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If I had to summarize the main thing that sucks about Pakistan, it is something that is really painful for me to admit. Since I have lived abroad in different places, my nationality was not anything constant. I became extremely Muslim, and loved that I could connect with people of different ethnic groups due to our common Muslim bond. Of course I sincerely believed in Islam as well, and would wake up in the middle of the night to read tahajjud (night prayers) and memorize Suras. Being Muslim is my main identity.
But, after staying in Pakistan, I realized my version of Islam was extremely sanitized. For me, Islam was about living an unselfish lifestyle, taking care of other people, being modest, etc. Meanwhile, I continued happily with my Western privileges, like working, going out late, etc.
However, when you go to Pakistan, and you see Islam in practice, you would be Horrified. Ok people will say right away, that “no no, this is not the true Islam!!” or “religion is perfect, people are not.”. Well, people have never been perfect, so that argument is moot. A religion should account for that and be built to account for people’s imperfections. Unfortunately, I really feel that the ancestors of modern Pakistanis did themselves a big disservice by jumping on the bandwagon of Islam. And given that the country is still majority illiterate, I’m sure a few hundred years back, they basically all were….it’s not like they would have actually read any translated books to decide whether the religion was right for them.
These are the biggest problems of Pakistan I see:
1. Terrorism–Sure, Taliban are funded by Wahhabi Saudis and such, but they definitely would not have this zeal in this heart to destroy the government if they did not sincerely believe from their hearts that the government was evil. A person only kills themselves for a cause, and these people believe from their hearts they are doing something right for Islam. They believe the current government is unislamic, and want Shariah law in the country. Clearly, if it was not for Islam, they would not have this powerful drive to blow themselves up for a cause.
2. Poverty-a person has basic needs of food, clean water, clothing, shelter, and sex. In Pakistan, the food costs are very expensive relative to income, the water is full of parasites, and shelter is still a dream for many people. There are no big homeless shelters there, where you can just show up for a night. If you are poor, forget welfare or food stamps–you will literally be on the streets.
3. Virtually No Public Services–Library? Teen Centers? Public Restrooms? Homeless Shelters?? Forget about it. Also, if your doctor effs up on your case, and you are maimed-there is zero recourse.
4. Religious Intolerance-when 97%+ of the country believes in a religion which says leaving Islam is punishable by DEATH, you are not really going to see much tolerance. Discussing ideas? Why-there is only ONE RIGHT IDEA and WORLDVIEW. Even if you believe most Islamic things but you are “wrong” on some (ex. Qadianis), you are going to be an easy target to be killed. Everyone is freaked out about being identified as the “Other” so they try extra hard to show that they are not by banging their drums loudly about other people. People are literally killed everyday over religion–think about the last time in the States dudes killed each other over religion…seriously can’t think of any incident. Unfortunately, this type of rigid attitude spills into everything.
5. Sexual Deprivation–I never felt that sex was a big deal in life. I really hated that in high school, a lot of my peers became involved in relationships where they had so much drama and were unhappy. I felt sad for them, that why couldn’t they just wait until their wedding day. However, when I visited Pakistan again as a teenager, I was so grossed out. Even as a scrawny teenager wearing full chador and shalwar kameez, I had guys slap my butt, and one guy even flashed his genitals to me and my old aunt outside of the imambara. When I would go on the roof to relax with my cousins, I was told that it wasn’t a good idea becuase the boys would stare. Going to the playground, it was considered sexual if my 14 yo sister wanted to swing on the swings. We could not play badminton in the street because guys would come over and stare. And the sad thing is that is NORMAL there. Like when I came home upset that a guy had slapped me, my cousins were kind of quiet and said I shouldn’t say anything because it would reflect badly on me (!!) and “yeh to aksar hota yahan, koi nai baat nahi hai”. Also, they told me my city (Rawalpindi) was actually better than other cities.
On top of that, if you go into the net cafes there, they are not a quick nice place to check your email like you would expect. There are curtains and guys furiously watching porn. First i was disgusted, but then i felt sad. How does this society think it’s ok for people to spend the prime sexual years of their life without touch from the opposite sex? Imagine being 25 and never being kissed-never having sex-never even being in a meaningful relationship with another female? Ok and Viber and Whatsapp don’t count.
At the same time, these guys are all gungho about defending Islam and getting angry if Veena Malik shows cleavage. Ummm…wouldn’t it be better to date a girl, know her, love her, ok and yes have physical relations—but you would know her as a whole person?? Like…say..for example, the relationship of Messi and his wife. They dated for years, love each other, have a child-as a woman, I would prefer that than to not talk to men all my life, suddenly get married (after one meeting where the guy can see my hair), and then suddenly I receive my first hug, kiss, and sex all in one night. Honestly, that would be frikkin traumatizing.
Anyway, the society literally has almost 50 million, frustrated, unsatisfied young men. The Islamic prescription is to get married at puberty. In fact, there is a hadith that the girl should not have her first menstrual period at her father’s home (o_O). So…um…I guess girls can get married at 10 and guys at 12? Obviously, this is not practical, so that’s why you end up with this psycho, sexually frustrated society called Pakistan. After years like this, it is easy for the ends of the bell curve to turn to deviant forms of expression….be it groping women, turning to men when not gay, and generally making the society an unsafe and oppressive place to be for women.
It’s strange that Islamically we can sleep with our female slaves or captives (ma malakat aimanukum) without any nikah, but a girl that is genuinely interested in us is off limits. I don’t think American society is the ideal either, but at least, here sexual acts are generally consensual.
6. Safety—Obviously women are not safe in Pakistan due to the factors of sexual deprivation and poverty. You literally can’t go to the bazaar alone, you always have to go with someone. Guys have more liberty, but they still have a chance of being mugged or kidnapped. And anything that is a symbol of the West (considered “dar ul harb”/house of war) is deemed worthy of attack by the Islam-fueled terrorists. So, whenever you’re in McDonalds or a theatre (unislamic because actors touch), you’re scared of getting blown up.
7. Extremely Boring – so much mental energy is spent on separating the sexes or getting offended about America/Israel/India, but barely nothing on public services. If you are a girl, you can basically: i. eat ii. sit in front of a screen (means stare into your phone, go on net, or watch humtv), iii. do endless homework and tuitions for your degree (even though 90% of women in Pakistan end up not working). iv. be dependent on your male members of your family to schlep you around to different places. Going shopping? Swimming? Early morning jog? Short bike ride with friends? NO TO ALL. Even if you’re 28, gotta wait for bhaiyya or papa. And biking even with them is considered unfeminine and potentially devirginizing (yup..got told this).
YES, I know there are awesome things about Pakistan—girls are generally very sweet and nice, people are family-oriented, quality of clothes are good, produce quality is excellent, etc. But every single opinion thread I see seems to be hijacked by Pakistani guys who just go to google images and post images of KPK or posh areas of karachi, and act like that is the “real” Pakistan. It is part of it, but skews the picture, so I wanted to present the other side, which is actually more representative of the true picture.
Sorry for the brevity :p
Quora has no provision for me to comment as “anonymous” so I’m writing here. mr hamza, actually, my whole extended family is in PK and only two of my female relatives work, so no one was really busy. We did go on outings, but it was during these outings all these bad things happened. In regards to Northern areas, I did go to Murree and Nathiagali. Could not see Swat, Kaghan, etc. because apparently Taliban has taken them over.
Of course, there are good things in Pakistan, but it’s totally wrong to say that I wrote all this just because I didn’t have good company. In fact, the company I have over there is the only reason I still go back. Otherwise, why would I spend $3000 on a trip to get dysentery, get harassed, and be locked in the home like a child, waiting for a male to take me outside?
Azhargulzar: I’m glad you empathize with your sisters and back them up. You know, we always say “oh it’s like this because we don’t follow Islam”…but did we ever think maybe this situation is because of Islam? If someone had asked me this before, I would say “auzubillah”, but really we should think about it. If you travel the world, you would notice that in any society where there is gender segregation (ex. Orthodox Jews, India, nearly all Muslim countries), the level of female harassment is maximized. In Sweden or Germany, a woman can walk around unaccompanied, full cleavage, bare legs-and no one will bother her.
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