Stories about hope

Are Pakistanis happier in 2011?

With regular bombings being just one of their constantly growing fears, and their country being ranked 12 on Foreign Policy Magazine’s Failed States Index 2011, Pakistanis hardly have reasons to be a happier nation in 2011. We haven’t stepped into particularly hopeful terrain this year. The CIA World Fact Book estimates that Pakistan’s net emigration rate is 9 per cent higher than in 2011. This is testament to the fact that many things are wrong in the country – the most glaring of which are: 1. Inflation The 15.5 per cent inflation rate in December 2010 was brought down by two ...

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The artist’s way

We live in an ugly world; there’s no doubt about that. For the past ten years we have been bombarded with images of terrorism, violence, destruction and death: on the television, in the newspapers and on the Internet. The most recent assault on our collective sensibilities and our battered sense of security is an image I just can’t get out of my head: Sarfaraz Shah begging for his life before being shot and left to bleed to death by the Rangers in Karachi this last week. As I said many months ago on Twitter, Pakistan is a nation in the ...

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We must have hope, what else is there?

I have come to dread my Twitter, Facebook and Google Reader feeds that feature Pakistan. The news just gets worse and worse. Occurrences in Pakistan give brutality and violence new shapes and forms every day. That human beings are capable of such horrific things is not surprising. After all, we live in the same world that witnessed the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, the ethnic cleansing of Serbians, Croatians, Palestinians and Bangladeshi’s alike (to name a few). The subcontinent itself had a bloody birth punctuated by massacres of Muslims, Hindus and Sikhs alike. In the last few days alone, Pakistan ...

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Optimism: The silent killer of Pakistan

Pakistanis – we are chronic trusters – a nation of the blindest believers! There is something ingrained in our blood, sweat and tears that pushes us to splurge, smoke and swallow more than we should – to trust blindly in the same governments which have failed us not once but twice, and ally with countries that have continued to denounce, betray and beguile us. We wait patiently for saviours from amongst us hoping that they will do the cleaning up for us – each time, our self-proclaimed saviours kick us to the curb – incredibly disengaged from reality, hoping desperately that ...

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What I learned about Pakistan in Muscat

I’m in a new land. Many back home think I am amongst the lucky few who have had the chance to live abroad and see “better days”. But, I wonder, do Pakistanis find happiness in the fact that they are actually home? I was filled with an overwhelming longing for Pakistan as soon as I landed in Muscat. The alien atmosphere, the new faces, the strange dresses, and the various dialects intimidated me. For the first time in my life, I felt proud of being a Pakistani, of wearing our traditional shalwar kameez and bearing the traditional Pakistani look. When ...

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2010: The year my mother didn’t die

The eve of a new year brings hope and the promise of positive expectations to all. There is a chance to believe in dreams again. A hope that the resolutions left unfulfilled last year may finally be achieved in the new one. I was also excited about the year 2010. It would be the year when I would go back to my beloved Pakistan after completing my higher education in the UK. I was excited about meeting my family and rediscovering my home city , Lahore from the eyes of someone who has been away from home for so long ...

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The privilege to be hopeful

Every time Karachi bleeds, people scramble around looking for something to believe in. Once again, with 85 people dead in four days of violence, there are articles insisting that Karachi’s spirit, tolerance, pride and resilience will carry it through. Insisting that it will survive. Insisting that it will come out stronger. I want cling to hope as much as the next person, but as much as I appreciate optimistic articles, I’m getting tired of the sentimentalisation of Karachi and all its problems. People here aren’t resilient because of their fierce pride in their city. They’re resilient because they don’t have ...

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Thinking big at a small age

It was the eve of August 22, when I was at a tent village established by the Scouts in Khairpur. I was reporting from the district as well as volunteering with the Scouts. As I was talking to the IDPs, inquiring about the facilities, one woman said that though they are being supplied with food and shelter, they don’t have any money. Suddenly, a boy standing at a little distance jumped in: “Allah saved us from the floods, we have been brought here, we should be thankful.” This was how I met 11-year-old Ali Haider, a high-spirited, confident and slightly ...

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Photo Essay: Surviving with a smile

I am a traveler. When I was six years old I was flying to the moon in a make-shift cardboard space ship now I travel to Rome, Marakesh and Indonesia in the span of one year. I try not only to immerse myself in a village, city or country but also its soul.  This week end for the first time in my life, I felt like I experienced the soul of Pakistan. At a camp in Sehwan Sharif for internally displaced persons (IDP) I witnessed need, desperation, anguish and pain but also laughter, smiles and gratitude. In the West we associate the ...

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Time for zero tolerance

Whether you agree or disagree with writers such as George Fulton and Fasi Zaka is a personal judgement. However, to one degree or the other, we all agree that something has to change; hopefully for the better. With consistent spates of violence, it’s only by bringing about behavioural changes in the individual that we can hope to change our nation’s reality. We can no longer blame a corrupt and incompetent administration for its failure to protect its citizens. We have recognize its failure and deem it incompetent, otherwise, our individual continued silence and inaction draws us into the incompetency which ...

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