Dear Naya Pakistan,
Just to start things off with a clarification: by definition, I may be a foreigner but that does not change the fact that I was born in Pakistan, that I have spent every other summer in the heat of Lahore, and to this day my parents enforce Pakistani cultures and traditions in the house.
So yes living in a different country may make me a foreigner, lekin dil toh hai Pakistani.
For as long as I can remember, you have been described as a third world country and an underdog.
Why else would my parents leave their families, their house, and their memories behind to step into a world of the unknown? But the people of Pakistan and the ones that believe in it have worked long and hard for the past 22 years since my family moved, and I can hold my head up high and say I am proud to be a Pakistani.
I have been on this journey of accepting my roots and heritage for a very long time. Things I have heard on the news, from people close and far from me, and my personal experiences have never portrayed you as the homeland I always wanted you to be.
See, I know you’re not a perfect nation. You never have been.
Evils like child rape, domestic violence, honor killings, harassment, and inequality among different sexes and people of different sexual orientations still exist within your realm. But I hope you’ll do better. I hope you’ll be better.
For me, this new era for you could be the light at the end of a truly gloomy tunnel.
In my mind, this new age could promise improvement, modernity, and progress. The next time I visit, I want to be able to explore your beauty and richness without having to worry about my safety. I want to see children going to school and laughing with friends during lunch breaks, rather than alone in a room being taken advantage of.
I wish to see more women in positions of power. I hope to see the transgender community get the respect and love they deserve. Dear Naya Pakistan, I want to see change like never before.
I have faith in us. We’re not there yet, but we will be. Soon.
Already, women can be seen uniting through the #MeToo movement and through initiatives like the Aurat March. The conversation around taboo topics has begun. The awareness being raised through the means of social media, and the cleansing of people’s minds are the steps that are already being taken in the right direction. I am happy with the improvements we have been able to make and the improvements we are continuing to work at.
We should no longer be looked at as the nation that houses terrorists. Rather we should be looked at as a nation that is talented, dedicated and selfless. This is the place I am happy to call home, a place that will always accept me for myself, and allow me to grow as an individual. I guess what I’m saying is, like every hopeful Pakistani, I want you to be successful, Naya Pakistan.
A Pakistani who can’t wait to come back.
Cover image via tribune.com.pk