“Your words are guesswork. He speaks from experience. There’s a huge difference.” These few lines of the poem, ‘Judge a moth by the beauty of its candle,’ by the twelfth century Sufi poet, Jelaluddin Rumi, potentially highlight one of the main reasons behind many of the misperceptions and ignorance about Pakistan.
Pakistan is a rather misunderstood corner of the planet, with its overrepresentation of negativity and associated images. Undoubtedly, the international mass media has largely contributed to the somewhat distorted image of the country. In short, Pakistan is in need of a major public relations makeover.
Somehow assuming the role of accidental brand ambassador, I have found myself reporting on aspects of the country which are often overlooked and shielded from the international eye. Through my first-hand experiences, my aim has been to portray and provide information about this oft-maligned place in a more balanced way and beyond the media stereotypes. My rumblings have ranged from hard political and economic topics to the downright frivolous. Further, my visits to Pakistan seem to have placed me in the precarious position of bringing a non-Pakistani voice into the equation. My writings have attracted criticism for such an ‘idealistic’ stance, as well as rebukes for even visiting the country in the first place, given ‘the way they treat their women.’ The first point of defence are those last lines of Rumi’s poem… no matter the amount of television news reports and articles about a country; nothing heightens your sensitivity towards a place than first-hand appreciation. Pakistanis both inside and outside the country appreciate the support; my only response is that Pakistan unjustifiably receives a lot of bad press and, frankly, deserves better. The journey starts in 2007……
All comments and feedback are welcome!