Is there a Pakistan to go back home to?

Published: January 19, 2011

This is not the Pakistan I grew up loving.

Last week, my husband and I finally booked our return tickets to Pakistan. It was a proud moment, happy moment, not just because we had been saving to buy them for months, but because we had not been home in nearly two years.

Two years! It seemed like a lifetime. We had missed much: babies, engagements, weddings, new additions to the family and the passing of old, new restaurants and cafés, new TV channels, even the opening of Lahore’s first go-karting park. I could hardly contain my excitement.

Yet, my excitement was tainted by a very strange and disquieting thought – was there even a Pakistan to go back to?

My family and friends would be there, yes, and the house I grew up in, and my high school, and the neighbourhood park, and the grocery store where my mother did the monthly shopping, and our favourite ice cream spot…but what about the country? I’m not talking about poverty, and corruption, and crippling natural disasters – I’m talking about a place more sinister, much more frightening…

A place where two teenage boys can be beaten to death by a mob for a crime they didn’t commit, with passersby recording videos of the horrific scene on their cell phones.

A place where a woman can be sentenced to hang for something as equivocal as “blasphemy”.

A place where a governor can be assassinated because he defended the victim of an unjust law, and his killer hailed as a “hero” by religious extremists and educated lawyers alike.

The Pakistan I knew

This is not the Pakistan I grew up loving. This vision of a bigoted, bloodthirsty country is just as alien to me as it is to you.

The Pakistan I know was warm, bustling and infectious, like a big hug, a loud laugh – like chutney, bright and pungent, or sweet and tangy, like anwar ratol mangoes. It was generous. It was kind. It was the sort of place where a stranger would offer you his bed and himself sleep on the floor if you were a guest at his house; a place where every man, woman or child was assured a spot to rest and a plate of food at the local sufi shrine. A place where leftovers were never tossed in the garbage, always given away, where tea flowed liked water and where a poor man could be a shoe-shiner one day, a balloon-seller the second, and a windshield-wiper the third, but there was always some work to do, some spontaneous job to be had, and so, he got by.

My Pakistan was a variegated puzzle – it was a middle-aged shopkeeper in shalwar kameez riding to work on his bicycle, a 10-year old boy selling roses at the curbside, a high-heeled woman with a transparent pink dupatta over her head tip-tapping to college, with a lanky, slick-haired, lovelorn teenager trailing behind her.

A Michael Jackson-lookalike doing pelvic thrusts at the traffic signals for five rupees, a drag queen chasing a group of truant schoolboys in khaki pants and white button-down shirts. Dimpled women with bangled arms and bulging handbags haggling with cloth vendors, jean-clad girls smoking sheesha at a sidewalk café, and serene old men in white prayer caps emerging from the neighbourhood mosque, falling in step with the endless crowd as the minarets gleamed above with the last rays of the sun in the dusty orange Lahore sky.

Faith and jalebis

My parents are practicing Muslims, and religion was always an important part of my life. Like most Pakistani children, my sister and I learnt our obligatory Arabic prayers at the age of seven; I kept my first Ramazan fast when I was 10, bolting out of bed before dawn for a sublime sehri of parathas, spicy omelettes, and jalebi soaked in milk.  By the time I was 13-years-old, I had read the Holy Quran twice over in Arabic, with Marmduke Pickthall’s beautifully gilded English translation.

But beyond that – beyond and before the ritual, or maddhab, as they say in Sufism, came the deen, the heart, the spirit of religion, which my parents instilled in us almost vehemently, and which to me was the true message of Islam – compassion, honesty, dignity and respect for our fellow human beings, and for every living creature on the planet.

So, while we as Pakistanis had our differences, and practiced our faith with varying tenor – some were more “conservative” than others, some more “liberal”, some women did hijab while others didn’t, some never touched alcohol while others were “social drinkers” – we were all Muslim, and nobody had the right or authority to judge the other, no red-bearded cleric or ranting mullah. There were no Taliban or mullahs back then; if they existed, we never saw them. Not on TV, not in the newspapers, not on the streets, in posters or banners or fearsome processions.

It wasn’t a perfect society – far from it. Inequality and abuse were rampant, and daily life for a poor person could be unbearable. But they were the kind of problems that every young, developing, post-colonial nation faced. It was chaotic, but it was sane.

The war that changed my country

Then 9/11 happened, and society as my generation knew it began to unravel.

It started as a reaction to the US-led invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the “clandestine” war in Pakistan – a reaction shared by Pakistanis across the social spectrum.  But somewhere along the way, the anger and grief mutated into a suicidal monster of hatred, robed in religion and rooted in General Zia’s pseudo-Islamic dictatorship of the 1980’s and the US-funded Afghan jihad. Pakistan was engulfed by frenzy, an unspeakable frustration, not only at the neighbouring war that had expanded into its heartland, but at everything that was wrong with the country itself. And like the hysteria that fueled the Crusades or the 17th-cenutry Salem witch-hunt, religion was the most convenient metaphor.

I don’t claim to understand it all, or be able to explain it.  But what I do know is that, alongside the two purported targets of the war on terror, there is no greater victim of 9/11 than America’s indispensable, ever-“loyal” ally and doormat, Pakistan itself.

Maybe I’m romanticising a little. Maybe I’m being over-nostalgic about the past, and the Pakistan of my childhood. But that’s the only way I can retain some affection for my country, the only way I can sustain the desire to go back and live there – if I know and remember in my heart, that it has been better. That it was not always like this.  That it was once rich, multifaceted, beautiful, tolerant, sane – and can be again.

manal.khan

Manal Khan

A freelance writer and photographer based in Madrid, Spain, who loves old cities, tall trees, dark chocolate, and being inspired. She is a graduate of the UC Berkeley School of Journalism and a Lahore native. Manal blogs at "Windswept Words" (manalkhan.wordpress.com)

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Talha

    It was great, an excellent place that had so much potential.

    But the inner devil brewing because of Zia’s legacy was finally let loose and we are all almost finished today. Recommend

  • Ali

    Beautifully written, inshAllah the Pakistan Jinnah wanted will be back.Recommend

  • :)

    Beautifully written, amazing!

    Inshallah Pakistan will change into better than that of your childhood, soon. very soon inshallah i hope. Recommend

  • http://dinopak.wordpress.com Hasan

    I hear you. The feeling is mutual the Pakistan we grew up in is lost in the sands of time. May God save Pakistan.Recommend

  • XYZ

    Lovely post, very well-written; cannot agree with you more. Recommend

  • Tippu

    I visited pakistan in december 2010 after about 2 years and asked myself the very same questions. I was scared for my family and we nearly cancelled the flights.

    But all the fears disappear as soon as you land in pakistan. It is still the same country an awesome awesome place :) You will love it just as much as you did the last time you were there.

    Biggest change i noticed from 2 years ago:
    1. It is much safer then it was 2 years ago. i know it sounds strange. but its true. The blasts are rare outside peshawar and fata.
    2. Bicycles have gone the way of the tonga. ie, they are becoming extinct at a very fast pace. Even in small towns and villages, there are very few bikes left. everyones upgraded to motorbikes and cars. As a result, the roads in smaller towns have taken a beating.
    3. Huge Shopping malls everywhere. At every corner in every nook of the country. Seems like people have bothing else to do except shop till you drop!
    4. The fruits and vegetables are still the best in pak.
    5. Rahat bekery STILL makes the BESTTTTT bread in the whole wide world. have it with shezan jam and a nice hot cup of tea. Pure bliss that you will not find anywhere on earth.Recommend

  • Mehwish

    Extrenely well written! and it compelled me to comment. I have lived here all my life and I identify with all of it..
    ‘Maybe I’m being over-nostalgic about the past, and the Pakistan of my childhood.’ You are not being over nostalgic, it is how everybody feels living hereRecommend

  • Zubair

    WHAT is this ?
    This makes no sense to be very honest. You probably grew up in Zia’s era which was 80’s and your saying “The Pakistan you knew was warm, bustling and infectious, like a big hug, a loud laugh etc etc”. Oh well,Im literally laughing right now !
    and THEN you go on to say ,its ‘NOW’ a place where kids are beaten up,women are killed in the name of Law and Governor’s killed as well. wait…This is a place where same actions at the hand of Military and civilian Junta did so much the same things..Not just 80’s or 90’s but as far as 50’s and of course we saw another brutal ‘civilian’ 70’s before Zia bhaijan came and made it all “Warm,bustling and Infectious or whatever”

    The reason you never heard about Taliban,Mullahs,Bombings when you grew up is NOT because those things never happened,it was because there was no Free media then,people were arrested back then for speaking their minds.

    Pakistan was NEVER tolerant to start with. From Objective resolution to present day,you have people from almost every background and faith being conservative while liberal elite rule us and do Nothing.They will always pounce upon you if you touch their jugular vein. You want Tolerant pakistan ? You start with giving them right and Liberal education. You went to UCLA or whatever,why dont you send your own driver’s son to a school like Aitchison,let him give SAT later on and send him packing maybe to some Ivy league college
    .
    The Variegated ‘puzzled’ Pakistan is still here. You can still see a middle aged shopkeeper riding a cycle or some kid selling roses or any woman going to college wearing your pink or red dupatta only to be followed by some pervert. Yes,you still have MJ lookalikes here too,women smoking sheesha,cafe and what not.

    You want change,why dont you move back and do something instead of checking in and out after ever five years,only to expect a Pakistan as western as the country your currently residing in.Recommend

  • Hamza Baloch

    Dedicate to all overseas Pakistani

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87UmsmTN9T8Recommend

  • Zebunnisa

    Very well-written. and Very sweet and nostalgic. But maybe you didnt get a chance to read about the OTHER Pakistan of the 80s. The Pakistan where people were jailed for dissent and sent to Lahore Fort; where women were struggling (as they are now) to be recognized as human beings. Where the Hudood Ordinances were promulgated and Klashnikovs introduced.

    Lets not exaggerate the effects of the war on terror. The reaction IS there, true. But not to the extent we claim.Recommend

  • http://billaytoot.wordpress.com Bilal

    “like anwar ratol mangoes”

    I ll never leave this country for its mangoes…..Well written :)Recommend

  • http://www.bonfriends.org/ask-super-sis/ Advice for Life

    Pakistan still has the same potential it had before. You need to see it. Educated people have to polish it.Recommend

  • no joy

    you could not see Talibans and hate mongering mullahs because they were being exported to Afganistan and Indian held Kashmir,and now the chickens have come home to roost.Recommend

  • babruk

    what Pakistan! I am abroad and hear it becoming a Mullahistan. so a killer is a hero to many. top it all, lawyers are at the forefront of hailing the killer of governor as a hero. will the chief justice of Pakistan take notice of it?Recommend

  • Wasim Ali Butt

    Fantastic,A great article. Truly apprecial Appreciated…..Recommend

  • Hina Mujeeb

    very nice piece!!
    @ Zubair: I agree to zubair a bit. Yes we ourselves do not change to change the society. It should start from within rather than blaming others.
    MY PAKISTAN is still the same!! bicycle, car, motorcycle, rikshaw, tanga all can be seen on roads. We still walk miles chatting , laughing just to have a cone icecream in 15rps from a roadside icecream machine. We met at Safari park early in the morning and discuss issues there with friends from other institutes because it is the cheapest place we can all meet up!! We use economy class train compartment to reach lahore and have CHAMAN icecream at 1 a.m. SAbri nihari is still the tastiest!! Those who have left Pakistan miss it a lot but they should also understand that Pakistan misses them too. Pakistan needs them. Its better to have a less facilitated life in Pakistan than to have a luxurious life elsewhere. That is what i believe and i agree to disagree!! :)Recommend

  • BushraS

    powerful post. loved it. I understand that if you grew up in Zia’s era, the other side of the coin was quite sinister. However, this is a very nostalgic piece. And that is where your memories have come from. When I look at my nephews and nieces I know (and hope) they will have fond memories of their youth with the horror of our society being something they know about but haven’t experienced.

    Having said that, there is a lot of uncertainty in Pakistan. It is very scary to think what we have become and where we are headed. But our day-to-day lives are also filled with laughter, comfort and support of loved ones. One tends to overlook that angle when living away from the country. You’ll be pleasantly surprised when you’re back :)Recommend

  • http://confusedwithpersistence.blogspot.com/ Ali

    It is always a pleasure to read you.
    And this makes me super-sad!Recommend

  • Liberal

    But beyond that – beyond and before the ritual, or maddhab, as they say in Sufism, came the deen, the heart, the spirit of religion, which my parents instilled in us almost vehemently, and which to me was the true message of Islam – compassion, honesty, dignity and respect for our fellow human beings, and for every living creature on the planet.

    I wish our ignorant society understood what you are trying to say here! Great Piece! Recommend

  • Humanity

    Resonates well for all that is good about Pakistan and experienced by the majority who is not personally affected by the happenings all along.

    You perhaps were shielded from the awareness of the atrocities against the minorities carried out since the country was created. Bigotry and hatred migrated in person to Pakistan when it was created. Those who were against the country and called it naPakistan , decided to come live in Pakistan and became the thekedaars.

    The killings of the 50s, the disturbances of the 60s, the mutilation of the country and the genocide of the Bengalies in 71 are documented facts. The killing spree of the Ahmadis in the 70s onwards is undeniable. The target killings of the Sh’ias are well known. These brutalities are the facts, just like the nice experiences you have shared with us.

    You perhaps are unaware because it did not affect you or your family. The elders chanted deen before mazhab but perhaps did nothing when people were slaughtered by mobs like the Sialkot lynchings. Young girls had to run for their namoos, jumping over roof tops without their duppatas and bare feet, to escape the frenzied thugs. The mob would not let the relatives claim the bodies of the murdered Ahmadis which lay in the courtyard of their home in the brutal summer for 3 days. These thugs were the fathers of the mobs that you see today. They were no less fanatic. All soldiers of Islam were in amply supply before the Soviets stepped into Afghanistan.

    Read the Munir Kayani report on the 1953 riots to get a good idea of why the nation stands at the brink of an abyss today. http://www.thepersecution.org/dl/report_1953.pdf

    So my dear, yes, the mangoes are to die for. Yes,the basant is carefree fun, and oh so colorful. But, you can not any longer, look over the dark side to the story that has been part and parcel of this unfortunate nation since its birth. Unless and until the nation gets out of the mode of self glorification, things will only get worse. The festering wounds must be healed. You can not chop away a part of your body and expect to stay whole. Never!

    Aristotle said you can judge a nation by the way it treats its most vulnerable citizens. With this, I rest my case!Recommend

  • Majid Urrehman

    Manal, Pakistan is same. These are your Pakistanis who dare to bear the brunt of suicide bombing and still lived the life which they are accustomed to. These were your Lahories (in Particular and all Pakistanis in general) which came out of their homes and throw the dictator out of this country. Lahore is still living the same life. high-heale Bangled women, jean clad teenage girls, lanky silky haired boys, everything is there. Murder of a bad governor should not make you sad. But you must have sympathies for those who faced emotionless suicide bombing.Recommend

  • http://healthwathout.blogspot.com Dr.Razi uddin Khan

    I came back from a place much more peaceful and life lot luxurious ,than in any western country,but everything slowly started falling apart during last three years.The situation of hopelessness and helplessness is almost reached to point of no return!!
    No matter one keeps denying the reason for all this happening to my once so beloved country is lawlessness and nothing…and it starts from top.
    Why I can’t move around at my free will?why can’t I get same fresh and mouth watering halwa puri or Sabri’s nehari when ever my kids feel the desire to eat out?only and the foremost cause coming into mind of innocent citizen is failure of state to provide security to common citizen..lest to their own!!!
    Discipline and accountability is the only hope!!!Recommend

  • shehryar iqbal bajwa

    why everyone paints a gloomy picture of pakistan?? i love my country Recommend

  • Ahmed

    @Zubair:
    Very well said ZubairRecommend

  • Abdulaziz Khattak

    Manal Khan, don’t come back please. You are fit the country you are in.

    But do remember, when they profile you because of your faith (I mean if you don’t give it up in fright) and your origin, Pakistan will be the only place you will be coming to.

    So yes, there are lots of bad things happening there, but it is still an identity.

    Ask the Kashmiris of the Palestinians or even the Afghans what it means to call a wrecked piece of land as their home.

    I can only pity people like you

    Recommend

  • Nojeba

    Loved this piece. My elders and my parents tell me this is exactly what Pakistan used to be like many years ago. Apparently there was a time when people didnt even need to lock their gates it was that safe, now every house has a burglar alarm, yet people get robbed. Even at the time i was growing up there was no such thing as suicide bombing. Its sad really, how our country has deteriorated.

    Beautifully written piece, wish Pakistan could go back to being the way it was.Recommend

  • Hamza

    @Abdulaziz Khattak:

    Very disappointed by this sentence of yours, Khattak sahib. You have passed a verdict. You are not willing to respect the opinion which does not match yours. This sentence of yours is the reason why Pakistan has become an intolerant society. Why are we so good at wishing terrible things to others ? Recommend

  • http://www.fattaurus.com Ahmed Ilyas

    Jinnah`s Pakistan is Dead… it died in 71Recommend

  • Osman

    It is sad that despite only being away from the country for a period of two years, your views have been influenced by a steady diet of mainstream western media. After all you grew up and were educated in this country too. Suicide bombings, killings, mob-lynches, abuses of the blasphemy law and religious bigotry were not unheard phenomenon during 2008. If anything, I believe that Pakistan has become stronger during these past two years, with society finally rising up to the challenges that lie ahead. The killing of Salman Taseer aside, Pakistan has actually become safer (one can just look to the facts of the number of suicide bombings which is on the decline). Manal, please do not fall victim to more western propaganda.Recommend

  • http://na prasad

    I think you are returning to a better Pakistan – where the media is free (noisy but free). Where people are questioning the official line. Where differences between classes in some cases are blurred as the middle class emerges. Change is good and Zardari with his politics of appeasement is a lot better than loud, empty speeches from his late wife or late father in law. Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    this is exactly how i think Recommend

  • Adeel Ahmad

    Very nicely worded…. Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    Might not agree with the article…but the likes of khattak saab ….whether in the street or in the cyber world committing ad hominem homicides, are the major reason that tolerance has evaporated within the society. One should remember that one’s opinion is not to be imposed – it is to be expressed.Recommend

  • Abdulaziz Khattak

    @Hamza:
    A person bashes your country, abuses public opinion space and you go quite over it.
    I say something to defend my country and you get furious.
    I expressed my opinion to defend my country. Why can’t you accept that.

    This is not the first time I hear some confused desi air his/her confusion over the bad state of affairs in our country.

    What we should be asking the writer is what has she done for the country?
    Had she done a lot, she would had the right to ask, “after all I have done for my country.”

    I will respect the view of anyone, who alongside pointing out mistakes can give concrete solutions too.

    I would have even accepted it had she been in the country. But she is an expatriate.Recommend

  • Abdulaziz Khattak

    @Nojeba:
    There are more killings, rapes and robberies in the US.
    Do you have the same view about that country too???Recommend

  • Arsalan Qureshi

    But I still Love my Country Pakistan!Recommend

  • Abdulaziz Khattak

    @Hasan:
    Only prayers won’t do.
    You have to be part of some movement that is working for change.
    Anyone can write a few lines of criticism of praise.
    Move yourself so you get to know how hard it is to work against elements of destruction.Recommend

  • Abdulaziz Khattak

    @Waqqas Iftikhar:
    Listen Mr Iftikhar. I expressed my opinion about protecting my country from wolves in sheep’s clothing. From day one, I have condemned Qadri for what he did.

    Every country has its goods and bads, but as an expatriate you are an ambassador of yours.

    Look at the Indian diaspora. Do you think India has lesser problems than us???
    But seldom will you see an Indian expatriate speak bad about his country. Or even if he criticises, he won’t wish that it were’t there at all.

    Just yesterday a colleague hinted at Khushwant Singh’s article/comment, which said that Pakistan wont survive. I told him that let Singh and the likes of him will keep wishing that, but Pakistan was meant for a larger purpose. It’s far beyond people like Singh or Manal Khan to understand the amount of blood that went into the foundation of this great country.

    One bad thing about too much media freedom is that every Tom, Dick and Harry has become an “expert” or sorts.Recommend

  • Mohsin Ali

    @Zubair:
    i couldn’t agree more !!

    @Manal Khan

    its a good piece of writing but it only depicts your image of Pakistan , what you have seen on international media while residing abroad. i live in Pakistan but i do travel a lot and when i hear a news caster on a German radio channel taking the name of Pakistan among Afghanistan, Iraq..it is really disturbing..but don’t believe it all..for those people we are extremist ..we are religious..we are a confused nation because we mix religion with state which according to them are two separate entities..fine !! when they compare they can say any thing..yes we are not RIGHT according to them..
    But i am surprised that you being a journalist and visiting homeland as frequent as every two years..you should not say that..i totally agree that all the things you mentioned or even worse things used to happen before but there was no free media..
    to make you understand this..i would narrate an example and you being a Lahorite like me would understand..Basant..were there no incidents before of people on bike getting killed by the Dor (thread) ? yes there were but it was banned because now it could be seen on all news channels…so same goes with the increased rate of all the -ve things that you watch / hear on news…

    Some one above rightly said that come to Pakistan and feel it for yourself..IT IS THE SAME PAKISTAN..and we love it to death !! Peace.Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    @Khattak, these are called blogs for a reason….its an opinion and its expressed – you dont like it…..contact the tribune and they will put up what you write…but why the hate? why the wish to be violent?

    you could easily deconstructed her arguments via logical exposition – instead you chose to attack her directly not the blog

    manal nor any of us purport to be experts on the topic we write about – we just like to write, surely that does not deserve so much bile?Recommend

  • Miriam

    Pakistan is still very beautiful. There is always a dawn after dark. Recommend

  • Faria Syed

    A section of Mr Abdulaziz Khattak’s comment has been removed as it does not meet our moderation policy.http://tribune.com.pk/comments-policy/
    (Web desk)

    Recommend

  • parvez

    There will always be a Pakistan to go back to and home is where your heart is.
    Really liked your article and can understand your apprehensions on the state of affairs here.Recommend

  • Faiza Atif

    @Zubair:
    I m totally agreed with ur veiws. Once someone sitting outside of country ,media create such a bad pic of Pak, anyone can get scared. We recently moved back and did not find things that badas they show on media. Yes there are problems but its not end of story and things are getting better , People getting more aware and involved in Pakistan problems. So we all hope this bad patch of pak history will over soon, and we will give a strong and better country to our children…after all this is our responsibility.Recommend

  • Nwaq

    It is a good nostalgic piece.We should not lose heart and pray for best.We will definitely survive.Recommend

  • Saad Duraiz

    i am torn between the content of this blog and Zubair’s counter commentsRecommend

  • http://India G. Din

    Do not let go of it! It is your inheritance; do not let any one steal it from you! Recommend

  • Amer

    I totally agree with Zubair on this one…he’s put it very well.

    @Manal, You are going to Pakistan after only two years. I went to Pakistan in 2007 after a wopping 8 years in Houston. It was mainly because all my family (Parents and siblings) lived outside of Pakistan and I visited them in KSA, UK etc. But I can tell you this much, I have gone to Pakistan a few more times after 2007 and everything is as sweet or bitter/sweet as I always remmembered it to be. Everything seems the same besides my urge to wear a seat belt on every corner while going home from the airport or to say thank you to everyone or to check the expiry date on everything. I get home and try to analyze what’s changed and when I go deep enough, I find that nothing has changed. It’s just me (or people like me and you) who have seen and heard different ideas and after living in an open society like the US where we can talk and learn from people all over the world, we start to see that there are other truths that are very different from the one we are told in our Pakistan Studies Book or from watching PTV…. so cherish the things that you like about Pakistan and if you really care then try to change the things that you don’t like, there is no point in just complaining or being bitter about things in your romanticised land (if that’s even a word!). The best thing is to try to change something… you would have changed alot even if you helped one person! Recommend

  • Bushra

    Well Expressed.

    This is not only what Pakistani’s living abroad experience, it is very much the same for those who still live in this country. You are very right. I remember celebrating 14th august with putting up flags and jhandiyan … putting diyaas on my terrace on shab-miraj. It was all there.

    To some extend, the other extreme of fanatics also existed but it was pretty much suppressed. The way to express thoughts was to debate or perhaps try to convince the other group by keep religion and nationality as their mutual love so that the debate doesn’t end up in bloodshed.

    Today, its not the media, its not the freedom of thought, its just the strength in number and power those fanatics have managed to acquire. They found the loopholes within our society and filled them with manipulative preachings of Islam that were never heard of before.

    It is understandable if today the minority like you and I look at our country and shed tears, but it is certainly not justified! If the fanatics could fill the loopholes with their messy tactics without having any educational background, then you and I should die with shame for letting the threat spread and just whine about it.

    I dont call myself a big revolutionist but i do believe that soon I will be bringing my share of change to this part of planet so at the Day of Judgment i can answer my Allah that this is what i did to shut those up who became wild and destroyed lives in your name.

    I guess its time we all do our part of thinking and figure out what can be done to restore the long lost prestige and air of freedom. Islam itself encourages debate! Therefore, words are better than swords.Recommend

  • Maria

    Well written piece. Abraod one hears a lot of hysteria from Pakistani media which is only trying to create headlines and the anti Pakistan press which is funded by others. Yes there are challenges but life moves on. Despite the negative press, much of the concern disappears the moment the plane lands in Pakistan. We are a resilient nation and a resilient lot. The future will show how the new generation of Pakistanis rebuilds Pakistan into the beautiful nation it once was. There are challenges in every Muslim nation but I feel Pakistan will be the first to recover and the one with the best future- inshallah.Recommend

  • Nadir

    Long before the war on terror and long before the drone strikes Pakistan was awash in violence and intolerance. By the fifties the first pogroms against the Ahmedis had already begun. In the seventies half the country rebelled and the state responded with disgusting brutalilty that resulted in the breakup of the country. In the 80’s Pakistan was the second most bombed country in the world after Columbia and awash in heroin and guns. This was also the decade when we sentenced a blind woman for comitting zina because she couldn’t find four witnesses to corrobrate her rape. In the ninetees there was practically a civil war in Karachi while shia and sunni extremists regularly opened fire on worshippers in each others mosques in Punjab. This was also the decade in which Sunni extremists began their campaign to murder Shia doctors and high ranking officials. In the nineties during the second PPP government militant groups had already once tried to take over the tribal agencies. In 1997 Justice Bhatti was shot dead after giving a not-guilty verdict in a blasphemy trial.
    Unfortunately people in Pakistan have very short memories. Or maybe all this happened before the author began to read newspapers. All kinds of intolerance and violence permeated Pakistani society long before the war on terror and Pakistan has not been tolerant or peaceful in decades. It’s time to stop blaming the Americans and drones for all that ails society and wake up to the fact that it is a homegrown problem. And for people who who think we should just pretend Pakistan is not an intolerant society because it hurts our image, this is just a way to bury your head in the sand. Yes there are violent and intolerant individuals in other societies. But in normal countries this is usually condemed and the perpatrators villified. In Pakistan the violence is uncontrolled and the perpatrators often celebrated. It is not normal to have APC’s on your streets, armed guards outside your places of worship and metal detectors at the entrances of cinemas and shopping centres. Wake up and do something about it instead of blaming anything and everything but yourselves.Recommend

  • Sarah K.

    Wonderfully written piece. However, I do think you lived in a bubble then, and live in a bubble now. Pakistan was always the same. Has not changed. Recommend

  • Saad

    Beautifully woven nostalgia. This is awesome, Manal!Recommend

  • Samee

    As a 16 year old O-levels student, I might not possess the “First-hand” experience of previous political regimes to truly understand the Pakistan of the past. History will only allow me to be enlightened of the nation’s past vicariously. @Zubair made a valid point, that is, quality liberal education for the masses is the key to success. Ever since it’s inception Pakistan has been trapped in a bona fide hierarchal social system. Those that dwell at the tail-end of such a system, will continue to do so for generations. A son of a ‘servant’ will never be treated equally to his ‘master’; contrary to our own treasured religion. Such disparity has to vanish quickly, otherwise we will continue swimming in the political mess we lie in.
    The article is quite what the author describes herself as “romantic”. It’s riddled with hyperbole, or a more apt term might be embellishments. Pakistan is not as beleaguerd as some might like to think. In my opinion these tales just provide an excuse for foreign Pakistanis to finally ditch their roots; submersing themselves in overseas soils. Now I would not get agitated at these ‘conversions’, but what pains me is that most of these people are recepients of liberal education! Notice the irony! But it’s fair to say such a trend is diminishing. To any foreign Pakistanis, I would like to make a plea for your return. The educated are the only segment of the populace that contain the strength to sort out our political predicaments.
    I would also attribute “Media glorification”as a primary factor in the perceptional changes of both local and foreign Pakistanis. In days like these, capitalism is rampant everywhere. It is embedded in the psyches of both the consumer and the seller. Everyone wants to make a quick buck or two. Avarice is the ruling emotion in today’s corporate world. So it’s no surprise that the media, a robust part of our corporate world, envisages something other than showing 100% true facts to the public as it’s primary goal. Sensationalism supersedes rationalism. My point is forget the lurid showings on the television, and discover Pakistan yourself. Its not as gloomy and sullen as the media envisions it to be.

    P.S: Once playing Call if Duty online (video game), I found myself acquainted to a Norwegian(English-speaking thank God!). When I informed him that I resided in Pakistan, he threw a (expected) fit of hysteria and disbelief. He said that he thought Pakistan was some war-torn desert battlefield where the Taliban suppressed the locals into obsequity. Sigh.Recommend

  • Karachiete

    A very touching piece Manal, to all those who attack expatriates just because they live abroad, cut those people some break, there is nothing unpatriotic about being an expat or living in the diaspora, many people living in Pak have diaspora origins as well, those who migrated frlm India 1947 onwards, Kashmiris who fled Indian occupied Kashmir, Biharis who first fled Bihar then fled Former East pak for Pakistan. Yeh hum sub ka Pakistan hai, whether we live at home or abroad as overseas Pakistanis. Hum zinda quam hain, paenda quom hain, hum sub ki hai pehchan hai, hum sub ka Pakistan, Pakistan. I am honestly sick of people attacking diaspora Pakistanis, i am a former expat myself, when people back home call us deserters, unpatriotic or not real Pakistanis. Pakistan meri pehchaan, Pakistan Zindabaad.Recommend

  • a nony mouse

    Nothings changed much over the last 2yrs…

    U need to stop being so over-dramatic…

    Although the Pak of 90s was warm and happening and I agree with you that 911 had its biggest toll on us… :(Recommend

  • srikanth jagath

    Hi… wonderful and eloquent piece of writing… I’m an Indian, and the other side of the border fascinates me… Hope to one day be able to travel freely between the two countries… Have a lot of friends i’d met when out of the country.

    And once again, that was a great article.

    SrikanthRecommend

  • Anoop

    Do you think these Extremist are born overnight? They probably grew up with you, around you, behind the Mask of Tolerance. 9/11 was just an excuse to remove that mask.

    You must be really immature back then or naive to not to notice that. Your generation of Pakistan is what ruining it (I am not saying you are at fault but nonetheless these Radicals belong to your genration, mostly).Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    Um, okay are you sure you meant to write that you’re returning here after two years and not two decades? What you described is essentially the Pakistan we live in even now. I think you’ve been listening to them Amreeki media peopul too much dude. As for the war on terror bit…You are aware that Pakistan funded jihadis as well and that most of them were sent from our madrassas? Good lord. I can’t even call this stupid because its not your fault if you’ve lived in a bubble your whole life. Still, this was well-written which is the only reason I read all of it. Lacking in research but still, sweet.Recommend

  • arshad

    well written article…but it tend to disagree with you in few points…i don’t want any debate…the simple is that our country need us…at this moment of time we should join hands together as Pakistani against all odds and try to bring positive change in our society and culture…Our own personality will be the best to start with…. Recommend

  • Naeem Siddiqui, Australia

    Manal Khan,

    I don’t see any good of writing this article at this moment while your mind is completely polluted from western media’s anti-Pakistan propaganda. This is good you are visiting Pakistan after such a long time, wait for your visit, have your experience and then write blog about your experience.

    I found most of the bloggers here in ET write blogs just for the sake writing without having any clue what good it could serve in terms of informing people. What ever written in this blog is what we keep reading and watching in western press and media.

    Bring something new lady Manal Khan!Recommend

  • Adnan

    Manal you have explained things in a very nostalgic tone, however do you reallly think all that has changed in just 2 years ? I returned after 7 years so I can relate to most of what you have said, and that’s why I’m wondering if really all that has changed. True, the intolereance is at a new high, inflation is at its peak, but the way I see it things aren’t very different than what they were 2 years ago.

    The same incompetent government, although a low suicide bombing rate now than what it was when you probably left and a new bigger divide in society. While things may not look too good for Pakistan at the moment , but I’m optimistic that good governance may give this country another chance.Recommend

  • KK

    Really well written piece.
    Do you ever wonder though, how OUR country would have been today if you hadn’t decided to abandon YOUR country years ago?? It’s sad indeed that the cream and the people who could have made a difference with their presence never cared for their country. Why complain NOW when you are no longer a part of it!!
    Don’t point a finger at the ones who chose to stay and tried!! You have lost your right…. Be your selfish kind by being happy that you are not a part of it.Recommend

  • Rajab Ali Bhojani

    Very correctly and rightly picturised, love for the country can be felt within the writers heart. I was sad/er after reading the article. Also comments from most of the writers are disheartening and about same and all are waiting eagerly to see a ray of light/hope from anywhere possible/messiah. I need to ask a couple of questions to all my brothers who commented including the writer and who are reading and following this article. (1) Did any of you or members of your family vote for any current parliamentarian? (2).Do you think and beleive the television anchors of various pakistani channels who are criticizing the politicians have voted for any of them? I am sure the answer will be a big NO from not less than 90/95 per cent. The corrupt rulers or the politicians sitting in the parliament did not win those chairs/seats thru the musical chair game. The were elected thru the votes. If we all use our right to vote for the correct/honest people. We could overcome all this sadness within us. My request to all countrymen to utilize your vote for the right people. Love PakistanRecommend

  • Karachiete

    Kk, you are just the kind of person i spoke off in my earlier comment, stop attacking us for being overseas Pakistanis. How do i know that its not jealousy on part of people like yourself that tempts you people to attack us, we have donr nothing wrong by living or having lived abroad. Pakistanis are not even amongst the largest diaspora communities, just over 4 million Pakistanis live abroad. If you had the chance ud take it as well.Recommend

  • http://deleted Sabeen Masood

    so many Pakistanis living abroad do not remain true Pakistani after two years. It is really astonishing and shameful to say that how powerful western media is that it can easily take over your brain. Apart from the foreigners, it even succeed to put so called Patriot Pakistanis in gorges of doubt. I have not seen that much fear, confusion, sadness in Pakistan as it exists in the west. Do Pakistani living abroad make a horrible sketch of their country after a sad incident take place in Pakistan? People living in Pakistan show concern, become more conscious, bold and indeed peaceful in tough times but those living abroad get scare, draw extremely rotten and scary picture of the events in their minds, they call Pakistan (they use these terms for whole Pakistani nation and do not confine in to Taliban, terrorist or trouble-makers) cruel, barbers, blah blah blah.
    Then it became hard to absorbs that they are Pakistani who really do not know their country and forget every positive linitation of Pakistan. Pakistan is NOT AT ALL like your imaginary Pakistan. And it is useless to explain WHAT Pakistan is at present because you will Never UNDERSTAND IT.
    Amer and Zubair my compliments to you.Recommend

  • http://deleted Sabeen Masood

    @srikanth jagath: I have heard from my relatives who travel to India That Indians have also made a horrible imaginary picture of Pakistan and they also narrate a great deal of false stories regarding Lahore and Karachi. It make and my relatives confuse and tense and they say that it seems no one in India has ever come to see Pakistan otherwise they would not have said it.
    Well, i really want you to come to Pakistan with neutral heart.Recommend

  • http://deleted Sabeen Masood

    @Anoop: come to Pakistan and see the actual Pakistan i hope you will not speak so rashly after that and if you cant do it than shut up and keep your nose out because you understand nothingRecommend

  • Ali

    I remember visiting this Pakistan in my childhood to visit my aunts and uncles. The more i read about Pak now though, the more i am glad we dídn’t live there – especially now that the Mangoes are also available in Europe/US etc.

    I haven’t been to visit for a long time and probably wont for a long time either! Though i will always wish it well!Recommend

  • zenab khan

    i agree with u although partially!wat maria has written is the absolute truth!.in my view the country,as many of us overseas pak see it has”gone to the dogs”.we have been brainwashed by the western media to such an extent that we cannot think beyond the info it provides us with.we were in pak recently and i saw alot of positive change!.the “phatphatee”rickshaw have been replaced by the less noisy CNG ones!.women can safely be clad in western clothes and even people in the local bazaars r immune to them.in short i saw alot of tolerance and versitility in the pakistani people!i have lived in INDIA for 3 yrs and i can tell u that the amount of security issues that they have r tremendous.wat about america……as quoted by dr.zakir naik”a woman is raped every 20 secs in the US”.THE ONLY PROBLEM IS that their media is secretive as far as their internal problems r concerned.our media makes a mockery out of even a chooha that dies on paki soil!!!!!.if u talk to indians they will never badmouth their country on the contrary if u ask a paki(especially overseas pakis)they will never appreciate the goodness in ther country!.POPULAR LEADERS …like Indira gandhi and the kennedys have been assassinated and leaders in the future will be assassinated!!!…thats not sumthing that is unheard of!!!.TO ALL OVERSEAS PAKIS”Its no use sitting on one side of the river bank and throwing stones at the other side.dam hai to wapis aoo and make pak a better place to live in”Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    Very nice post.
    Two years is a very long time frame for Pakistan, we are going backwards at the speed of light, things are changing every day.
    And no it was not always like this, we had troubles but situation of always under control, but not anymore, totally agree.Recommend

  • Asmaa

    Something I can relate to SO well. Well written!Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Sabeen Masood:

    I understand Anger and Denial go hand in hand.

    I did not say Pakistan is a state where the entire population is radicalized. I merely suggested that due to a combination of factors(ideology, State policies, History,etc.) that a large number of Radicals are present in Pakistan, who are vocal and do not hesitate in resorting to Violence.Recommend

  • http://deleted Sabeen Masood

    @Anoop: Well, yes there is a situation in some particular areas of Pakistan that you may call “extremism” which also exist in India, like my cousin who has recently returned from New Delhi told me about the angry mob who were protesting against price-hike outside their hotel and my relatives couldn’t sleep that night, and a mosque was also burned and of course we all know about Shiv-sina. We all condemn terrorism and extremism no matter wherever it erupts. Our Army is fighting against those trouble makers who are a threat to humanity and we have patiently paid pretty much price. I hope your nation will act more considerate and think about your priorities like putting an end to heart-trending violence in Kashmir instead of worrying and interrogating about your neighbors.Recommend

  • Qudsia

    Beautifully put. I hope we have left a path open to go back and we find it soon. I would love to have that Pakistan back. And feel the pride once again instead of the wincing pain I feel now over what remains.Recommend

  • Omar

    Thanks for the pdf link HUMANITY. Sad, how these things are hidden from us! I was lucky to study at an institute where people with diverse backgrounds and all corners of Pakistan came to study. I honor and respect them all. I hope we can share the anwar ratores with them, or at least hear the tales of horror many of them have lived through. Lack of respect and victimization of the supposedly weak, resulted in major dismemberment in 71. I hope we can heal the wounds of the weak and salvage what we have left. I wish we learn to grow together in mutual respect, embracing our colorful contrasts and stark contradictions. Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    @Anoop:
    Anoop it isn’t our generation that’s radicalized, we’re actually a pretty open-minded lot. You know, Indians are so over-critical of Pakistan and Pakistanis, I personally find it very distressing because I don’t want to believe India is the ancient enemy or whatever, but the comments here filled with negativity make it very difficult to stick to that opinion. Plus, I don’t understand how someone that literally lives next door to us can’t see past the terrorist state perception that the West has of us. We have a lot of flaws and we own up to them, but man, there’s a lot of good here as well. Its just sad that you guys never seem to see it.Recommend

  • kazim agha

    it was nicely done by the writer.and fell please to read this article it not only you but all we are missing our beloved pakistan,where is our beloved pakistan.Recommend

  • yusra hanif

    Is there a pakistan to go back to?
    Maybe you should have stayed back and helped in creating a pakistan worth coming back to….
    :)Recommend

  • Sara

    @Hina Mujeeb:
    Thanks for that reply Hina, i really like what you said! :)Recommend

  • Yousaf Hyat

    @Samee:
    Brevity is the soul of wit..Recommend

  • Farhad Aspy Fatakia

    LOL! You write for the Trib Blog too? Great article Manal. The sad truth is that there is nothing worth coming back to other than family. Pakistan as you and I knew it when we grew up in peace pre-9/11 is at an end. The proverbial winking giraffe in the sky too, has moved to somewhere over saner skies. Recommend

  • Aslam Hayat

    It is all tthe more agonising for a person who witnessed the creation of Pakistan. A boy of 13, on the night of 14th August 1947, I could not sleep as I could not wait to see the green flag of Pakistan which was going to replace the British union jack on the ramparts of the Lahore Fort. All night I waited on my rooftop to see the Pakistani Flag which brought freedom for us. Tears ran down my cheeks at the first glimpse of the Green Flag. Yes that was my Pakistan. I want that Pakistan back before I close my eyes for ever.Recommend

  • Maria

    @Abdulaziz Khattak: I agree with your sentiments completely. Sometimes our own people are too easily caught up in the designs of foreigners who have an agenda to malign Pakistan. We need to keep our problems and challenges in perspective. I truly believe that we will overcome all. Let the Indians and their media say whatever ill wish they have against the nation. By working we must prove the world otherwise. Pakistan Zindabad.Recommend

  • http://spiritual-pakistan-future.blogspot.com/ ahmad

    Please dont disheart, future of Pakistan is very bright, Our elders knew this situation so they made us aware for this crisis time. All pakistanis ne strong and unite. See these predictions about Pakistan future by our buzurg’s

    http://spiritual-pakistan-future.blogspot.com/

    link textRecommend

  • http://paklifecycle.blogspot.com/ behzad

    what a true feelings. Pakistan used to be heaven on earth but the the stormy night prevailed. But now i must say the darkness id ending and we have to welcome a new dawn. I am proud of being a Pakistani cos i wrote this…What is Pakistan???Recommend

  • http://blogs.tribune.com.pk/story/3998/is-there-a-pakistan-to-go-back-home-to/?sms_ss=facebook&at_xt=4d37ac5ee7601c3e%2C0 Danish

    One of the most touching articles I’ve ever come across and one that almost every overseas Pakistani of our generation can relate to. Recommend

  • Sunnia

    Your article made me miss Pakistan……indeed our childhoods were great but even today Pakistan has everything…its just that u have to go with a positive attitude…inshallah it will come out of the difficulties it is in….because it comprises of a strong nation…
    It still has the best food, mangoes, people, values and loveRecommend

  • Roland Borges CA US

    I visited Karachi in 2007 after a very long period of time. With limited time I was only able to be in Karachi so I am unable to comment on the other cities.I did a quick travel blog of my visit so my friends and family can view Karachi from a prism other than CNN – FOX – MSNBC
    http://rolanb.travellerspoint.com/2/Recommend

  • rehan

    Times change.Law of Nature.Recommend

  • Nafees

    I agree to a major extent. I have lived through the seventies and eighties and still reside here. Things were very different, there were more isolated incidents of intolerance and the mullahs were not so full of themselves or so self righteous as they are now or have been made so by the funding they get to propagate their bloodthirsty attitude. There was no lynching by frenzied mobs over such issues. There has been a slow and insidious force working on our society, stamping out conscience and instigating cruel aggression. The Prophet never reacted to a woman who used to dump garbage on him every day. Which mullah dares to stand up and say that was wrong! We have lost our sense of purpose that this country was made for. How do we consider ourselves any better than the Nazis that exterminated the Jews or even Yazid for that matter. Islam propagates tolerance, not laws that make life for the minorities a misery. This country is still ours, good, bad, or ugly and I will always identify with it, but not with that pride I once felt. Not until we can wake up and see what monsters we are breeding amongst us, not till we can protect our minorities, not until we curb that frankenstien of hatred and bloodshed that is tearing us apart, not till every one of us can stand up and follow our religions in peace and tolerance, not till the mullah sits in his masjid and does not consider our country his platform to spew a bigoted and mutilated version of Islam. Recommend

  • http://manalkhan.wordpress.com manalkhan

    Thank you everyone for your comments! I’d just like to emphasize what’s already obvious, that this piece reflects my personal opinions, which you’re not obliged in any way to agree with. When I write, I try to be as honest and true to my feelings as possible. So if you criticize or find a factual error in the piece, that’s fine, and I’ll apologize for it, but I can’t apologize for my feelings or memories, which are obviously subjective, and, yes, romanticized, as good memories are apt to be. I can’t apologize for my ‘privileged’ childhood either, or having the opportunity to study and live abroad, just as I don’t expect any of the the readers of this blog to apologize for being able to read and write in English and have computers at home. But, many thanks for reading! :)Recommend

  • http://manalkhan.wordpress.com manalkhan

    And, on the point of being “influenced” by Western media: I personally hate American network news and don’t even own a TV. The only places I get my Pakistan news is from our own Geo and Dawn and from friends and family in Lahore. But it’s not about how “bad” or “terrible” the security situation in Pakistan has become – I know that it’s equally bad or worse in many other countries.
    It’s about how Pakistani society has changed, and in my opinion, become worse than what I remember it pre-9/11. And, irrespective of why and how its happened, must we wait till it reaches the point of say, Afghanistan or Sudan or something awful like that, before we can even talk about it without being called Pakistan “abandoners” or “selfish” expats?
    OK, that’s all from me! – mRecommend

  • Abdulaziz Khattak

    @manalkhan:

    I suggest you read Urdu papers too.
    The English press doesn’t cover everything.Recommend

  • Shahbaz Younis

    Excellent write up! You have captured a true picture of Pakistan, for a moment it brought me back to my past when I was kid I experienced all that you mentioned in your article. Yeah Pakistan has changed a lot after 9/11. Recommend

  • Bushra Abeed

    Love it to death.. Cannot wait to get back. Have absolute faith that things will get better.
    Please all Pakistani’s love & only love Pakistan.Recommend

  • http://Hempstead Athar Quraishi

    @Zubair:

    I absolutely agree with your observations. Pakistan was never tolerant to begin with.
    Only when we travel outside Pakistan, and are exposed to the full spread of history of the subcontinent’s history, when we get to sit and talk to Indians, Bangladeshis and other Pakistanis, whose parents migrated from other parts of undivided British India, do we realise the fabrications we were fed in our history textbooks.

    =====

    You know, the worst aspect of this indoctrination, is the utter contempt for objective facts and the hatred that is perpetuated in the name of crafting a national identity. Nobody, ever stops to wonder, how can a national identity be carved from lies. How strong would that identity be?

    =====

    Also, most of the nostalgic piece of writing such as this, makes you wonder, if all our years abroad, have not removed from us the ingrained feudalistic mindset. What this article celebrates is exactly that. An ossified image of a country, that was already a dinosaur the moment it let the army takeover for the nth time.

    I would suggest the author travel to India. There is a lot of poverty there. And there is also the hype of India Shining (it is progressing surely, though it is surely not shining). But there is a vocal group of Indian expatriates who hold the India’s irresponsible and loud English media’s legs to the fire by calling attention to the appalling inequalities in that giant democracy. They do this, because they want to ensure that the Indian middle classes must not start believing their own press releases. And they do it because they want to ensure that everyone must have a share in the national economy.

    =====

    I am yet to see that kind of activist and honest objectivity from an expatriate Pakistani. I can only assume that their reluctance is due to their already compromised social standing, as they are likely to have a not too distant relation in the services or the “intelligence community”. Why, blow the cover? Recommend

  • Muhammad Afzal

    I am an expatriate, left my beloved country in 2006 for a better life. Just after six months I realised that “All that glitters is not gold.” I 100% agree with the writer that Yes you don’t see suicide bombers, mullahs and Taliban in the west, and Yes one sees everlasting peace every where. But please look deeper into this so called peaceful life of THE WEST. Ask these peaceful people Why on earth they have to go to Pub, on their way home from work, ask these so called socialist societies when was the last time the whole family had the food together, ask the mother where her daughter was last night, ask these old age people what their life is bout living at their own. Ask what people feel when they discovered the next door neighbour’s dead body after 20 days of his/her death. Also see how much government have to spend because of drink related crimes. I can go on and on.

    Now coming onto people like myself, who migrated from a muslim country, what I feel when I am on the street with my wife and kids, and I pass by a billboard with either a half naked women or people voicing their concern over gay rights, or people Questioning the authority of Allah (or GOD). How uncomfortable I feel when I encounter a couple in the street performing an animal like act and my 7 years old have to see that. O yes I have seen migrants achieving a lot materialistically, but they have lost their most precious and valuable asset, and that is their children. Even the wind of this so called peaceful heaven is taking my kids away from me and I can’t do anything to stop it. How their innocent minds are polluted in the schools in the name of freedom. I see them being brain washed in school by telling them their rights and ignoring the fact that parents have right to on their kids. In the name of awareness how they are taught sexual education in an early age of 7/8, and so on. Yes my country is the way it is portrayed, but still it is my COUNTRY, my IDENTITY, and I am counting days to be there for ever and ever and ever despite all that shortcomings. Recommend

  • Ayesha

    Manal, thank on a very personal note. Pakistan will always be home…Recommend

  • Swaliha

    Hopelessness is Kufr.
    @Ahmed Ilyas:
    O! My beautiful Pakistan. You have brought back memories of exactly how I remember Pakistan and Pakistanis. It brought tears in my eyes and once again I fell in love with chutney and mangoes, bangle clad hands and serene old men coming out of mosques at dusk, the chasing drag queens and the small boys selling roses and Motia garlands, and the slick haired, lanky young boys outside the women’s college gates. How comfortable our mothers were buying fabric from Pathan vendors on bicycle claiming of selling Japani Kapra, and haggling with fish vendors over price right at the gate of their house, But this was before we raised the boundry walls of our homes, barricaded ourselves behind iron railing on windows and doors, installing cameras and intercoms, and hiring private chokidars at the gate.
    I know how extremist–Taliban and Mullahs–have hijacked Pakistan and twisted and contorted its image in the world and within Pakistan itself, and how they have induced an air of mistrust in Pakistanis for their neighbours and strangers alike.
    But, this shall pass too. As our true and selfless leader, Quaid-e-Azam, Mohammad Ali Jinnah said, “Musalmman ghabraya nahi karta (Muslims are never afraid of anything).” I have great faith in the youth of Pakistan. Very soon they will seize Pakistan from the hands of miscreants and will make it their own. Recommend