Let’s love Pakistan: A new resolution (II)

Published: February 7, 2012
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Ghich-pitch and totally kitsch, these brilliant canvases on wheels depict the true zinda-dil colors of Pakistan and its people perfectly! PHOTO: AFP

I have no doubt that everyone will agree when I say that Arfa and her legacy is indeed one of the 65 reasons we’ve got to love Pakistan. Pushto cinema. PHOTO: EPA Pakistan has five out of fourteen mountain peaks of height over 8,000 meters. PHOTO: MUHAMMAD JAVAID / EXPRESS TRIBUNE Ghich-pitch and totally kitsch, these brilliant canvases on wheels depict the true zinda-dil colors of Pakistan and its people perfectly! PHOTO: AFP

In September last year, I took up the challenge of making a list of 65 reasons why I love Pakistan; the poor broken country we have begun to take for granted. The idea was simple, but its execution not so much, which is why it has taken me four months to come up with the second set of reasons. I plan to compile the list by August 14, 2012—Pakistan’s 65th Birthday. 

Here’s a short excerpt from my previous blog to establish the idea behind this otherwise puerile exercise:

Im going to try to complete the list (of)  reasons – some small; some serious, some funny; some definitive and some not so evocative or significant… but each in its own way a contributing factor to why that tiny spark somewhere inside each one of us still remains buoyant… because let’s face it we all love Pakistan

So, here goes.

6.  Truck art:

Granted it’s only found the kind of respect it deserves recently what with some goras giving it their stamp of approval a few years ago. However, I’ve always found this fascinating kaleidoscope of unapologetically flat motifs, wild cats and prey birds done up in rich, screaming colours to be rather dazzling. Ghich-pitch and totally kitsch, these brilliant canvases on wheels depict the true zinda-dil (lively) colours of Pakistan and its people perfectly.

7. “Free” media and journos

From merely three channels back in the 90s, Pakistani telly now comprises of a whopping 150 channels that are actively broadcasting their (mostly trash, but what can we do) content throughout the country. Whether it’s reporting or entertainment, our journalists and anchors have truly mastered their craft and continue to impress with their talent and prowess. There’s enough drama, godawful yet sadistically addictive morning shows, breaking news bulletins and highly enjoyable rabid mud-slinging prime time talk show ho-downs to keep us all well entertained throughout the day, every day… and if that’s not positive growth I don’t know what is!

8. All the drama!

Let’s be honest; nobody cerates drama like we do. Sure, we went astray for a couple of years a few years ago, but boy, are we back on track and producing some of the best television drama ever… Hum TV, Geo, ARY, and now Express Entertainment: the choices are virtually innumerable!

Soppy romantic shadi-biyah (wedding) fodder for aunties and teeny-boppers, check.

Conniving saasbahu shenanigans for potential crafty saases and bahus, check.

Hard-hitting reality-check-type storylines for the art lovers, check, check, check!

9. Our landscape:

Pakistan has five out of 14 mountain peaks of height over 8,000m. That’s over 26,000ft! Murree’s altitude is merely 2,300m! These attract adventurers and mountaineers from around the world, especially to legendary K2 that stands at a staggering 8,600m. It is also the only mountain that has six names: K2, Savage Mountain, Mountaineer’s Mountain, Mount Godwin-Austen, Chogori and Mount Qogir.

10. Pushto cinema:

‘Nuff said.

11. All the repair men:

Seriously, in Pakistan, there’s nothing—and I mean nothing—that can’t be fixed; if you know where to find the right person to do the job, that is!

In Karachi, Saddar is usually a good place to start, and I’m sure there’s at least one such hub in all the other cities as well where you can go with your damaged possessions and return with a big smile on your face. Whether it’s your heirloom furniture or the circuit of the little red bulb on a Rs100 remote control; a cracked prosthetic limb or an otherwise disposable electronic gadget – Pakistan truly is the anti-spendthrift’s heaven!

12. All the random holidays due to political strife:

Don’t we just love the fact that, except maybe a few war-torn countries in Africa, we’re probably the only modern-day republic where children get more days off from school in a year than they do on? Moreover, the entire workforce only has to go to work an average of four days a week instead of five! Who cares about the kharaab haalat (bad conditions) as long as you get to laze around the house and watch all the action on live TV, right?

13. Cheap domestic help:

Before you roll your eyes and dismiss me with ‘whatever,’ do a little mental math: an average upper middle class Pakistani family these days hires two maids. At least one of these maids is likely to be a full-time employee earning no more than a four-digit salary (with perquisites like constant bickering and nitpicking, of course). The usual responsibilities of these maids usually include, but are not limited to everyday chores like sweeping, doing the dishes, washing clothes, ironing, cooking, looking after children, and sometimes even doing the groceries. The regular everyday help you’d very well have to be a member of the millionaires club to avail anywhere else in the world is right here in Pakistan!

14. Our resilience:

One of my readers pointed out our ability to be extraordinarily pliant by saying,

We are resilient in the face of adverse events like floods, earthquakes, terrorist attacks, and Zardari.

I couldn’t agree more. We’re a tough bunch if there ever was one. Of course, some people may compare us to cockroaches, and rightfully so, but still, I think our deep-rooted resilience and infallible spirits have more to do with the belief that Allah Mian will eventually make everything alright (read: strong faith) rather than us simply having evolved to make the best of what we’ve got! We may not be rich in a lot of virtues, but resilience and faith are certainly not two of those.

15. Arfa Karim

Although it shames and saddens me to admit that I did not know who Arfa Karim was until a couple of weeks ago when news of her unfortunate illness started doing rounds, I now couldn’t be more proud of the young prodigy who was indeed, in retrospect, Pakistan’s very own miracle child.

Recipient of the Fatima Jinnah Gold Medal in the field of Science and Technology, a Salaam Pakistan Youth Award as well as the Presidential Award for Pride of Performance, Arfa, as I’m sure we all know by now, was also dubbed the world’s youngest Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) in 2004. Her sad, unexpected demise at such a young age is a national tragedy and I have no doubt that everyone will agree when I say that Arfa and her legacy is indeed one of the 65 reasons we’ve got to love Pakistan.

Read more by Saad here.

saad.zuberi

Saad Zuberi

An Economics graduate with a post-grad in International Relations who’s currently pursuing Chartered Accountancy while working as a freelance writer for a number of local publications.

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

  • Nadir

    People die during political strife, day labourers dont find work. Its only the rich that can laze aroundand enjoy an uneearned holiday!Recommend

  • http://NewYork Falcon

    Bravo. That’s the best ET blog I have read in a long time. Keep it up my friend.Recommend

  • Muhammad Hanif Awan

    GREAT,,,,,,,,SIMPLY GREAT IDEA.Recommend

  • Parvez

    In your list say something nice about our women and how despite the discrimination, hardship and crap they have to put up with they manage to shine as individuals and in sports as a team. This is a suggestion you will of course be able to say it much better than me. Recommend

  • JohnnyEnglish

    What about Lahore Mandi?Recommend

  • bilal

    free media – journalism with no respect for privacy or sense of ethics, shamelessly going to any lengths to bring drama to viewers at the expense of other peoples dignity.

    random holidays – any idea how much loss businesses and the economy suffers because of these holidays?

    cheap domestic help – nothing to be proud of. these people dont work for u because they enjoy it, its only because they cant afford to go to good schools and get a proper education. so spoilt rich people can have ‘help’ around the house.

    arfa karim – we didnt even give her the fame she deserved nor did anyone come forward to help with her medical treatment, instead bill gates offered help while our leaders were busy trying to show they will be the ones to bring a so called inqilaab.

    yeah very proud of pakistanRecommend

  • Ali

    no indian troll here to stir up comments section here? Recommend

  • Pakistan lover

    AGREE one hudred percent with ALL the points you have made uptil not Mr Saad Zuberi!
    PAKISTAN ZINDABAD!!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • P.K. Dubey

    What an incredibly self-serving article. Irresponsible journalism, uneducated future generations and readily available and thus easily exploited household help is now something to celebrate? C’mon, you’re better than this.Recommend

  • @bilal

    The “Free media” only does all the things you NOW oh-so-grandly look down upon. It’s a ratings game. Stop watching it and they’ll stop doing it.

    Pakistan’s economy doesn’t feel a thing when people sit at home for a day as compared the the days when Pakistanis actually DO go to work and engage in their corrupt shenanigans!

    And Arfa karim was only offered medial support from Bill Gates, she didn’t actually get it. All her medical expenses were paid by her father and fellow Pakistanis. Recommend

  • Mahira

    I can’t stop laughing at the fact that Pushto cinema has made it to this list! For some odd, I sort of agree. Nothing cheers you up like watching 2 minutes of their dance sequences while flipping through the channels every now and then!Recommend

  • Rehan F Khan

    @ P.K.Dubey and others

    What are you talking about? Why do you automatically assume the worst? Some local journalists are irresponsible, true, but that doesn’t mean eveyone is bad at their job. Our television is a booming industry and you cannot deny that. Like one of the commentators above pointed out, it’s all a matter of ratings. So essentially, if you think everything that they show on TV is wrong and irresponsible, you (and by that I mean all of us, the public) are to be blamed. It’s not Pakistan’s fault. Pakistan has given you the freedom to do, watch and broadcast whatever you want, and I’m sure that’s what the writer means to highlight.Recommend

  • Rehan F Khan

    As far as exploited domestic help goes. Once again i cannot see why you would automatically assume all the people exploit their workers.
    Everybody has a part to play in this world. You cannot deny them their duties and ultimately the right to living a self sufficient life. Exploiting them or not is a person to person thing. I know the people who work at my house are not exploited at all… and yet I can confidently agree that this is a luxury I can only afford in Pakistan… so God bless the country for that! Recommend

  • Indian troll

    (not really Indian, but here’s something to think about!)

    Media – you stole the breaking news trends from us. watch durdarshan and our regional news channels and you’ll know all your ultra sophisticated news anchors and analysts copy ours.

    Landscape – again something you stole from us!

    Pushto cinema – our South Indian cinema is much better and sensual

    Domestic help – nothing cheaper than a good mallu bai- hard working with minimal demands!

    Arfa Karim – so you had one genius. big deal. i can’t even count the many child prodigies in India! Recommend

  • S.M.Faraz

    Nice thinking and patriotism by Saad, But bro you have chosen wrong forum for this, this forum is front line 5th column of enemy, it’s number 1 in cutting roots of Pakistan. Back-stabbing tactics by them. Best of Luck for you bro. Pakistan Zindabaad.Recommend

  • Rehan F Khan

    (editors: what happened to my first post!?)Recommend

  • bilal

    @Rehan F Khan:

    go back and ready my post. when did i ever say domestic help is exploited? funny how the two seems to be linked in ur mind without anyone even mentioning itRecommend

  • bilal

    @@bilal:
    i dont watch geo and the all the other news channels who love to create drama and hype. only purpose they serve is to create fear and anxiety amongst viewers. yeah very patriotic indeed, hats off to our ‘journalists’.
    i dont know what kind of work u do for a living but some people are actually trying to do an honest business.
    name one person who offered or paid arfa karims medical bills. im dying to knowRecommend

  • Rehan F Khan

    @bilal

    Sweets, I was talking to P.K.Dubey, not you.

    Saad, that’s another one of those amazing Pakistani qualities you can write about: narcissim.Recommend

  • sumya kareem

    Brilliant idea and effort! I’m looking forward to the next 50 now. Can I have your email address I will try to send you some of my points maybe they will help you too……Recommend

  • Shakky

    Cheap domestic help? That’s not a good thing. It reveals an economy with pronounced income inequality, which means that there is a sharp difference between the haves and have nots. That’s a bad thing. Not just my opinion, rather, its a globally accepted socio-economic fact. Its even worse that the author sees nothing wrong with this. Somewhat akin to Marie Antoinette failing to understand why people got so upset during the French Revolution.

    And to those folks who feel that its OK for things to be this way because they’re providing gainful employment for the less fortunate among us, and that the domestic help is well treated, I would pose the question – would you be willing to join somebody’s household as a servant, regardless of how well you’re treated? The only reason that you’re not a servant is because of the ovarian lottery, which gave you the opportunity to do better in life. And that particular lottery is not based on merit.Recommend

  • P.K. Dubey

    @Rehan F Khan:
    Try reading, bro. I didn’t say all household workers are exploited. I said that because they’re so poor, so cheaply available, and have no other realistic options, they can be exploited easily. This is not something worth celebrating about Pakistan. It’s something we, the privileged classes (and I use that loosely), should be ashamed about.

    Secondly, to argue that consumers must be blamed because they demand irresponsible, and frankly, trashy, journalism is a bit like claiming cricket fans must bear the burden of match-fixing. In both cases, there has to be a bit of self-regulation on the part of the principals.Recommend

  • Amir

    @Shakky

    Ok. So from today onwards, you can either let your driver and masis go (and let then starve!) and let the women of your house wash the dshes and sweep the floors….. or you can start paying the domestic help by the going rate in first world countries like USA and France.

    I’ll be you won’t do either!

    It royally pisses me off how people will talk talk talk like they’ve just descended from heaven just to point the wrong in others’ ways. Recommend

  • Dr. Moiz Talat

    Nice list, Saad. It’s good to know at least someone is trying to highlight the positive aspects of this poor country. Keep it up!
    I’m much older than most of you commenting here and believe me I have known a time when you could come up with a hundred things you loved about Pakistan within minutes. It is a nice beautiful country and the first step towards redemption is learning to take everything in a stride. I see a lot of people here fighting over little things, passing snide comments about each other and unnecssarily engaging in pointelss repartee. Why have we all lost patience and tolerence?
    The introductory para of the article clearly states that this is a semi-seious-semi-humourous list. It’s not definitive and no body is forcing you to agree with all the points stated herein.

    Saad, my contribution to the next list would be Pakistan’s rich musical history and our cultural diversity. Recommend

  • TrueMuslim

    I love Pakistan more than I love my parents. Pakistan gives us a chance to live as Islam teaches us and teach Islam to others. Inshallah, Pakistan will become the center of the whole world soon.Recommend

  • TrueMuslim

    Dr mOIZtALAT

    That is sooo right sir! People should see how much suffering people from kashmir to kabul want to join Pakistan then you know what real freedom and love means to us.Recommend

  • ayesha

    @Rehan F Khan: “and yet I can confidently agree that this is a luxury I can only afford in Pakistan… so God bless the country for that!”

    Your confidence is misplaced. You can avail this in all emerging market countries – be it Latin American, African or South Asian. Even in a country like Singapore and Hong Kong where infrastructure and per capita income match the first world, upper middle class does have access to household maid.

    As several people have pointed out the fact that a lot of people are available as household help at a pittance is a reflection on lack of economic opportunities in all these countries (including my own – India). In Singapore, HK full time maids have to be imported. Typically they are Sri Lankan, Indonesian or Malaysian because citizens of these countries do have access to better economic opportunities.Recommend

  • Danali

    A new resolution? The old, Lahore Resolution which later became the Pakistan Resolution and the basis of Pakistan yet has to be fulfilled in letter and spirit!Recommend