If you ever venture into the diplomatic enclave in Islamabad, you’d see that there are embassies of different countries there. It is a gated and well-guarded sector of Islamabad, where ambassadors and other consular officers reside as well as work in their respective embassies. There also is a shuttle service that ferries people back and forth between the various embassies and a certain pick/drop point. An overpriced taxi service is also available that uses the various convoluted dirt roads to get to the embassy faster. I have been to the US embassy a few times and each time the sitting area resembled a masjid because all the applicants were quietly reciting verses in order to be successful in getting the visa.
Embassies of various countries are present in all countries around the world. However, what is important to understand is that in Pakistan, the people are not going through those convoluted security checkpoints to visit some foreign country for pleasure. It is almost always with the aim of escaping this blackhole of despair that Pakistan is fast becoming. Pakistanis are not bagging up their luggage to spend a vacation in the Swiss alps but rather to help feed their families. It is never an easy choice to leave your home and family. But sometimes, there really is no choice.
Today’s Pakistanis are living a life no different than the hunter gatherers of the distant past. The hunters spent much of their day making efforts in order to eat and find a suitable shelter to sleep in peace and safety. Can anyone in Pakistan today relate? Well, the only difference is that the hunters eventually found food and shelter and had health too. The Pakistanis, however, have no surety that they’d find all or any of those. They sure do not have the health because there is no clean air and water. What is even worse is that not only do they have no security of food and shelter but even the promises of a better future by the government are as empty as their pockets. What is the worst of all is the loss of hope. The nation may not have gotten to that point yet but it is well on its way.
When we pat ourselves on the back for getting off of the grey List of the FATF or with the imminent arrival of the IMF loan, we know full well that none of those is going to translate into changing the lives of the poor people. The arrival of international cricket is hailed as if it would somehow transform the country to where the ordinary and poor masses would experience an uplift in their lifestyles. Does anyone even care to slow down and ask a simple question: why should I cheer for the arrival of international cricket into this country? Sports usually refer to the happiness and health of a nation. Do we have any of it? When we cherish symbols of success and happiness, then we will have only symbols of success and happiness.
A democracy which is not elected and has written off the voters, where the voters have written off the selected government, where the government has written off the poor, where the poor have also written off the government, where there is no dictator in charge, where the umpires are dodging criticism like bullets from the enemy; welcome to the Pakistan of 2022.
But Pakistan has some extraordinary features as well. It can’t feed its poor but if it ever got into a war with a far richer Germany or Sweden, for example, it will knock them down with its nuclear weapons. Pakistan elected a female head of the government before the feminist west could ever even think of doing so. And now we are experimenting with 24 hour courts. We have the hammer of justice and the thor of war. Just can’t feed the people.
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