I can’t believe I’m writing a post on politics and that too Pakistani politics. I’m an American born & raised Pakistani. My interest in Pakistani politics has been minimal although my parents spend a huge chunk of their days watching Pakistani new channels. The past couple weeks I have made a conscious effort to read and be informed about what’s going on in Pakistan in terms of the 2018 Elections as well as the state of the country in terms of education, healthcare, human rights, etc.
With Imran Khan as the new Prime Minister of Pakistan, the rays of hope seem never-ending. The younger and older generations, both, are thrilled to see a refreshing face and are adamant that Imran Khan will be the pillar of hope the country has needed for a very long time. It is true that leaders of a country have an impact on the masses — they hold the power to influence mindsets and introduce ideas that have been much needed.
I have visited Pakistan multiple times, throughout my adolescence years. I admire Pakistan for the rich culture it possesses, the hospitality of the Pakistani people, the liveliness of the cities. However, these things hold little importance in a nation that lacks the regulation of laws, experiences poverty, holds close gender roles, does not revamp human rights laws as needed, etc.
I am not here to bash Pakistan. I am here to merely express an opinion. Change in Pakistan will not merely come from Imran Khan as a Prime Minister. It will come when the people of Pakistan begin to realize the importance of equality, tolerance, education. When people make the conscious effort to destruct social norms that have done more harm than good, realize that societies are not built on cultural expectations rather tolerance, acceptance and unity. In a country where these fundamentals are not taught to the masses, it will truly be difficult for change to be achieved. However, change is inevitable. It will come. But at what cost? What cost will Pakistanis have to pay before the change actually comes?
Imran Khan represents what the masses of Pakistan want. They want change and reform. They want equal rights for both men and women. They want the cruelties of culture to be abolished and wish for laws to be enforced and regulated. They want an end to corruption and crime.
It will take decades to achieve this sort of change. It will not happen overnight. But to my understanding, Imran Khan is not the sole person who needs to advocate change. People in Pakistan need to commit to change. They must change their mindsets and mentalities that have been fed to them for centuries. They must think with an open and clear mind, be able to distinguish right from wrong and work towards a progressive attitude.
I have seen great patriotism in the people of Pakistan the past couple of weeks. My mother-in-law has an undying love for Pakistan and constantly speaks about Pakistani history. I often wonder how one can be consumed with so much nationalism that the faults of their own country seem transparent. Amidst the love we may have for Pakistan, we forget the negativity we spew about other countries and politicians. We remember history as gruesome and terrifying, and always blame our counterparts. We do not truly want to learn history and neither are we afraid that history is in many ways repeating itself. As Oscar Wilde said,
“Patriotism is the virtue of the vicious.”
Nationalism has brought more evil than good. When all your energy is consumed in acts of patriotism, we refuse to acknowledge the wrong within ourselves and our nation but find it easier to point fingers elsewhere.
To bring about the change Pakistan needs, people must develop tolerance. A tolerant nation is a successful nation and until we bring about tolerance of ideas, opinions, religions, ethnicities we will never progress. Impactful change rarely ever comes from policies or laws. It comes from within. If people in Pakistan begin to change the way they perceive the world around them, I know that the country will soon see progress.
A couple weeks ago I heard an interview of a Pakistani actress and human rights activist, Sania Saeed. She spoke about how the whole world has revolved yet Pakistan seems to be on the back pedestal, still. She shed light on many of the problematic things in Pakistani society such as gender roles, the incapability of the government to revamp/change laws, Pakistan as a colonized state. My most favorite parts of the interview was when she said something across the lines of,
“We have not accepted the injustices caused by our own history. If we do not accept the wrong we have already done, how will we ever move forward? This is why we have been unable to move forward.”
“If you love God, then how can you not love His creation? How can you not love the countries and people he has made? How can you not want to learn of the history of the people surrounding you and be tolerant?”
There are many changes I wish to see in Pakistan. But the most important and vital change I wish Pakistan focuses on is education. I hope that the people of Pakistan are able to give importance to education by allowing students to learn about the history of regions in the world, to understand the different religions of the world, to be able to grasp the importance of philosophy. I hope that every child receives an equal opportunity to education, that the social class system even in regards to education is abolished. Education is no longer a privilege, it should be considered a human right especially in a country that is in dire need of educated minds. To keep knowledge suppressed is criminal and inhumane. Education is the single thing that can revolutionize Pakistan and I hope it does so sooner than later.