Blogger sets out to change image of Pakistanis

Published: August 15, 2012

" We are such a diverse group of people with a rich culture and heritage. How can we be reduced to just being extremists and not raise our voice?," Mehreen Kasana.

LAHORE: 

A blogger for the last two years on topics ranging from international relations to social issues, Mehreen Kasana got sick of comments posted on her blog asking whether all Pakistanis were extremists.

“When it comes to international media and reporting, a stereotype has been established of Pakistanis as people full of hate,” said the 23-year-old student of FC College, where she studies media and political science. “People would post on my blog asking whether Pakistanis were really how they were shown in the media.”

So on August 8, Kasana set out to make a statement against this stereotyping. She advertised heavily on social media, inviting people to contribute to her project by taking a picture of themselves holding a piece of paper with the Pakistan flag on it and a message declaring: “I am a Pakistani and I refuse to be stereotyped.”

“The idea was to encourage Pakistanis to speak out and tell the world that we are a lot more than what people see on the television,” Kasana said.

Within an hour her appeal for entries, Kasana’s project ‘Pakistanis against Stereotyping‘ received close to a hundred photographs. And much to her amazement, she received contributions not just from Pakistanis across the world, but people of other nationalities too.

“I got mails from people saying even though we are not Pakistanis, we want to send in a picture speaking out against the stereotyping of Pakistanis,” she said. Pictures were sent by Britons, Americans, Canadians, Afghans, Palestinians and Indians. “An Indian sent in a picture saying I am an Indian and I am against the stereotyping of Pakistanis,” she said.

In all, she received over 200 pictures, many carrying serious or sometimes humorous statements condemning stereotyping.

She put up a collage of the entries on her Tumblr blog on August 14. “A collage is just a fun way to engage with people and make their contributions visible,” she said.

Not all the response to the project was positive. Several posters criticised it as a waste of time. She shrugs off the criticism. “You should expect to be criticised for everything,” she said.

The aim of the project, she said, was to open a dialogue to help better understand Pakistanis and their diversity. She said that “constant negativity” results in people believing in lies about themselves and their country. “We are such a diverse group of people with a rich culture and heritage. How can we be reduced to being just extremists and not raise our voice against it?”

Published in The Express Tribune, August 15th, 2012.

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Reader Comments (29)

  • Naseer Muhammad
    Aug 15, 2012 - 2:57AM

    Excellent!!! Well Done!!!

    Recommend

  • True Muslim Paki
    Aug 15, 2012 - 10:10AM

    Nice. She’s right. Today, around the world paki’s are being treated like extremists right at the immigration to begin with. All media present Our country in bad way including our own media

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  • Ali
    Aug 15, 2012 - 10:28AM

    It would be great if you could provide a link to her blog.

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  • kaalchakra
    Aug 15, 2012 - 10:49AM

    Well done! Calling Pakistanis extremists is stupid, irrational, unfair and just plain bigoted. It is a moderate nation of moderate Muslims.

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  • jism
    Aug 15, 2012 - 10:50AM

    power respects power.
    no one really cares if Pakistan is a extremist country or not, they just want a reason to bash other countries.

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  • Anthony Permal
    Aug 15, 2012 - 11:16AM

    Mehreen Kasana’s brilliant blog is here: http://mehreenkasana.tumblr.com/

    Mehreen consistently pushes back against the world’s attempts to box Pakistanis into a corner. She does the same for Muslims as well, showing the world a mirror against the hatred they spew against Muslims.

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  • mahamkhan@gmail.com
    Aug 15, 2012 - 11:19AM

    Let’s present a soft image of Pakistan to counter the terrorism around the world caused by Pakistan.

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  • Saad Sheikh
    Aug 15, 2012 - 11:26AM

    @Ali
    at the start of this coloumn, “her blog” is hyperlinked with the link.

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  • zehra
    Aug 15, 2012 - 11:40AM

    @ ali. click on the ” her blg” at the start of the blog you will be directed there.

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  • tj
    Aug 15, 2012 - 12:53PM

    ya i follow her on twitter

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  • Bharat
    Aug 15, 2012 - 12:53PM

    @True Muslim Paki:

    The good thing about Pakistan needs to highlighted and the first step should be taken
    by the Pakistani media itself.

    I am sure the world doest not know the good things about Pakistan at all.

    Why do newspapers like Tribune start highlighting good things like the tourism etc

    Maybe start a small column featuring a place every week.?

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  • Saleem
    Aug 15, 2012 - 2:33PM

    You can write as many blogs as you like but the world is not fooled by words. Our actions speak louder than our nice words!

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  • Arindom
    Aug 15, 2012 - 2:50PM

    just wait for the fatwa! lol!

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  • Len Aziz
    Aug 15, 2012 - 3:19PM

    I agree, first learn not to copy other’s mistakes if you do not want to be stereotyped, and please learn to draw Pakistani flag correctly, Crescent and Star should be facing up, not dawn?

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  • major-ji
    Aug 15, 2012 - 3:59PM

    Actions speak better than words. Force SC to take extremists to task. Introduce joint electoral system for all Pakistanis without discrimination of being Hindu, Christian or Ahmadi. Strive to convince the state for separation of religion and let it be matter between individual and God. Equal opportunities to all Pakistanis irrespective of gender, colour, ethnicity or religion. Get atrocities stopped against women. Ensure justice for all. We who represent Pakistan abroad are confronted with these hard realities. People want to see concrete acts and not empty claims. God may help you all.

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  • mr. righty rightist
    Aug 15, 2012 - 4:06PM

    Also it’s wrong to say that Pakistan is a failed state. It is not.

    Pakistan is a state of 180 million failed people.

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  • Saleem
    Aug 15, 2012 - 5:16PM

    Stop being beggars. Stop persecuting and killing Shia, Ahmadis, minorities and women. Stop breeding jihadi terrorists and turning murderers into heroes. Stop playing double games. Maybe then the world will change their opinion. Until then you can write as many blogs as you like and no one will believe or care.

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  • Proud
    Aug 15, 2012 - 5:33PM

    I am just VERY thankful to Mehreen for making this. Yes, we have a long way to go like any other country does. We have bad people but we have good people too. Cynics can get out. People are trying and that’s what matters.

    Thanks Mehreen!

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  • Vikram
    Aug 15, 2012 - 6:19PM

    @kaalchakra: “It is a moderate nation of moderate Muslims”

    Thank God Pakistan is moderate. One can see, how your government uses talibans to control Afghanistan. How Sunni Mullahs want all Shias, Ahmadis and HIndus to disappear.
    Pakistan has worked very hard to get this image. Nothing has changed, go talk to Baloch people about how moderate are Pakistanis.

    Pakistanis are more concerned about creating good image then actually stopping exremism,

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  • Vikram
    Aug 15, 2012 - 6:30PM

    @Bharat: “The good thing about Pakistan needs to highlighted and the first step should be taken”

    Pakistan should close all terrorists training camps and stop using terrorism as a tool to gain stretgic depth.

    Terrorism is a big business in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

    Pakistani Army will loose its impotance if it stops portraying India as an enemy. Many terrorist organizations making millions in the name of freedom for Kashmir. Do these guys care about “freedom of Kashmir”. Pakistanis killed 3 million East Pakistanis when they asked for Equal rights, Equal freedom.

    It is like saying if a family has a suicide bomber, please see there is only one suicide bombers rest of the family is very peaceful.

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  • Aug 15, 2012 - 6:46PM

    As a journalist with Pakistani roots and living in Europe, I applaud and salute this timely initiative. I am also proud that the younger generation of Pakistanis are so visionary and proactive. Wish the politicians, media and the authorities in my Pakistan were also so responsible and articulate.
    Please keep up the good work and if we can help from Europe, please do not hesitate to ask.

    Kind regards

    Bashy Quraishy
    Chief Editor – MediaWatch – Denmark
    Board Member – Institute for Human Rights -Denmark
    Chairman – Ethnic Debate Forum – Denmark
    Mobile; 0045 40 15 47 71
    Phone; 0045 38 88 19 77
    http://www.bashy.dk

    Recommend

  • antanu g
    Aug 15, 2012 - 6:50PM

    @Saleem:
    if killing minorities is the hallmark of extremism then there are godhras. kokrajhars. moradabads. meeruts. mumbsis …..the list is long. going by this our whole india is extremist.Recommend

  • Raza
    Aug 15, 2012 - 7:29PM

    Nice. I’ve been an avid reader of Mehreen’s blog for some time now; for those who like her initiative, check her blog http://mehreenkasana.wordpress.com.

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  • Aug 15, 2012 - 7:31PM

    Thumbs up! Haters gonna hate but I believe this is a great initiative!

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  • Kamran
    Aug 15, 2012 - 8:17PM

    Name one Secular who has hurt a single Islamist and he along with his helpers are saved from being blown back ?

    Secular only live to enjoy their lives, and we live only to make this world more miserable … see who is winning … lol

    Secular = AtheistRecommend

  • Dr.Sidra
    Aug 15, 2012 - 9:13PM

    Kasana!you are amazing…we must raise our voice against the hatred and bring to light the true image of Pakistan.

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  • sarmad
    Aug 15, 2012 - 9:57PM

    @ET how can you let these indian haters spew venom against Pakistan and insult Pakistani like these??? i didn’t see need for such hateful comment on this article. it was a positive initiative on behalf a Pakistani, and this they cant bear.

    Personally, i think this act tells the world and our “Pyaray neighbors” that we are not talentless people nor dead.

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  • Oswald Saldanha
    Aug 16, 2012 - 6:01PM

    Congratulations Mehreen, on a job well done, you are setting the pace for the young Pakistani generation, to bring positivity into the portrayal of your image.
    On a further note ………I have a few suggestions, for a societal change.
    The young and educated population of Pak, need to rise up and take ownership of their issues / problems. Start with STOP electing Zamindars, political dynasty families, uneducted / uncultured individuals, retired military officers to elected office. These are the same individuals who have looted and sold the self respect of the country and it’s people.
    Elect people of the calibre, sensitivity and positive energy like Sindh Governor Dr. Ishrat-ul-Ebad Khan this man is an incredible, selfless leader, with vision and foresight.
    He does more work, less imature political talk and delivers on mega projects.
    All the present leaders do, is initiate court cases against each other and tie up time of the govt, with no progress and development of the country.
    Treat the minorities of Pak with respect and dignity. They are your brothers and sisters.
    Elect a new progressive thinking team like Imran Khan and hold him to account.
    Lastly, young people, should bring about social change in society, by volunteering their time to social causes, for starters Initiate a used clothes drive for the poor who need clothing
    Pakistan, with the right leadership has the capability to be a South Korea in ten years.

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  • Hamid Hassan Khan
    Aug 25, 2012 - 9:55PM

    My Dear Pakistanis….
    Maintain your Dignity. Let the enemies of pakistan make propaganda. Keep yourself strong. Insha Allah we will achieve the goal of Victory.

    Recommend

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