We all leave our mark. We are all different yet similar.

We are all Pakistanis and that itself is enough to glue us together

A man with a long beard is assumed to be an extremist and a girl wearing a sleeveless shirt is thought to be “immoral”

Shamila Ghyas May 01, 2017
Recently, I came across an advertisement made by Filumbaaz for Leisure Club, a clothing company in Pakistan. 

Inspired by Denmark’s TV2 ‘All That We Share’ concept, it was certainly something that we Pakistanis needed to see, especially keeping in mind the events of recent times. We have seen violence result from verbal disputes over literally nothing. We have seen people pull out guns because someone looked ‘weird’.  We have seen a person lynched over a rumor.

The advertisement itself was dedicated to Mashal Khan and others who were forced to leave us long before their time.

It starts with various people walking into a large empty hall and placing themselves in different squares drawn on the floor. The rich stood in one, poor in another, pariahs, doctors who we rely on, the old-fashioned, the modern, the ‘burgers’, the ‘paindus, the religious, the liberal. You get the idea.

Everyone was divided into categories that set them apart from each other. Or in simpler terms, it creates disparities. This is something that, unfortunately, comes naturally to us. Think of the first day in college, when you were instantly drawn to people who seemed more like you. You focused on them, putting the others aside.

We are so set in our ways and so used to differentiating that we just look on the surface, instantly judge and decide ourselves what the other must be like, concluding that we are not alike and poles apart.

A harsh example, but how many times have we looked at a man with a long beard and assumed him to be an extremist? How many times did we see a girl wearing a sleeveless shirt and thought her to be “immoral”?

In both instances, we created an opinion without knowing anything about the other person, and decided that we are different, which very well might lead to enmity and hostility.

It is always easier to divide people than to bring them together, isn’t it? Remember the saying, “divide and rule”?

Going back to the ad, at this point, it starts asking different questions.
“How many of the people here like “jugad baazi” (banter)?”

Immediately, people started to move from their boxes to join another.
“Who likes selfies?”

Even more groups broke up to mix in others.
“Who believes in the Day of Judgment?”

“Who of us has been bullied because we look different?”

“Who of us supported them?”

“Who likes to dance here?”

“Who is affected by terrorism?”

This last question was vital, as there were people of different faiths and backgrounds who stood together united in one place. We stand apart from others, because of that one minor difference, ignoring that there are more things to bring us together and keep us there. We all leave our mark. We are all different yet similar. There is more out there to unite us than to divide us.

We would be a happier, optimistic and a more tolerant nation if we could just realise that. Or even just understand that even if there is nothing, we are all Pakistanis and that itself is enough to glue us together.

Here’s to more thoughtful ads.
“We are only as strong as we are united, as weak as we are divided.” – JK Rowling
Shamila Ghyas The writer is the author of the Aoife and Demon series. She also writes for Khabaristan Times, The Nation, Express Tribune, Dawn and other publications. She can be reached at @ShamilaGhyas (https://twitter.com/ShamilaGhyas) and https://www.facebook.com/shamilaghyas
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necassarily reflect the views and policies of the Express Tribune.


Parvez | 5 years ago | Reply Nice concept....nice message.
Dead guy | 5 years ago | Reply I am Pakistani and an Atheist. My Pakistani brethren would not stand beside me, but kill me.
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