Pakistan: Its Trials, Tribulations and its Beauty

Image of Pakistan (Getty)

Pakistan: Its Trials, Tribulations and its Beauty
As Pakistan's political crisis deepens, Anwar Akhtar, an expert in south Asian politics and culture, looks at everyday life in the tumultous country - and picks his top ten observations.
Channel 4, 14 February 2012

1 - Pakistan is not poor, despite the best efforts of some of the people running this country to make it so. It takes five hours to drive from Multan to Lahore, another four to then go to Islamabad, as far as the eye can see are the lush fields of the fertile Punjab agriculture belt, full of wheat, cotton, sugar cane, mangoes, and more citrus fruit then I can list.

There are massive opportunities for wider agricultural diversity and investment - Pakistan could be self-sufficient in food production but instead millions live in poverty, whilst feudal landlords export food on a mass scale to the Arab Gulf States.

2 - Travelling to visit relatives in Multan, Bahawlphur and remote villages near Ahmed Pur East, life is very different from Lahore, Karachi and Islamabad. Some places seem unaffected by the 21st century power struggles of oil, gas pipelines and conflicts between rival clerical conglomerates - some USA backed, some not.

Villages I last visited over a decade ago have not changed since.

3 - The military, religious, feudal and political elites that run this country are either in denial or apathy regarding the severity of the multiple crises Pakistan faces. They display a shocking lack of regard for the welfare of the people. Pakistan’s problems are vast and well documented, but there is also an extraordinary resilience of the people here, both in the cities and the villages.

Despite sectarian tensions and troubles, Karachi is an adrenalin-fuelled economic engine - a mega-city port of huge potential. There are countless civil society organisations, small and large businesses, a mind-boggling array of media organisations, TV channels, bloggers, campaigning journalists, young film makers, welfare and charitable networks.

There are both small and mini welfare states such as the Edhi Foundation, The Citizen's Foundation, Human Rights Commission Pakistan, Simorgh Women's Welfare Project and many educational and cultural institutions doing amazing work. The gravity defying logic of this is the subject of countless books, articles and academic papers, but it's there for any visitor to Pakistan to see for themselves.

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