Celebrating 10 amazing years in Pakistan

Published: March 23, 2013
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Ten years living here and I have learned to love this country. DESIGN JAMAL KHURSHID

It has been ten awesome years since I started working and living in Karachi, Pakistan. It’s a strange realisation that I have never lived longer in any other place my whole life.

I arrived in March of 2003.

It was the start of the Iraq war and one can only imagine the concern my parents felt when I told them I was moving to Pakistan. Their apprehension has not faded (they get daily reminders of the horrors that Pakistan is exposed to) but they have now accepted that this is my home.

Obviously I was also quite uneasy at first, and to make matters worse in June 2003 Time Magazine ran a front cover story with the headline:

“Karachi: The world’s most dangerous city.”

The interview inside quoted one of Karachi’s most infamous hit-men. Surprisingly, it was not the interview or the murder statistics that blew me away, it was the fact that even Karachi’s most notorious hit-man had a number of body guards for his own protection.

When I first moved here, driving on MT Khan Road was a short and excruciating version of the Paris – Dakar race. The city would get completely swamped and immobile for days following a refreshing summer rainstorms, and there was just McDonalds at Park Towers for entertainment.

Ten years is a long time and Karachi is a different city now.

Despite all our complaints, the infrastructure of the city has completely transformed and life in Karachi has moved on. It remains a city of extremes, with the newest and most expensive imported cars trading places with camel carts. With high-flying socialites enjoying coffee at the newest hot spot in town and millions of people living from day to day, if not hour to hour, fighting for survival.

However, as a Dutch man I strongly believe in an equitable society where people have similar opportunities and chances, and where success is based on merit.

We live in a country where 100 million people are under the age of 25, all who dream to acquire a branded life style. Sadly, only a small percentage of them have the abilities to do so (50% of the population under 25 can’t read or write). It is a wonder that this social time bomb has not gone off yet.

Ten years living here and I have learned to love this country.

Pakistan is an absolutely amazing place with amazing people. No other country in the world would be able to get back on its feet after the numerous mortal blows it has received.

An example that will always stay in my heart was the reaction to the 2005 Kashmir earthquake. In a time of great need, it was humbling to witness the compassion and commitment to help fellow citizens.

I am very optimistic about our future. With our resources, our resourcefulness, the desire to build a better life for our families, our compassion and our love for the country, we will get it right and prosper. We will elect the right leaders that will sort out our governance issues.

We will come together unite, showing the world how magical Pakistan can be, the place that I so dearly call home.

Happy Pakistan Day – Pakistan Zindabad!

This post originally appeared here

Read more by Paul here or follow him on Twitter @paul_keijzer

Paul Keijzer

Paul Keijzer

An innovative business leader and an HR professional, Paul firmly believes that outstanding results can only be achieved through engaging people, teams, and building commitment. He tweets as @paul_keijzer

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

  • Sidrah

    If you love Pakistan so much can we please exchange our passports?Recommend

  • Awais Khan

    @Sidrah! I feel shame when i hear such comments from a Pakistani. A looser always tries to escape.Recommend

  • FF

    @Paul: Glad to hear you call this place home!Recommend

  • Mj

    @Awais Khan:

    The author has more faith in the country than I do. Pakistan, for sure, is an amazing country, but the combination of religious bigotry, poverty, sectarianism, and intolerance makes it a toxic cauldron, prone to implode at slightest hint of a spark. Recommend

  • Close_enough

    Thank you Mr. Paul.Recommend

  • mes

    Pakistan is an absolutely amazing
    place with amazing people. No other
    country in the world would be able to
    get back on its feet after the
    numerous mortal blows it has received.

    don’t know where to begin; for start, i would say, look at the countries that were completely reduced to dust after world wars, and guess what? they are back to being global powers and all have set benchmark in growth and prosperity. The blows that Pakistan has received pales in comparison to what hit japan, Germany, Italy,Russia,France, Britain etc and they all have stood back on their feet.

    Britain and France fought a war that lasted for hundred years,just wondering what you will call this if you call what Pakistan suffered as ‘mortal blows’.

    decipher a Little bit more, you wouldn’t even call it as ‘blows’ that hit Pakistan.The only thing that Pakistan suffered the most was defeat in 1971 at the hands of India, and majority of the damage had happened in Bangladesh, not in Pakistan. and even Bangladesh has remarkably stood on its feet after the massacre of its people by west Pakistan.

    I am very optimistic about our future.
    With our resources, our
    resourcefulness, the desire to build a
    better life for our families, our
    compassion and our love for the
    country, we will get it right and
    prosper.

    it is better to pragmatist about the future,every country is blessed with resources, and even after 65 years, they haven’t figured how to use those resources,those countries which were destined to rise and prosper have already risen and are already prosperous, the talk of Pakistan will rise, will prosper is plain myth. 65 is more than enough for those who truly know how to get it right.

    We will elect the right leaders that
    will sort out our governance issues.

    unfortunately, this has never happened.The question to be asked is, what the leaders want? what kind of vision the leaders have for Pakistan, to begin with, even Jinnah who created Pakistan was not a visionary.And all the leaders that are currently ruling Pakistan are blinded by the imaginary state of utopia with religion playing the central role.

    We will come together unite, showing
    the world how magical Pakistan can be,
    the place that I so dearly call home.

    well, good luck. The real magical countries are out there in the open.As i said earlier, they have all set benchmarks in every field. The Germans, Japanese, french, British, Americans, Russians.No matter how many times they were hit, they kept on fighting, and to this day they are still fighting.
    I would say Israelis are the most remarkable people on earth. The state of Israel-nothing can be more magical than that part of land. No one has ever suffered as much as Jews in modern times, yet the Jews have built a beautiful prosperous nation from scratch.Recommend

  • donny darko

    and still you have failed to persuade your parents to move here, see thats the thing, thats your personal choice, but a lot of people have given up on this country………..you are safe, must be living in the comforts of DHA or clifton, others are not that fortunate….Recommend

  • Atif

    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,457408-1,00.html

    Link for the Time Magazine article mentioned above by the writer. An article worth reading.Recommend

  • Zubair Ali

    Paul, ….and no doubt Pakistan also loves you… :)Recommend

  • http://Brisbane,Australia Raza Khan

    Are you real or some fiction? Recommend

  • Parvez

    A bit over the top, but still nicely put. Your right Pakistan has a lot but what it never got was honest leadership.Recommend

  • Saba Fatima ALi

    did u write something like this before too? Lol it seems like a rerun , but I am glad , when a Gora says Pakistan is nice we all will believe him , we lack faith in ourselves. LolRecommend

  • Waqas

    I appreciate Pal :-) this is how i think too..
    Losers will always keep complaining and finally they will ran out in order to server for Petrol pumps and departmental stores of USA, UK etc…
    Long Live Pakistan,,,Recommend

  • Queen

    YEs, we are indeed a resilient nation, no other country has as much courage as we have. Despite of all the problems and hardships, we continue to believe in our country. Thank you Mr Paul. I am happy that you Pakistan :)Recommend

  • http://www.saleemali.net Saleem H Ali

    @mes: True many other countries are resilient like the ones you mentioned — all of those were also expansionary colonizers (with the exception of America perhaps — though the Filipinos and Guamese may disagree there as well). The high points of recovery of countries like Japan does not diminish the achievements of Pakistan. The level of income and access to capital in Pakistan was far less than any of the examples you gave — thus recovering from a tragedy like the Kashmir earthquake was indeed a monumental achievement acknowledged often by donors.

    Much to criticize about Pakistan as well but let us not try to dismiss the achievements of the populace as well which are indeed singular in their own right.Recommend

  • Sonia K

    I don’t know why Pakistanis are so unsure about themselves- they cannot even take good comments about their country, how selfish is that!! But they will read and see movies where a foreigner will love India and call it his/her home and feel cozy there. Nothing against India here-

    Many foreigners keep returning to Pakistan for trips and vacations!

    Thanks Paul btw, for sharing your experience and also encouraging others to visit the country. If others who live in and around Karachi can post such positive experiences it would really boost tourism and a positive image- despite the current image few people of Pakistan try to portray(which is a sad thing :( )Recommend

  • Stu

    Good blog!

    We have a lot of self-haters here.Recommend

  • Sufia

    @mes, the blows that hit Pakistan pales in comparison to what was seen by Japan, or Britain?? Really? Which one of these countries goes through a daily loss of life like Pakistan does? In which of these citizens do people leave their homes in the morning to go to work every single day, despite knowing full well the risks to their life and property? Recommend

  • Stu

    @mes:
    The author was speaking figuratively NOT literally .Recommend

  • sick of this nonsense

    it was wonderfully quoted that Pakistan keeps getting back on its feet after so many mortal blows. We can go alot forward if we forget our differences and learn to be more tolerant towards each other however the extremists and criminals have become so confident that it now be difficult to dislodge their power. Secondly if Paul only found Mcdonalds for entertainment he can contact me, ill show him around :)

    May Allah bless our country. Recommend

  • Ayesha

    Thank you Paul. You are awesome yourself.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    mess
    u r in mess man u mention those countries they all got great help from mrshal plan of north america and dont have future wars protected by u.s and same goes to israel little b, child of u.s but on other hand pakistan in trouble from all neighbors sides and then world games too in the area….Recommend

  • Sid

    @mes:

    Who are you kidding? Trying to compare Pakistan to post-WWII Europe? Did Pakistan receive any Marshall Plan like Europe did? NOPE.

    Talking abt Israel & what it has achieved.. really? Can Israel survive without the $3bil annually in civilian and $3bil in military aid to the country directly from Uncle Sam?

    You want to talk about Japan & South Korea? both countries got extensive economic lifelines from the United States for them to reach where they are today; yet they’re still not ‘free’ to do as they please with 50k American troops stationed in each country with Japan having a nonsensical ‘constitution’ written up by an American General..

    I wonder what planet you descend from with your deluded understanding of history.

    When the author is talking about mortal blows to Pakistan; he is referring to things like the catastrophic earthquake that hit northern Pakistan; the insane floods of 2010-2011, the War on Terror owing to which Pakistani economic losses amount to $100bil and counting..

    You can bailout Greece with a $150bil.. yet you whine over puny $20bil given to Pakistan; half of which are CSF funds (money spent by Pakistan already in stationing troops along Pak-Afg border)..

    I suggest you do your homework next time before making errant commentsRecommend

  • Pappoo

    Thanks Mr. Paul for talking your heart.Recommend

  • Ahmed

    This is an awesome country if you rich, you can literally afford your way out of any thing. You can even rent a killer, if someone is giving you hard time.

    But as you move towards the other end of the spectrum, life gets extremely miserable, so please excuse me if I don’t like my country, it’s only because I’ve had my fair share of despair. Recommend

  • Kanwal

    @Sidrah
    ??????
    the typical Pakistani mentality ( and I am a Pakistani too so i know it though completely disagree with this. I know people from much worse places in the world but who complain much less than us and would never joke about passport exchanges on a blog like this. I hope you were joking? Recommend

  • Representative

    Sir perhaps you really know what’s going on and that’s why you wrote this blog. welcome to Pakistan SirRecommend

  • stevenson

    @Sidrah: I don;t think you’re a Pakistani because most of our people have some sense of shame. Thank you Paul for an inspiring article. Often it takes an outsider to appreciate what the nation has. As you can see from the comment of Sidrah, there are some people who just enjoy posting negativity.Recommend

  • http://www.zmglobal.com.pk Iftikhar Munir

    Thank you Paul
    My situation is more or less is same but i am son of this soil. I came back in 1998 from london after completion my higher studies. At that time canadian immigration was in full swing and many of my friends were going there. Though my qualification and experience was appropriate but i declined and chosen to stay here forever. I really appreciate your gesture and I also have the same expressions.
    Jiya Pakistan Recommend

  • morelikethis

    you dont come across articles like this these days, well said Paul. PAKISTAN ZINDABAD!Recommend

  • proudpakistani

    @Sidrah:
    You can leave now, but when Pakistan starts to prosper, i hope you don’t come crying back.Recommend

  • proudpakistani

    @mes:
    the mere fact that you compare Pakistan to countries such as Germany, UK and Italy shows the lack of common sense and Intelligence that you posses. I wont even go into the stupidity that follows when comparing a developed state to a developing one but here’s an interesting fact for you; the UK came into being in the year 1707 when the Acts of Union were passed. And most of the other countries you mentioned were formed in the mid 1800’s. Do the maths little buddy, its not rocket science. Recommend

  • Nauman

    Thank you Paul. We appreciate your kind and optimistic views about Pakistan. You are most welcome here. One comment to some of my countrymen who are complaining and cribbing as usual, “He who does not love his country can love Nothing”. Recommend

  • mind control

    @Sid:

    Who are you kidding? Trying to compare Pakistan to post-WWII Europe?Did Pakistan receive any Marshall Plan like Europe did?

    Was Pakistan devastated like post-WW-II Europe? Did Bangladesh receive Marshal Plan Funds or Sri Lanka for that matter. And now the million dollar question- Did Pakistan receive American moolah? Google CENTO, SEATO and find out.

    NOPE.with Japan having a nonsensical ‘constitution’ written up by an American General.

    Well Pakistan is almost there. It has a constitution written by an American Darling of a General. Who do you think wrote the Blasphemy Laws and Hudood Ordinance and Sadiq and Ameen provisions into the Pakistani Constitution?

    .You can bailout Greece with a $150bil.. yet you whine over puny $20bil given to Pakistan;

    Was Greece also hosting OBL? Recommend

  • Farooq

    Thanks for this article Paul. Makes me think I should move back to Pakistan. Great country and Amazing people. Pakistan Zindabad. Recommend

  • Nojeba

    Its so good to see a foreigner write something like this about Pakistan. There is a lot of good in the country, we ourselves have destroyed our country and given it a bad image. Awesome piece. May God bless you Paul.

    @ Sidrah: Its people like you who have destroyed our country. Im surprised that you didnt feel an ounce of shame when a foreigner was defending your country and you wrote something like that. Even if you have another passport, you will never truly belong to any other country. Even with another paspsort you will always be referred to as “brown” because no matter what you do or where you live you will not belong to that country. I feel sad when I look at people like you who trash your own country. India has the same problems as ours. corruption, instability, poverty but you will never find them trashing their own country, cuz they have pride and self respect unlike you. I admit Pakistan isnt a safe country right now but its the only place which we can ever really belong to, the only place which you will ever be able to call homeRecommend

  • Ali S

    Hate to sound like a pessimist, but I wonder how much of Karachi the reader has seen outside DHA/Clifton. Hats off to him though for having a positive attitude in such a volatile place.Recommend

  • Naureen zaheer

    A country which has gone through such turmoils but still managed to survive for more than 60 odd years is most definitely a resilient one. Every country has its own set of problems. We are going through a bad patch right now but it’s destined to change because nothing lasts forever. Lazim hai keh ham bhi dekhain gay, woh din keh jis ka wada hai, ham dekhain gein.Recommend

  • Final Solution

    @Awais Khan:
    A wise man escapes from a place his life and safety is not guaranteed. Hijrat anyone?Recommend

  • Shahid

    Appreciated .. Please stick to your home as soon we are taking off for journey having upwards trend .. Recommend

  • mes

    @proudpakistani
    the mere fact that you compare Pakistan to countries such as Germany, UK and Italy shows the lack of common sense and Intelligence that you posses. I wont even go into the stupidity that follows when comparing a developed state to a developing one but here’s an interesting fact for you; the UK came into being in the year 1707 when the Acts of Union were passed. And most of the other countries you mentioned were formed in the mid 1800′s. Do the maths little buddy, its not rocket science.”

    hilarious, absolutely HILARIOUS!!!!. learn history a little bit, you will understand about the difficulty that they went through.Learn about the challenges they faced while they tried to establish themselves as a prosperous global powers, they were destroyed numerous times, fought countless wars, and even now, they are global powers,get this buddy, even if any country bombs any European nation and destroys their major cities, it will not take them more than three decades to rise and establish themselves as global powers.However, this will never be the case of Pakistan.

    The only stupidity is in not comparing with the benchmarks set by developed nations, Don’t know about the norms that are followed in Pakistan, but every developing country-without any exception- tries to compare itself with developed in every aspect of life, including historical aspects.

    They-developed nations- were always pioneers in science and technology, trade, military,economy; and even in the most hardest of times, no one, just no one has shown so much resolve as those developed nations, and they developed because of this resolve. As i said earlier, Britain and France fought for hundred years.None of the wars that Pakistan ever fought comes even 1/10th of this period. And the author here claims that Pakistan has received ‘mortal blows’. just 4 petty wars with India has put Pakistan to this level, imagine a war lasting more than hundred years??.

    You shouldn’t even talk about the British and french, they ruled almost entire surface of this planet.While Pakistan is struggling to establish a stable government even after 65 years of independence, forget about becoming a global power and dictating terms to the world.

    Learn about British empire and french empire first. Though, i cannot guarantee that sense will prevail and sanity will penetrate the skull, for some, the plain simple fact that their country is a failed state might seem like a rocket science for them to understand, and talk of ‘it will rise’ ‘it will prosper’ are nothing but pure myth.Recommend

  • http://tribune.com p r sharma

    Pakistan is an amazing and unique place where almost every day there is a bomb blast,and the government has no writ on some of their own territory, where government decides the faith of people,where a mob of 3000 can torch more than 150 houses of christens in the presence of police( a mute spectator), where Hazaar Shias can be bombed with ease killing hundreds and culprits not caught , where groups take pride in claiming responsibilities for the killings, where civil society does not or unable to protest ( except lip service).
    Author’s claim is indisputable.Recommend

  • SAK

    @Sidrah: You wanna sell yourself for a passport?Recommend

  • M

    Paul, for some strange reason, your article has made me teary eyed. Thank you for writing this! You are one of us now- Pakistan loves you!
    Lots of love & prayers for you and your family.Recommend

  • bla

    oh come on you people who are bashing Sidrah, she is most likely joking and dont tell me that if you get a chance of escaping from pakistan, you wont cuz u love ur country sooo very much :P
    its natural for someone to think first about his/her family i will do the hijrat (migration) if I know my chidren are not safe in a country where I was born. Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @Sidrah:

    I agree with you. When things would get tough for him, he has an exit plan, I commend your realistic attitude. Patriotism cannot be a one way street, I pay my taxes, be an honest hardworking citizen and in return the govt should provide safety net and protection. Or else I will immigrate to a country and adopt a new homeland that provides me a two street.Recommend

  • Mehdi

    @Nojeba:

    Please be a realist. India is a safe and tolerant country with a prosperous economy. Author is truly a good guest, but may be unaware of the fact that many Pakistanis are intolerant, hence extremism is on the rise. Nobody can deny this fact.Recommend

  • Babur Sohail

    Heart touching comments Paul !!!! absolute pleasure. I’m a serious lover of this country and strongly believe in rise of our nation, and great to hear something different out of the stereotype. God bless you…..Recommend

  • Milind

    @mes – “The blows that Pakistan has received pales in comparison to what hit japan, Germany, Italy,Russia,France, Britain etc and they all have stood back on their feet”

    I think this explains the state of our (both India & Pakistan) countries… We never bore the brunt as much as Japan and the European nations. Which probably explains the pace (or lack of it) of our development. Counter-intuitively we would have been in a better position had we been reduced to rubble and the baggage of our culture (yes sometimes it hangs like an albatross around our necks) had been jettisoned.

    @Sid – ” Israel survive without the $3bil annually in civilian and $3bil in military aid to the country directly from Uncle Sam?”

    Well the Israeli generals have not pocketed the aid as yours have done… The common man has benefited from this largesse. Israel boasts of lot of technological innovations and world-class universities and is a pioneer in agriculture with cultivation in deserts.

    “both countries got extensive economic lifelines from the United States for them to reach where they are today; yet they’re still not ‘free’ to do ”

    I would fervently pray the above statement applied to Pakistan and to a lesser extent India as well. The misuse of ‘freedom’ by following counter-opposing policies/strategies after receiving aid has proven to be your nemesis.Recommend

  • M . Nawsim Khan m

    @Milind:
    @bla:
    @sick of this nonsense: Recommend

  • Zara

    very well written paul, I really appreciate the love and respect you have for Pakistan. And those who are embarrassed of being its citizen, you should feel shame after reading this article.!!Recommend

  • Arshman

    The sad thing is, you have more faith in Pakistan than most of the pseudo-intellectuals here do. Recommend

  • MAG

    Totally taken aback that a dutch man while leaving his well-economic country loves this place. Amazing what he can see here in The Pakistan that I can’t. Recommend