This article was written for “Pakistan Thinker Forum” for its magazine “Better Pakistan” which is being posted here in 4 parts. It is not necessary that others should agree to what I said, but it’s my right to voice my opinion.
What it means to be a Pakistani? The simple answer is that being born and brought up in Pakistan means one is a Pakistani. By the same definition, those who keep balance in the system and those who disrupt it; those who respect their parents and those who throw them out; those who are civilized and disciplined people and the entire uncouth crowd gather on the streets, dancing on the roads, chanting vulgar slogans, mostly half educated/uneducated folks, cheating and stealing from the mosques and markets, the fraudulent and fake degree holders, the liars and the dishonest, are all Pakistanis. The poor farmers working in the scorching heat and those who are honestly performing their duties in the offices are also Pakistanis. Those who have looted and plundered the national wealth and those who are using it for welfare of their people are also Pakistani. Those who are terrorizing the country and those who are eradicating the country from menace are also Pakistani. The group called TTP comprises Pakistanis, and the likes of Drs. Samar Muabrakmand & Atta-ur-Rahaman, Generals (Rtd) Kayani and General Raheel Sharif, Shahbaz Sharif and Malik Riaz and many others making the country’s name shine at the horizon are also Pakistanis. These and many others like them are the people who can really be called true Pakistanis and what have they done for this country? It is obligatory of us to record their achievements in true perspective in order to make them a role model for our future generations. Please read the lines placed below and decide what it really means to be a Pakistani?
In my view, it is a simple question that can have different meanings for different people. We are Pakistani because we born in this country but, are we good Pakistanis? That is debatable. How many of us have realized that the place known as Pakistan – our identity in the world, that has given us confidence to face the challenges, raised us, educated us, and provided us with countless opportunities to prove our self, our abilities, and to convert our dreams into realities, needs to be strengthened? This is more important for the people of an educated community to which I also belong. These are the people who are directly or indirectly responsible for the policies made for this country. Have we ever analyzed whether our policy makers are educated enough for the job they were assigned to? How many of them possess real intellect, competence, vision and the power to make decisions? How many of them can sacrifice their lives, interests, benefits and time to do something special for the stability and betterment of Pakistan? How many have accepted humiliation patiently only to prove that they can be of some good to Pakistan? It is not necessary for us to be referred to as ‘pious angels’ at all times, but how we think, act and react at the defining moments will settle the score as to whether we are good Pakistanis or otherwise.
In 1971, the Government in India sent troops across the border into East Pakistan resulting in the breakup of Pakistan and creation of Bangladesh. In 1998, India decided to detonate five atomic devices which disturbed the peace in the Sub-Continent in turn forcing Pakistan to respond with six nuclear explosions at Chaghai in May, 1998. The entire nuclear weapons program of Pakistan was designed, engineered and implemented through its own scientists, engineers and technicians much to the surprise of the entire western world. That miraculous performance and team work not only made Pakistan stand high in the region but, production of several nuclear capable missiles made Pakistan the 4th country in the world to produce two versions of a cruise missile capable of carrying nuclear weapons.
Can we analyze whose policies resulted in breakup of Pakistan, and whose policies strengthened what remained of Pakistan and made its defense visibly enviable? If we do, we can easily understand what it means to be a Pakistanis.
How many of us are aware that before the nuclear blasts, a team of scientists, engineers, and technicians worked countless days and nights in Chaghai under extremely hot and dry weather? How many of us are aware that a night before the blast, when all the preparations were completed, the Director Administration suggested that he will personally guard the tunnel lest some accident or terrorist activity disrupt the entire plan? He realized in full that he will be the first victim of such eventuality, but to him, he was not important; what was important was the struggle that was going to change the whole power/geo politics and strategic stability in the region for all times to come. How convinced he was in his pursuit? The fact remains that with the establishment of a nuclear power-balance between India and Pakistan, the world witnessed progress in all facets of life between the two very hostile neighbors.
On the second day of blast, the team leader reached the site for post blast observation. He realized that he is going to expose himself to the amount of radiation beyond the measuring capacity of any of the sophisticated instruments. But, he took the risk of his life because he knew if the time elapsed, he will never be able to get the observation vital for further advancement of his research program. He got his liver totally damaged, went to UK as a simple ordinary person without disclosing his identity. His Doctor shocked after his medical checkup and could not understand how one can be exposed to so much radiation? It is only after he searched for his name on the internet that he came to know about the patient’s true identity. After getting a new life, he started working with the same zeal. He became the founding Chairman of National Engineering and Scientific Commission (NESCOM), which he established in record time and is now known as one of largest strategic organizations. After retirement, from NESCOM, he was appointed as Member (Science), Planning Commission and to-date he is responsible for Thar coal and RekoDiq projects. Work, work and work is his motto. He is Dr. Samar Mubarakmand. I have known him for the last 18 years and have worked with him. When I solicited his permission to write these lines, he replied in five words “I don’t want to be personalized.”
Let me take the liberty to write about a living legend whom, I never met, never talked with and never heard him talk, but have read a lot about him. The man remained busy cleaning the mess created by enlightened moderation. He was and still is not a public figure and hence he has never been seen in public but consciously or unconsciously, he made his presence felt very strongly in and out of the country. He kept all the national and international players on their toes for good 6 years, and tried his best, not to buy an argument that can go against the interests of Pakistan. He might have been punished for that but he faced everything gracefully and replied tactfully. One thing that distinguished him from all his predecessors was his love for his Jawans and resolve shown in Gayari when he ordered to dig out each and every person, a total of 135, buried under 9 million tons of avalanche debris. He stunned the world when he got accomplished the most noble and incredible task, unanimously declined by all the experts of the world. He not only set a precedent but also sent a very loud and clear message around the world that Pakistanis are brave and courageous enough to face anything imposed on them. I could not solicit the permission before writing these lines because I never met the person and do not have his contact information. I therefore, apologize in advance if what I have written is not corroborated or liked by General (retired) Ashfaq Pervez Kayani: one of the most well-informed and well aware people about the national and international strategic affairs. After retirement, he preferred to live a quiet and serene life in this country despite the fact that he could have conveniently earned positions of his choice anywhere in the world.
Let me remind you of another Pakistani legend who is busy day and night to restore peace and tranquility in this county gripped in the decades-old terrorism. To him, his personal life, interests, benefits and comfort is perhaps not even of secondary importance. He might not have the mandate to convert his motherland into a living paradise but his one and only priority at the moment is peace, stability and progress of this country. He accepted the most dreadful challenge of eliminating the deadly terrorists groups of national and international origin residing in this country for ages. They are known to have very strong roots, net work and international connections through which they wanted to convert this country into a living hell. He proved himself a man with vision, competence, power of decision making and courage to accomplish a mission considered impossible for decades. His resolve and conviction, hard work, sincerity to his mission and his respect for his Jawans helped him succeeded in his mission in less than one year of his appointment. Can we question the capabilities of General Raheel Sharif and his contribution to eliminate terrorism from Pakistan? Can we question his credentials to be a real Pakistani?
Has somebody seen the province of Punjab especially her capital transforming in front of his/her eyes? Whether these are infrastructure development projects, that provided jobs to the millions of laborers working there day and night enabling them to earn respectable bread and butter for their families, or youth development programs through provision of soft loans, internships and technical education; structural changes in secondary and higher secondary education and health facilities in southern Punjab; encouraging the brightest of the brights students by providing them educational accessories, motivating those residing in remote areas especially FATA and Baluchistan through financial help and provision of need-based scholarships; helping the unemployed to start their own business, revolution in transportation system, constructing of numerous overhead and underpasses at will; unmatched resolve shown in eradicating dengue menace from Punjab and many others ventures that are unlikely to be seen anywhere else in the country. What makes the difference? It is the untiring work of a cancer patient who keeps working in the country on 20 hours a day basis, motivating his team and at the same time shuttling around the world to get funding for his dreams projects. The man with magical capabilities, whom others want to borrow but who cannot be rented out, is none other but the one and only Mian Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, the Chief Minister, Punjab. He may lose his life and/or job, his Government may go or he may even be punished for his resolve to strengthen the country and improving the living standards of his people, Shahbaz Sharif will always be remembered in the heart of hearts as a true Pakistani through the strongest impact that he has left in Punjab in general and Lahore in particular.
It’s a privilege for me to introduce Professor Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman: a renowned scientist of natural product chemistry and founder Chairman of Higher Education Commission. He has 947 publications, 135 books and 35 patents to his credit. As federal Minister, he introduced structural changes in the field of science and technology in Pakistan and also played vital role in planning and promoting S&T in the OIC countries as coordinator general of COMSTECH, He held this prestigious position for over 15 years that made him the pride of Pakistan. As an educationist, he introduced Tenure Track System, GRE based admission in Universities, four years BS program in science disciplines, the compiling of directories of productive scientists of the country, and the award of Research Productivity Allowance, which is based on publications in international journals with impact factor and its worldwide citation. This single factor brought revolution in our Universities as they started producing hundreds of Ph. D(s) every year and also put Pakistani educational institutes on the map of world ranking Universities. The QS Asian University Rankings of 2013 declared PIEAS as No.1 University in Pakistan and at 106th in Asia. Prof. Dr. Atta-ur-Rahman has been the only scientist from the Islamic world who was elected as a Fellow of Royal Society (London) in 2006, and selected for award of UNESCO Science Prize (1999) in recognition of his research conducted in an Islamic country. Despite being immensely recognized and decorated scientist, Professor Atta prefers to work in and for Pakistan. I myself once heard a Bangladeshi scientist saying and I quote, “we badly needed an Atta-ur-Rahman to take our country to the standards that Pakistan has achieved in the field of education and S&T that envoy us a lot.”
Here is another example of a true and hard working Pakistani. He was born in a single-room mud house in Sialkot. Uneducated but possessed unmatched will power, commitment, self belief, decision power and immense sense of timing and planning. He used to sit day and night at the front gate of CDA office just to get contract of a mile of a road. He believed that if he could make this road he would be able to prove himself as a builder par excellence. Today he is known as the godfather of property dealers in Pakistan. The iconic Bahria Town is an asset and identity of Pakistan. It changed the life style of countless Pakistani citizens and brought international fame and recognition to the country by means of various awards. Malik Riaz may die tomorrow but he will be known as a Maseeha by the numerous elderly people who receive free medicine, food and shelter; a great philanthropist by the world and a builder by the elite.
Nevertheless, he himself wants to be remembered as a laborer who was born, has lived and will die and be buried in this country. Malik Riaz says, 300 years ago, Europeans couldn’t even think of bathing. Someone worked hard to bring them to where they stand today. He believes he can take Pakistan to those very heights. He pledges to make 500 modern villages for the poor of Pakistan by spending 75% of his wealth on them because he understands what it means to be poor in Pakistan. What else can we expect from a true Pakistani?
Finally a lady scientist; a Ph. D who received international training on a unique crop improvement program, came back to the country, wrote scientific projects, brought international funding worth 58 million PKR through competitive grants, and established a unique world class scientific laboratory and program. She trained adequate amount of manpower to run this program, successfully conducted research, published widely in international journals and brought international recognition to the country in the form of “Award for excellence to increase agriculture productivity in the country” by US National Academy of Sciences. She produced a new wheat breed “DURUGEN” almost 6000 years after the current bread wheat was discovered. She was then transferred to another institution and after one and half year, she was brought back to re-establish the same program. In 2006, her office caught fire and all her life’s hard work, comprising precious scientific articles, published papers, books, computers, CDs, backup files, and all data books containing scientific observations spanning over 27 years of experimentations, turned to ashes. In 2007, she was given an administrative position and transferred to the capital city. Same year, she was awarded the President’s Award for “Pride of Performance”. Four years later, she was given another administrative position and transferred to another institution from where she retired after reaching superannuation. To meet this lady scientist, please read the column “Qallash” on page 61, written by Javaid Chaudhary in his book “ZeroPoint”. I would like to leave it to the readers to decide what it means to be a Pakistani and a good Pakistani?