A Pakistani? Say What?

A Pakistani? Say What?

Picture this: An early morning class. A bunch of sleepyheads sitting all around. And a teacher – a teacher talking about national identity. No it had nothing to do with identifying the various languages and the dress codes of the number of provinces we have now nor was it as cruel as it sounds. But, let me tell you what jolted me into wakefulness.


It was an ad. An advertisement that had Aamir Khan (the Indian actor) talking about how it’s necessary to take pride in being an Indian. The most amazing part? The advertisement wasn’t sponsored by the tourism industry. It was just something that an individual and a group of like-minded people had decided to do in order to take action and fix something that was wrong in their part of the world and that clearly got everyone thinking. For once, it served as an example of something we as Pakistanis can do to bring about a change. A practical example and not just talk.


And then, the inevitable happened. We as a class were asked to visualize or think of an ad that would best portray our national identity. That would portray something which will make people go like “Aha! Now that’s an average Pakistani!” And all the examples of ads that we had just seen a minute ago of countries from China to Australia, ads that spoke of having hard working people to ads that spoke of having breathtaking beaches vaporized into thin air. That wasn’t Pakistan. How the world sees the country is not Pakistan.


An average Pakistani is a person who has everything going wrong for him. From the school he goes to, to the health care he receives, from the traffic rules that are meant to be broken to the electricity that flickers every once in a while and yet, he makes it through the day. Every day. He survives till it’s not possible for him to. And the personal struggle of everyone in the country and how he makes it against all odds and difficulties is who an average Pakistani is.


But who wants this on an ad that wants to brand a nation? Who wants people surviving despite the chaos they have to face as a daily ritual on video about your country? Who wants their children to see the ad that looks at such a gloomy picture? The answer to this is who cares? Who cares if it’s not right for everyone else? The difficult part, the part where hardships abound, resources are few and chaos is rife is the part that unites all of us as Pakistanis.
If there’s no scenic beauty of the beach and swaying trees that unite us then let it be the struggle that brings us together. The rich or the poor. The Baloch or the Punjabis. The Muslims or the Non-Muslims. It is how everyone has come where they have come and how they are doing with whatever little they have. While it’s sad that living in Pakistan is a struggle, it’s the truth. And it’s time we not be ashamed of that. Or else, how are we going to move on to the part where we get to brag about all the awesomeness?

Riffat Rashid

A freelance writer and a student at SZABIST's Media Science Program.

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  • Fly

    :) We are not even Pakistani, we have never been told so. all we know is we are pakistani and sindhi,baluchi,pathan,punjabi,saraiki,kohistani……..
    If you ever travel world, at most of places you are first known as Indians. I am not Indian fellow but lets realize the fact, Nation has been indian for ages and No nations gets a recognition if it starts breaking up in 30 years i.e. in 1977

    • gopa

      less than 25 years in 1971

  • gaurav arya

    I believe the main problem with Pakistanis is that of their mindset. They are so obsessed with being Muslim that Pakistan rarely figures in their scheme of things. Yes, Islam is a great religion of peace and harmony. The Koran says so. But how many Muslims follow it? The world views Pakistanis and Muslims by what they do and what their actions are, and not what is written in the Holy Koran. For Pakistan to be viewed as a great nation, Pakistanis must rid themselves of this obsession with religion and focus on “Pakistan first. Always and everytime”.

  • Amin

    We have to go back in history to find out the reasons of our problems. We have to go back where it all started after getting independence. We wasted our 65 years. We never grew up as a nation and still we are not united. A country where political parties are being formed because of ethnicity, language, class and division, can these political parties ever plant unity among the nation? To be the one? NEVER. We are continuing that same mistake again. The fact of the matter is that this system is collapsed. People are giving vote to Wadera, Jageerdar, Gaddi Nasheen, Makhdoom, Nawab etc. etc. even though the children of the people who are giving vote are naked, taking bath in filth in a village, not getting healthy food, no education….but they will give their vote to the GADDI NASHEEN, no matter he’ll take Pakistan to hell. This is our main problem. Vote is a vote no matter who is casting it. If the entire village casts the vote in favour of a thief, the thief will win and he will decide the fortune of entire country, a signing authority. A democracy is a hell if the people don’t know about the person whom they are casting their vote except he is a wadera or jageerdar or gaddi nasheen etc. etc.

  • gorge

    real essence of Islam, which even the Western scholars have admitted since ages, being the Ultimate Religion of Humanity………

    another arrogant muslim, his religion is the best , and everyone else’s is worse.

    Well the proof is in the pudding.

  • guest62

    The other day I came to Dubai , a home service store has to deliver an item my family purchased , Unlucky for me i recvd the call of the delivery man , from his tone it appeared he is a Pakistani so I spoke with him in Urdu in his dialect ( a sort of Pathan / Khan style ) He asked me who are you i told him I am a guest here then asked me then from where I told him from Bahrain but original from where I told him I am from Pakistan originally , he asked me are you a Pathan / Khan I said I am pakistani , he remarked so you are Punjabi I told him is it not enough for you to know I am a Pakistani speaking with you in your national language what else you want to be able to talk to me further ! he exclaimed adversely upon my last answer and then hnug up… I guess cursing me in his own native language “not again another Punjabi !? that perhpas sums up How Low its regarded even by a Native about knowing to whom he is talking is not ready to own his sub class of the Nation Pakistan … This is the story which goes on every destination I ever touched upon in past 3.5 decades and disgusted me each time and I told myself next time i will not speak to any country man in our national language but i could not keep this promise to me every time so disgust has set in me , Was I to be blamed for it for myself , I ask the question to my fellow national of 180 millions Pure …..

  • Engr. Syed Khalid

    We, ourselves, are the main cause of our problems. We consider ourselves as the defenders of Islam, but do not practise even the basic principles of Islam. We consider ourselves as very intelligent and competent, yet we are not willing even to work for survival. We only talk, talk and talk and never ready to take practical steps. We are not even trying to resolve the problems ourselves and expect the God to do miracles for us. Unless and until, we we rise to face and resolve our problems ourselves, nothing can improved because “God only help those who help themselves”.