The reality of Pakistan through Brandon Stanton’s lens

Published: August 1, 2015

It’s about time people start seeing Pakistan through Brandon’s lens. PHOTO: HUMANS OF NEW YORK FAECBOOK PAGE

While Pakistani fans of Brandon Stanton were posting warm and welcoming comments on the Humans of New York (HONY) Facebook page, the power of pre-conceived notions and assumptions about Pakistan was evident in the contrasting rude and dismissive comments. Some of them called Pakistan “that wretched country” and threatened to give up on being fans of Brandon if he visited Pakistan.

Photo: Screenshot

And so it has been. Pakistan, a beautiful country, inhabited by a vibrant nation, is often seen globally as a monolithic entity in which only extremists and bigots live, and where only bad things happen. It is seen as not just the land of the 2005 earthquake, the 2010 floods and the 2015 heat wave, but the land where these natural disasters could not be handled and too many precious lives were lost. It is seen as the land of the patriarchal man who throws acid at the woman who rejects him, and the country where schools are bombed. This is how Pakistan is seen by many who have a simplistic and, unfortunately, a binary world view. They have seen that side of Pakistan that makes headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Pakistanis, thus, find themselves in a situation where people of the world are not willing to visit it, and they cannot really be blamed. Who would want to plunge into danger knowingly? If at all they do, there are very typical places they will visit, amid caution, fear and high security. They will experience the beautiful but sterile (parts of the) federal capital, Islamabad, and take selfies at the Mughal and colonial architectural sites in Lahore. They will give a talk at a university campus, eat at Cuckoo’s Den, and rush back home at the earliest. In doing so, very few visitors of non-Pakistani origin really get a flavour of what the real Pakistan is. Karachiites, in particular, have even forgotten what a non-Pakistani taking a walk on the streets of Karachi looks like.

In such a situation, while as Pakistanis we are grateful that brave and unprejudiced visitors like Brandon and the players of the Zimbabwe cricket team took the risk and cared enough to see what Pakistan actually is, a part of us is saddened. Our excitement and hash tags like #cricketcomeshome or #HONYcomestoPakistan express how starved we are for such cultural interactions. We wish that it was just a given that people from all over the world would visit Pakistan for its natural beauty, its cultural diversity, and as one of the most interesting places in the world.

  • Queen

    Great to see Brandon visiting Pakistan’s northern areas. Wish he would have had visited the southern parts of our country too. Next time maybe.. :)Recommend

  • Mian Jahanzaib

    Just Loved it… Thanks #Farhanaz..Recommend

  • Pakistani

    Honestly speaking, I was kind of embarrassed reading some of the Pakistani comments. I’m talking about phrases along the lines of “Please show the world that Pakistan is not what the media shows it to be”, “Please show the world that we’re not terrorists” and “Please show the world that Pakistanis are just normal people”.

    Seriously? Are we that desperate to be validated by the rest of the world? I know all these people have Pakistan’s best interests at heart but tell me, if the world does not validate us or approve of us, will that really make our existence unjustified and meaningless? I don’t think so.Recommend

  • HUNZA

    That’s Hunza. It’s doesn’t represent Pakistan’s culture as whole. The people of hunza are very liberal and very educated unlike other parts of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nice but not altogether correct…….Brandon has shown about 30% of the picture.
    Claiming that the 30% represents Pakistan is a ‘ feel good ‘ claim but not really true.
    I feel bad when I say this but unless we face the truth nothing will change.Recommend

  • Lyari don

    He did visit Karachi,Islamabad and Lahore, he’s gonna post the pics later, this is a series…Recommend

  • Beera Fatima Shah

    loved your blogRecommend

  • SunnyQAkAMBI

    Alas humanism finally promoted! Lovely HeartWarming Blog, yes Indeed we all are Human beings, we must work together to support, love ,& respect humanity. What im surprised to see are these pre-conceived notions & assumptions even after all the sacrifices ‘Pakistan “this wretched country” ‘ had made for the west. Maybe its the indians/raw/sabrerattling indian media upto no good as always. Even if they are my love for them will stay the same for all Humans. Peace out!
    P.S:Thank you Brandon , even if i was not given the Visa i love our American friends they have done so much for us as well.Recommend

  • SunnyQAkAMBI

    Sir you are either an Ignominy spreading Indian or an anti-PakistaniBangladesi , as we dont write Pervez as Parvez. Please stop spreading hate. Brandon showed 95% correct Picture of the loving hospitable people Pakistan . And you indian sir must be ashamed of spreading hateRecommend

  • SunnyQAkAMBI

    Hunza and other parts of Pakistan all are very liberal & educated. Where do you think the blogger is from or this newspaper is working in karachi, lahore & islamabad. Please my dear indian or anti Pakistani please stop spreading division. We are all the same Pakustan India bsngle etcRecommend

  • SunnyQAkAMBI

    Lovely Comment, spoken like a true patriotic Pakistani humanistRecommend

  • Parvez

    I was born in Karachi and I live in Karachi……and I spell my name Parvez. and am very much a Pakistani…..the fact that I chose to speak my mind and the truth as I see it, certainly is not spreading hate, as you so wish to call it. But keeping your eyes shut to reality which is easier…..but trust me is much more harmful.Recommend

  • Farahnaz Zahidi

    While you are very right, I think Humans of New York is a feel good initiative in any case, irrespective of the country. Secondly, I see it like this: We have to bring to light the “truth”, bitter as it may be, but also the good things need to be talked about. It would be equally unfair if only negative or sob stories are published, even if they are true.Recommend

  • Sane

    You Indian trolls….why you peep into other houses. Look at your back yard where rapes happen unchecked and minorities are killed.Recommend

  • Sane

    Very true. we do not need any endorsements even from our neighbors.Recommend

  • FARAZ AHMAD

    True. Recommend

  • Faiz

    Few years ago when I went to study abroad, one of the things i was really excited about was to see how pakistanis are perceived by 20 something college students. Sadly it wasn’t much different from how we view afghanistan of syria. They never get to see the other pakistan, largely from our own doings.Recommend

  • FARAZ AHMAD

    Thank you HONY. Pakistani nation is peaceful nation. Yes we have some issues like any other nation in world. But we will InshaAllah overcome. Some people’s want to destroy the real image and some how because of our nation’s some mistakes they are just about to get their target but that’s not mean that we will let them win. We will InshaAllah solve over internal issue which is also created by anti Pakistan eliminates. Pakistan is blessed with beautiful nature and and real Pakistani knows how to welcome our guest and treat them as an gift and shows them our ways of hospitality.
    And my dear fellow Indians. Please stop spreading hate about Pakistan. We don’t want hurt you by any means. Let’s live like a good neighbors.
    Peace and respect for everyone. Recommend

  • abhi

    The situation is so bad that if someone treats you as human you start praising that person.Recommend

  • Parvez

    AGREE and that is why I started my comment by saying….nice.Recommend

  • Nabeel Khan

    While i agree we do not need validation for people to survive. Realpolitik and business works differently. Quite a lot of things are based on perceptions (which may be ill-advised) Investor confidence is not only built on solid fundamentals but also how people “feel” in investing in a country!Recommend

  • Nabeel Khan

    Being a Pakistani i agree with him! Hunza people are generally far more liberated then the rest of Pakistan. It is a reality that we should all own up to.. instead of calling people indian trolls.. so anyone who disagrees is automatically indian.. so basically the maulvis that opposed the creation of Pakistan are by default indians?
    Yet when our singers and actors go to the lure of india, people say proud of xyz.. as if we don’t listen to indian music at all.Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    what about the countless rapes,honor killings that happen in pak…. no matter how much u try … as someone has already state above…u will always be seen as a failed state…….try getting electricity in lahore for more than 6 hours … then talk,…. and what he said is not wrong the majortiy of pakistanis are illiterate….40% is the literacy rate of ur country..Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    if other parts of pakistan are liberal and educated then how come is pakistan literacy rate less than 50% … plz don’t make a fool out of yourself here……….liberal and pakistan?? not when women are being killed for dancing in rain and being sprayed with acid for shopping ….i can reproduce links if u want …. not talking in air …Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    they even rape the dead in pakistan……so plzzz…..Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    ur punjabi establishment is spreading hate…not us…Recommend

  • Priya

    There have also been news articles elsewhere that have pointed out this similarity with others and as humans. I think it is great Brandon is in Pakistan and showcasing this. Something those familiar with Pakistani culture already know. That Pakistanis are like us and have similar hopes and struggles. http://www.businessinsider.in/Humans-of-New-York-is-in-Pakistan-and-here-is-why-every-Indian-should-read-what-they-are-talking-about/articleshow/48358918.cmsRecommend

  • SunnyQAkAMBI

    Dear Indian Neighbor,
    namastay,
    It is humbly requested that you focus on indias internal matters like, aids, rape,pedophilia, incest, porno ban, persecutiom of muslims in gujarat, gendercide against women like rip jyoti sharma medical student ,pollution in mumbai, indian media sabre rattling, looting and raping the christian nun , butcher of gujàrat mr modi & corruption etc the list goes on, rather then focussing on your neighbors backyard.
    Warm Regards,
    Your loving neighborRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    dear paki neighbor … u should be aware that in all the above areas which u states pakistan suffers far more than india …. be it rape ,polio and whatever lame things u have written above … check out today news where in pornographic scandal was busted and children rescued… plz don;t teach us women issues when u r worse off than saudi arabia ….. all the other points u have stated have happened just once or twice unlike pak where it is a norm to rape hindu girls and where christians are regularly burnt alive after accusing them of blasphemy ….are u even aware that in ur nation women are killed for honor just because they go for shopping and because they dance in the rain… u r without an iota of doubt a true failed state….Recommend

  • http://about.me/sumitjain Sumit Jain

    There are some real beautiful places surrounding the valleys people really wanna visit. just like hamza vallley. . but anybody who is not from your country or region fears for their security and also the convenience to travel matters. “Transport and Security” issues are hindrances to places as tourist destinations in the world.Recommend

  • SunnyQAkAMBI

    Why do indians assume a lot ? Why do you base you decisions on assumptions.Recommend

  • SunnyQAkAMBI

    Indians are suffering from chronic syndrome called Pakistan-Envy. Why are you people so obssesed with us. What causes you to spread enmity and hate rather then peace. Why do you present such ridiculous assumptions dear indian neighbor.
    Warm Regards,
    Curious PakistaniRecommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    i am not assuming anything here curious pakistani. … i am just stating a fact that pakistan literacy rate is less than 50 percent…..there is no envy here…. just stating a fact ….y are u snapping ?Recommend

  • Abhishek Chaturvedi

    not assuming anything….its a fact …. u just dont wanna accept it ….fine…so be it …Recommend