Pakistanis: The stuff resilience is made of
I wake up to the sound of my phone ringing incessantly. While still in the process of retracting myself from the dream-world, I am informed of a movie plan for the following evening. There is no way my friends are missing out on the latest Bollywood blockbuster.
As the day proceeds, I can sense optimism all around me. The fruit and vegetable vendors take up their usual spot on the roadside. Every now and then, a car with songs blaring out of the stereo passes by. I can see a tough young man walking his dog while two little girls dressed up in an impeccable school uniform, hop along hand in hand.
I may soon hear of some depressing news, a strange new political development or an unlikely event but I see no sign of distress in the outside world. Who could ever guess that a society so trapped in a multitude of problems could display such resilience!
None of us are blind to the daily troubles that surround us. The personal security and liberty of every Pakistani citizen is in shambles. Our economy is in doldrums, half of the population remains illiterate, poverty is on the rise, and as if all of that wasn’t enough, the public is fed up of the government’s inefficiencies.
Every other day we hear about events that shake up the country but we stand firm, facing the challenges with a brave outlook. Instead of cowering down and cursing our fate, we have learned to not just weather the storm but keep on living strong.
Our cricket team may be losing the most crucial match, but we’d still be glued to our TV screens till the last minute of the game. Tennis may not excite many of us, but we’d swoon to the thought of Aisamul Haq cruising to the Grand Slams Final. We’d hoot with joy at Pakistan making eight world records in a day and we’d rush in hordes to buy the latest lawn print that is all the rage!
And when all else would fail, we’d turn to food for consolation; a plate of steaming chicken biryani or a dose of halwa puri would get us through the day. The country may face a momentary security lapse, public places may pose a serious risk to our lives, streets wouldn’t appear safe anymore, but none of this would stop us from enjoying a hot cup of coffee at one of the busiest commercial hubs.
We, as a nation, have so subtly adapted to the environment around us that we don’t let pain conquer us for long. This does not mean that we have become insensitive or immune, but rather we have let the hope in our hearts triumph all the negativity. In spite of the constant threats, our journalists and social activists do not stop raising their voices for the victims of injustice.
Sectarian violence has become a norm but there still remain many amongst us who do not hesitate to speak up against this evil. Just last month, the Sunni community of Gilgit-Baltistan awed the world by their act of gallantry; providing a human shield for the highly persecuted Shia community during one of the 10th Muharram processions.
We have the worst law and order situation, with the crime rate at its highest and frequent bomb blasts tearing through the cities, yet our police force stands united in protecting the citizens even at the cost of their own lives. The media may portray Pakistan to be on the verge of failure but the citizens have learnt to brush off the allegations and not let despair get to them.
Living under fear of the unknown diseases has also become a way of life for us Pakistanis. From the outbreak of the bird flu, to the dengue menace stretching for months, the fake medicines and now the poisoned cough syrup scam, we have had it all. However, we have stood against all odds by first suffering, then recovering and finally working to uproot the problem
While the world expects us to break down any minute, we show them that we’re made of stronger stuff and that we’re not going anywhere any time soon.
Not surprisingly, according to the Happy Planet Index (HPT) 2012, Pakistan was termed the 16th happiest country out of 151 countries of the world. Many would scoff at the findings but we just need to look at the people around us, smiling at and appreciating the little things in life. It’s not always about how wealthy a country is or how it’s waging in the global scenario; sometimes it’s just about a citizen’s simplistic approach towards life.
So the next time someone tells you in all seriousness that Pakistan is going down, you tell them that we Pakistanis are resilient enough to rebound!
Follow Farina on Twitter @Farina_Alam
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.