ko dekh kar ankhein band kar lena.
‘The shutting of eyes by the pigeon as he spots the cat’.

Some expound it as one’s turning away after seeing a difficulty. This might just be what the aforementioned Pakistanis are doing.

By averting one’s gaze from a problem [ Not accepting the existence of or talking about it ], it does not dissolve it. It needs to be faced. Pakistanis need to yield the need to identify conundrums, national dilemmas and social contaminations for only when they are recognized as problems, does one seek a remedy to be extricated from them.

The lean line separating resilience from indifference also needs to be accentuated and compreheneded. Pakistanis have begun to dwell more into the realm of the latter than the former. To be struck by bomb attacks, blasts and natural calamities and again get back and continue life with the same vigour is resilience but to see myriad cases of rape, discrimination against minorities, a selective genocide against the Baloch and yet remain silent – is shameful apathy.

Being lulled into a state of false security and satisfaction by not raising your voice against wrongdoings, thus they are not brought into the light of scrutiny and attention as they derserve to be, will only stoke the fire of such perversions and injustices for those committing it would certainly be basking in the knowledge of the nation’s propensity to remain indifferent towards them.

And as Sana Saleem wrote in one of her ever-brilliant articles;

‘The mindset that believes that acknowledging our issues is threatening to our ‘image’. What good is an image, other than deceiving ourselves, is another question altogether.’

Pakistanis have acquiesced with whatever has swept the country for too long and it has cost them too much.

Or as Ayaz Amir penned in his thought-provoking and must-read ‘Woes of an Ostrich Republic’;

‘Islam is not the state religion of Pakistan, denial is. And our national emblem should be the ostrich, given our proclivity to bury our heads in the sand and not see the landscape around us as it is.’

It will be nugatory to tart up Pakistan’s image for the world and act for them and for ourselves [ in betrayal of reality and as an ode to denialism ] as if everything is ‘Aal Iz Well’ while succumbing to the death-knell of destruction in the country due to national apathetic torpor that binds us in bondage of inertia relating to the situations in the country.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

The Pakistan At The Periphery of The World’s View


Since the onset of Pakistan’s engagement in the War on Terror, the country nosedived in its entirety; politically, socially and economically. Not only was this unfortunate plunge a harbinger of possibly, the worst of times for it but heralded the introduction of a gamut of negative stereotypes in relation to Pakistan and its citizens.

Largely owing to the almost-routinely involvement of Pakistan or any individual with even a faint connection to it in incidents or reports of terrorism, the spread of these stereotypes and a fixed image of ‘The most dangerous place on Earth’ has completely buried the Pakistan that existed before and still exists for the world to witness.

Despite a tumultuous 64-year old journey and contrary to the belief that Pakistan ‘ a land virtually barren of achievements’ – it has had its fair share of achievements, pride and glory in every field.

Pakistan has played a significant role on the international stage.

Hardly two months after its creation in 1947, Sir Zafrullah represented Pakistan in United Nations General Assembly as the head of its delegation and soon emerged as the most excellent of a spokesperson for the causes of the Muslim World and other countries.

Perhaps, the greatest of the countless incomparable services he rendered was his exemplary advocacy of the cause of Palestine and Kashmir. Him being a champion of the former cause garnered enormous appreciation, acknowledgement and reverence from almost all Muslim countries and leaders at that time.

‘In October 1947 he delivered a speech on the Palestine issue in the UN General Assembly, which is one of the most strong case ever presented for Palestine to date.

[ Quoting from another blog on him ] :

‘His speech on Kashmir Issue on January 15, 1948 in the UN Security Council is considered as the most comprehensive presentation of the Kashmir Issue ever on international stage, his speech continued for 7 straight hours and resulted in materialization of UN resolutions on Kashmir.’

Through his stupendous championship of such causes, he also became an evident proponent of the advance of universal values, peace, human rights, democracy and justice as from 1948 to 1954 he represented Pakistan at the Security Council (UN) and outstandingly spoke for the liberation of Libya, Northern Ireland, Eritrea, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, Morocco, Indonesia and occupied Kashmir.

To date, none have come into sight that could rival the towering statesman, who was honored in his lifetime by numerous countries by bestowing highest of civil awards or a deserved deluge of praises, in prowess or services.

Pakistan’s Eeqbal Ahmed was a distinguished intellectual, ‘prolific writer and journalist, he was widely consulted by revolutionaries, journalists, activist leaders and policymakers around the world. ‘

He had joined Algeria’s National Liberation Front and was offered an opportunity to join the first independent Algerian government and refused in favor of life as an independent intellectual.

In the words of Edward Said, who penned a moving obituary on him in the Guardian in 1999, Eqbal Ahmad brought wisdom and integrity to the cause of oppressed peoples.

In a ‘Factfile’ for Islamabad Policy Research Institute titled ‘UN Peacekeeping Missions and Pakistan’, it is stated:

‘Pakistan is contributing to UN peacekeeping since 1960 and is the single largest contributor of UN peacekeeping forces, with more than 11,000 Pakistani military personnel serving in UN peacekeeping operations worldwide.

As of June 2013, the Ranking of Military and Police Contributions to UN Operations, states 114 countries contributing a total 91,216 military observers, police, and troops to United Nations Peacekeeping Operations; and Pakistan forms the single-largest contributor with the highest number of troops (military and law enforcement) to various UN Peacekeeping Operations worldwide.

Pakistan’s contingent for the UN Assistance Mission in Sierra Leone in 1999-2005 is also said to be cited by the UN Peacekeeping Headquarters as a ‘Role Model for all UN Missions’.

‘The Pakistan Naval Academy, which was established in 1971, has since its inception trained over 2,000 personnel from other countries, including Azerbaijan, Turkmenistan, Qatar and Bahrain.’

Pakistan also has a history of hosting several communities of disparate peoples’ from around the world [ Either fleeing from violence or other reasons ] and refugees. It received about six million Afghan refugees from 1979 to 2001.

Along with hosting about 200,000 Burmese people who are largely based in Karachi [ To be precise, they are Rohingya Muslims from Western Burma who claim to have fled their homeland of Arakan State under the persecution of Muslim citizens by the Burmese Junta ]. A considerable number of Kurds from many countries also came to reside in the country and some still do.

In a report released by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees, with a staggering 1.6 million, Pakistan hosts the largest number of refugees in the world, nearly all from Afghanistan.

There was also a time, in the ’70s, ’80’s and 90’s and even just before the fateful year of 2001, when students from other countries, would come to Pakistan in pursuit of education; from Palestine, Iraq, Iran and other Middle Eastern Countries.

Apart from such matters, Pakistan has produced many notable personalities and individuals in other fields.

In the sports circuit, Jahangir Khan surfaced as the World’s No.1 player.


Stated on Ideas Evolved :

‘Pakistani control over the British Open and the World Open was created in 1976. The names of such great maestros such as Azam Khan, Roshan Khan, Mo Khan, Qamar Zaman, Jahangir Khan, and Jansher Khan have dominated the sport.

Moreover, Jahangir Khan is considered by many to be the greatest player ever to grace a squash court.

During his career he won the World Open six times and the British Open a record ten times.
Between 1981 and 1986, he was unbeaten in competitive play for five years. During that time he won 555 matches consecutively. This was not only the longest winning streak in squash history, but also one of the longest unbeaten runs by any athlete in top-level professional sports.’

Sultan Mohammed Khan Golden ‘a motorcar and motorcycle stuntman and jumping specialist, who introduced the sport of reverse motorcar jumping – set the world record by reverse jumping 150 feet over 15 cars.’

Sultan holds his self-set world record of jumping over 22 cars covering 249 feet distance, under his belt, among other things.

Hockey is the country’s national sport, in which it has thrice won the gold in 1960, 1968 and 1984 Olympics. Pakistan hockey team also won the Hockey world cup four times in 1971, 1978, 1982 and 1994. And the last major event: Champions trophy was won in 1978, 1980 and 1994.

Latif ur Rehman, Habib ur Rehman, Abdul Rasheed Jr and Dr. Atif Bashir are among Hockey legends from Pakistan.

In 1978, Pakistani hockey artistry also played a part in helping Argentina win the FIFA World Cup win.

The brilliant Sohail Abbas has the highest number of goals in field hockey history to his name: 348.

It is said, that there are only two major religions in Pakistan; Islam and Cricket.

Not only does the nation have utmost madness for it but Pakistan’s Cricket Team has shone since it ventured into the game. They won the World Cup in 1992, the T20 Cup in 2009 and since then, many Pakistani cricket players have made records and earned great wins, including that of the Blind Cricket Team and Pakistan’s Women Cricket Team.

 

brazuca-manufacture70% of the world’s footballs are made in the city of Sialkot. In the 1980s, Sialkot gained international recognition when it produced the Tango ball used in the 1982 FIFA World Cup and now, with the Brazuca of FIFA 2014.

Pakistan International Airlines was the first airline in the world to operate scheduled helicopter services. One of PIA’s Boeing 720s broke a world record that year, when it flew from London to Karachi non-stop in 6 hours and 43 minutes and 51 seconds during its delivery flight from Seattle, a record unbroken to this day. Also in 1978 the airline provided help to Somali Airlines, Air Malta and Yemen.

artworks-000003919565-07myxb-originalPakistan boasts of internationally acclaimed musician, late legend and maestro, Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, who is said to be one of the most celebrated artists to have ever been born. Many famous artists like Peter Gabriel, A. R Rahman and the late Jeff Buckley admired and were influenced by him. Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan made it to TIME magazine’s list of ‘Asian Hereos’ in 2006.

ytutA renowned painter and master of the Chughtai Art, who was admired by the likes of Picasso and Queen Elizabeth II, the late Abdur Rehman Chughtai’s works are at the British Museum, Victoria and Albert Museum, Peace Palace Hague, United Nations Headquarters, New York, Kennedy Memorial Boston, US State Department Washington DC, President’s House Bonn, Nizam of Hyderabad’s Palace, Queen Julianna’s Palace in the Netherlands, Emperor’s Palace Bangkok.

Pakistan’s Ismail Gulgee was also globally known for his outstanding work as an artist. 

                    Edhi

Abdul Sattar Edhi, the illustrious philanthropist and a truly inspiring ‘living saint’ runs the the world’s largest ambulance help service and charity.

Dr. Abdus Salam

Coming to the sphere of science, Pakistan has the distinction of being the homeland of Nobel Laureate Dr. Abdus Salam who, although tragically shunned by the state, was a man beyond brilliance. He helped lay the groundwork for the discovery of Higgs Boson.

 

Rahman Syed

Rahman Anwar Syed, on whom the Malaysian exalted title of Datuk was bestowed for his contribution to the social and economic well-being of Malaysia is best known for his discovery of the biological method of oil palm pollination. 

To name one, in the literary domain Pakistan’s Bapsi Sidhwa is admired by many. Pakistan’s writers and novelists are also winning acclaim and the country’s literature festivals continue to attract thousands each year.

The prestigious Harvard Medal of Freedom award has only been given to a total of three people, including Nelson Mandela and Pakistan’s former Chief Justice Iftikhar Muhammad Chaudhry.

Ali Moeen Nawazish is a record-holder for 22 A’s in A-levels. 17-year old Ibrahim Shahid set the record recently by 23 A’s in O-levels.

The late prodigy Arfa Karim, was surpassed by compatriot Babar Iqbal, who at 12 of age, became the Youngest Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist (MCTS) and she, at the age 9 had became the Youngest Microsoft Certified Professional.
He also set up three other world records Youngest Certified Wireless Network Administrator at the same age, Youngest Certified Web Professional Associate at age 10 years and in 2009, the feather of the Youngest Microsoft Certified Technology Specialist was added to his hat.

 11-year-old Sitara Akbar, became the youngest student in the world to have passed the British Ordinary Level (O’Level) examination – passing six O’level subjects including Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry and Biology.

In addition to this, she also attained seven bands out of nine, in the International English Language Testing System (IELTS) , scoring 7.5 in the testing system.

               

Nazir Sabir and Hassan Sadpara are two Pakistanis who achieved the feat of climbing Mount Everest.

While Samina Baig is the first Pakistani and Muslim woman to have achieved the feat of scaling seven highest peaks in seven continents.

 

Visual-effects specialist and artist Mir Zafar Ali was part of the team that won the Oscar award for best visual effects in 2007 for The Golden Compass; he has a plethora of hugely successful films to his credits, including Frozen which earned him his latest Academy Award. Other movies to his credit are: The Cabin in the Woods (2011), X-Men: First Class (2011), Hop (2011), Yogi Bear (2011), Aliens in the Attic (2009), Island of the Lost (2009), The Mummy (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), The Golden Compass (2007), Surf’s Up (2007), Spider-Man 3 (2007), Ghost Rider (2007), Open Season (2006), Monster House (2006), Stealth (2005), and The Day After Tomorrow (2004).

The second and more-famed Pakistani to win an Oscar was Filmmaker Sharmeen Obaid-Chinoy for her documentary ‘Saving Face’.

To mention a historic event in its history, the Muslim World’s first female Prime Minister, the late Benazir Bhutto was elected twice in Pakistan as was the Speaker of the Parliament Fahmida Mirza in 2008. Today, from ministers, political parties’ members, journalists, human rights activists, social entrepreneurs to teachers, singers, actresses to doctors, police officials to fighter pilots – Pakistani women are leaving no field behind in their participation.

Pakistan’s fascinating ‘lost children of Alexander’, the pagan Kalash tribe are relatively well-known but lesser known are the indigenous Africans of Pakistan called the ‘Sheedis’; both of which only add to the cultural vibrancy in the country.

Bu7ylhyIQAAhYBbWith looming mountains and paradisaical scenery  in the northern areas, green fields in Punjab, desert areas in Balochistan and meandering rivers in Sindh, all four seasons that are followed by different natural delicacies and festivities of the people, sumptuous food and scrumptious desserts [ Be it the spicy biryani of Sindh, the delectable ’siri paey’ of Punjab, savory Balochi ’sajji’ or the mouth-watering ‘namak mandi’ of the northern areas] while possessing a string of fascinating monuments, forts and remains of the different civilizations; Moenjodaro, Harrapa, Lahore Fort, Badshahi Mosque, Sheesh Mahal, Rawat Fort, Rohtas Fort, Derawar Fort etc  – Pakistan is a land with its fair share of problems, but a vivacious historical and cultural landscape.

Above all and everything else, Pakistan is the country that has stood against all odds gallantly as their lives became dispersed into a cycle of terrorism that has, till now, consumed 50,000.
As the terrorists blew their mosques, schools, buildings, shrines, hospitals and the bodies and limbs of their loved ones were strewn on streets, and nature shook its geography loose by earthquakes and the most devastating floods in recent history  – Pakistan held together, braved through all with resilience.

This single fact stands tall on its existence and is a feat itself.

Pakistan isn’t a land virtually barren of achievements; it is just, among all other descriptions and harsh facts, of mettle and and lioneheartedness an emobidement.

~ Hafsa Khawaja

* This is a site that was created solely for the purpose of cataloging and informing people of all the positive news related to Pakistan these days. The achievements and other seldom- good news.