This is my country, and I want it back

Published: April 17, 2011

Pakistan has aided the germination of Islamophobia, Taliban, extremist tehreeks and intolerant fundamentalism. But it has also produced quite the opposite.

You may call them the hidden ones, but there are Pakistanis who say that it’s time to bring a change.

No tolerance for wrong

A sense of urgency erupted among judicious Pakistanis after the murders of Salmaan Taseer and Shahbaz Bhatti. As the media covered protestors on the streets, both left and right wing, there was widespread confusion.

Fortunately now, the truth is becoming clearer to the average Pakistani. Now he questions, looks for inspiration and does not want to ignore reality. Words are now spoken and voices are now heard. Now a common Pakistani whispers: “Wait! This is my country, how should I get it back?”

We saw evidence of this at a Citizens of Democracy campaign ‘Silence Means More Blood’ on March 12, where 15,000 common Pakistanis changed this whisper into an audible sound by participating in a letter campaign that was meant to protest the killings of liberal leaders and the ongoing threats against Sherry Rehman.

People who otherwise feared the words ‘blasphemy’ and ‘Taseer’ publicly became signatories of a protest. It triggered an adrenaline rush and I realised that Pakistan is waking up.

The key is to move on with this struggle towards democracy, because every opinion (yours or mine) counts.

Welcome to Jashn-e-Faiz

In times of such re-awakenings, Citizens for Democracy have found inspiration in these very ‘hidden one’. Legendary poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz was an unwavering revolutionary who believed in the capacity and determination of oppressed people to fight and defeat tyranny. He said:

“though tyrants may command that lamps be smashed,  in rooms where lovers are destined to meet, they cannot snuff out the moon…”

To commemorate Faiz’s memory Citizens for Democracy is celebrating Jashn-e-Faiz on April 17 with an open invitation event that brings art, culture and literature to the masses through its wide range of public integrating programs, exhibitions, performances, music and other activities.

Niilofur Farukh a progressive artist and organizer says, “The programs and seminars that we have planned are diverse and cater all kinds of people.”

Fashion journalist Mohsin Sayeed is passionate about this event and says, “I believe in my right to speak. Like Faiz sahib says, ‘Bol kay lab azad hain tere’. We have to raise our voice. The collective voice has so much energy that it can bring an avalanche.”

In the spirit of paying tribute to Faiz and to the ideals of liberty he stood for, Jashn-e-Faiz is an effort to promote religious harmony and counter extremist forces that have marginalised the constitutional rights of Pakistanis.

“No, don’t give up my heart just yet, take courage, for life will still remain,” wrote Faiz.

The hope that Faiz imparted with his poetry, fits in best with the current state of Pakistan.

If being silent citizens has tired us we must now free ourselves from the shackles of extremism. Let’s not overlook the struggle we make against extremism by rejecting it. We have identified our problems and it’s time to fix them together. We must fuel this struggle with our individual support and start believing in voting – we must ensure that our votes will be counted.

The ‘hidden ones’ that Pakistan produced are you and me, the positive thinkers who spread hope; activists who believe in peaceful demonstrations and not in blowing themselves up in crowds.

The real Pakistan rests within you and me. And we will bring change.

To learn more about Jashn-e-Faiz and The Citizens for Democracy, visit their website.

Kiran Nazish

Kiran Nazish

The author is an award-winning journalist and co-founder of a global network of support for women journalists, called the Coalition for Women in Journalism, based in New York. She has covered several countries around the world, including Iraq, Syria, Turkey, Mexico, India, Afghanistan. She tweets at @kirannazish (

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

  • parvez

    When I read and see the sheer enthusiasm and energy that people like you put out it does for a moment kindle a spark of hope and this country is living on hope for some 63 years now and those that are running it want to keep that way.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    This is OUR country, and WE want it back
    from the Ultra liberals “the drunk and the dancing”
    from the Extremists “Sucide Bombers and Beheaders of Innocent”
    from the Arial Assassins “Preditor Drones”
    from the Corrupt Politicians “The 10% lot”
    from the feudal Lord “the cane growers”
    from the mill owners “sugar cartel”
    from the energy bandits “Rental power”
    from the media Pundits “Capital talk”
    from the Sham Shariiah Enforcers “Sawat clerics”
    from the Separatist endorsers “BLA”
    from all the enemies of my country acting and reacting in and out.

  • Usama Zafar

    Great article!!!Recommend

  • Kiran N

    It doesn’t really make more sense to keep it the other way round. And no its just a saying that its been like this for 63 years. Its been quite different and fluctuating,, and the willingness we see now in people has not been there before. If you cant see it, try to look closer.
    We don’t need pessimism to prevail. We don’t want pessimism to prevail.

    Hopelessness has been our problem for 63 years. We want to change NOW!Recommend

  • Ron(Indian)

    Goodluck to pakistani civil society. there is one more thing how come you people adopted a Hindu name like “Kiran”? Some of the indian christiens use the hindu names but its ok because after all they are indians. But when I see pakistani people start using names like neha. mira, veena, kiran it surprises me alot. thanks. Recommend

  • faraz

    Without the support of state institutions and political organziations, nothing can reverse the tide of extremism.Recommend

  • Zeeshan Swalaheen

    I agree with Parvez. But even when I dont read things like this then still i believe that we can change but dont know when. And we must change and we people need to be enthusiastic. I hate depressed faces. And most important of all we need to increase our tolerance level for various perspectives. Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    I think we are now seeing the uprise of Leftist and some Center movements. I think we will see these movements coming into power quite soon.Recommend

  • Nahyan

    Too bad I cannot be there at Jashn-e-Faiz as I am in Islamabad currently but I would like to say….

    aaj baazaar meN paa-bajaulaaN chalo

    chashm-e-nam, jaan-e-shoriidaa kaafii nahiiN
    tohmat-e-ishq-poshiidaa kaafii nahiiN
    aaj baazaar meN paa-bajaulaaN chalo

    dast-afshaaN chalo, mast-o-raqsaaN chalo
    Khaak-bar-sar chalo, Khuun-baa-damaaN chalo
    raah taktaa hai sab shah’r-e-janaaN chalo
    aaj baazaar meN paa-bajaulaaN chalo

    haakim-e-shah’r bhii, majmaa-e-aam bhii
    tiir-e-ilzaam bhii, sang-e-dushnaam bhii
    subh-e-nashaad bhii, roz-e-nakaam bhii
    aaj baazaar meN paa-bajaulaaN chalo

    in kaa damsaaz apne sivaa kaun hai
    shah’r-e-jaanaN meN ab baa-safaa kaun hai
    dast-e-qaatil ke shaayaaN rahaa kaun hai

    rakht-e-dil baandh lo, dil figaaro chalo
    phir hamiiN qatl ho aayeN yaaro chalo.
    aaj baazaar meN paa-bajaulaaN chaloRecommend

  • Sverige

    The whole nation has to divert its focus from politics and religion to business, corporate sector and entrepreneurship. These are the most important topics nobody wanna talk about it coz nobody has enough knowledge about it. There is a flood of MBAs in the country and its a shame the country is left far behind in this field.Recommend

  • http://Attock Nowsherwan

    I got curious when i saw the strong words written in the title “This is my country, and I want it back” but i am disappointed as the article turned out to be free publicity of a society.Recommend

  • Disco Molvi

    @Fahad Raza:
    Good list. Here are a few additions:
    from the Killer Guards “Mumtaz Qadri lot”
    from the Pro Murderer Lawyers “Garlanding Qadri”
    from the Militant Sympathizing Citizens “Pro Aafia, Pro Qadri lot”
    from the Dens of Militancy “Lal Masjid and the like of it”
    from the Conspiracy Theorists “Zaid Hamid ilk”
    from the Ethnic Cleansers “MQM and ANP”
    from the Misogynist Men “Honor Killers”Recommend

  • Eliya

    It was really great to see such an event in Karachi. Seriously speaking, i wasn’t expecting this much of crowd in an event like this. But it was really great and trully honoured to be a part of this as a volunteer. Thanks KN.Recommend

  • http://USA mussarat

    Well done Kiran. God Bless you for such a nice article.

    I agree with you more than two hundred percent.

    I too want this country back from plunderers of national wealth and those destroy peace of my Holy Motherland and those resorted to killing of human being in the name of religion.

    May God save my Loving Pakistan from every evil eye, amen.


  • zzzz

    one sentence should suffice.
    we want our country back ….. from the army and isi.Recommend

  • R0n(NotIndian)

    Ron: The word Kiran means a beam of light. It’s used in urdu and hindi, just like thousands of other words. How do you stake a claim for it by calling it Hindu? Why does it even matter to you!? Please grow up.Recommend

  • Nitin

    Kiran means a ray of light… that’s what this article seeks!!Recommend

  • Ron(Indian)

    @R0n(NotIndian): Don’t get upset. Kiran word is used in almost all indian languages. I found it’s source “Sanskrit”. In Sanskrit, it means “ray of light” or “beam of light” (especially sunbeam or moonbeam) or the “first sunshine light”. So what about mira, veena, neha… It doesn’t matter if pakistanis use indian names. I was just curious to know about it. Now please get back to the topic which is very important.Recommend

  • MAD

    The real problem of pakistan is not its massively corrupt leaders, its not the maulvis, it isnt conspiracy theorists , over zealous talk show hosts or a breaking news addicted media, its not even the Taliban or their like; Pakistans real problem is the Pakistanis themselves. we refuse to use our own brains, commons ense as far as we’re concerned does not exist. we vote in the same corrupt leaders every election. we choose to let the media make up our minds for us. we choose to believe what others tell us to believe. If we wont change ourselves how do you expect this country to change.Recommend

  • Shaista Khan

    Well said. It’s high time the hidden Pakistanis come out and reclaim their country. We have been wallowing in self pity, complaining of superpowers and criminally accepting everything that goes on as if burying our hand in the sand will make all bad things go away. The power of the common man cannot be undermined, let us aim to awaken this Pakistani in all of us. Let us get back the Pakistan of our dreams, the one we deserve!Recommend

  • Anthony Permal

    Thanks for this article. As a Pakistani Christian, you’ve summed up my thoughts in the perfect words.Recommend

  • beetleman

    oh no no no no no … this topic is far more important ! I appreciate the article by kiran N but the sad news is that we still haven’t found any cure for the cancer that has spread . . . .
    We (Christians) are still afraid to talk about blasphemy and justice, because if you lot speak about it, it is called rational thinking… not with us .. this is just a temporary phase that will soon die out and we (through media) will get distracted with some more important issues !
    Now back to the main topic, I have no **ing idea why we chose names like veena , meera and neha !Recommend

  • Faisal

    we are fast losing ground………… Most of us don’t understand Faiz, either we are illiterate or so much literate that we don’t understand words of Urdu. One are two more generations and none of the Pakistanis will be aware of his poetry. Faiz is dead, Urdu is dying. Recommend

  • parvez

    @Kiran N:
    In no way would I want to discourage you and your lot. I just wish to raise your awareness to the task at hand and I honestly feel that seminars, debates and feel good events is like going after an elephant with a fly swatter. You need something lethal something devastatingly effective.
    Thank you for your response. Recommend

  • Madiha Bilal

    This article makes me feel like now if I will say something it will matter. I have always been thinking does it matter if i want the things around to change and always hear a million voices saying No. It wont change. Your voice is vulnerable .

    But with initiatives that people are finally taking is going to help us all find a union, a collective ground to come forwrd.

    People like me, come and connect.

    Thank Kiran for this arousing piece.Recommend

  • Sonya


    State will never do anything untill people start to scream.

    We have seen examples of people voice in egypt, libya, tunisia, iran… we are also gathering it now… we will and must get it togethor

    We will be able to force the state only then.

    Kiran: I see a passion in your article. Your organization is doing exactly the right thing. This is just the beginning. I think we should take this forward. Recommend

  • Ron(Indian)

    So how you gonna change the society? where rational thinking is bad word. secularism is also bad word. have you thought about your future generations?? or Are you planning to leave paskistan just like others? I realy don’t know how the minorities will survive,,,Recommend

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    the enemy actually is and ask their help in stopping the spread of.
    Islamic murders worldwide! Ruby’s NGO FOR GENEVA. http://www….gopetition.comRuby‘s NGO FOR GENEVA.www.gopetition.c…omSee moreRuby’s.
    Ruby’s NGO F…OR…Recommend

  • Madiha Bilal

    Efforts change the course and strength of a challenge. You need not worry, we will make it through.
    Wonderful article. Ignites.Recommend

  • Madiha Bilal

    “You need something lethal something devastatingly effective.” Yes we do, but there is absolutely no need for us to wait…. gradual is also a process and if the agenda is set, every step towards it counts. big or smallRecommend

  • parvez

    @Madiha Bilal:
    Go to the home page of ET and see the headlines say army damands and will get more
    funds from a bankrupt government to purchase wepons etc. this money will be diverted from the remaining development budget. Think about it, how are you going to counter this ?
    It will not be long before the staw will break the camels back and then change will come.Recommend

  • Hafeez Ishak

    I was delighted to read the blog of Kiran Nazish, and especially her reference to Faiz, ” Thought Tyrants.” It is a quote which is profoundly relevant to the situation that is prevalent all over Pakistan.

    I would like to wish great success to Niilofur Farukh, in her efforts with Jashn-e- Faiz. It is a wonderful thought and that why the people of Pakistan need to get involved with this project.

    Kudos to Kiran Nazish and Niilofur Farukh.

    Hafeez Recommend

  • Fortune Cookie

    Its time to take it back.
    And yes you can.
    Let the young stand up as Independents. Recommend

  • lost

    You definitely are right….Recommend