Even for a nation accustomed to almost constant hardship of one kind or another, recent days have been tough. We have had floods, suicide bombings, killings in mosques, attacks on crowded shopping centres, target killings, ethnic violence, the Airblue plane crash and – to top it all – a cricketing scandal the likes of which we have never seen before. Yes we seem to believe in all kinds of conspiracy theories and we have a bad habit of blaming the rest of the world for our ills but let us not forget the bravery and resilience of ordinary Pakistanis. Despite the enormous odds they face, they carry on, as best they can, with their lives. Even now, flood victims in relief camps recount the generosity of villagers who offered them food as they passed through after evacuating their own homes. There are accounts too of displaced persons sharing rations with others and who can forget the story of the boy who used his boat to rescue dozens of people.
The toughness of our people is, of course, a product of the conditions they live in. Few, after all, would tolerate hours without power given they pay formidable amounts for the utility. The innovations created to help people manage are themselves unique in terms of their creativity. We also face our difficulties with a sense of humour that is perhaps unique to this part of the world, in that ordinary people can find something to laugh about in even the most discomforting of inconveniences. Perhaps, it is this ability to find humour in even the most desperate of situations that keeps many of us from carrying on with our lives. Of course, this resilience has a dark flip side, in that it exists precisely because the country that Pakistanis live in has a living environment (created by those who rule the country) in which those who exhibit perseverance and hardiness are the ones who have the best chance of pulling through. The positive in all of this is that this indicates of the true potential that is found in this country – but if only a system were in place which truly rewarded merit and those with fortitude.
Published in The Express Tribune, September 2nd, 2010.
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