Pakistanis have argued for centuries (collectively) about what’s wrong with our country. We’ve blamed politicians who give power only to their family members, religious extremism, foreign involvement, corruption, women, our cricket team, and the youngsters. We know where the problems lie. We just never tried to find the reasons behind them.
Thankfully, I’ve done a lot of research over the last few years on these reasons. Here are some for you to think about:
Reason #034 – The Individual’s Independence:
In Pakistan, the legal age is the age at which a person may legally engage in a certain activity, with the consent of everyone he or she knows. It starts the day you are born, and lasts till you die.
What I’m trying to say is, you have to keep everyone you know happy in Pakistan. You have to make decisions based on what your family tells you to do. If your abbu tells you to go for Masters abroad, you sit your butt down in the next plane to Australia. If your ammi tells you to marry your khala‘s son, your next move should be to block every guy on Facebook. Pakistan teaches you to respect a little too much.
We don’t get to decide what’s good or bad for ourselves anymore. We can’t succeed at anything, because we’re not allowed to fail and disappoint.
Reason #245 – The Family Grows:
This is what a common family gathering in Pakistan is like: The kids are playing together, running around like crazy because someone brought chocolates for them. The girls are in the kitchen (your ammi, khala ki baiti, mumani, khala, mamoon ki baiti [who is coincidentally khala ki baiti‘s age], 2 maids, nani ammi). The guys are in the drawing-room (you, your abbu, mamoon, nana abbu). You’re telling them why you want to study Architecture in university, but you know it’s like talking to a wall because it’s not Engineering. Right before dinner starts, your nana abbu gets up and says, “Saray behn bhaion ko ikatha karo!” (this means all the cousins by the way). He points at you and tells you you’re going to marry your khala ki baiti.
You can’t say no. That’s suicide.
In Pakistan, the family grows in itself. The genes stay in the family as long as there are boys and girls in the family to get them on (pun intended). It means that you now have to listen to not only your parents, but also to your khala and khalu who are now your saas and sussar as well even though you haven’t married their daughter yet. How do you even bring yourself to deny years of your parents telling you that your khala ki baiti is your behn?
Do you know what else it means? Their value of input in all your matters has doubled. And to survive, you need to keep them twice as happy now.
Waisay bhi, bahir kahan acha rishta millta hai? Jab khandaan main baitiyan hain tou bahir kyun daikhain?
Reason #564 – The Foreign Utopia:
If by any chance and luck, a Pakistani escapes and settles abroad, he or she (rarely) is accompanied with the weight of one huge expectation: The Pakistani should only settle for a life which is better than the life he or she (rarely) has left behind in Pakistan.
Do you know why that is? You know the feeling when we say things like, “Nadia Ali is Pakistani!” or, “Amir Khan is such an amazing boxer.” I’m talking about that feeling of pride when we talk about Pakistanis (Pakistanis we have nothing to do with or never helped in any way) who achieve anything abroad. And all their achievements are things they could never do in Pakistan. That illogical feeling of pride in the heart of every Pakistani in Pakistan is the reason there is so much pressure on the Pakistanis who aren’t in Pakistan.
Pakistan fails in a lot of places and, as you can see, the dots connect. Having a family member run your business or our country might be a problem. But is it the reason? No. The reason is that the younger brother always has to listen to the older brother, or because even a member of National Assembly has to listen his tayya abbu.
The reason is that Pakistanis can’t escape Pakistanis.