March 23, 1940, is a very significant day in the history of Pakistan and for every Pakistani. It was the date and the year when Pakistan Resolution also known as the Lahore Resolution was made with a commitment to stand for the rights of the Muslim minority in the subcontinent. The primary demand was for a free nation, a separate identity, and a unique entity. The veterans till date cannot forget the day when Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah chaired the session confirming the will for a Muslim country called Pakistan.
However, post 76 years we are still unsettled in our spirits geographically, emotionally and mentally as societal pressures have never allowed the larger majority of Pakistanis to look beyond. We are surrounded by the typical issues and problems and the constant struggle against the ‘system’. We talk a lot about our ideologies and the commitment for what Pakistan came together and yet as individuals, we forget the sheer commitment of a Pakistani national to ourselves and our country.
When I came across an advertisement and many alike as this one; talking about ‘A Day of Commitment!’ Ignoring the fact that this is an advertisement by PIA, every other big brand, FMCG and MNC will have their pseudo-patriotic messages coming across today. The newspapers will be flooded with them. The TV channels will be all lit up in green, and there will be a rampage of talk shows and celebrity shows. The prime question will be what Pakistan means to one? What has one done for the country?
I feel the questions should be re-structured as to ‘what all have we done for ourselves and how has our country played a role in facilitating that success factor for us? And then see the response changing into just complaints, and excuses and how the ‘system’ has never worked or never existed.
While writing a special piece for March 23, I asked ten overseas Pakistanis to give me one good reason of living in Pakistan besides family and friends. Surprise surprise! They have not looked back at me again since then except just one.
Even though I might be a tiny pixel in the giant mosaic of the country, but I do play my part as an individual. I wear green on every Pakistani national holiday and at cricket matches. I have created a hashtag called #GoodNews #Pakistan which is used to dig out all the good that is happening in Pakistan and by Pakistanis within and outside the country. There are a lot of positives that get minimized and sidelined by all the negative news about our nation. What is mindboggling is that our very own media channels are at the forefront of it. We need to change our image, and we have to be selective of what we are showing. Sure we shouldn’t hide something that needs improvement, but we should be responsible for what we are showing.
Be the change you want to see in your country – to assist the statement, I am contributing these simple 14 things we can do as an individual to make a difference in our society.
- Stop treating this country as your personal trash can
How many times have you gone to a popular tourist location or the beach or a park and just wished it was cleaner?It’s fairly obvious.
It’s fairly obvious! You want to see cleaner streets, cleaner neighborhoods, cleaner roads? Stop littering it! As far as your immediate circle of influence is concerned try and educate the same. Don’t throw gum, cans, bottles, bags, pan gutkha etc. Practice what you Preach. It’s even in your religion. Will you ever litter your house like this? No. You keep maids to clean your house. How about literally keeping your house clean! Your country is your home!
- Teach what you know
Believe it or not, you do have a lot of skills that you probably take for granted but it can be a brilliant new addition to somebody else’s life. Find out what you are good at and start teaching. You may be great at personal accounting and managing personal expenses or it could do something as simple as teaching someone the English language. Someone who cannot afford and someone who would appreciate it.
I remember a friend who started teaching street children football, and now Pakistan has a street children football team representing their country abroad at international events. A few acquaintances have lifted their spirits up by starting night schools and teaching what they learn in school themselves, or art or any other skill.
- You are not stuck in the traffic jam; you ARE the traffic jam
How many times have you been stuck in a traffic jam because of someone else’s haste and carelessness? If we start following traffic rules ourselves, we’ll start seeing a better, more civilized society with lesser casualties as a result of road rage.
Don’t break that red signal, don’t overtake when you are not supposed to, keep in your lane and be friendly towards other drivers on the road (hint: give way when you can)
Teach your drivers to follow traffic rules! At the end of the day, they take your family and children around in your hard earned salaried cars. It’s no use abusing them if they destroy your car and put your family at risk if you do not teach them the basic road etiquettes.
- Respect Women
I don’t mean to sound like your mother, but I wish more of them would teach their sons to respect women these days more than ever. We see women being objectified on TV all day long and in our adverts. Let’s make our society a more women-friendly society where they are not afraid to get out of their homes without any fear, just being themselves, going about their day, making this country a better place to live in.
Not to forget women who do it to themselves simply to sound cool and not be marginalized as narrow-minded. Respect yourself! Then only would anyone respect you. Please stop being silly about ‘Women only Dhabbas’ – Grow Up! I have lived in the same country and city for 30 years and have been to every God damn dhabba in the city during the day and late night. You get objectified when you want to be.
- Imaandari – Work truthfully
For decades, we have been listening as well as talking about corruption of our people but what we forget is that it has somehow sneaked into our daily lives without us being conscious of it. Do you work with 100% integrity and truthfulness, whatever your job may be?
Can you imagine what would happen if everyone in the country did this? Do your part with full honesty! Look within and be honest if you have not tried to bribe a traffic policeman, even when you were at wrong.
- Spread positivity or shut up
There is enough doom and gloom in our media and our people. You don’t want to be another negative person who is always pointing out mistakes and flaws and all the bad things that happen around us.
Make a conscious effort to see the positivity in your everyday life and if possible, share it with others.
Sharing positivity and feeling better is not just a clichéd thought. It is a psychological dilemma which as humans we need to an emphasis on and spread out. Good always attracts good Karma in your life. Filter out the negativity and people from your lives that bring this to you. It is a healthy conscious decision to create a healthier happier society.
- Be more tolerant
We lose our temper over petty things all the time, without realizing that we hand over the keys to our internal happiness to external factors we can easily overcome and transcend.
If I don’t agree with you, that is fine. If you don’t agree with someone, that is also fine. Start respecting differences. United doesn’t mean we should all be the same; United means we should be united in our differences, yet give each other their space to have their own opinion and thought
- Love your culture, not sectarianism
Love your mother tongue; love your culture and traditions, where you come from and your customs that you are used to. Have a great big mustache, or a long beard or shave your head or speak with a funny accent (be proud of it). Be yourself.
This doesn’t mean you don’t love the country. Take ownership and love everyone who is part of this big, diverse family.
- Urdu as a language of communication
This naturally brings me to my next point. You may speak in 4 different languages and that is all great. But as a Pakistani, know that the more Urdu you speak in public gatherings, officially and otherwise, the more you help your country. Use Urdu as much as you can. Know Urdu as much as you can. Every country’s delegates in an international setup speak their mother tongue and are still considered to be the most progressive and developed countries. Speak your language!
If you don’t dress like a Pakistani, don’t talk in the language of Pakistan and not own your country, a Rs.10 Flag on your shirt and on your car certainly doesn’t do anything.
- Respect Law Enforcement
Now they may not be perfect but far from it and they do have a long way to go. But how do you suppose you are going to have a better LEA if you don’t respect them from the word get go.
‘Tullay’, ‘Farmi Anday’ is how you refer to them while probably holding Singham and Chulbul Panday in a higher regard than our own LEA personnel.
- Help others but not beggars
The easiest form of gratification for a hard work busy individual is giving your chunk change to the kids at signals and beggars outside of malls and roads. Please only help the ones which are registered charities with a proven track record. You have no idea how the money you give to pro beggars is routed back into funding terrorism and all kinds of negativity.
Or educate the child beggars to going to school. I know for a fact a lot of them seek out for formal education but cannot. A lot of them have run off from their schools to carry out this begging activity. Start a street school or evening school, there is a dearth of it in our country and I know you will have children pouring in. Start in your own neighborhood. There is no better way to connect and know thy neighbors than working on a good cause together. I have done it for years and it’s a life learning experience.
- National Assets as your own Assets
How many times you’ve been to a national park or monument and seen it in the worst condition possible. Yes, the governments may be responsible for the maintenance but it isn’t the government who has covered these walls red with streaks of pan-gutkha spits and wall chalking. Play your part, be responsible.
Great people are bringing in great ideas like the wall of Kindness, and paint your walls. It is not only a form of art, but also therapeutic to work with colors that bring back positivity in our lives.
A friend has recently started with a new personal project of ‘Rangeen Pakistan’ producing adult coloring books by hand sketching historical monuments of Pakistan, and beautiful street scenes. Promote it! Use it to teach your children about Pakistan. It’s touristic value. People from the world visit and stay back in Pakistan because the culture and warmth of its people engulfs them. Learn more about the diversity of Pakistan.
- Taking personal responsibility
It doesn’t mean you are responsible for the whole nation, but it does mean that no matter where you go, your identity as a Pakistani will define how you are treated and how you are somehow responsible for the image of Pakistan.
So instead of blaming others on every chance we get, stop complaining and do your part. Take personal responsibility of your actions and their consequences on others around you.
This goes out to our behavior at every international airport where we as the educated class will be embarrassed to say a word to a Pakistani laborer or helping him out. Or a popular singer owning to his mistake of fumbling over words of his country’s national anthem since he was there to perform, instead of sing and voice it out in Pride. Own your mistakes! It will not make you smaller or weaker but bigger and stronger as a respectful individual.
- Help thy neighbor – Reach Out
It is so simple, imagine if everyone did this, what kind of a world would we live in?
You don’t have to change the country, or the society or even your neighborhood. If, after playing your individual part, you have the capacity to help another, help your neighbor. Request them to do the same. Bring back the spirit of ‘Mohalla’ and ‘Neighborhood’ and stop living in your own little bubble.
Be the Change Initiator! Do not just read this and close the window moving on to something else that you were doing on the side multi-tasking. Look at what we are doing wrong, rather than blaming anyone else for where we are today.