Is there a ray of hope for Pakistan?

Published: October 12, 2012
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Despite all the things that are going wrong in Pakistan, there are still some things that we can be proud of. PHOTO: AFP

There are two ways of interpreting a glass half-filled with water. You can either call it half-full or half-empty. Even though referring to it as half-full may give you hope, I do not intend to excite the readers by projecting fake optimism while so much is going terribly wrong in Pakistan.

I still believe that despite all the unpleasant happenings, not all is lost yet.

Terrorism, failed state of affairs, discredited army, incompetent leadership, hopelessness; there is enough going on in Pakistan that is a cause of despair and is indicative of a bleak future, but there exist some promising prospects in our country as well.

I have come up with an arbitrary list of four.

To some, they may sound trivial, but for me, they are important. In each one of them, I see a silver lining in the pitch dark clouds hovering above our nation and its people.

1. Potent drama industry

The zeal and aura of Pakistani dramas seems to be back once again. The same enthusiasm that prevailed during the 1980s and 1990s can be seen once again. The reason why I feel the drama industry is a source of hope for Pakistan’s future is because it continues to thrive amidst all repressions.

It is true that the quality of our dramas has reduced on an overall scale, and if I am honest, then majority dramas are just another walk in the Indian footsteps. However, that, in no way, can be generalised for our drama industry.

The best thing about Pakistani dramas ─ be it few if not a lot ─ is the way they project issues from a social and satirical perspective.

The emphasis in these dramas upon the complex class gap and women-related dilemmas of our country have certainly left a tremendous impact on the viewers and projected a different strata of Pakistani society ─ a society that is seeped in conservative dogmas envisioning women merely as vulnerable, weak models of sacrifice and objects of sex.

Such contributions towards recreating a positive image of women and above all the surprising revival of Urdu dramas with the brilliant producers and directors of our small screen industry, are gifts worth celebrating.

2. Unshackled media

There is certainly a lot more that needs to be persecuted as far as Pakistani media is concerned. What makes me list the media as something that is going right in Pakistan is the voice that a free liberalised mass media has allowed the citizens of this country to have.

Five years ago, a rape victim or an acid assault somewhere could have remained unheard of, but today these evils aren’t left unexposed.

This voice and leverage that mainstream media has brought for a lay man is of paramount importance for Pakistan, and not only from the point of view of imbibing democracy. It also pushes us to self-interrogate, so we contemplate, question our purpose, our actions, so that we can get past the criticisms of Pakistan winning its first ever Oscar for a documentary that could put any nation to shame.

Our news channels and judiciary  have become so active together and for once we can see a positive collaboration between the two as well. Both being the crucial pillars of the state have now become partners in the dispensation of justice. The media is playing an instrumental role in uncovering many of the white-collar crimes that have remained unexposed historically and have direct bearings on country’s political and economic life such as Arsalan-gate, Memo-gate. These attempts to hold the powerful to account are the manifestation that justice is no more a commodity to be dispensed of by the nobility. What we have now is ‘freedom of speech’ that will not be shunned anymore.

We as a nation have a voice that cannot be silenced anymore. The power lies with us, too, now. Isn’t this a cause for celebration?

3.   The awakened youth

The real strength of Pakistan is its youth. The Pakistani youth has firmly taken up the future of this country in their hands. The youth of today is active, ambitious, determined and well-equipped with the right skills that help redefine the future of this country.

The youth today is far more aware of its rights and duties than it was a decade before.

Today, the Pakistani youth can be seen in every stream of life. Be it education, health, civil society; they are enthusiastically working and volunteering to create a better future for this country.

I know many of the students from my university, Lahore University of Management Sciences (LUMS), who run small non-governmental organisations (NGOs), that center around providing education within their communities. These young students are passionate to volunteer, be it at the cost of lucrative job prospects, for the betterment of our country. This may not be much but we all know that every little helping hand can make a cumulative difference to our country and its people.

I feel it is important to mention StepUP Pakistan founder Ali Moeen Nawazish, who is Pakistan’s world record holder and a Cambridge graduate. Graduating from one of the world’s top universities, he could have landed a job that offered him all the comforts and privileges of life. Instead, he traded all the potential luxury for a philanthropic path with utmost dedication towards running an NGO that works to promote education in some of the obscure towns where people are rarely able to educate themselves.

What stands out from these instances is that there is more to Pakistan than terrorism, domestic violence, corrupt leaders and a failing infrastructure.

For me, these stories are not only fascinating, but an indication that when there prevails commitment to social change, then change itself becomes a possibility.

4.   Flame of hope

This by far is the most vital of all things in a life of a Pakistani: Hope.

Pakistani people have undergone enormous challenges in the last sixty years, and still continue to face them daily; these troubles are neither their fault nor anything they deserve. What is unique about a Pakistani citizens is the way they’ve become stronger with each passing day and every new challenge that they’ve had to face.

The ordinary people have always managed to stand up in the face of every tragedy that has been afflicted at our country with daring audacity. Whether it be the earthquake in 2005 that killed 74000 people and left 3.5m homeless, or the devastating floods and the psychological wounds, courtesy of our tainted leaders, the common people have always been expressive of what this country needs in contrast to what has been lorded over them by the callus, corrupt and narcissistic ruling elites.

The political state in this country is undoubtedly depressing, however, the collective conscience of its citizens without whose efforts, hard work, altruism and commitment, the future would look irredeemable; makes hope in Pakistan rekindle.

The above mentioned list may simply be considered irrelevant in the face of all the daunting problems that Pakistan has been encountering, but if one looks at it under a positive light, it is also a manifestation that there is still a lot to be proud and hopeful about.

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Kashif Ali

Kashif Ali

The writer holds Masters in governance and public policy from Germany and works in the development sector. He tweets as @s_kashif8 (twitter.com/s_kashif8)

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