Letters to Pakistan: Part II
To commemorate Pakistan’s 65th anniversary, Newsline requested Pakistanis to write a letter to their motherland. In the first part that that was published online, Ayesha Tammy Haq quoted Beatles lyrics, Mohammed Hanif talked about his grandfather and Newsline‘s very own Man Friday Ghulam Mustafa shared his concerns about the state of things in Pakistan today.
In the second and final part of the series, we present you with letters from a chowkidaar and a former CEO, a local millkman and an internationally revered food blogger, a member of Mensa Pakistan and a maid in Defence. All that plus a special ‘undelivered’ letter from respected columnist Ghazi Salahuddin who wants to know where Pakistan has ‘disappeared.’ Read on…
A letter to Pakistan? Sure. I do have a lover’s quarrel with my beloved country. So I could moan about real or imagined betrayals and infidelities.
But the problem is that I do not have the address to which this letter could be posted. Not only that, I do not know where Pakistan resides, in fact, I am not sure if it is still there. Or perhaps it has been kidnapped and held hostage in the wilds of Waziristan and one cannot communicate with it. Will they let it live because the ransom they apparently want – the original version – cannot be paid?
It is also possible that with the connivance of some NADRA officials, its identity has been stolen and an imposter is going around posing as Pakistan. I often get this feeling when I look at my country. It seems not to belong to me. Conversely, do I belong to Pakistan? Many years ago, an Urdu poet had posed this question: “Merey achchay watan, merey piyaray watan / Tu mujhey yeh bata, mein tera kaun hoon?” (My beloved nation, tell me what do I mean to you?
Remember Diogenes, that cynic philosopher of ancient Greece? He would go around with a lighted lantern in broad daylight, looking for an honest man. I could be doing the same, looking for Pakistan. Please, dear countrymen, have you seen my Pakistan? Do you know where it is at this time?
Yes, I think we should embark on a mission to find our Pakistan as they, the intrepid adventurers, would look for a treasure with the help of a faded and cryptic map. The speech made by someone on August 11, 1947 could be our map. Will our expedition pass through sites not marked on the map, such as the stadium in Dhaka where a document was signed on December 16, 1971, or the bombed-out schools of girls or torched places of worship of some minorities, or the unmarked graves of some young lovers killed by their own relatives? Would an Indiana Jones, perhaps sent as a consultant from Washington, help us in this exploration?
I keep wondering about where my Pakistan has gone, without leaving a forwarding address. A fearful, forbidding thought sometimes shatters my being: maybe it was never there, except as a dream or a grand illusion. Ah, but dreams have to be pursued and illusions translated into reality, howsoever unbearable it might be.
This means that the reality we have been condemned to live with, a reality that I do not recognise as my Pakistan, has to be fully grasped and changed in a manner that it comes as close to the dream as possible. The task, then, is to create a new Pakistan. And once we have a semblance of the country we had sought as Pakistan, we can communicate with it and live happily together. Then, I can write my letter to Pakistan and wish it a happy birthday.
Meanwhile, I will hum that old song from an Indian movie: “Baghwan tujhey mein khat likhta / Per tera pata maloom nahin”. (Lord I would write you a letter, but I have no address for you).
(Continued on next page)
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