Going Global

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Going Global

Over a meal of what I consider to be the best lamb in London, my friends and I got to talking about the topic which is on every Pakistani’s mind: the IDPs, Taliban and the future of Pakistan. Considering all of this, it’ll come as a surprise to you – as it did to me – that all four of the Pakistanis (including myself) sitting on the table want to settle back home at some point in our lives. The fact that this astounded me makes me very angry. Why is this option so absurd? Why is the thought of moving home marred by hopelessness and fear? Is the future of Pakistan really so bleak?

For those of us sitting in homes far away from home, we feel there is little we can do for the state of affairs. While we gladly donate our pounds/dollars to NGOs working with the underprivileged, we want to be more proactively involved. To add to our frustration, it doesn’t help that Pakistan makes it way into headlines of newspapers from all over the world. No matter which corner of the world we live in (and I have friends from all over), we are constantly reading or hearing about some crisis involving our beloved country. Concrete reason for gloom and prophesies of doom, I would say.

But let’s not linger on that thought for too long. We’re young, we’re energetic and we’re determined so instead of being disheartened by all that is wrong, why not create some good in our lives and spread it across the globe. Wherever you live, why not gather a group of like-minded Pakistanis (and whoever else is interested) and start some form of community service. Whether it’s volunteering at schools, helping the homeless or raising money for the IDPs back home, we have to unite the Pakistani-community and win back the sense of pride we once used to have being Pakistanis. I understand that this has been done to a certain degree already but we must stop only depending on organizations and committees to do this and each Pakistani must take responsibility and do their bit as well. We need to go out and show ourselves and the rest of the world that we are united. Even while watching Pakistan lose miserably against England in the cricket match this past weekend, I could sense the energy, the love, and the patriotism for our country from our fellow Pakistanis. We should not be shy of being seen, noticed and acknowledged; we should be talked about in a positive light rather than being put into situations where we’re forced to say “I’m originally from Pakistan but …”!

As citizens of the world, it is our responsibility to make the world a better place to live in. And if everybody does a little something in their community, then a lot of people will be doing a lot throughout the world. 

A friend of mine from Washington DC, Jeff, sent me the following article the day after my lamb meal. A coincidence? A sign? Go figure.

I’m ready to spread some good across the globe. What about you?


Young Pakistanis Take One Problem Into Their Own Hands

LAHORE, Pakistan The idea was simple, but in Pakistan, a country full of talk and short on action, it smacked of rebellion. A group of young Pakistani friends, sick of hearing their families complain about the government, decided to spite them by taking matters into their own hands: every Sunday they would grab shovels, go out into their city, and pick up garbage.

It was a strange thing to do, particularly for such students from elite private schools, who would normally spend Sunday afternoons relaxing in air-conditioned homes. But the students were inspired by the recent success of the lawyers movement, which used a national protest to press the government to reinstate the countrys chief justice, and their rush of public consciousness was irrepressible.

Everybody keeps blaming the government, but no one actually does anything, said Shoaib Ahmed, 21, one of the organizers. So we thought, why dont we? So they got on Facebook and invited all their friends to a Sunday trash picking. Trash, Mr. Ahmed said, is this most basic thing. Its not controversial, and you can easily do it.

Pakistan is a country plagued by problems, like Islamic extremism and poverty. But these young people are another face, a curious new generation that looks skeptically on their parents privilege and holds mullahs and military generals in equal contempt.

The youth of Pakistan wants to change things, said Shahram Azhar, the lead singer for Laal, a Pakistani rock band, reflecting an attitude that is typical of this rebellious younger generation.
The reason the Taliban is ruling Swat, he said referring to a valley north of Islamabad where Islamic extremists took control this year, is because they are organized. We need to organize, too. The only answer to Pakistans problems, he added, is a broad-based peoples movement.

The trash movement, which calls itself Responsible Citizens, does not yet qualify as broad, but it still drew a respectable crowd on a recent Sunday, considering the heat (above 90 degrees) and the time (around 4 p.m.). Mr. Ahmed and his friends were doling out trash bags they had bought for the occasion. About 40 people had gathered. Some were wearing masks. All were carrying shovels. They set their sights low. The area of operation, Ghalib Market, was modest, a quiet traffic circle in central Lahore encircled by shops, a cricket field and a mosque.

Please read the rest of the article @ http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/19/world/asia/19trash.html?pagewanted=1&_r=1&hpw

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8 comments

  1. May I ask the name of the place were you digested this fabulous lamb in London?

    Also. you seem to sit down with a lot of friends with various background and nationalities discussing global issues, which makes me wonder; do you have any Scandinavian friends? I would like to hear their take on the “current” problems theses countries are facing regarding immigrants traditions and religion etc..!?

  2. Yes, the restaurant is called Halepi and it’s a Greek restaurant. You must order the Kleftekon (that’s how you pronounce it but I’m sure I’ve ruined the spelling), which is lamb and served with baked potatoes, vegetables, and rice. It’s by far the best lamb I’ve ever had and it’s fantastic. In fact, the restaurant is amazing as it’s a very small restaurant owned by a Greek family for the past few decades. The family/staff is very warm, welcoming, with a great atmosphere. It’s at 18 Leinster Terrace at Lancaster Gate, just a few minute walk from the tube station and the Shell Pump on Bayswater Road.

    I used to have a Scandinavian friend a few years ago but I haven’t spoken to him in a while. I’ll get in touch with him!

  3. Thank you OUH, next time I am in London I shall check out that place, always liked Greek food. I have noticed you mention from time to time good spots in London. Looking forward to hearing to what your Scandinavian friend think of what I mentioned above. In Norway there is a rather large South Asian community which most has integrated successfully into our society and who has also contributed to make our city even more interesting and colourful in terms of shops, various restaurant and other cultural aspects.

    Yesterday an American friend originally from Washington DC but with parents that has roots in Indian joined for lunch, he is currently living in Norway after spending some years in London and think it is one of the greatest places to live and raise children, where cultural differences seem to be no problem and with an open minded society. The only thing he was missing though was a decent Mexican restaurant.

  4. Anonymous · · Reply

    This is great, Oms. We must take responsibility of how we are portrayed in today’s world as Pakistanis and each person should do their part alone! It’s not fair to depend on others and we need to create a better image for our ourselves and for our brothers and sisters of Pakistan who are shown in such a negative light because of some of the vicious creatures who are the Taliban, suicide bombers, terrorists, and just awful angry human beings out to destroy the reputation it took us years to build.

    I want to take part in community service and helping others as well and want to show the world that this is what Pakistan is all about and not about what you might read in the front page of the NYtimeS.

  5. Faith
    Unity
    Discipline
    These are the three points we NEED TO focus on as individuals and represent our country well. This is who we are and what we do.

  6. OUH,

    Is that the Greek rest you took me to?

    I like your piece a lot. As a Pakistani working abroad, I am trying to do what I can for work and as an individual through my website as well as other projects to impart change. It is important though for individuals to partner with others in order to truly realize our potential and influence, and act as role models to others. Only then can we “make a difference,” as cliche as that term is.

  7. Yes, Kalsoom. It’s that same restaurant we went to last yaer when you were visiting London.

    By the way, when I was having this discussion at Halipe, I actually used you as an example. I mentioned how even though you arent based in Pakistan, you are doing all you can from your end which is great. You are running a successfull Blog, which covers Pakistani politics & current issues along with helping out and working with NGOs as well while you’re sitting abroad.

    It’s impressive and you’re absolutely right – It’s very important for individuals to do what they can and try to partner with others to be able to make a difference.

    Just take a look at the article where the youngsters were sick of watching the world laugh at us and our country and started doing something so little as raking leaves in their neighborhood, which is a start.

    That’s what I was discussing with my friends as well where Ebrahim, a friend said that we should start doing some community service in London to show the Londoners that yes, we are Pakistani, and we should show ourselves in a positive light as well.

  8. Good luck. You should do something which would benefit others and shine Pakistan’s name

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