Letters to Pakistan: Part I
I hope all is well with you. On this, your 65th birthday, I wanted to write a long letter congratulating you on your achievements. But how can I? Where have you come: you are now a pimple on the face of the world that refuses to go away. I remember you being quoted and known as the most dynamic young Muslim nation that people looked up to, and your airline’s slogan ‘Great people to fly with’ made us proud. Now, on the national carrier and in the Land of the Pure alike, it’s more like “great people to die with.” From the most progressive airline in the world which trained others, and uniforms from designers like Hardy Amies who designs for Queen Elizabeth, to Pierre Cardin, the renowned Parisian couturier who designed PIA’s second uniform, and Madam Carven in the seventies, the airline has now become an international pariah. But why expect anything different when you, its motherland, have evolved into a convoluted nation of contradictions, with cheap politicians and even cheaper clerics who have raped you in the name of religion.
Not that you never made us proud – with your sons like Abdul Sattar Edhi, Dr Abdus Salam, Nusrat Fateh Ali, Mehdi Hassan, Imran Khan, Jehangir Khan, Aisam ul Haq, and many others. Not that you haven’t shown the world intellectuals, authors, artists and directors like Bapsi Sidhwa, Hanif Kureshi, Sadequain, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, and many others. But these have always been your lone soldiers, shining beacons emitting solitary rays. And what have you done for them except at best, give them awards, and that too conferred either by a military dictator or a corrupt politician, or much, much worse, excommunicate them and leave them to perish on alien soil as you did to your only Nobel prize winner, Dr Abdus Salam.
It is sad that in your history you have always selected the wrong person for the job. It is sad that instead of becoming the Dubai or Singapore you could have become, you have turned into a banana republic. I cry for you, Pakistan, for I fear that in my lifetime I will not ever see you happy and prosperous, that I will always see you with a begging bowl in hand , lying to the world and trying to get more money from anywhere you can, at whatever expense to yourself, to fatten the bellies and pockets of your so called sons, parading as leaders.
And so I am amazed by the resilience of your people, how they manage to survive in this country, where the snap of the fingers of one of your illustrious sons shuts down the seventh largest city in the world.
And yet, Pakistan, I will always love you for what you have given me, a sense of belonging, fame and respect. For me you will always be home. But sadly, I don’t know if my kids would say the same thing. For them the greener pastures they will aspire to are not your fields of hay and barley, the sweet fruit of success will not come from the mango trees of my childhood. For them, I imagine those will be the Canadian maples and for them the greener pastures of Central Park in New York.
For as minority citizens, could they ever really call you home?
I remain your humble son,
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