Basil Nabi Malik’s column in Express Tribune was a great way to start the day. Actually, I’m thinking of putting it up on the wall so that I read it every morning as a reminder that if each of us can get just one person to think positive and make some positive changes in his or her life, we can do amazing things. That person, is ourself.
As a starter, rather than trying to change everyone around us, let us simply change ourselves. As a people, we are too obsessed with what others are doing, may be doing, or could be doing. The maulana with the long beard and short shalwar should aim to better himself in the eyes of God rather than browbeat everyone around him into changing into his prototype of excellence, whereas the secular liberal should exhibit a certain degree of tolerance and attempt to keep in check his condescending attitude towards all those who overtly show their ‘faith’. The average Pakistani, portrayed as a perpetual victim, should think for himself rather than ascribing to the world views of the likes of the secular liberals or the religious fanatics.
Perhaps we should also commit to honest work in our daily lives without resorting to silly shortcuts which eventually result in greater troubles. The standards in any society can be deciphered from their work ethic. And unfortunately, our work ethic revolves around the notion that the term efficient signifies more remuneration for less work rather than getting more done in less time for greater remuneration.
Furthermore, let us have a bit more respect for our country. Trashing one’s country to fit in with a foreign crowd, or to look cool, doesn’t say much about a person. We may have a multitude of issues but we also have a massive reservoir of positives, such as our national heritage, pristine tourist sites and unmatched hospitality. Let’s start highlighting that, along with the obvious negatives that need to be corrected, to send a more balanced picture of our homeland.
As a necessary offshoot to the above, let us stop criticising others for doing exactly what we do, albeit on a grander scale. People in Pakistan are quick on the draw in criticising a specific Urdu news channel for ‘sensationalising’ tragedies and dramatising every situation for ratings and personal benefit. However, how many people in Pakistan would refuse to use the present situation for personal benefits, if the possibility arose? When in New York, I saw Pakistani students brag about how they used the fact that they were from a Taliban infested country which oppressed women to gain sympathy and special treatment in various situations, such as university applications.
People crib about the lack of taxes our political and administrative elite pay to the national kitty. True, but very few of us would pay the same if the said amount was not being cut from our paychecks. So unless we positively assume the role of good Samaritans rather than unwilling participants, the only difference between us and them, unfortunately, is lack of opportunity.
In a nutshell, we can’t hypocritically be part of a society which takes bribes, encourages nepotism, discourages hard work, and applauds shortcuts, and at the same time criticise the society for being as it is. After all, either we are the change that we want to see in Pakistan, or the product of the change that was Ziaul Haq. The ball is in your court, Pakistan.