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Month: March 2012

Voices of Pakistan

As a Pakistani-American residing in the US for over 40 years, I used to go regularly to Pakistan to visit family until recent years.  After the tides turned against Pakistan in superpower politics, and the violence increased in the big cities especially, I began to worry about traveling there due to personal fear.  So when I found myself at Dubai airport this January taking a flight to Lahore to visit my favourite uncle and mentor Dr. Abdul Raouf, I was both excited and scared.  Would I find the driver? Would I reach the house safely? I did find the driver, and as we drove through the rather clean streets of Lahore, I began to feel a peace and a calming feeling washing over me.  I remembered stories and movies of how these very same people experienced the bloody Partition when the British left and yet survived it.   The streets must have been littered with blood and bones at that time as the British army retreated leaving a wake of sectarian violence of a scale never seen before.  And maybe whenever, if ever, the American army retreats, they will survive again, and focus on re-building not tearing each other apart. I felt that vision despite the daily news of murders, assassination and bombings.  And as I sat in the peaceful garden outside the guest room at Chachajan’s house listening to birds chirping in the mango, orange and banana trees, I felt at home and truly at peace.  This is what peace could look like if we humans decided to aspire to our higher selves, not our animal brains, and this peace is all possible if only we put our minds and hearts to it.