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.