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The youth of Pakistan has become immune to the death, bomb blasts and disastrous situation of the country. But is there still hope?
Pakistan is in danger. Scratch that, Pakistan is always in danger. Its fiercest enemy is right next door armed with weapons of mass destruction which is one of the few things we have in common with them anymore as they have left us behind in terms of commerce, politics, technology and social freedom. The most powerful country in the world is conducting drone strikes in our country and we are incapable of doing anything about it. We are under attack from the Taliban, they who hide behind Religion to justify the slaughter of children. Then of course there are the always reliable fear mongers AKA the news media of Pakistan who spread fear as if it were water for starving families. Wait, where have I heard that before? Yes, Pakistan is in danger from all these factors however there is another very real danger which is spreading throughout the youth of Pakistan. I see it. I feel it. There is a disconnect among us, the youth. We do not feel as we should or in some cases we just do not feel at all.
On Feb 1 2015 my Professor walked into class with a somber look on his face. He spoke about the shikarpur attack. He spoke eloquently and lamented the fact that Pakistanis are killing their brothers and sisters. He wondered what had happened to the country telling us how he feared for its future. He spoke about the Pakistan he had known with its innovation, reputation and Hope. How foreigners would come here and visit this great land. I was completely taken by his words and looked around my peers to share this experience. There were people on their smartphones, talking among themselves whilst the ones actually listening were trying to control their laughter. The general consensus among my classmates was that the old man has gone senile and it must be the special time of month for him. I am no angel, far from it. I have also behaved in the same way several times when my elders would relay their stories of the past, stories which, now that I look back on them, almost always had an undertone of regret to them. Regret for what is, what was or what could have been. Despite all this, I cannot blame my classmates. We are not to blame for these reactions.
This is the only Pakistan my generation has known. As soon as we attained any perspective for how the world operates 9/11 happened and Pakistan was thrust into the global war against terror. I am 22 years old, when 9/11 happened I was only 8 years old. We did not have the Pakistan where we could go to a shopping bazaar because in our Pakistan there is a good chance of a bomb blast at shopping bazaars. In my Pakistan when I look at a motorbike coming towards me I quicken my step. In the Pakistan that I know, we consider it an achievement to reach university when there are tires being burn at the previous signal. We have grown up in this environment and simply we have become numb to it all. A bomb blast in Saddar, where 20 families lost their loved ones, is passed off as not dangerous since its only 10 minutes away. When our family from abroad come to visit, we make fun of them for being scared of a little firing, whilst not being able to comprehend their argument regarding the velocity of the firing being irrelevant.
I was born into this environment of danger, chaos and death. That ‘BREAKING NEWS’ sign on news channels might well be the calling card for my generation. We share pictures of death on Social Media as if it’s a completely normal thing to do. We are losing ourselves to this mind set. It is a poison which is slowly tearing into the fabric of our society and is beginning to dictate our actions.
Is there hope for my generation of Pakistanis? Perhaps we are too far gone. But then there are moments which can still amaze us. After the Peshawar attack, I experienced one of those moments. On Friday prayer there was a great deal of emotion in the mosque as there was around the entire country but there is a difference in hearing about something and experiencing it. During the Sermon there was a depressing undertone to whatever the imam said because nothing was going to bring back those children. Then the muezzin broke down in the middle of reciting the prayer and started heavily sobbing, that day I saw grown men in tears praying to God. It gave me hope.