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The land I call home

From the top of the Himalayas to the Makran coast, my home from a bird’s eye view can be seen as a land of extreme geographical diversity, it is a roller-coaster ride which changes its tracks for each passenger. The mighty Indus continues to serve the land’s inhabitants with extreme devotion and dedication as it did hundreds and thousands of years ago. Apart from the occasional tantrums and rebellions the river throws, it is perhaps the reason why the inhabitants of this land continue to survive and thrive.

The land that was once occupied by Mohinjodaro and Harrapa now has bustling cites like Lahore and Karachi. The times have indeed changed. The scenery may have changed from the mud brick walls to the shiny Dolmen Mall in Karachi, but I can’t help imagining an inhabitant of the Indus ranting, complaining and blaming others on the daily nuances of life in a language that is unknown to us. Have the Indus people always been this way, or it’s the emergence of what the world now refers to as the “eastern mentality”?

The Aryans, Mughals and the British have all ruled over this mysterious land. Yet today its inhabitants are stuck within a spiral of never ending confusion.

As pain follows pleasure, it is said that an illusion must result in delusion. Pakistan was entrenched into the minds of the overly emotional and enthusiastic Muslims of the subcontinent as a land which would host rivers that flow with milk, and glaciers that have frozen honey. Jute was advertised as a resource of immense importance, it was described in beautiful metaphors to be a method of gaining affluence, prosperity and money. Our cotton, wheat and rice were the glittering gold of the land. We had finally formed a governance system that would accommodate Islam and give all the rights to a common man. There would be no discrimination whatsoever, through the implementation of egalitarianism. Literacy rates would be sky high, and our currency strong.

Unfortunately none of the above happened, ever.

With geographical diversity comes cultural difference, and a difference of thought, my homeland is divided on the grounds of race, language and ethnicity. Sectarian violence has been sharply rising; it seems as if the eighteen million people of this land are in a constant search of more grounds upon which they may divide themselves.

Stuck in a never ending tug of war between autocracy and an Islamised version of what some call democracy, the citizens of this country are at the mercy of the rope.

Divided as the people are, they wear the symbol of Pakistan as a badge of honor with a confused sense of patriotism lurking underneath.. They aspire to own Swiss watches, Italian shoes and Japanese cars and bikes over anything local, but take extreme joy in saluting the national flag.

They all sing the national anthem at the top of their voice before the start of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai at the Regal Cinema in Lahore, but continue to aspire to be Bollywood actors. Such are the confused emotions of a Pakistani.

Issues like that of Kashmir are brought forward from the cold storage to rally the divided men of my country under a common banner.

Outdated polices of nationalism are used to rally the support of a population whose emotions are constantly in turmoil. To add to the mix, politically controlled media hypes issues such as moving the line of control a few centimeters to the right. Successes of gaining a few more trees and bushes are then celebrated with extreme joy, while thousands lay dead in what is an unnecessary confrontation for a questionable cause.

In a complex political system, Pakistan has seen a trend of leaders emerging, advocating change and then living long enough to either become a villain or dying to start a political dynasty. Each coming into power with the singular thought of looting as much as they can from the state, as no one lasts forever. Corruption which is defended as the grease on our wheels of commerce is perhaps the only crime people of this land accuse their “leaders” of committing.

Corruption, lack of education, terrorism and an inconsistent governance system are the images associated with the word “Pakistan” today. It is bad for a nation to have an internationally tarnished image, but nothing worse than a nation being blind to its own basic values. . These values have rational, social and religious grounds as their foundations. Pakistan is not concerned with the efficacy and worth of its moral standards and has no desire to step into controversy to discuss the merits of these values. Without these morals my nation is like a car without lights, travelling on the road less travelled in a stormy night.

The rhetoric lies in the upper middle class using modernism to launch the few urban areas of my homeland into the spotlight of western-ism.

Revolutions do come from cities but they gradually spread across. This revolution of modernism needs to be fed by the Pak Rupee to rise in the rural areas of my country. However the rich are making every effort to keep this revolution hungry.

As for the Future of Pakistan, a question asked too often, I see the poverty stricken rural class maintaining their traditions and founding values of this country, I see a clash of traditions and modernism, a war between the knights in shiny Italian leather and peasants with their sticks and stones. Another divide has been recognized and accepted, that of the rich and the poor. Will my homeland survive? Will it rise from within the chaos again? The answer lies in the history of its inhabitants whose resilience is second only to that of the Afghans.

The land I call home will always survive and once again flourish, with the mighty Indus at its heart.

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