Losing our dignity, one drone at a time
I met a cab driver in Dubai who told me that Arab countries have little respect for the average Pakistani citizen.
I still haven’t forgotten a story that my father told me about eight years ago. We were sitting outside one late night, revelling in the midst of family and friends, smoking the traditional hookah and dining the night away. I don’t remember how we reached this topic but suddenly I found myself listening to my father reminiscing about the days when he first flew to Saudi Arabia in the 1960s.
He spoke of that time with great admiration and fondness, recalling how, when he first mixed in with the locals, the first question they asked him was where he was from. And the moment the Saudis heard he was from Pakistan, they would follow up with another question, asking him whether he was a doctor or an engineer.
It was not until a few days ago that I was reminded of this anecdote while sitting in a cab in Dubai.
I must mention here that I have the habit of always conversing with cab drivers throughout my journey. I find it soothing, especially when I see the joy it brings to the faces of the cab drivers who long to converse with someone while driving around a foreign city day and night, far away from their families.
These cab drivers always vary in nationality; from Egyptian, Indian, Afghani, Yemeni and Nigerian to Pakistani, your company for the taxi ride can be from any region.
On this particular day, the cab driver was from Pakistan’s region of North Waziristan. He told me that he had come to the UAE about four years ago. I asked him where he lived before, to which he replied Saudi Arabia. At the mere mention of Saudi Arabia, I was reminded of the story my father told me about eight years ago. I found myself retelling that story to the cab driver. I enquired from him about his own experience of interacting with the Saudis. Here's what he said:
Terrible. They don’t respect us. Sure, they respect our leaders when they fly there to do their Umrah, but they don’t respect the average Pakistani. And it’s not just the Saudis; it’s the same with the rest of the Arab world.
By this time, we had reached my destination. As I pulled out my wallet to pay the cab fare, I asked him what, in his opinion, were the reasons behind this change of Pakistan's perception in the mind of the Arabs. He replied swiftly:
Money! In the 60s, Pakistan was the Asian Tiger. Our entire country was growing like Dubai. Now, we don’t have money and the drones don’t help either.
In that instant I realised that the man I was speaking to was from North Waziristan, the center point to the majority of the US drone attacks that take place in Pakistan. I asked him what connection drone attacks have with Arabs losing respect for Pakistan.
How can anyone respect a country, the only Muslim nuclear power at that, which gets bombed by a foreign country every few weeks and does nothing about it?
I said nothing. As I placed the money of the cab fare into his hands, he refused to take it. After much difficulty, he accepted the payment and I walked out of the cab with more questions than answers.
Pakistan’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, in his address to a gathering in the city of Ahmedabad (Gujarat province of India) in 1946, a year before Pakistan’s creation, had said:
Pakistan is destined for greatness. It is a Muslim ideology that must be protected for time to come.
Sadly, today Pakistan is being drowned not by its enemies but by it’s own leaders. Corruption, nepotism and radicalisation due to lack of education plus poverty lays at the heart of Pakistan’s ills. From being the country that other Muslim nations looked up to, Pakistan has become a country that other Muslim nations look down upon.
It is imperative for the country to shrug itself of its ills, lift itself from the shadows of darkness and capture the greatness that it’s founder envisioned for it. Otherwise the country will continue to lose its dignity, one drone at a time.
This piece was originally published here
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