Monday, August 27, 2007

wake up and smell the coffeeeee

I have realized that we all need wake up moments in life—a moment that clichéd as it may sound life decides to take you by your shoulders and shake you out of your complacency. For some time I have been a victim, albeit a grudging victim, of the “everything is well” syndrome that has intoxicated most of my compatriots; that all is well with our nation sixty years in its existence, of the importance of optimism and turning a deaf ear to all the negative propaganda that is a mischievous conspiracy on the part of Pakistan’s enemies. This August 14th in Melbourne, at the stroke of 10am in the morning when many in Pakistan were asleep, I standing in the consulate of a Schengen state awoke to a redefinition of what a meaningful life and freedom means for a Pakistani abroad. “A moment comes, which comes but rarely in history, when we step out from the old to the new, when an age ends, and when the soul of a nation, long suppressed, finds utterance. My sincerest apologies to the soul of Jawaharlal Nehru and his offspring for so liberally distorting his landmark speech to articulate my frame of mind that August morning. As the visa officer brought out a separate sheet of paper and asked me for an undertaking that I had never falsified my travel documents, undertaken terrorist training (as if!) and the piece de resistance my travel history to certain countries and regions in the past three years (transit not counting). And well pride of place (perhaps a cosmic present from the heavens for all we have subjected the world to in the past sixty years) in the list of sad, bad, countries was our beloved country Pakistan. Yes, it is not the ubiquitous Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq and the usual gang of terrors alone, there it was in black and white have I travelled in the past three years to Pakistan, tick please. Kashmir and Chechnya were listed as regions, probably not to embarrass their central governments. There was Philippines, which seemed like an afterthought, and the United Arab Emirates that should worry all the jockeys and horses the Emirates group sponsors courtesy their involvement with the Melbourne Cup ....

But my pet greeve for this week is not the duplicity in attitude towards the United Arab Emirates, it is the sorrow experienced on a particular day when I was in the mood to celebrate a day of political maturity (60 is a sobering year) and a moment of arrival for my country on the world scene. Well arrived our country has and with style and fanfare. Albeit it is in all the wrong pages and lists—to be topping the list of short stop-over or leg-overs while your flight prepares to visit the Axis of Evil is no good news.

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