Thursday, November 17, 2016

Pakistan-ioun! We had our Trump in the 80s.

The US election drama, as entertaining and involving it has been to follow, it did not have a happy ending or should I say a tragic start. The Trump-mania had started to surface during the crazy election period with both the rise in hate speech and that of the guilt speech but it reached a whole new level upon the result announcement. There has a wide range of sentiments from people around me and as much as I am not a fan of Facebook status wars (or comment wars of that nature) I had a sudden urge to share my two-cents on situation.

My American friends are mostly shocked and feel sorry; not sure who are they most sorry for; their country’s fate, Trump’s supporters or everyone else living in the USA. Although I feel very special when I receive messages telling me ‘I am sorry what Trump said, its offensive and not what America stands for- I am with you’[1], I don’t fully require them to say that to believe it. Primarily because I can empathize with their situation. I was very frequently expected to justify that Pakistan is not a terrorist country and not everyone there is an extremist. People were mostly curios, little-informed on the issue yet very interested and plain bias. I remember this one discussion with my ‘well-read’ class fellows, vividly, about the Syrian Refugee crisis[2] and we started talking about refugee hosting and I said Pakistan is among the top 5 countries that host the most refugees in the world. And they were just not willing to accept that fact. That was a sad day. My friends were not willing to accept a true fact about my county. The common American’s bias about Pakistan is like sexism that prevails among Pakistani men; they believe they are not sexist, have keen interest on the topic yet are not open to changing their learned behaviors and thoughts. Having said that, most of the people around me were very inclusive, friendly who opened their hearts and homes for me. So to my American friends I want to say what I wanted to hear all along.

“America is a great company; its very diverse which is one of its assets. And the times are just not in her favor (hopefully not for too long). I, too, am sad for what happened but you do not owe me or anyone any explanation. Its not your fault. You play your role by being you with your pure heart.”

The other popular sentiment in the air was, among Pakistanis that, ‘leave America to its fate; Pakistan could use more of your attention’. I agree with the later part but we should care; we should never stop caring. Its selfish how we lack empathy for one another. We also need to remember how we had our Trump in the form General Zia in the 80s and the things he did, the price of which I and rest of the country is still paying today. It is a lesson for us. General Zia is the reason I have to defend my robbed, tortured, poor country. It is a reminder for us that all the sentiments that Trump capitalized on crawls in Pakistani streets too. It is not a country where a Hindu can go to his temple in peace or a Christian to church. Minorities do not feel safe disclosing their religious identity. The discrimination is not limited to religion but extends to include gender and ethnic discrimination among other sorts. What qualifies anyone to be the judge of what kind of a ‘Muslim’ or human other is? Or is it just that you are a hypocrite living in a Pakistani-Muslim-born’s body? So to my fellow Pakistani’s I would say:

“Its not too late. Please take a hint and learn to treat this country and its citizens with the respect they deserve. America is a powerful country and we have had a long-ongoing relationship with her. We need to learn from their experience, vote and elect individuals who represent our country and make decisions that favor her and not themselves.”

With all this chaos; we could make use of some patience, tolerance and self reflection. If you don’t like someone’s point of view; that’s okay! You don’t have to agree with it, you just have to respect it. Be more tolerant, be more respectful, be more Pakistani!

[1] Mostly happened when I was in US and the election craziness was picking on.
[2] Oct 2015

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