Challenges My Life Random thoughts

Resilient Pakistanis

Nature keeps showing us how to be resilient. Photograph by Haroon Sharif.

Life moves on and its June 2023 in Pakistan. In my last blog post I did mention a bit of what was happening in Pakistan after May 8th when I returned from Canada;  I wrote, Arriving in Pakistan, here. Honestly, you never know what is going to happen next over here. None of the predictions work. We have been through some bleak times in the past too.

It is a very depressing time to be in Pakistan these days. The back breaking inflation is coupled with curtailment of freedom of speech. I mean we can say anything we like, as long as  name of I K isn’t taken or pics of him are not shown. (Not all of us share his pics all the time! But to be told not to do so, gets upsetting. Know what I mean?) Can you believe it? So, it is a bleak time. As you know, social media was closed.

 Now social media is open, but fully controlled. All the television channels are not free to say what they want to say. Those who did, have been made an example of …. Many people are missing, jailed or under house arrest, (even I K is under house arrest,) many journalists have left the country. One of them was chased out of the country and killed, a couple of months ago. That is enough of a deterrent for anyone.

 For over a month I’ve watched all that is happening here, and yet I’m optimistic.

That is because I have witnessed how many hardships we all have been through in the past. We are a resilient nation. We have faced humongous problems in the past – particularly as victims of terrorism – (The dichotomy is that we have been the greatest victims of terrorism, only to get labelled as terrorists all over the world.) That is the kind of world we live in.

Being resilient, we managed to get out of that tough period also. This is why I have great hopes that somehow we shall manage to crawl out of this one too.

What has recently happened, is unprecedented. This has never happened before. Not like this. Usually, the state would control the television, but the print media would be free. Our newspapers wrote long columns against anything they wanted.

In 1995, I met a Norwegian in Peshawar, and she told me how surprised she was at the amount of freedom of our press. I wish I had found out her name, she was sitting next to me at the American Center, we were witnessing a video conference with people in the center and others in US. It was a talk about women entrepreneurs. I was there to cover the event, as I was freelancing for daily Dawn. Mostly I’d write for a page about events and activities in Peshawar in the Tuesday Review section. 

We overcame many hardships in the past:

Looking back we have overcome many ‘impossible times’ simply because we are a resilient country. Let me mention a few:

  1. We have had two wars with India (which is much larger than us in size and resources): 1965 and 1971. Before that, in 1948 also, there were battles fought in some borders.
  2. In 1971, half of Pakistan got separated, and Bangladesh was born. It was heartbreaking for Pakistanis.
  3. 1979 saw the invasion of Afghanistan by Russians, who were right at our doorstep. So we were apprehensive. Could we be next?
  4. The entry of hundreds of thousands of Afghan refugees. How we welcomed them, gave them shelter and a place to survive, and then we ourselves became victims of terrorism.
  5. There was the time when there was so much terrorism going on that almost daily there would be blasts in some part of our city, or country. You never knew when and where they would hit next. My children grew up and went to school and university in this environment. Can you imagine how it was for us parents?  And my husband and I worked also, throughout this time.
  6. Then there was the Kargil conflict. When we came on the brink of war again.
  7. A time came around 2010-2011 when Swat was taken over by Taliban terrorists. (Swat is just 180 km from Islamabad.) That was the time when Malala was shot in the head for going to school. How the entire country prayed for her recovery and wellbeing, though it seemed impossible then. Miraculously, she recovered. It was a dark time, Swat wasn’t that far from Islamabad, and thank goodness, finally we were made free of them.
  8. Recently, there was Covid19. It has been amazing how well Pakistan handled this deadly illness. Though they’ve seldom been acknowledged by the world. We managed to have the best results in the world, though India was doing very badly in those times.
  9. Last year we had the worst floods ever, when almost one third of the country was affected. We are still coping with it,

What qualities of resilience:

Could be any of these reasons…..

  1. We pray hard and leave things to Allah. Yes, we do have faith in the Almighty and His capability of leading us out of all dilemmas. (God works fulltime here.)
  2. There are a great number of persons in this country who are great. They are silently working day and night. They usually work on the sides, not appearing in the limelight.
  3. Our charity work continues in every dilemma we face. No matter how tough the times may be, we continue to spread good will.
  4. Not just charity, we put ourselves out to help each other, in every capacity.
  5. Continue with our work doggedly, no matter what. Yes, we are also a hard-working nation.
  6. Finding ways to be steadfast in times of every type of pressure. We get up and get back to work.

Count our blessings:

In spite of everything, we have to count our blessings.

  1. For instance, after the devastating floods last year, one felt that nothing would be grown in our country. No grains, no fruit or anything. However, as the welfare agencies (mostly private) got to work on rehabilitating the flood victim people and areas, we have had all the fruits and grains. I’ve not seen any shortage of food items. I’m having such tasty mangoes these days, cherries, apples, all fruits and grains too.
  2. We are almost fully out of Covid19 now, the centers have done a great job of getting everyone immunized. (More admirable due to our humungous population).
  3. Individually and collectively we all are surviving this inflation.
  4. We are growing as a nation. We may feel helpless at times, but our awareness as citizens is improving. (I hope!)

Lessons learnt.

Many lessons have been learnt. Most of them cannot be even written. However, it is important to be individually and collectively strong. Get strength from historical moments of history, when Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his followers had to leave Makkah, to save their lives due to facing too much torture and hardships. They moved to Madina for some years, to strengthen themselves and grow.

 So, there is a time to speak and there is a time to be quiet and be strong.

Count our blessings to improve ourselves.

As we sit and count our blessings, we realize, that it is only through hardship that we can become better versions of ourselves. Sometimes, it is important to go through very rough times in life, so that we can realize and improve our own flaws and shortcomings.

Meanwhile, stay blessed my dear Reader. ?

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