Blogger sets out to change image of Pakistanis

‘We are a lot more than what people see on the television’.


Aroosa Shaukat August 14, 2012

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.

COMMENTS (29)

Hamid Hassan Khan | 9 years ago | Reply

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.

Oswald Saldanha | 9 years ago | Reply

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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