The Best of Pakistan

” There is no place like home.”

This piece is not based on empirical data. Not even on a wide array of anecdotal data. This is just one person remarking on her observations over the course of her relatively short life. And, of course, the term “average” is employed pretty loosely here since the true “average” Pakistani is busy making ends meet and incapable of reading such self-indulgent articles. So of course, I mean the average person among the English-newspaper reading segment of society. I hope this serves as a sufficiently verbose disclaimer.

1. Our warmth: I was halfway through the journey on a PIA flight back home from Toronto and the lady next to me, who was a complete stranger, said in a gruff/indignant/too-assertive-to-leave-any-room-for-argument tone of voice:

“You haven’t eaten throughout the journey, eat your dinner.”

So a lot of people, especially of the Western individual-is-might mentality would consider this rude or nosy but it really warmed my heart. A random stranger caring about what I eat is touching.  I mean, really – who does that? A sweet, motherly Pakistani aunty on a PIA flight, that’s who.

2. Our sense of humour: Yeah it’s inappropriate, kooky, nonsensical, illogical, and sometimes plain outrageous (not to mention incredibly politically incorrect), but it is our sole surviving mechanism through these incredibly hard times.

When I went to work the day after the raid in Abbottabad that launched the latest round of condemnation of our beleaguered country, a co-worker said to another:

“My condolences, I heard they shot your good friend Osama. What a tragic way to die.”

It was totally random. The co-worker at the receiving end blinked, was slightly confused, and delivered a bored comeback and went back to work – just one exchange in a series of silly exchanges that tickle the funny bone and make it easier to get through the tough challenges that face us.

3. Our passion: For food. For lawn. For bargaining. For cussing out news anchors. It is everywhere. Observe it and absorb it. Some people complain about the ‘boisterousness’ of the Punjabi people, but it was such a soothing balm after spending a stretch of time doing my Bachelor’s in the West. People are decidedly mellow there (to the point of being eerily unresponsive).

4. Our levity: Somehow the true gravitas of a situation is lost upon us. Heart attacks? Failing you’re A-levels? Root canal? Survived a suicide blast? Just observe the reactions of those around you (after the immediate aftermath of intense care and concern, of course).

It can drive you nuts when you are trying to extract the appropriate amount of sympathy and concern, but in the long run having these things brushed off changes your perspective.

Nothing is insurmountable, nothing is terrifying.

We’re pretty brave if you really think about it. Of course, you could replace “brave” with less flattering adjectives, but I’ll go with brave!

5. Our wisdom: We have a rich, ancient, and deep-rooted culture that is the opposite of superficial. Well, superficiality will always be present, of course, but I’ve noticed a depth of soul that seems to spring from our very soil (if not the people). Pay attention the next time someone offhandedly cites a Punjabi mahavra. I love such mass-scale, non-esoteric, indigenous nuggets of wit and wisdom. I mean, just the other day I saw this written on the back of a rickshaw:

“Sajjan koi koi, dushmun har koi.”

I laughed, and then I thought about it. Funny yet thought-provoking and from such an unexpected source.

6. Our stamina: Not physically – we really could do with bolstering ourselves in that arena!

I mean our stamina for things that are not necessarily fun. When our grandparents are sick, we are by their bedsides. When it’s time to study, we buckle down and study. That is a remarkable trait in everyone but especially for the young. The West is troubled with the “rebellious teenager” stereotype, but it isn’t that rampant here – quite the opposite actually.

7. Our earthiness: We are not high-maintenance; we will make do with almond oil in our hair instead of fancy products. We’re happy to wear local-artisan created kola puris. And now it is actually fashionable to be “environmentally friendly” and go for “organic” products. Yeah, we’ve been doing it for generations.

8. Our culture: I’m commenting on our culture of making sacrificesfor our parents’ happiness. My friends choose their majors to make their parents happy. We have to suck it up and paste a smile on our faces when we are dragged to random people’s weddings. This ties in with our ‘stamina’ but it is our culture that snuffs out the “me, me, me, only me” monster (of course some people are impervious to this and still run around spouting that as their mantra).

9. Our talent‘Jay’s Toons’ on Facebook, anyone? Coke studioOlive handmade soaps? With all the challenges these people face, somehow, their talent and genius slips through the cracks of the obstacles that are there. I can only imagine where we’d be if we actually had proper platforms and monetary incentives.

10. Our festivity: No need to elaborate. When it’s time to celebrate, we know how to do it. Good food, merry people, and our homeland – the combination is very joyous if you stop to think about it.

There you go. Yes, this is a naïve, limited, somewhat contradictory and by no means comprehensive list, and I’ve employed a generous dose of the “card stacking” fallacy to keep the positive vibe going.

But, really, we need to lift each other up, not tear each other down. There are enough people in this world to do that for us.

There are times we forget a lot about why we love what we love. We start taking taking our home for granted. Personal experiences feel cheap, fake and transient. And we stop liking. The emptiness grows and in the weak moments you want to go back, go back to your roots. There are things which stay true, despite whatever bad happens. And that’s why whats important should never be forgotten. Here is what i will always want to remember about my beloved Pakistan.

The Best of Pakistan IS NOT ABOUT ITS so called LEADERS representatives. its more about the spirit of those leftover simple honest hard working people who dint migrate to large cities or abroad to change who they originally were. Pakistan is about those people. them and its natural beauty!

Characteristics of Pakistani culture:

I- Introduction:
Culture may be defined as an integral whole which affects human ideals, actions and modes of living. According to E.B. Taylor,
“Culture is a complex whole which includes knowledge, beliefs, art, morals, customs and all other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society.”
Every great nation enjoys its own culture. Similarly, Pakistani culture is very distinct due to its Islamic nature and rich historical background. Pakistani culture has the following characteristics:
i- Islamic values and traditions.
ii- National and regional languages.
iii- Mixed culture.
iv- Rich literature
v- Male dominated society.
vi- Variety of Dresses
vii- Fairs and Festivals.
viii- Sports
ix- Handicrafts.
i- Islamic Values:
Pakistani culture is actually a part of the contemporary Islamic civilization which draws its value and traditions from Islam and rich Islamic history. Majority of population comprises of Muslims and follows teachings of Islam, i-e., belief in one Allah, Prophethood of Hazrat Muhammad P.B.U.H, brotherhood, equality and social justice etc. Islam is religion of peace and patience. Pakistani society is very cooperative. National calendar is marked by religious days which are observed with great devotion.

ii- National and Regional Languages:
Pakistan is a large country which comprises of four provinces, the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and Federally Administered Northern Areas (FANA). All of these component parts have their own regional languages. As such Punjabi, Pashtu, Sindhi, Balochi, Barohi and Kashmiri are regional languages. However, Urdu is the national language which is spokin and understood in all parts of the country.

iii- Mixed Culture:
Practically speaking Pakistani culture is a beautiful blend of the Punjabi, Sindhi, Pathan, Baluchi, Barohi, Seraiki and Kashmiri cultures. In addition, the presence of Hindu community in Sindh gives touches of dance and music in the Sindhi region. The Hindus sing Bhejas but Pakistani culture has adopted Qawwali which is a praise of the Holy Propher P.B.U.H.

iv- Rich Literature:
Pakistani culture is rich in the literatures of Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashtu, Baruhi, Baluchi and Kashmiri languages. Urdu literature boasts of the masterpieces of Maulana Azad, Iqbal, Shibli, Hali, Ghalib, Agha Hashar, Manto and Faiz whereas the Punjabi literature stands out with great names like Waris Shah, Sultan Bahu, Ghulam Farid, Bulhay Shah and Shah Hussain etc. Similarly, Sindhi literature glitters with the masterpieces of Shah Abdul Latif, Sachal Sarmast, Shah Qadir Bakhsh, and Faqir Nabi Bakhsh. The Pushto literature also boasts of names like Sheikh Saleh, Raghoon Khan, Akhund dardeeza, Khushal Khan Khattak and Rahman Baba. The Baluchi literature comprises of masterpieces of Jam Durk, Muhammad Ali, Zahoor Shah Hashmi, Ghani Parvez, Hasrat Baluch, Abbas Ali Zemi and Aziz Bugti etc.

v- Male Dominated Society:
Pakistani society is dominated by male members. Each family is headed by the senior most male member who is responsible for arranging the bread and butter of the family.

vii- Variety of Dresses:
Pakistani culture is rich in variety of dresses: The people of Punjab, the Pathans of NWFP, the Baluchi people and the Sindhis wear their own distinct dresses. These dresses are very colourful and prominent and give attractive look during national fairs and festivals.

viii- Fairs and Festivals:
The culture of Pakistan has great tradition of Fairs and festivals. These fairs are held in all parts of the country. Moreover, annual urs of great saints are held to commemorate their anniversaries. On these occasions, fairs are also held in which people take part in great numbers. Out of these the Horse and Cattle shows of Lahore, Mianwali and Sibi are famous wheseas the Polo festival fo Gilgit is prominent at national and international level. Moreover annual urs of Hazrat Daata Ganj Bakhsh, Madhu Lal Hussain, Baba Bulhay Shah, Baba Farid Gunj Shakar, Baba Gulu Shah, Pir Jamaat Ali Shah, Abdul Latif Bhitaii, Hazrat Noshah Ganj Bakhsh, Bari Imam, Lal Shahbaz Qalandar, and Bahauddin Zakriya are celebrated with great fervour.

ix- Sports:
Pakistani people are great lovers of sports and games. Modern games like hockey, cricket, football, badminton, squash, table tennis and lawn tennis are played throughout the coutnry. In addition wrestling, boxing, and athletics are also very popular among masses. Pakistan has produced great sportsmen in the past. These include Bholu in Wrestling, Hanif, Miandad, Imran, Wasim Akram, and Inzamam in cricket, Shehnaz sheikh, Islahuddin, KHalid mahmood, Akhtar Rasool, and Munir Dar in hockey and Jahangir, Jansher in squash.

x- Handicrafts:
Pakistan enjoys great distinction in handicrafts at international level. Wooden furniture of Chiniot, sports goods of Sialkot and embroidery of Multan and Hyderabad is world famous.

following is the list compiled by some on called Humayun on his website. Loved it.

With the prophets of doom prophesying Pakistan’s end and the world media crying itself hoarse about the ostensible failure of Pakistan as a State, it is easy to escape those aspects of Pakistan that make this country what it actually is, i.e. a truly great nation.

Below, I skim over a few select spheres of influence where Pakistan has truly blazed a trail.

1. Second largest gas infrastructure in the world:

Pakistan’s gas distribution network is the second largest in the world after that of the United States, i.e. it is larger than those of all other industrialized countries such Germany, France, UK, Australia and others.

2. World class educational institutions:

Pakistan is home to some of the finest universities. The Aga Khan University, Lahore University of Management Sciences, National University of Science and Technology, FAST, Indus Valley School of Art and Architecture and the Ghulam Ishaq Khan University are those newly established universities that have joined the ranks of older Pakistani educational institutions such as Dow, King Edward College of Medicine, National College of Arts and the IBA to become the bedrock of Pakistan’s higher education infrastructure.

3. One of the most independent media in the world + stature of the journalists:

4. An outstanding road network:

New overhead bypasses, underpasses, ring roads and new motorways have successfully outpaced the uncontrolled growth of cars and motorbikes.

5. The fastest growing telecom network:

The phenomenal rate of growth of Pakistan’s telecom industry is unheard of anywhere else in the world. Despite having a very small GDP per capita, Pakistan has succeeded in achieving cellular connections for fifty percent of the population, i.e. sixty million cellular connections within a span of a few years.

6. Tech power:

The level of technology in the computer connectivity and telecom sectors has, in many cases, been either equivalent to or better than even the most industrialized nations of the world. As an example, the first WiMax rolled out in the world was in Pakistan.

7. Pakistan joined the aerospace club by producing its own aircraft:

Pakistan is among the few countries in the world that produce its own aircraft. Thus, our aeronautical industry shares the likes of those in the US, France, China, Sweden.

8. Submarine production:

Pakistan has always been a shipbuilding country but has now started manufacturing submarines as well.

9. Largest ambulance service in the world:

Other than the impressive list of large NGOs and charities currently operating in the country, the Edhi Trust runs the largest ambulance network in the world and is completely free; it is run entirely on donations. Given the per capita income of the people of Pakistan, this is no small achievement.

10. State of the art teaching hospitals and research centers:

In medicine, world class PAKISTANI doctors that now practice all over the world, with state of the art medical facilities in the country. To name a few, these facilities include Aga Khan, South City Hospital, SIUT, Shaukat Khanum Memorial Hospital, Burns Center, Kidney Center, Services Hospital Lahore and Indus Hospital among others.

These institutions did not come into being as a coincidence. Rather, hard work and visionary leadership have been the primary force behind these successful projects which is very typical of a lot of development work that is currently going on in Pakistan.

11. The Citizens Foundation:

It is a non-government funded charitable institution teaching over fifty thousand students in more than 600 schools in the poorest areas of the country. There is no parallel to this institution anywhere else in the world.

12. Land of the music legends:

Most of South Asia’s master musicians in every genre are produced in Pakistan. Whether it is the world famous qawwali of Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan, the ghazals of Iqbal Bano, Farida Khanum or Mehdi Hassan, pioneers of pop music in the subcontinent such as Nazia and Zoheb Hassan or bands such as Junoon, Fuzon and Atif Aslam, it seems the only music produced in South Asia comes from Pakistan.

13. Art:

Pakistan has produced master artists such as Sadeqain, Abdur Rahman Chughtai, Ustad Allah Baksh, Shakir Ali and others whose work is not only recognized in this part of the world but is the predominant feature of many art auctions all over the world at Sothebys and Christies . Our artist are the product of a rich cultural heritage that dates back thousands of years. The Melbourne to Karachi tram or the “W-11 tram” was a Z class tram decorated by a team of professional Pakistani vehicle decorators, commissioned by the City of Melbourne for the 2006 Commonwealth Games

and last but not the least

14. A resilient judiciary:

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