Apart from what the western media projects why don’t you speak to a Pakistani to know more about Pakistan. It’s not only the land of bomb blasts and terrorism as publicized in the breaking news and newspaper headlines. It is Iqbal’s dream for a land of peace which was realized by Jinnah. It is Abdul Sattar Edhi’s philanthropy, Arfa Kareem’s intelligence, Boom Boom Shahid Afridi’s excellence, Deepak Puvani’s world famous sherwani designs, Javed Miandad’s sixer, Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan’s restless efforts, fastest growing IT industry, ever expanding middle class, the brave nation who fought dictatorships, cricket and hockey world cup winners, astonished? Let’s take a closer look.
Pakistan, we made this country on 14th of August 1947, populated more than 180 million. More than 97% of population belongs to Islam. Hockey is the national game but people are more addicted to cricket and cricketers as well. The culture is rich and homogenous; we can see people from almost every part of country in big cities. People like to talk on politics but strangely don’t want to practically involve in it. People are welcoming, loving, and patriotic.
Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad, Rawalpindi are the most populated cities. For the people of small cities and villages these cities are the center of attraction, manpower from almost all parts of countries move to big cities like Karachi and Lahore for better living standard, jobs and economy. Karachi, called the city of lights, is the economic hub; the city has an aggressive beach and the busiest port. The winters rarely visit this city while the weather is more towards warmth. The days are warm, nights are pleasant and windy. On weekends, you can hardly find a place to eat as most of the restaurants become house full as the night falls, with boys playing cricket late night matches on streets and hangout till Sunday morning.
The thin Kurta Pajama from Karachi, stretch to Shalwar Kameez in Sindh, and expand more in width as you went to Balochistan, each region and area has their own fashion to wear Shalwar Kameez with extra accessories to revamp and stylize like cultural cap, shawl, sandal. As far as Pakistani culture is defined its rich and original, you can experience the beautiful blend of Mahajir, Sindhi, Punjabi, Siraiki, Punjabi, Baloch and Pashtoon culture and as you travel towards the northern areas of Pakistan you can see a fresh and more beautiful culture within every 10 kilometers. People follow their culture religiously the culture which is sheltered with modest teachings of Islam.
Islam is the largest following religion in Pakistan up to 97% people are Muslims, according to the recent survey by British Council 38% youth is in favor of government and laws based on Islamic Shariah. Apart from Islam there are many other religions liberally being followed in different part of Pakistan like Christianity, Hinduism, Parsis, Sikhs, Kalash. People respect each other religion however people are conservative in the manner of eating and only halal food is available throughout the length of Pakistan. Wine is prohibited in most areas and not sold openly. Islamic education is mandatory part of syllabus, yet Madarsas are another source of provision of Islamic education in addition to this they provide welfare, food and shelter for a large number of orphans and children from low income families.
People are more educated in cities as compared to rural areas; the literacy rate is 58%. There are 93 engineering universities, accredited institutes and colleges which offer engineering programs, while 203 universities fully functional and accredited by Higher Education Commission, where as unlimited number of different educational institutes schools and colleges. If you are educated and willing to work, then you will definitely get a job. However there is an issue with salaries due to the inflation, but it is enough if you want to live a content life. The first choice of any student is however engineering or medical education, but they have a hard criterion so unfortunately after rejection from them students head to other fields like commerce & management. Proper guidance and career counseling for youth still lacking, this is the reason most of the students induct in the studies which might become difficult for them to fit in. Islami Jamiat Talba (IJT) is the biggest student organization which is working in every part of Pakistan, other organization include Pukhtoon Student Federation (Puk.SF) active in KPK, People Student Federation (PSF) mainly active in Sindh, Muslim Student Federation (MSF) active in Punjab and All Pakistan Muttehda Students Organization (APMSO) which is limited to institutes in Karachi. Almost all organizations have their relations with political groups. Currently student organizations are still banned in institutes but students’ organizations are managing to work.
Pakistani economy is not static, prices fluctuate and people go crazy with respect to price, but strangely no big protest are observed on the subject of prices, the largest middle class is ever compromising on the said issue. Karachi is the economic hub, having the port connected to Arabian Sea making it the backbone of the economy of Pakistan. However agriculture is also another big money making field which is making this country standing on its feet, agriculture is being religiously done in the areas of Punjab as well as some parts of Sind. Software industry is booming, but the industrial sector is facing difficulties due to lack of electrical supply hence the industries are moving towards other energy sources or trying to produce their own energy, currently they are able to survive due to better planning and management of their limited energy resources.
Pakistan has a free media there is a national television PTV. In addition, there are many news and entertainment channel that broadcast 24/7, including GEO, HUM, ARY, AAJ. The radio industry boosted from last 10 years with many new channels emerged attracting more people towards radio. Pakistani film industry is a history, that’s why most of Pakistanis use Indian and English movies as alternative source of entertainment. Internet entertainment is also emerging and many channels are broadcasting their programs through online streaming, however YouTube is blocked due to blasphemy issues.
Pakistan has good relations with all countries. America, yes we are the frontline ally of America in the War on Terror, however there are several differences among the people and the government on this issue, the people are demanding to get rid of this war on terror because it created anarchy since Pakistan involved in this war. America however trying to make the government happy by economically supporting and thorough programs like USAID. But still people of Pakistan are demanding actions to be taken on drone attacks and periodical invasions by America.
Afghanistan is the friend of Pakistan, both the countries have supported each other in the time of difficulties, many Afghans are still settled as refugees in Pakistan while there are some of them who have actually become a part of Pakistani due to the prolonged crisis in the region. Iran is also a neighboring country and has friendly relations with Pakistan, several peace and cooperation agreement have been done between Iran, Afghanistan and Pakistan. There is however some economical and industrial collaborative agreement which consist of Iran Pakistan Gas Pipeline, the project is still delayed due to the interference of international stakeholders like America; however Russia offered to help in completion of the project, the old superpower game.
Pakistan has good relations with China since Pakistan came into being however China remains careful in supporting Pakistan in international affairs. China supported Pakistan in various technological advancements, the most recent development are the agreement of development of bullet train system. In 2001 an agreement has been done between Pakistan and Chine for 175 passenger coaches, however mixed opinion received about their performance, it’s made in China not to expect more.
Pakistani government has moderated relations with the Indian government, many ups and downs have been observed during the past years but government is still trying to neutralize the relations and keep peace. Government has scheduled to give the title of Most Favored Nation and announce the intention however people’s disowning made it undecided. Pakistanis like Indian dramas and movies but their real rivalry with this enemy can be seen in the cricket matches.
The best subject to talk in social gathering is cricket and politics, people like to talk and discuss about politics but there are very few who are practically involved in it, as due to the Islamic civilization many are still under confusion on the democratic system of governance. The last elections have around 44% turnover ratio while in the recent elections in 2013 the voter turnover ratio increased to about 55.02% a massive increase, it is expected that this ratio will further increase in the coming elections as with the passage of time more and more people are getting educated as well as awareness towards political system is increasing every day. Pakistan is being ruled one by one by Pakistan Muslim League (N) which is headed by Mian Nawaz Shareef and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) headed by Bilawal Bhutto (inactive) and Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari (acting chairperson). While in recent elections a third name Imran Khan (from Pakistan Tehreek e Insaf, PTI) former cricketer rise as the third biggest party. As far as religious parties are concerned Jamaat E Islami Pakistan headed by Syed Munawar Hasan and Jamiat Ulema e Islam (F) headed by Maulana Fazlur Rehman are notable parties and personalities.
The notable welfare organizations are Edhi trust, Al Khidmat and Al Rehmat trust, Edhi trust was founded by Abdul Sattar Edhi who was also nominated for Nobel peace prize, Al Khidmat is a project of Jamat Islami Pakistan and involved in education and patience welfare along with many other fields of life, Al Rehmat trust is performing good in the field of education.
More than 65 years passed since independence, Pakistan has achieved various milestone in this era while many more to go, no country is perfect but for people it’s their homeland and they are struggling hard to accomplish the impossible. Welcome to Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
I wrote this article for an Indian Student Journal, don't know if its published yet or not :) I hope you have enjoyed reading this light-heatedly written article about Pakistan and Pakistanis. Comment, criticism and suggestions are most welcome. Owais Mukhtar.