“Tum idher kia ker rahi ho?” (What are you doing here) is the reaction I get when people find out that after having spent the first 18 years of my life in Muscat, Oman, I am now pursuing my higher education in Pakistan.
Most people do not realise that for me, living in Pakistan is just as ‘international’ an experience as living elsewhere in the world. I, too, suffered from culture shock; coming to grips with the local lingo, the pop culture references and the idiosyncrasies. It is sad that our youth, including me, seems to be more in tune with the Western culture than our very own.
Now I get to observe all the issues that plague our nation. This makes me feel both blessed for having the opportunities I have had, and also makes me want to stay and help out in any manner I can. And as clichéd as it sounds, living abroad can often make you feel like having each limb on a different boat. Coming to Pakistan has given me my identity, helped me connect to the roots and to the proud heritage that defines me.
This is why it is sad that a majority of the most talented people that I have come across are looking to bolt from this country. And why shouldn’t they? The environment is not conducive. Our society does not reward hard work; it rewards those who have access to influence. If the most qualified of this country choose to abandon it, what hope do we have left?
The point isn’t to bash anyone. The idea is to be aware of the brain drain that is currently taking place. If you look back at the histories of Malaysia and Indonesia, their great revolutions began when the overseas nationals came back to their respective countries and built it brick by brick.
A gentleman once advised me to leave Pakistan and come back in 10 years once the ‘revolution’ he believed had taken place. ‘Who will bring about this revolution?’ was the first thing that popped in my head.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2014.