Ho Yaqeen: Bringing hope and positivity to Pakistan

Published: May 10, 2012

I saw people wiping tears, sniffling as they watched the screen with the beaming faces of Lyari's children. PHOTO: SCREEN SHOT

How long will Pakistani news be synonymous with tragedy? PHOTO: SCREEN SHOT I saw people wiping tears, sniffling as they watched the screen with the beaming faces of Lyari's children. PHOTO: SCREEN SHOT Sabina is a mother of two and a teacher by profession – who has changed the lives of 90 children in Lyari.PHOTO: SCREEN SHOT

“Turn every stone in Pakistan and you find a diamond,” said Sabina Khatri – one of the six central characters of Ho Yaqeen, a project that aims to promote a positive image of Pakistan. She sent chills down my spine.

I listened keenly as she spoke at the premiere of HoYaqeen which was attended by the glitterati of Karachi. Pakistan’s first and only Oscar winner, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy was also present at this event.

What Sabina said stayed with me; working for a news organisation has made me feel despondent and desolate. As news of torture, rape, kidnapping, sectarian violence and bomb blasts pours in, I am left wondering where the good news is.

Are any good things happening in Pakistan?

If they are, why don’t I know about them? Why doesn’t the world know about them?

How long will Pakistani news be synonymous with tragedy?

This is why people like Sabina and Sharmeen matter – they give us hope that good things are indeed happening in Pakistan.

At the event, a documentary was screened, based on the life of Sabina – a mother of two and a teacher by profession – who has changed the lives of 90 children in Lyari.

The audience could make comparisons between the documentary and the ongoing crisis in the violent neighbourhood. I overheard sighs, and murmurs of “see” and “sh*t”. They emphathise, I thought.

I saw people wiping tears, sniffling as they watched the screen with the beaming faces of Lyari’s children – hopeful children who dream of a “new Lyari”. In one scene, the children circling Sabina had their eyes shut, imagining a Lyari without the reverberating sound of gunfire, without echoes of horror.

As the documentary concluded, a roaring applause erupted in the auditorium. The audience didn’t stop until Sharmeen came to the stage. She explained that this series focuses on the “everyday heroes of Pakistan who can inspire so many people to do good but nobody knows them.”

In my university days, I was the first to dismiss these efforts, saying that they don’t bear any fruit at all. I used to say ‘things never change in Pakistan,’ but as a journalist who is constantly aware of ‘what is wrong with Pakistan’, I feel this negativity is the reason that there is a dire need for a buffer; something that can dilute the effect of the adrenaline rush after breaking news.

The university-going Sidrah spoke from inside me:

What change will this bring?

As though she read my thoughts, Sharmeen answered my question unknowingly:

It’s not easy to bring about change. Change doesn’t come overnight.

It doesn’t matter who sponsored the event or who attended it; what matters at the end is that despite the despair and helplessness, there are people who are working to make Pakistan better and hopeful. We need to be able switch-off so we can zoom out of the bitter reality and find some peace, and events like these make this possible.

Read more by Sidrah here or follow her on Twitter @seedwah


Sidrah Moiz Khan

The author is a sub-editor at The Express Tribune.

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

  • curious

    Great article. Yes there is still hope and that there are quiet achievers like this lady who are not high profile like Edhi who do great work. Very inspiring. Great role models. My eyes are opened. Recommend

  • SNM

    The author needed to get her research, if she had bothered that is, correct : Sabina Khatri is mother of three and is a housewife, Nutritionist and a Fitness Expert by Profession who decided to embarked on changing lives of citizens of lyari who have been neglected by scores of Political officials and society at large.Recommend

  • http://[email protected] Khurram Zia Khan

    An interesting piece.Heartening to know about people likie Sabina Khatri who are trying to make positive contribution in the society. I am sure we have many more hidden person all around us who are working for the betterment of society & people with in their own domain.Need to un earth more positive stories to show the world real face of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Adnan Shekhani

    Everybody has gone crazy on the fact that an issue that is disgrace to this nation has been highlighted internationally and given an Oscar.
    The real oscar should go to people who arent documenting crap but collecting and disposing it. Fixing it. And that one person is Musarrat Misbah. She has not been mentioned in the movie (from the reviews ive read)
    She is a case that should be studied on this subject. I very well remember doing a campaign for female consumers of a milk brand few years back and we wanted her to appear as a chief guest, she resides in Lahore and we offered her ticket and stay but she declined and said i will come for free just let me collect donations for my bachian takay main un ko phir say muskurahat day sakoon for my smile again foundation.


    Sharmeen please give your Oscar to Musarrat Misbah. She deserves it (at least for me)Recommend

  • Parvez

    Nicely written. Individual effort to do good is very necessary and appreciated.
    On a national level it is only the government and its policies that can make a visible difference. The media, judiciary and civil society shoulders a responsibility and have the power to force and if necessary, aggressively force the government to do the right thing. Recommend

  • Yasir Khan

    Nice Article Sidrah.

    We need more people to work towards and highlight the positive side of Pakistan. Image building of Pakistan is what we need to do more. Just like in the case of India, it is developing but its image of being a future asian tiger nation is being given by the indians which adds to its image and consequent progress. We need to do the same.Recommend

  • Vigilant

    Good read & hats off 2 those people who r trying to some good for this society…..Recommend

  • Samm

    First of all she is doing excellent work, i really appreciate that but what she is doing is just for fame, i belong to same caste and community which she belongs, there are multitude people in our community who don’t have access to education, living in poverty, what she needs to do is to focus on her own community first rather render other people. And there are numbers of NGOs working in Lyari. She needs to look at her own community first before proceeding further.Recommend

  • omer

    Sidrah read own your blog a couple of weeks later and see does it still make sense or was it just a big feel good hangover from the function you attended…Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/#!/Pugnate Noman Ansari


    ummm… why? Recommend

  • http://www.zealforwriting.blogspot.com Sarah B. Haider

    Nicely written Sid. A great topic to shed light on.Recommend

  • Amk

    First of all, she doesn’t have two, but the three children.
    @sam.. she has done nothing for fame.. its all from the bottom of her heart…
    kiran school is not the only project run by her family..
    another project started by her son that has gotten the poor families thousands of ruppees.Recommend

  • Sabina khatri

    Dear Sidra,
    You are very generous in your writing for me. The are so many people who are working like me but have not been recognized. I myself never wanted recognition , but when famous people like sharmeen support a cause like mine it benefits the people we ar working for. Sharmeen is a great person, humble and kind. Thank you for all the nice things you wrote about me. And yes I am a nutritionist and a fitness professional by work and my kiran schoo is my passion. Thanks Recommend

  • sadia

    sharmeen or sabina khatri? @Samm: Recommend

  • Samm


    I’m taking about Sabina KhatriRecommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/DiscoMaulvi Aly Balagamwala (@DiscoMaulvi)

    I was one of those who were wiping away their tears amongst the audience. Sabina Khatri is planting seeds that will Insha’Allah one day radiate hope from within the crime and violence infested lanes of Lyari. My hats off to a project that deserves to be supported and talked about.Recommend

  • rahat s

    really nice to see such work being done in pakistan.

    and at the risk of sounding annoying, i’d like to point out an editorial mistake: documentaries don’t have characters, they have subjects. Recommend

  • Sabina khatri


    Smiles.. I am working exactly where my community is living. Liyari , kharadar, lee market these are all places where my community people live. Infect my parents , both doctors were running a clinic in those areas when I was a little girl. I have lived a very small part of my life also in those areas. The biggest reason I worked in liyari was that I would get people from my community to apply at my school too. As it is a balooch populated area and less people of my community so I have more balooch and less khatri students in my school. But yes I am close to my community , and they can easily approach me for education but no favoritism is done regarding merits. Every child and family has to come up to my requirements. Recommend

  • http://uberthinker.wordpress.com/ x

    Nice article. Hard to find such content online cos we Pakistanis don’t like to remember nor search for our own goodness also. Recommend