2017 has been a whirlwind year for Pakistan. From political protests to social media wars over an actress’s pictures, we debated quite a lot. And between it all, several fissures emerged in the national, social fabric. Here are a few of the beliefs and concepts that emerged as problematic, which we must discard as we enter the new year.
1) Stop believing in ‘Peer Fakeeri’
Our beliefs relating to peer fakeeri are quite paralyzing. The effects of the beliefs might not be as obvious as the rest of this list. But the belief that being loyal to an ancestral saint will change our future can potentially cripple otherwise hardworking Pakistani citizens. Not to mention, peer fakeeri has become a sort of mafia in Pakistan. While there is a rich Sufi tradition in the country, it is very easy for frauds to leech off helpless people’s grievances. For instance, the phenomenon of ‘Peer Shah Daula ke chuhay’ has created a begging mafia in the country. People think peer fakeeri is just a village thing. But, many urban centers too, have darbars such as Data Darbar, which infuse peer fakeeri into the social fabric of the country. We must be more wary of such superstition-based beliefs from entering our society in 2018.
2) Finally, learn the real meaning of “paindu” and stop using it derogatorily:
The implication of the term ‘paindu’ is largely negative and used to denote all types of village behavior. If you don’t speak English like angrez babu then in society’s view: you are paindu. Don’t wear designer level, sophisticated clothing, or wear flashy, glittery clothes? Then chances are someone calls you out for dressing like a ‘paindu‘. To burst the bubble of ignorance: paindu is just a word for someone who belongs to a pind (village). Even someone living in the city could originally be a ‘paindu‘ because their ancestral roots trace back to rural areas. The derogatory associations with the term paindu have been artificially created and perpetuated generationally. However, this year, let’s bridge the gap between rural and urban inhabitants for a more cohesive society.
3) This year, let’s give trolling a break
We generally tend to humorize ourselves at the expense of someone’s self- esteem or in some cases their dignity. The internet troll level in 2017 particularly, was too darn high. For instance, the girl on her school zoo trip made the mistake of a calling a gainda a gainda and not a hippopotamus. We were unforgivingly harsh on her accent. Similarly, the college girl on her trip to Murree was ostracized for her enthusiasm in unknowingly saying “We are proud of you”. Several follow up reports mentioned these women to have suffered a blow to their self-confidence. When we use humor at the expense of other people’s lives we aren’t just trolling, we are just being plain bullies. This year, let us encourage self-confidence instead of dampening it with our ideas of how English should be spoken.
4) Feminists do not have an agenda against men!
It is now 2018, and yet we still scream ‘feminazi’ at anyone who merely mentions gender equality. Let’s make one thing clear: Women’s rights are not synonymous with denying men their rights. Nor, does rallying for female emancipation have to do anything with ‘pseudo-liberalism’. You can be a conservative society such as the ‘Islamic Republic of Pakistan’ and still argue in favor of women’s rights. Because frankly, we are guilty of not providing even the basic freedom that Islam provisions for women. The right to choose; to inherit; to educate oneself; or to work, rarely exist for women. This year, let’s not take offense to the very word ‘feminism’ and let’s not equate it to an anti-men movement. Instead, let us listen to women, whether rural or urban and vow to address their grievances to progress our nation forward.
5) Differentiate between domestic help and slavery!
Some might treat their domestic help ‘nicely’. Other’s may behave with their’s in a deplorable fashion. But, the fact remains that we have ‘otherized’ the domestic help in our homes. Even if we talk to them respectfully, we still majorly keep them at arm’s length. We often say “inko aukat mein rakhna zaroori hai” or “yeh log to hotay he kam chor hain”. But, these phrases do not represent something innate in them. They are the same “log” as we are; just not fortunate enough to have been born with a silver spoon in their mouth. Doesn’t matter how nicely you treat them. If you still separate their utensils or deem it appropriate that they sit on the floor while you sit on your sofa, then you are complicit in making their social mobility impossible. This new year let’s vow to check our language and terminology when speaking about domestic help. Let’s do away with the slave mentality that plagues us.
6) Good News: You don’t have to become a doctor, lawyer or engineer!
Unfortunately, we are now in 2018 and this is still a relevant reiteration. Liberal arts, media studies etc. are rapidly developing fields that are a must to understand Pakistani society as it develops. A ‘traditional’ degree, although invaluable, can only take you so far in understanding Pakistan’s place in the global scheme. 2017 saw so many human rights awareness campaigns. There was also a lot of developments in fighting for minority rights such as transgenders, religious minorities etc. People who study social subjects in depth are better equipped to rally for a more cohesive society. And, definitely gone are the days when there were fewer well-paying jobs for liberal arts graduates. Career opportunities are now expansive with a non-traditional degree. So, let’s make 2018 a year in which we start giving liberal arts education due credit in raising this awareness. Let’s not fall prey to “log kya kahein ge”s
7) Stop believing in conspiracy theories-everything is not a Raw or Mossad conspiracy!
Since a few years, Pakistan has witnessed a lot of political and social turmoil. And our favorite response to all calamities was: “Yeh sab yahoodi saazish hai”. Either that, or we blamed everything on India. Invisible Raw agents were certainly our favorite scapegoats. But here is a thought, simple yet lost on many: We can’t blame foreign forces for our problems every time. Sectarian division is not a Jewish conspiracy. Nor is rallying for transgender rights India’s agenda to destabilize Pakistan. We, as a nation are responsible for our social problems. Let’s start 2018 by accepting our socio-political problems as real. Only after acceptance will we be able to look within to find solutions to them.
8) Need to do away with any beliefs or practices that create racial or ethnic division
2017 was the year of Trump. The world superpower’s president spewing racist hate throughout the year created intense debates on what racism is. Trump’s travel ban, in particular, had Pakistani’s in a frenzy. People took to social media to criticize the move and call out Trump for blatant racism and ethnic division. But, we don’t realize our own racism and ethnically dividing behaviors. While we ask that diversity is celebrated abroad, we seldom practice it in our own country. Provincial ethnicities such as Balochi’s, for instance, suffer discrimination by the government itself, let alone the rest of the people. We value the title of ‘Pakistani’ over anything else. As a result, we suppress the fundamental ethnic identities of our own people. So, global keyboard warriors, please first look into your own home and then rally for worldly causes.
9) And lastly, Hafeez center is not the answer to all your electronics related problems
Lahori’s, in particular, seek their savior in Hafeez center for all their electronics problems. However, we all know it is famous for being a shady spot both in terms of the environment and the products sold. The chances of getting a fake product are high. This inculcates consumer-seller mistrust in society, which is profitable for no one. But, there is hope for consumerism at least. E-commerce is rapidly changing the marketplace. Online stores such as Careeb that run on a hyperlocal model bring the latest electronics right to your doorstep with competitive prices. This year, let’s place our trust in online retail for a more convenient and reliable shopping experience.