This too is Pakistan …

October 3, 2008 at 10:34 pm 36 comments

It was close to Iftaar time as I drove home on Wednesday evening. I had left the office around 3 pm but had to go for physio, take my father to the doctor and then run some errands before I could call it a day.

As I headed home, I thought about all the negative press that this country has been getting over the past few years – both locally and internationally. Yes, we are faced with some severe problems. One would have to be blind and in denial not to recognize that. But why do we only focus on the negative? What about the good things that are happening here?

As I asked myself this question, the siren signalled Iftaar and I saw people who had set up tables on the side of the road suddenly jump to life – they were handing out dates, fruit, pakoras and roohafza to passersby in buses, cars, trucks, rickshaws etc who had not been able to reach home to break their fast. This is of course provided free. Each time I had seen this scene in the past, I had smiled, as I did now.

I started to focus on other positive things that were happening around me.

My father had been in severe pain all night and I wanted him to see an Orthopaedic Specialist in case the pain got worse during the holidays. I didn’t have an appointment but I smsed Dr. Najam Qureshi, who is not a personal friend, and told him what had happened with a plea for him to squeeze us into his schedule that evening. He smsed back right away saying my plea for help had been heard – I could drop in with my father and he would examine him. 🙂

Isn’t Karachi also the city where young people have offered their time to be Community Police Officers? I watch them every day as they perform their duties with complete dedication despite the scorching heat.  I could swear they control traffic much better than the real traffic cops do. They are polite, helpful and firm.

Isn’t this also the country where Shaukat Khanum Cancer Hospital – set up by Imran Khan; offers free cancer treatment to those who can’t afford it?

Isn’t this also the country where the Sindh Institute of Urology & Transplantation – headed by Dr. Adeeb Rizvi- offers free kidney treatment to those who can’t afford it?

Isn’t this the country where in the aftermath of the Earthquake that hit the Northern Areas, the whole country pooled together their efforts to alleviate the suffering of those who were affected? Remember how kids, young people, old people, soldiers, technologists, medical practitioners, architects, civil society and members of the public all used their skills and resources to help in any way they could.

Who hasn’t heard of Abdul Sattar Edhi of the Edhi Foundation – who provide help to anyone who needs it – whether it be food, a roof over their heads, clothes, medical treatment, etc.?

Then there are those who provide education to those those who can’t afford to go to school – organizations like The Citizens’ Foundation, CARE, the Garage School, Zindagi Trust, etc

And what about LRBT who offer quality free eyecare “because no man, woman or child should go blind simply because he/she cannot afford the treatment” ?

Or the Karachi Vocational Training Center (KVTC) – a center where people with mental challenges are taught behaviourial skills and technical skills that enable them to take on paid work and lead an independent life.

Or people like Dr. Feroze who has been arranging for plastic surgery for children with severe plastic burns?

Isn’t this also the country where as soon as people hear that a security guard’s son is very ill and needs surgery, or the roof of a woman’s house has collapsed, or a poor person has contracted dengue fever, a collection is started so that the money can be gifted to the affected people?

Ever since I moved back to this country, I have found that the support network in Pakistan is far superior to any that exists elsewhere in the world. If I am ill or in any kind of trouble, I know all I have to do is pick up the phone and a friend will be there in minutes to offer advice or practical assistance. I also know that if I sound depressed for any reason, a friend will pop into the office to ask if everything is okay.

I remember when my mother passed away, two of my oldest friends came over and took charge. I was a total wreck. Thank God for them. They took care of me as well as all the arrangements. Last year when I contracted dengue fever, it was my friends who took turns to stay with me in the hospital so that they could ensure that I was taken care of (and, believe me, I was a difficult patient!)

And in the past few years I have seen the spirit of young entrepreneurs in this country. They are the torch bearers. They are going to lead us out of the mess that we have got ourselves into. Of course we will have to help too but together we can and will do it.

Such is the spirit in this country. Such are the people of this country. How can one not have hope?

Entry filed under: Posts.

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36 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Fazal Ashfaq  |  October 3, 2008 at 11:46 pm

    Great post! Very inspiring!

  • 2. Rafaeel Akbar  |  October 4, 2008 at 3:07 am

    Great Post Ma’am!

  • 3. DesiBackToDesh  |  October 4, 2008 at 10:30 am

    Yup. But rather than saying this too is Pakistan, I would say “This is Pakistan”. Had been thinking about doing a similar post for ages but you beat me to it.

  • 4. Jehan  |  October 4, 2008 at 10:38 am

    @ Fazal and Rafaeel – thanks.

    @Jawwad, I am sure all of you can add to some of the things I have written. These are just the first few that immediately came to mind. So many people have done, and continue to do, great things in this country. Let us highlight that instead of focusing on what is going wrong.

  • 5. Farzal  |  October 4, 2008 at 1:30 pm

    Interestingly, this was a point of a 3 hour marathon discussion last night. A dedicated project with listing of all the 100+ such institutes and their contributions could be a great journalistic effort and even help get donors in touch with institutes.

    on additional point is that behind the names – Adeeb Rizvi, Edhi, Imran Khan – behind their institutes – SIUT, Edhi, SKMCH – are millions of anonymous (and some not so anonymous) donors who also define what Pakistan is, possibly the country with largest per capita philanthropy on income level basis.

  • 6. Jehan  |  October 4, 2008 at 3:17 pm

    @Farzal, yes there are millions of donors that make this possible but let us not forget the teams that work on these projects/in these institutions as well as the volunteers who provide their time.

  • 7. nabil  |  October 4, 2008 at 4:44 pm

    Great post, Jehan! Living in France, I feel after having read your post that in fact I know nothing about your country and Karachi. The only that we know here is what the media are showing to us, what a shame. Anyway, you made me want to visit your country and so I will have my own feeling!

  • 8. Noaman Azhar  |  October 4, 2008 at 5:59 pm

    Great post Ma’am. Everyone should read this article because i feel that we, as a nation, have become quite negative in our approach and to me its down to a group of people who just can’t see the good things happening in our country and what they do is, they just keep on pointing fingers towards all the negative things !

  • 9. Zaheer  |  October 4, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    u r very right blogger.
    i hav witnessed the same spirit during balakot earthquake relief operations. people just poured in everything they had. that was remarkable. before that earthquake i was of the view that nothing can move pakistanis now. but to my utter surprise they responded well. though there were a few black sheep operating under the cover at that time also. the general atmosphere was quite brotherly.

  • 10. Jehan  |  October 4, 2008 at 6:13 pm

    @Nabil, unfortunately the media does not consider good news as news. So the only time there is anything in the media about Pakistan is when something goes wrong.

  • 11. Obaid Nasir  |  October 4, 2008 at 9:44 pm

    U may not know me, but I gotta chance to go through your blog through one of my friend’s profile. I am truly inspired and believe this really hurts me a lot when media shows and covers every negative perspective of this country and are being highlighted to such an extent that every other foreign country is aware of that.

    I do agree that Pakistan is tackling all such difficulties but most of the countries are also in some kinda different situation but they don’t make it an issue out of it.

    The way Media covers it, then it further creates the passion out of those extremists and all those forces behind these attacks and everything. Media hasn’t been able to fulfill its responsibility, if do so then good deeds will be doubled in a country like Pakistan and more and more guys will come around and can bring a big big change.

  • 12. Sidhusaaheb  |  October 5, 2008 at 2:31 am

    Even I have heard of Mr. Edhi and his great work, besides the hospital that Imran Khan has built, and I live in India. 🙂

  • 13. jammie  |  October 5, 2008 at 11:18 am

    fabulous post 🙂

    Im part of your club your belief and you belief that we WILL. Take any country in the world and decide to portray it as a bad one you can do it- similarly with the good things. Thats the way it is. Keep the hope.

  • 14. kaft  |  October 5, 2008 at 11:32 pm

    Love Your positive thoughts. inshAllah we will.

  • 15. Khan  |  October 6, 2008 at 11:15 am

    Though i don’t comment on blogs, this effort deserve some words of appreciation. In these days of despair, we need people like you who can see the light.

    Creating panic among the masses is something that suits the media and our leaders, they give a damn on how badly it affects the peoples lives and country’s reputation. We (the younger generation) desperately needs the elders and experienced ones to show us hope, direction and the light (if there is any). Thanks once again. God bless our country and all of us. Ameen.

  • 16. Salman  |  October 6, 2008 at 2:24 pm

    I like your positive thoughts – what you have written about represents the true spirit and character of the country and its people.

    Unfortunately for Pakistan, this has never (or hardly ever) represented the spirit or character of the leaders our country has had….. till we can permeate through to that level, I’m afraid that Pakistan will continue to have problems that eclipse the spirit of our nation and its people.


  • 17. Madeeha  |  October 6, 2008 at 3:25 pm

    I was so upset and depressed yesterday seeing the heights of irresponsibility on media’s part but reading this post made my day today…!
    We surely have the largest charity/support system in the world and may our faith in ourselves help us fight the menace of negativism around us.Thank you for such beautiful thoughts.

  • 18. Em  |  October 6, 2008 at 3:48 pm

    Great post!

  • 19. Babar  |  October 7, 2008 at 3:23 am

    Keep up the good work. It takes courage to stand up against all the negativity.

  • 20. Aamir  |  October 7, 2008 at 1:35 pm

    Very inspiring, we need such positive thoughts .
    All we have to do is to contribut just like these individudal and we shall soon have an army of such inspiring people.

  • 21. Khurram  |  October 7, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Very nice post, these types of posts and initiative if exposed through media can cause unity within nation to some extent, Our country despite having so many good people needs being reunited as a nation. I remember when on 8th October 2005 earthquake there was a need in Northern part of country southern most Karachiites were doing whatever they could do physically and financially and this was where we showed the unity and what we need is make it consistent.

    I would suggest that we should also add such posts or may be patriotic songs and show these examples on screen and newspapers so that we can see something happening in positive and collective manner. And hit the deck consistently If we are able to get our country out of this all problem sooner than later. And this is right time to do this and get rid of internal problems and this will enable the country to focus on external problem and solve them wisely. Believe me or not we can still instigate hidden patriotism in people through such small but overwhelming actions.

    In the end thanks for such a nice post.

  • 22. techlahore  |  October 7, 2008 at 5:57 pm

    Bravo! Down with despair!

  • 23. Muhammad Ali Nasim  |  October 8, 2008 at 3:20 am

    Great post! Lets join hands to overwhelm the media and its negative agenda by doing all the positive deeds and spreading the news about what makes us a truly wonderful nation!

    We have such an immense potential and only if we firmly decide to turn things around we can simply reverse everything in our favor. Today, with the whole world overall is in such chaotic economic turmoil, permanent supremacy and prestige is no one’s heritage. Its out there for whoever can show the courage and grab it!

    We have seen such harsh times which has made us so solid and robust as a nation to really shine in these tough times. We can be one of the FITTEST nations/species of today when it comes to going against the odds and rising from a turmoil.

    The creation of Pakistan was a miracle, our being able to sustain as a country in early years was a miracle and us becoming a nuclear power was a miracle. We are not made to simply be wiped out just like that or be taken over by a bunch of terrorists OR demolished by the conspiracy of bunch of our timid enemies.

    Lets for once leave our personal, political, ethnical and regional agendas behind and lets make use of the opportunity which is standing right there only if we can realize the strength we possess to capitalize it.

    Lets remind ourselves of the glorious past we’ve had of more than 1000 years of rule in South Asia and beyond – Lets gather our spirits to relive our values and history and lets defeat all the odds that come our way while we tread this difficult (yet heroic) path to success!

  • 24. Ramiz Uddin  |  October 8, 2008 at 12:58 pm

    I quite to watch, listen and even read anything about Politics. And its the reason of situation, and I think am not the only one who isn’t interested anymore.

    On Eid first day I met my cousin and showed me his recent trips photo. They been gone through almost every places compulsory. In pictures, it looks, for a while, its not Pakistan, its all fake. Here I come to your point, there are places to go which they called heaven of earth. How many people you heard need psychiatrist? None. Because here we’ve people love each other if you are willing to love them too.

    I love Pakistan, and I’ve a dream for me to serve my country with pride one day. And that will happen, surely.

    Friends of mine, moved to europe, one by one. But when I talked to them, they’ve a planned, some say they have been skilled know they will open some organization which will help to assist the colleges, universities, and also including the business communities to grow.

    We are hard workers, we need to after to setup skills, educate ourselves and spreed more faster than biological weapons, we aren’t insane, every year we heard about a new virus, very distractive.

    We’re in a war. All against us. We’re enough strong hands and positive attitude, and plans to save our Mother Land.

    We’ll be back, shortly and strongly!

  • 25. Tanveer Yusuf  |  October 8, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    I am touched! Its too nice to read something like this. All what we hear in the news or read in the paper is negative. People killed, suicides, robberies, murders, ect, but this is something great about our city. I usally go to a mesjid in Defence phase 6, Karachi, where, iftaar for about 500 to 600 people is taken care by a father and a son. These both poeple supervise everything thier selves daily. These 500-600 people have thier iftaar plus food in the mesjid every Ramadan. I was soo happy to hear this, but then, I was also told that until few years ago, the father used to go for Umrah in ramadan, and his son was studying in the US, so the women in thier family, that is wife and a daughter used to take care of this iftaar. This came to me as a shock!
    May Allah save our country and bless his special blessings on those poeple, who spend thier money and time to help others.

  • 26. stainless Haseeb  |  October 8, 2008 at 4:12 pm

    nice and Heart Touching 🙂

  • 27. RMZ  |  October 8, 2008 at 8:49 pm

    Awesome post… about the media being negative can be scaled from the fact that a certain “news” channel has a special section know as good news which implies that all other news is bad. Why can’t we highlight the good stuff in the land of the pure you’ve done a great job in this regard. This is heaven on earth as earlier stated and we have to rise above the differences and improve or i guess overhaul “the system” only we can do it and we will

  • 28. Mahmood Mirza  |  October 10, 2008 at 12:32 am

    Great post Jehan. It’s awful that I seemed to have forgotten about all the wonderful people around us – thanks for the reminder 🙂 Also for your list – Indus Hopsital ( began it’s mission to provide *free* tertiary care at a state of the art medical centre in the heart of Korangi in August 2007. They’re doing a fantastic job. May God bless them all 🙂

  • 30. Abdul Basit Saeed  |  October 15, 2008 at 4:10 pm

    I remember writing a very similar article at after the 2005 earthquake and can say that I can totally relate to your feelings. Funny coincidence, that today marks 3 years since I published that article.

    Sorry if you don’t allow advertising but it was hardly done in that spirit.

  • 31. Imran Siddiqui  |  October 15, 2008 at 6:36 pm

    I wish Hamid Mir and Co. could read this blog.

    Good job!

  • […] did a post on This too is Pakistan, in October 2008. At the peak of distrust, despair and negativity coming out by the buckets in that […]

  • 33. What set Jawwad Farid off? | Tea Break  |  April 7, 2009 at 12:22 pm

    […] Having said that, isn’t it equally true that we should open our eyes to some of the good things that are taking place, or have taken place in the last few years? I remember putting together a post in October last year which was entitled “This too is Pakistan”. […]

  • 34. Saad  |  October 11, 2010 at 3:04 pm

    Just wondering, if the Dr. Najam you talked about in this post is the same one who use to practices at PECHS Trauma center and also deals with sports related injury?? If so can you e-mail me his contact info. I have recently injured my shoulder, during a weight training session. Will be thankful

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