The Pakistan I LOVE, The Pakistan I abhor


It is one of history’s ironies that a people who share so much, refuse to acknowledge their similarities and focus so avidly on their differences. I have a ‘split personality’ when it comes to Pakistan. It is a failed nation with a savage society that swears by archaic ‘values’ and it seems people have compromised with the situation now. I abhor Pakistan for concentrating more on destabilizing India than stabilizing itself. I abhor the way Pakistan has injured itself over the years. I abhor the way some of it’s leaders have this dream of conquering neighboring nation(s). But there is something about this banana republic that I love. There is a Pakistan I adore. There is a Pakistan I value. Pakistan has been my fairy tale land.

Way back in 1947 my paternal & maternal grandparents migrated to India because of the partition and started a new life here. While we ( me and my cousins) were growing, apart from the usual dadi-nani ki kahaaniyan; stories from Pakistan always fascinated us. I remember sitting with my dadaji for hours and listening to his experiences in Pakistan. I want to sit in the ‘aangan’ of the ‘kothi’ where once my grand mother was born. I want to visit the narrow and dusty  lanes of Multan where once she played. I want to go down the barren, sandy and arid tracts of Dera Ismail Khan, the land where my grand father was born. How can I not love Pakistan where my grand parents were born; where they grew up and spent their childhood!  And even today we speak MULTANI/SARAIKI at our home. It is my mother tongue 🙂 Multanis : Punjabis, but not quite Punjabi

Pakistan’s blistering borders are a cultural treasure trove. The Punjabi culture across the border is beautiful, secular and enduring. I love Pakistan for giving us some of the greatest Sufi poets, singers and writers who have reached a crescendo crossing all borders and hierarchies, whether between classical and folk and spiritual music, or between Urdu and Brajbhasha, or between faiths. Bulley Shah, Warris Shah, Sadat Hasan Manto, Faiz Ahmed Faiz are people who have left behind a rich cultural legacy and I so envy Pakistan for this. Waris Shah is my Shakespeare who immortalized the Heer-Ranjha saga, the immortal epic of doomed love. Over a period of time a  body of literature unique to Pakistan has emerged in nearly all major Pakistani languages .Talking about music; Punjabi folk music has such rich mines of gold that its luster can never be scraped by time. Nusrat Fathey Ali Khan , Abida Parveen, Tina Sani; with their soulful strains take us into the depths of Sufism and evoke passion, love and most of all spirituality.  How can I not love Pakistan? But at the same time I abhor Pakistan for losing out on this legacy to the hands of Taliban and neo-Islamist outfits.

I love Pakistan for the rich cultural and physical diversity spanning through the four large provinces; from Sindh to Punjab and from Khyber Pakhtunwala to  Balochistan.From the mighty stretches of the Karakorams in the North to the vast alluvial delta of the Indus where the world’s oldest & highly developed civilization – Indus Valley civilization once flourished . And today it can be found in the ruins of Moenjodaro and Harappa which are considered as one of most spectacular ancient cities of the world. It is Pakistan where archeological remains found in Taxila, Peshawar, Charsadda, Takht Bahi, Swat and rock carvings along the ancient Silk Road give the evidences of the history of  Gandhara. The Gandhara region was the hallowed center of Budhism and had once been the cradle of the world famous Gandhara art, culture and knowledge.  As a history lover how can I not love Pakistan? Pakistan has so much to offer. The region that is today known as Pakistan once had a large Buddhist population, but today hardly any Buddhists live there and I abhor Pakistan for this. It has failed to protect its own heritage.

Pakistan’s Punjabi culture, history and literature have an alluding aura which transcends beyond politics, beyond war-mongering and stuttering conflicts. Something beyond the border. Let us lower the walls so that the conversation continues!! People cross seven seas and go to London, Paris, New York etc. but I just want to cross one border. And I hope I make a visit to this beautiful country before I die. Mujhe to bas sarhad-paar jaana hai!!

I end this blog post by quoting my favorite lines written by Faiz

अब क्यूँ उस दिन की फ़िक्र करो,
जब दिल टुकड़े टुकड़े हो जाएगा
और  सारे गम  मिट जाएँगे,
तुम ख़ौफ़ ओ खतर से देर गुज़र करो,
जो होना है सो होना है ,
हसना है तो हसना है,
अगर रोना है तो रोना हे,
तुम अपनी करनी कर गुज़रो,
जो होगा देखा जाएगा.
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7 thoughts on “The Pakistan I LOVE, The Pakistan I abhor

  1. Nicely written Rahul. I see a high voltage of nostalgia of something purely based on your indirect understanding of a country, without ever being there. Understandable considering the search for roots.

    I am a South Indian. I speak Kannada at home. Just have a basic Urdu understanding and almost zero cultural/ancestral overlap with today’s Pakistan region. but I do feel what you are really trying to convey. Here is why..

    I have:
    – managed people of Pakistan origin at work before.
    – attended a Pakistani wedding
    – had dinner with dozens of Pakistanis, many times.
    – done business at Pakistani managed hotels & shops.
    – played sports with Pak origin people.

    Trust me. They are very similar to (North Western) Indians. I could connect in most situations very well. Yes, there are huge differences, but actually much easier to overcome than lets say mingling with a Chinese or Korean or Russian friend. ‘Dil se’ an average Pakistani is not much different at all compared to an average Joe in India.

    Where things flare up are:-
    a) Religion centric thought process: I found Pakistanis on an average highly sensitive to religion. Every move is seen with a prism of Islam in it. ‘Us’ versus ‘Them’. It happens in India too, but the degree of intensity is quite high. (I attended a dinner party with at least 10-12 Pakistanis, during early March 2002. It was NOT a pleasure). Show me one other cricket playing country wherein captains bring religion to prize distribution podium? That should explain what I am hinting here.

    b) Lack of real History knowledge: Even though people generally are innocent, the systematic Islam-centric brainwashing at school curriculum has spoiled the thought process. I find Indian system (however much we lash out at Nehruvian stuff) far liberal & inclusive of the diverse history.

    c) Feeling of victimization: No, it’s not just the K-word, but an artificial feeling of “we lost something to Hindus”. I remember talking to a Pakistani Qazi once. The moment he learnt that I was from Karnataka (erstwhile Mysore), he immediately started talking about Tipu Sultan. His words gave me a hint of “oh.. we lost it to Hindus” message. Another time, when covering Indian movie music, another person only focused on Allah Rakha Rahman. Again, the message was “oh.. we wish he was with us”. Hey.. India have 100s of music directors who are from diverse religious backgrounds. But… 🙂

    In summary, yes, I can understand your strange nostalgia to the Pakistan you have never been to. I have a fairly decent interaction with Pakistanis over the past 13 years to say that I would agree with you on a lot of things written in your blog. I have come to a conclusion that, even after ignoring venomous messages from both sides, you can only have a cultural & possibly sports relationship for at least our generation. The moment religion, history & politics enters the discussion, things go south very quickly.

    take care,
    – Kiran

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    • Thanks for your valuable feedback sir. May be what you are saying is correct since you have the experience of meeting folks from Pakistan. But my post was not bout the people of Pakistan. It was about the culture, heritage and my roots over there. And I think you will agree with me on that 🙂

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  2. Bhai… Its awesome, each time ur writings are such a pleasure to read… And I just can’t resist being a ‘bad’ critique… But this time u’ve managed to shut me up! Way to go…

    You should write more often!

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  3. Any sort of praise for your blog post is an understatement. Without sounding pompous, it is a tug at the heartstrings. Written without any “murky” preconceptions for a land with which we have had a tumultuous relationship, it just evokes innocuous human emotions. It’s ‘enlightening’ too; very easily arises hope and optimism. Thank you for sharing.
    Wish from the core of my heart that your dream comes true soon…

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  4. I don’t remember the last time I heard anyone use such positive words to describe a country that has been highlighted by the media for being a harbor for terrorism. I would like to thank you for educating me on how wonderful Pakistan was/is and has the potential to be.

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