Rohit Kumar's Views

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Pakistan — abandoned at birth

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One has been blessed with a fortunate life in a myriad of magical ways. But the greatest fortune is the experience of a childhood in Pakistan. The connection I have with this troubled land is an umbilicus that refuses to be severed and, despite what the media force-feeds me, nurtures me unlike any other encounter I have had. I seldom set foot on the land yet these invisible roots are the true song lines by which I live my current privileged life.

Many experience this passion for Pakistan, yet we feel we are being submerged in an alternate perception; the face of Pakistan that gets all the attention, the ugly apparent truth of a country ravaged, savaged and damaged by corruption, poverty, religious fundamentalism and hopelessness.

But there’s this thundering velvet voice, persistent and persuasive, that demands we listen to its innocent message. It insists that we turn our attention away from all the hatred that the world and the country’s own citizens focus on. It whispers frantically in our ear that this country doesn’t need hard-nosed politicians, clever economists or professors with infinite letters attached to their names. It doesn’t need rambling rhetoric or egoistic debate and it certainly doesn’t need punishing. What it needs is unconditional love.

They say that unlike normal birth where a child is organically pushed through the birth canal, a child of Caesarean beginnings is pulled into the cold air of an unfamiliar world without preparation or transition time. They need extra nurturing, close contact and patience in order to develop fully.

The birth of Pakistan is similar – a literal line drawn in the sand in August 1947, the surgeons cut. The terrifying exodus of a persecuted people from one world to another tainted with blood and guts, the unprotected transition, a massive shock. This country, this child, was born to immature teen parents, unprepared politicians, who were given the task of taking care of something new and fragile. These floundering leaders had little cultural confidence or pertinent history to reference, nor did they wish to turn to their subcontinental ‘grandmother’ for help because this was the source of the original wound.

The solitary hook the keepers of this precious newborn land had to hang its hat on was a religion and culture underpinned by honour and shame, but to raise a child with guilt and fear creates a dysfunctional adult.

Pakistan is an abandoned child with scant memory of a mother who held her with unconditional love, or a father who cared enough to protect her; a neglected child left alone whilst her ‘family’ went out to ‘work’, ‘pray’ and ‘party’, satisfying their own egos, forcing her to fend for herself too soon. The abused now abuses, unable to define right from wrong, functioning from a hollowed out abandoned space in her heart, the floods her long repressed tears of sadness and muted suffering.

Hate or political policy based in intellect won’t heal her. Religious fervour won’t save her soul. For the ever increasing circle of cynics such idealism might be too simplistic, trite or brown basmati rice and navel gazing, but the people of Pakistan are her mirror on the wall.

Each of us can change Pakistan’s reality. Focusing on her largely ignored prolific positive traits, and by loving all of her including her flaws, will release her pain and allow her to blossom into the potentially beautiful country we know she is.

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