A few days ago at the petrol station, I was talking to a friend as the attendant filled my car about my recent visit to China via cell when the attendant timidly approached me. I looked at him quizzically as I had already forked over the cash for the petrol, and shut my phone.
“Sahab have you come from abroad”
” Jee I do visit outside pakistan on occasion”
“sahab bus kisi tarah ham ko bhi yahan se nikalo na”
I looked at him in disbelief, and wondered how I had suddenly risen in status in his eyes just because I had access to foreign shores, he somehow thought of me as a would be savior who would employ him immediately and send him to heaven via the next flight out of here.
Which leads me to think as to whether we are a “failed state” as the international press and the hoity toity world leaders often describe us or a “failed generation”?
This mentality I am afraid is prevalent not only in our masses but in every class of this country where escape abroad seems to be the answer to all the problems faced here. True, life abroad does guarantee a far better economic and social reward for work, however why do we not try to change our lot here rather than abroad is what baffles me about most people.
It seems every person of my age is afraid of asking questions, self censorship is the norm in Pakistan, whether we are forced to or not we just don’t ask anymore, we prefer to run away or at most throw money at the problem till it goes away. If there is no electricity we whine about it on blogs and twitter but we do not go to the nearby KESC center and question.
If the neighborhood is filled with sewage water we do not call up our locally elected representative and ask him why it has not been cleared. We prefer to remain in a vacuum of “not rocking the boat” so as to speak. We do this at work at home and in life and then pretend to act as if the world and our country are against our existence. How many of us have gone up to the boss and asked why “Mr and Mrs” so and so got the increment and we did not? How many of us have actually tried to engage the political parties and leaders we keep insulting and ask them why so and so happened?
How many of us have tried asking for help in any form, a friendly analysis by someone you trust can also provide genuine insight into what a person might be doing wrong.
As for the gas station attendant, I duly explained to him how even if he manages to go to Dubai he will continue to pump gas for someone who might not even pay him every month, will keep his passport in his grasp blackmailing him at every opportunity and might even abuse him if he refuses with coercion ala local law. I suggested he try to educate himself in some way to raise his lot in life in his own country, rather than be a victim somewhere else. What I am trying to say is, for him education was the answer but there are answers for many of our problems also, the only way to get them is to ask questions about them.
While asking for things, please do not forget at every opportunity to ask for your rights as a citizen of this land. You might think your questions fall on deaf ears, but in the recent world of media awareness in Pakistan where a parlimentarian can get dismissed on credit card fraud you might even be pleasantly surprised at what your queries can achieve.