By Dr Aamir Butt
Just landed in Manchester after another visit to Pakistan and have been reflecting on my experiences.
I am sure everyone who has visited Pakistan recently has perceived a sense of doom and gloom. Frankly, this is nothing new and should be seen in context of the universal feeling of pessimism sweeping this world. Sure Pakistan has serious problems, but then who doesn’t.
To be honest sometimes I feel Pakistanis have a self-destructive and self-flagellating streak. It is very common for Pakistanis to lament how corrupt is their country, how dishonest are its people, how everyone is out to deceive and swindle everyone else etc etc and these perceptions are not without truth, however, once again they need to be seen in context of the rest of the world.
I have lived in U.K. for 30 years and I have earned my living here, ran a house, raised a family, dealt with money etc etc and have have been financially deceived many times, by white British people, sure the methods are bit more sophisticated but nevertheless at the end I was left nursing a loss of my hard earned cash, and mind you the government had already extracted a big chunk from this.
No doubt the difference between U.K. and Pakistan is that there is rule of law in former and no law in later but to be honest getting British law to help you when you have been scammed is an expensive process with no guarantee of success as the swindler has same rights as well!
Anyway, that is a discussion for another time, coming back to what Pakistanis think of themselves this includes them declaring that people in Pakistan will only be nice to you if they have a vested interest, if they want something in return, in my opinion this is not true.
Maybe it is just my personal experience and in this so far maybe I have just been lucky but there are so many individuals I have come across in Pakistan who have shown a generosity and hospitality towards me that is extraordinary.
And I can’t think of a single possible vested interest they could have had.
I remember Faiz Sahib commenting on the love and kindness he received from people and was surprised by it, well I am nothing as compared to Faiz Sahib but feel the same.
No, I am not in a fit of nostalgia claiming Pakistan is a utopian land of chivalrous knights. And neither am I turning a blind eye to the deep seated rot and corruption in Pakistani society but only remembering, from my own experience, the kindness, warmth and generosity I have received, not just from family and old friends but even from those I have known only briefly from social media.
In this brief time we spend in this world it is hard to decide what are the important things to live for, what are the priorities?
Is it career, fame, money, lovers, children, charity, friends, family?
Perhaps a bit of everything but one thing is for sure, everything we do is connected to others and if a society still has those who give their time and share their resources with more or less total strangers expecting nothing in return it cannot be written off to be without hope and good.
I think it is important to praise the good that exists in Pakistani society so that others who are doing bad feel there is more to gain by being good.
And as long as there remain some good people there remains hope for there is not enough darkness in the entire universe to put out the light of one small candle.