13 February, 2007
By Ahmer Muzammil
Someone recently said to me that I have nothing but ill things to say about Pakistan, I haven’t lived in Pakistan for almost 12 years, so why do I even care? I find it saddening that some would equate my utmost disgust and anguish with Pakistani military/civil establishment and the manner in which they have looted and plundered my homeland - with treason. In all my writings I have never blamed the People of Pakistan. How can I? When I know for a fact that they have never been at the helm of affairs hence never had the control of the steering to guide the ship in the right direction. If the ship is sinking and God knows it is then the people of Pakistan are merely there for the ride, they can not be liable for the catastrophe that is Pakistan today. I do have a bone to pick with "Influential’s" and the "Shurufa’s"(Nobles) of Pakistan who squandered the golden opportunity that was provided to us by Quaid-e-azam. I care because at the end of the day I am an optimist, my hope lies in the goodness of common pakistani men and women who are in majority but sadly not in authority. I care because it’s my country and I care because it’s my people.
I care because I knew a MaN who wouldn’t sit in his son’s car because he had a suspicion that the money this car was bought from was probably not "Kosher". He was an honest man and worked diligently and honestly at PCB till he retired. He would stand in blistering karachi heat in his old age and wait for the bus but would never step foot in that shiny new Toyota, he was disappointed that his son couldn’t carry on the values of his forefathers.
I care because I met an 8 year old who was selling "Nala’s" (Belts doesn’t really capture the real essence of what "Nala" is but its as close as it can get). As a visiting expat whose "Nala" needs were usually handled by his wife, I wasn’t really the "target market", nor do I wanted to lug around stacks of "Nala’s" while I was out with friends. Anyway, I gave him some money and he tried to give about 20 packs of his merchandise. I said to him brother I don’t really need them so he can just keep the money. He said with tears in his eyes "Sahab, hamarayy abba beemar hein, werna ham school jatayy hein, bhikari naheen hein ham, aapkoo zarooratt hay too loo, reham na khaoo ham parr" (Sir my father is ill today so I am trying to cover his route, if you need these than he’ll sell it to me but he doesn’t need me to pity him). I swear to you that I am not trying to parade my humanity here but I had tears in my eyes and I apologized to him and bought everything he had, regardless to say that my extended family didn’t have to worry about there "Nala" inventory for a long time.
I care because I know a man who had money, fame, respect of his peers, beautiful and healthy family but he put everything on line because he has a dream of making Pakistan a success story that our fathers wished for. He built the first and only state of the Art Cancer hospital in the country and it provides very expensive services free of charge to those who can’t afford it. In this process he alienated his wife because he is trying to save the world and wasn’t able to give her the attention she needed and quite honestly deserved considering the sacrifices she made for him but he has bigger far nobler things on his mind.
I care because I know a man who owns the biggest charity ambulance service in south Asia. It is the only charity that owns it’s airplanes and that man lives a life that would shame a monk.
I care because I knew a software engineer in southern California, not a millionaire by any stretch of imagination, someone who probably made enough money to make ends meet, heard a sermon on Friday and the hardships his brothers and sisters were going thru after the earthquake and donated his entire 6 figure salary.
I care because I saw a documentary on Cambodia and how some parents living in abject poverty are willing to sell their 5-year-olds up for sex-parties. I am not judging because I have no idea what poverty is like but I find it amazing that in contrast my brothers and sisters in Pakistan who are probably in the same situation or even worse are selling their kidneys instead of their girls. Even when the situations are dire most take the pains upon themselves rather than hurting their daughters.
I care because I knew a crippled man who I saw in neighborhood mosque every time I went to offer prayers while I was growing up. The thing that drew me to him was the fact that he was always smiling and he was trying to earn an honest living by selling combs, sometimes it was prayer beads, skullcaps, pretty much anything and everything. Right next to him would be numerous others with limbs intact begging. Another thing was that he had this smile this look of contentment on his face. I found it odd because he was like a human-ball. All his limbs but one were dysfunctional and he still some how managed to keep a smile on his face. He didn’t have a family, he lived alone in a shack under a bridge that was constructed with sticks and sheet of cloth. He traveled back and forth on a cart that he drove by pushing it with his one good hand. I asked him one day, what keeps him going and why is he so content? He was an UN-lettered pathan, a simple man really so his reply wasn't eloquent or soaked in wisdom but the morale came thru loud and clear. He said his condition is a test from Allah swt and he was sure that if he were honest and patient he would be compensated accordingly in the life, which will be forever.
I care because I had a mathematics professor in college in Karachi who was probably one of the rudest man I have ever met in my life. He stayed late to take extra classes free of charge to prepare his students for the finals, while professors far less experienced and definitely less-talented made literally millions of rupees per year by offering private tutoring, sometimes even during college hours.
I care because I have friends in armed services most of them junior officers and I know that they will defend this country with their life if it ever comes to that. I care because I know these jawans in Pakistan Army who put their lives at stake for mere pennies while their officers live it up in mansions across this vast land of ours.
I care because I know that Pakistan has produced getlemen of the calibre of Dr. Abdul Qadir Khan,Malik Mairaj Khalid, Qudrat-Ullah Shahab, Imran Khan, Abdus sattar Edhi, Ansar Barni and numerous others who despite fame, power and prestige remained humble and honest to their cause.
I care because it gives me hope when total strangers just pick up and leave on a whim just so they can lift a rock or clear a passage or donate blood or setup a camp or help in any shape or form without any expectation of acknowledgement or medals. Just because they feel the pain and because they feel that something needs to be done to make a difference when catastrophe unravels itself. Zara num hoo too yeah mitti barrii zarqayz hay saqi.
No sir, I can not be labelled as a hypocrite just because I reject status-quo. I am not a traitor just because i am not tight with the administration and don’t tow the line of spin-doctors. I complain and I am mad because the rulers of Pakistan are and were thugs and have in the past robbed us in broad daylight and will continue to do so as long as we continue to live in this state of numbness. We have had nothing but opportunistic thieves and self-righteous yes-men as our masters and it needs to stop. I am livid because I want things to change for the better. I am outraged because I care and I care because it’s my country and I care because it’s my people.