Asma, a Pakistani graduate student studying fine arts in the US and Farooq, her fiancée, a software engineer are excited about heading back home after their graduation. Rather than making a career in the United States, they firmly believe that their skills and knowledge will be of tremendous use in Pakistan. When asked about her future plans, she says, ‘I will go back home to teach and spread the knowledge I have received. My country needs me.’ Farooq feels the same. So instead of taking the job offer in New York from Goldman Sachs, he is going back to Pakistan.
Pakistan is dominating international newspaper headlines everyday for bombings and terrorist attacks or for Taliban. The people of Pakistan are being traumatised by the uncertain situation and by the threat from unmanned US drones. Despite an all pervading sense of gloom and despair, it is amazing to see that people are still able to pull themselves through these horrifying incidents and are determined to lead a normal life.
Sitting in a small restaurant in Jackson Heights, Brooklyn, Salim, a 27 year old, a Pakistani cab driver puts his food aside to talk about the situation in Pakistan. ‘Life goes on despite the setbacks, we are trying to move forward and live life positively, setting an example of bravery and courage. We try to show resilience in the face of a gazillion factors trying to tear down our spirits.’
Life has not come to a standstill for people. They are doing whatever is necessary to move forward with the firm belief that these deadly terror attacks will not determine the destiny of their nation. Instead of becoming frustrated, hopeless and cynical, these people are trying their best to lift their spirits with a resolve of not giving up.
These people have not given up their hopes for a brighter future and are confronting challenges with the sense of confidence and candour. What is admirable is their ability to remain positive even in critical circumstances.
Ali, a 24 year old, software engineer recently turned down the opportunity to work for a Japanese multinational company in Tokyo and decided to continue working in Pakistan. He sees hope in Pakistan and says, ‘Pakistan is not doomed. Some tunnels are longer and darker than others. Look back in history and you will see that good has always won over evil. Perhaps today we feel lost about this situation. But at some point, someone will figure it out and good will win.’
Pakistan is a nation that has many positives — that pertain to its people. Far from perfect, but amid the chaos there is still a glimmer of hope. Even in the most trying times, it is inspiring to see their tenacity, a determination that perseveres and a willingness among them to believe in the future of their country. Though, they are angry at their government and their leaders, and they sometimes feel cheated but the feeling of patriotism and sacrifice resonates both in their anger and their desire to remain in Pakistan speaks volumes about their strength.
While waiting at the Islamabad airport, Jawed’s flight was delayed because he was informed that a suicide bomber detonated a bomb in the airport. He agrees, ‘Pakistan is not an easy country to live in. It has many problems.’ He further says, ‘But if you look closely, you will find many Pakistanis who love their country, and who will not quit no matter what hardships they are forced to endure. I don’t like it when people say that the country is doomed.’
When asked about Taliban’s reign of terror in Swat, Abu, a 40 year old, owner of a grocery store, said, ‘Yes, they are traumatising us. They want to make us prisoners in our own home. They want to scare us but it makes us more resolute than ever. The people of Pakistan are very kind people but not cowards. We know how to fight terrorism and will continue fighting against them.’
For all the gloom and doom we hear or read about these days, the captivating stories present a different angle which sometimes remains unnoticed. The stories reflect the enduring spirit of the people of Pakistan’ their dedication and loyalty to the nation.
Shariq said with conviction, ‘We are not giving in to fear. We will rebuild and recover, we will not give up and will emerge stronger than before.’ Belonging to a nation reeling from unending crisis, paralysed with violence and terrorism, Shariq’s unshaken faith in the future of his country is a reminder that the people of Pakistan are strong.
DAWN.COM | Pakistan | Hoping against hope