Ever since I grew old enough to make head and tail of the conversations taking place around me, I have heard people saying, ‘mulk doob raha hai,’ the literal translation being Pakistan is drowning and only the higher power can save us. Over the last four decades of my conscious awareness, I have heard this message repeatedly and I have had a range of responses to it; varying from denial, hopelessness, optimism, and an underlying love for my country and owning it unconditionally. I started protesting in the drawing room conversations I participated in now and then where the educated elite shared their analysis of all the reasons, we keep hitting rock bottom and in the case of my country, the rock bottom unfortunately has limitless depth.
My question is, what do we do to change the plight of the country? The obvious answer is, what can we do? It’s the politicians, the judiciary’s, and the army’s job and we the poor literate civilians are silent onlookers who are battling inflation and trying to keep our heads above water. Another very popular discussion is how the Pakistani passport has no respect and for example how international airlines treat us as third-rate citizens of the world. Again, I ask the privileged class of Pakistan. What have we done to change the narrative of who a Pakistani is? We travel and our ambassadors of our country in an individual capacity and yet the kind of behaviours we exhibit is shameful, to say the least. We are impatient, cut corners, are loud and rude, and refuse to follow even basic instructions such as, ‘Please remain seated until the aircraft comes to a standstill.’ And, no it is not the laborer class that behaves in this obnoxious manner but the educated mafia.
Human beings are supposed to take personal responsibility; the least we can do is work on ourselves and change how we behave. On a recent flight, I saw how annoyed and miserable the staff of the airline looked. What surprised me was that they did not even bother with the security protocol beyond a basic measure; for example, the woman sitting next to me had a big bag under her seat which is not allowed for safety reasons. Again, an air hostess blatantly ignored a passenger despite her repeated request for a blanket. I felt sad and angry at the same time not at the airline staff but at my people who as usual could not care less and started getting up from their seats the minute the aircraft landed and were impatient and loud.
We reap what we sow. The Pakistani passport or our identity is not tarnished just because we are a poor country. It’s also because as a nation we are regressive and rigid in our habitual stances and those of us who are the educated privileged class act entitled to the core unless there is accountability. We will patiently wait in long queues in other countries but will be threatened with class and privilege in our country and try to dominate our power wherever we can. We refuse to learn basic civil qualities such as patience, kindness, and empathy. We look out for ourselves only and wear blinders oblivious to those around us. So next time when we get together with our friends and discuss all those who are to be blamed for the plight of your country, let’s do some introspection and ask ourselves what we do to change the narrative of a Pakistani. Change is a process so let’s assume responsibility for what is in our control and that is to learn some of the qualities that we are impressed by in other parts of the world.