Stories about patriotism

When I was truly Pakistani…

A couple of days ago while I was cleaning out my bookshelf, I came across a few dog-eared school magazines. I hurriedly dusted them with the hemline of my shirt as a wave a of nostalgia journeyed through me. The feeling was so overwhelming, I swear I could smell my grade four classroom for a few seconds. The first thing I got my hands on was an April 1998 issue — a newsletter with a very pixelated cover picture of a ten-year-old me standing with around 20 classmates, all clad in stark white shalwaar kameez. The girls donned dark green dupattas ...

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Are you a Pakistani extremist?

Hi everyone, it’s been ages! I was recently looking through my old blog posts and reminiscing about all the fun that was had with my quizzes for Pakistanis: What kind of Pakistani life do you lead? And: The desi-elite political identity quiz Given how 2013 has kicked off with more terrorism and extremism-related incidents than any year I can remember in my short lifespan, I think now would be the right time to find out how infected we each are with the ‘extremism’ virus on a personal level. Take the quiz below! Q1: The Christian neighbourhood next to you has been burnt down to the ground ...

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Why I am not impressed by ‘Naya Pakistan’

These are dark and trying times for Pakistan. Violence, sectarian conflict and political turmoil have led the people of this country to the brink of a ‘national nervous breakdown’. We sometimes need a hug, even if it’s in the form of a song. On paper, it is the perfect time, thus, for a song like “Naya Pakistan” to mark its place in the hearts of patriots who have lost hope and faith in a Pakistan that was once fought very hard for. Musically, the song has a great introduction, a good beat and strong guitar solos. Junaid Jamshed’s voice sets the tone ...

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Are overseas Pakistanis any less greener?

The dilemma of resident Pakistanis being more loyal to their country than non-resident Pakistanis seems to be going on forever. Enough has already been said and written on the issue, but we just don’t seem to come out of this rhetoric. My first argument to anybody who doubts my patriotism is whether being a non-resident makes me any less Pakistani than them? For me it’s a pretty simple equation, it’s not a requisite that you can only love someone or something when you’re available in person. It can be a bonus but definitely not necessary. I acknowledge that people in Pakistan are facing abysmal ...

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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 ...

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Police encounter and my brush with death

Recently something bad happened to me and this completely changed my views about preferring to live in Pakistan. I had first-hand experience on what it feels like to know that your name might soon be added to the list of “missing persons” and this confirmed just how insecure one’s life and future is living in this state. While driving to a friend’s place (I was all by myself; no driver or friend with me) a policeman astride a bike suddenly blocked my way, followed by another making a ‘forced’ entry into my car. I was ordered to pull over and ...

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A soldier’s Eid: Away from family and in the face of death

I am Gunner Fazal Mehmood, currently serving in a medium regiment artillery located at a peaceful location. It is 0400 hours, the first day of Eidul Azha and while lying on my charpoy I am thinking about the last night – it is the third consecutive Eid that I will be spending away from my family. I don’t know why, but I am constantly reminded of a similar chaand raat which I had spent along with my family back in Bahawalpur a few years ago. All the luminosity, crowd and chanting at the Meena bazaar near our house constantly reminded me of ...

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Please, don’t abandon me now

Against all odds, I came this far, I shed my blood, I fought my war, My story is written in each and every scar. But it looks like now, Whatever I’ve been through Whatever I’ve faced has taken its toll, And here I lie with an embattled soul. In this moment of pain, I look towards you, And I realise that you, You turn away your eyes. And just as you walk away, I muster my strength, Just enough to say, “Don’t turn your back, Don’t give up on me,” Agony has seeped deep within me. Distress has engulfed every inch of me. My wounds are deep, My breath is shallow, But don’t tell me, That my chances are low. Do you forget the odds I defied? Despite everything I ...

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Defence Day: Does it really matter who attacked first?

It was September 6 two days ago ─ just another day in London, the country I am currently living in. However, in my home country, this date was marked in red on many calendars. Until around a decade ago, Defence Day used to be a public holiday. However, as the wave of ‘enlightenment’ hit the country and we became workaholics, this date on the calendar was replaced with the usual colour. The only sign of the importance September 6 had in our history is now the special editions of the newspapers and some TV shows, or to some extent, verbal and ...

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Keep the hope alive, dear Pakistanis

We are no messiahs and we are certainly not asking you to turn a blind eye to all the problems that we face. It is always good to remain cognizant of the challenges that lie ahead of you ─ it can help you plan better. But there must never be any room for you to lose hope. Hopelessness, we have been told, is faithlessness. And we have faith. We have faith in the people of this country. We have faith in our belief that the people of this country will complement each other. ‘The Pakistanis’ is a celebration of the little ...

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