Good News from Pakistan: IDPs Bring Out Our Pakistaniat

Posted on May 29, 2009
Filed Under >Adil Najam, About ATP, Disasters, Society
33 Comments
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Adil Najam

When you write and think deeply about Pakistan every day – and, really, every minute – you become sensitive not only to the great trends of our time but also to the subtle changes in those trends. Sometimes, although never often enough, such change is not only perceptible but positive.

The last few week have witnessed such a change. One cannot be certain yet whether this change is momentary or permanent – indeed, there are many reasons why it could be easily reversed – but it is clear that the combined effect of the displacement of 2.5 million Pakistanis from their homes, the growing immediacy and coming out of the shadows of the threat from extremism, and the forceful military action against militant forces, have had the combined effect of galvanizing Pakistanis. Our criticism of and cynicism for the government, for politics, for international affairs, for anyone and everyone with any power, has not subsided – nor should it – but our Pakistaniness, our Pakistaniat, is much more vividly, more unambiguously, more unconditionally on display.

This Pakistaniat has been on display right here in the generosity of our readers in response to our appeal for relief efforts for IDPs. But it has been even more profoundly on display everywhere else. It has been on display by my friend and fellow-blogger Dr. Awab Alvi (TeethMaestro) and his amazing effort to take truckloads of relief goods directly to those in greatest need. It has been on display in the calls to action made by relief organizations, by development organizations, by telethons, by newspaper appeals, by facebook appeals, by bloggers, by Pakistanis everywhere. It has been on display in our personal, institutional, national empathy for our displaced fellow Pakistanis. But most of all this heightened sense of Pakistaniat has been evident in the perceptible change in the tone of our conversations – conversations where we speak of ‘Pakistan’ not as if it was a group of powerful individuals who control the country, but as if it is us all. Each one of us. It is this new sense of taking on national as well as personal responsibility that is the best news coming out of Pakistan today.

We will need to hold steadfast to this spirit. Because things never change overnight. Attacks on Lahore and Peshawar by the enemies of Pakistan in the last few days have shown that those who are out to kill Pakistanis are relentless. The crisis of the internally displaced persons (IDPs) is going to be long-drawn. Not just because they may be stuck in camps for long, but because they will need much help even when they go back and try to rebuild all that has been destroyed. And the seeds of division and disdain that have been sown deep into our society at every level will continue to haunt us. These demons will not depart overnight.

For our part, we at All Things Pakistan (ATP) will continue to do what we can. In whatever little way we can. For now, we continue our drive for relief. Till now a total of US$6000+ has been raised ($4000+ directly from readers and $2000 added to that from ATP Ads). We hope that the amount collected from readers will reach US$5000 by June 1. At that point we will decide whether to keep the collection widget live or not. In either case, our commitment to Pakistan is forever. Our commitment to whatever we can do for IDPs must also be long-term. We know that our reader’s committment to Pakistan and Pakistanis is eqully deep.

This blog came out of the view that Pakistaniat come from the recognition that you can be against the government, against the establishment, against all that is patently wrong, but you have to stand with Pakistan, with Pakistanis, with Pakistaniat. Indeed, the purpose of our criticism of that which is wrong is to make Pakistani stronger. As we approach our third anniversary, the importance of this idea is again made evident to us. Pakistan’s future, we firmly believe, lies not in the hands of those who control government, or the military or civil establishment, nor of outside actors, nor internal enemies. Pakistan’s future lies in the strength of our own Pakistaniat. If that survives, so do we.

33 responses to “Good News from Pakistan: IDPs Bring Out Our Pakistaniat”

  1. Aliw says:

    See the whole picture
    http://www.thenews.com.pk/daily_detail.asp?id=1807 68

    Tuesday, June 02, 2009
    This is with reference to articles published in your newspaper titled “Ethnic discrimination?” (May 30) and “Crises that loom beyond the military action” (May 26) by Dr Shireen Mazari and Babar Sattar, respectively, in which my statement on the need to register the IDPs and the analogy that Pakistan couldn’t afford another bitter experience after the Afghan refugee crisis has been thoroughly criticised and titles of ‘blundering spokesperson’ and ‘most moronic voice’ have been awarded by the writers. It is important to note that there is a context and rationale behind every statement and at times the questions posed by media persons lead to answers which mostly are not printed in full. By way of this letter, I would like to set the record straight.

    The IDPs from Malakand division are welcome to go to any region of the country as they are as much a citizen of Pakistan as I am provided they register themselves with an authority like NADRA or the welcoming regions. Registration is important for reasons of resource allocation which will be made in the upcoming federal budget for 2009-10. Imagine the impact of a population move from one place to another leads to possible strain on demand of almost every good and service. The welcoming region has a rightful claim for resource-sharing caused by the influx. If there is no registration, we can never have the right number of the IDPs. Some will claim two million, others will claim three million and so on. Unless we measure the right number, we can never monitor. Also each family is to be paid Rs25,000. Unless registered, how would that be possible?

    The results of the registration are bearing fruit as more than 50 suspected militants and Taliban have been arrested from IDP camps who were trying to slip out in the guise of refugees. The Afghan refugee problem continues to plague Pakistan even after the withdrawal of Soviet forces nearly 20 years ago. Would the writers deny the same?

    Insha Allah, the situation will restore in the affected regions and the IDPs will go back to their homes. With the destruction taking place, there will eventually be demands for compensation. Wouldn’t the registration help at the time of rehabilitation in avoiding siphoning off money to people who may be demanding more or unreasonably? I request the writers to criticise public representatives after seeing the whole picture and understanding the context of what was said and what was printed.

    Fauzia Wahab

    Central information secretary,

    Pakistan Peoples Party,

    Islamabad

  2. AbSAR says:

    Prof. Najam, first thank you for this campaign.

    Second, I have just added a small contribution and glad that you gave me opportunity to do so.

    Third, it says that this will end in 1 hour. Can I ask you to please continue this at least till tomorrow so that the target can be reached. A few more dollars might not mean much but it will give people like me satisfaction that we were part of helping you meet your target.

    Thank you.

  3. Adil Najam says:

    Dear Friends. Now that there are many accessible ways to give to IDPs we intend to close down the widget either late today or early tomorrow.

    It is heartening to see that Pakistanis are giving generously to this critical cause in our nation’s history. We want to thank all of you for your support and generosity. We remain committed to Pakistan and to this cause and pledge to do whatever little we can for this. We hope that you will continue doing so too.

    We will post details of how we use this last trance in a few days once all the donations have been collected.

  4. Hussain says:

    8 hours left and around 500 more to go to meet target. I hope you will meet the target, but even if you do not you have already done so much and we are proud of you all.

    P.S. I just added a little contribution for the IDPs who are going through this to fight our battles for us.

  5. Azra says:

    You are all doing great work and hats off to your readers too for contributing. I hope that the remaining few hundred dollars will be raised today before you take it off so that the target is met. But more than that, I hope that this giving spirit will continue even after the fundraising stops.

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