From Pakistan, With Love

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Sixty-two years should have been enough to establish a cordial relation, if not friendship, between Pakistan and India. However, fortunately enough, media is now playing an active role in building a bridge across the borders. It is agreed that media is very crucial in deciding the fate of people, situations, places and incidents.

Pakistanis have a good idea of the lifestyle and trends prevalent in the Indian society, thanks to the movies and television channels that find their way into the country. Reading an article in International Herald Tribune (http://www.iht.com/articles/2008/04/11/asia/letter.php), I felt the same cannot be said for the Indians and this is something that recently also caught the attention of the movers and shakers of the Pakistan media. Shoaib Mansoor launched his directorial debut, Khuda Ke Liye, in India on April 4, 2008. Reading about the response to the movie and the director’s interviews, something very disturbing and shocking comes to one’s attention – Indians know very little, if at all, about the Pakistani society, which is very surprising because it isn’t much different from theirs.

Pakistan is a multi-cultural country, full of variety and diversity. Its people are warm and welcoming. Its cuisine is full of delicious treats. It is a haven for tourists with breath- taking mountain ranges in the North to the sea and a busy shoreline in the South. Pakistan proudly boasts famous singers, musicians, actors, reformers, poets, fashion designers, sportsmen, politicians, humanitarians and leaders. So far, we don’t seem to be much different from our next door neighbour, India.

Contrary to common belief, Pakistanis do not engage in terrorist activities. The most usual worry of an average Pakistani is to earn enough money to make ends meet. The people are so involved with their jobs that they do not have much time to think about planting bombs and organising plots of mass destruction. In general,, Pakistanis are simple people, with simple desires and wishes. The most they ever want from their life long struggle, is a nice house, a socially reputable car, quality education for their children, the latest trendy clothes or a foreign trip every summer vacation. Most spend their entire life-time trying to secure the future for their children.

Pakistan is a heterogeneous society which proudly contains within itself people from various corners of the world. It represents a colourful culture and celebrates a multitude of events. Pakistanis like luxury and extravagance and most of their income is spent on consumer items. It would be worth mentioning here that most of the Pakistanis are much inspired and impressed by their counterparts in India. The Indian society, via its movies and soap operas, has had a very strong impact on the general Pakistani mindset. But the beauty lies in the fact that the people have given a distinct ‘Pakistani’ touch to this inspiration.

Pakistani women are extremely strong willed. They are generally go-getters, who never rest in peace unless they have their way! Although a fairly new concept, women empowerment is gaining ground fast in the Pakistani society thanks to the government, NGOs and feminist organizations. The average Pakistani respects women. He empties seats for them, opens doors for them, lets them stand in front of the line and tries his very best not to judge their driving skills.

Pakistanis are competitive. They like to get education and their thirst for knowledge is not satiated easily. The education in certain provinces is free till the secondary level and other reforms have been put forth to make education available to the masses. Pakistan has quite a few universities, both government owned and private, maintaining a high quality of education and are internationally recognised. Part of the women empowerment projects has been promoting female education, which seems to be working in the right direction. It is only fair to mention that the best MBA faculty is that of the country’s first all women university.

An average Pakistani is much far away from his religion than the religious scholars would like. Apart from the daily prayers or the yearly rituals, most of the Pakistanis do not worry about their religion. The average Pakistani does not bother himself with the religious intricacies and doesn’t make an effort to adopt the true spirit of his religion. However, the average Pakistani is susceptible to misinformation about religion and a victim to those who use religion as a means of personal glory.

India is very famous in Pakistan. Indian jewellery is a collector’s item, Indian clothes are any woman’s ultimate desire, Indian songs can be heard from every nook and corner, Indian film industry is more famous in Pakistan than its own, Indian politics is read and worried about in Pakistan, happenings in India manage to attract a lot of attention from the Pakistanis, in short, Pakistan likes to stay informed about its neighbour. Why the Indians don’t show the same enthusiasm is something a Pakistani may not be able to comprehend.

This is my attempt to ensure that both sides become equally aware of each other because cultural respect and understanding is what will ultimately bind us together and usher in peace.

Kulsoom Khawaja

[Image Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/skasuga/136729739/]

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