There has been an unending stream of propaganda against Pakistan ever since she decided to go nuclear. She is variously described as a violent country, failed and most dangerous state, hub of terrorism where women are mercilessly abused, etc. etc. Given the repetition, over time, such depictions are bound to make unsuspecting people accept these as facts especially when the media do their best to prevent the true picture from being presented.
The media in Pakistan are complicit, if not the protagonists, in this nefarious game to create alarm abroad and induce despondence at home to make people lose hope and faith in the future. Facts are misrepresented and positive developments ignored to create dissatisfaction, resentment and instability in the country. This is an attempt to clarify a few of the more common negative perceptions that abound both in the media and on the Internet.
To understand a country one has to really know the ethos of its people. This is not always easy for someone who is not a part of the culture. The inability to understand often leads to poor judgement and miscalculation. Just to give one example, an oft repeated joint US National Intelligence Council and CIA report released in 2000 predicted: “by year 2015 Pakistan would be a failed state, ripe with civil war, bloodshed, inter-provincial rivalries and a struggle for control of its nuclear weapons and complete Talibanisation”. 2015 is almost here but the dire prediction seems nowhere near coming true.
There is a general impression that people in Pakistan are bigoted and intolerant. In reality they happen to be anything but that.
According to a survey published in The Washington Post last year (15th May 2013), Pakistanis are more tolerant than people in almost all the countries in Europe, including France, Germany and Holland. Only Norway, Sweden and Britain have a higher rating. About 6.5% of Pakistanis said they would not like to have a neighbour from a different race. In India, on the other hand, more than 40 % of the people would apparently not like it. http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/15/a-fascinating-map-of-the-worlds-most-and-least-racially-tolerant-countries/
Also not Violent
Pakistanis are also not violent.The rate of deaths due to violence per 100,000 people in Pakistan is still less than that in the US (5.0 as against 6.5). It is only a fraction of what it is in almost all of Africa, Latin America (including Mexico) and also Russia. It is about the same as for India and Israel but less than in most of Eastern Europe. http://www.worldlifeexpectancy.com/cause-of-death/violence/by-country/
The incidents of rape in Pakistan are among the lowest in the world —- less than one thousand a year for a population of 180 million. France on the other hand, with one-third the population of Pakistan, averages more than 10,000 cases a year. President Carter, in his recent book ‘A Call to Action: Women, Religion, Power and Politics’ claims some 12,000 women in the US military alone were raped in 2012. Yet, ironically, human rights organizations in the West chose a rape victim from Pakistan and paraded her around the world to symbolize the plight of women in general (http://www.salon.com/2014/04/10/america_as_the_no_1_warmonger_president_jimmy_carter_talks_to_salon_about_race_cable_news_slut_shaming_and_more/?source=newsletter).
Karachi is often labeled in the western media as the ‘most dangerous city in the world’ (The Financial Times, 28th June, 2014). If you were to do a Google search of the top fifty most dangerous cities in the world you will not find Karachi’s name on the list. http://www.businessinsider.com/most-dangerous-cities-in-the-world-2012-10#
The rate of violent crime in Detroit, Michigan is seven times greater than that in Lahore, Pakistan’s second largest city. http://www.beyondtheheadlines.org/lovely-lahore/
Much is also made of religious extremism and incidents of terrorism in the country. These are not peculiar to Pakistan or the Muslims. Yet, the word ‘terrorism’ has been made more or less synonymous with Muslims which has no basis in fact. According to the list compiled by the FBI for the twenty-five-year period between 1980 and 2005, Muslims were involved in only six per cent of all the terrorist acts committed in the US as against the Jews in seven per cent and Latinos in forty-two per cent. http://www.zerohedge.com/contributed/2013-05-01/non-muslims-carried-out-more-90-all-terrorist-attacks-us-soil
The European Union’s Terrorism Situation and Trend Report for 2010 indicates that out of a total of 294 ‘failed, foiled or successfully executed’ terrorist attacks in Europe in 2009 only one was by Muslim extremists. As against two by the group opposed to the importation of wines from North Africa (article by Dan Gardener in The Ottawa Citizen of 5th January 2011).
Extremists are found in any religion be it Christianity, Judaism or Hinduism. The same is true for acts of terrorism but the two, that is, religious extremism and terrorism are not synonymous (The Battle for God, by Karen Armstrong). IRA in Northern Ireland, ETA in Spain, Shining Path Guerillas in South America, Naxallites, Nagas, ULFA, NDFB, the Khalistan Army to name a few in India, Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka, FLQ in Canada —- are not Muslims. (Dying to Win, by Robert Pape, University of Chicago).
The threat posed to the West by Muslim extremists may well have been exaggerated and even misplaced according to Sir Richard Dearlove who had been head of Britain’s MI6. He thinks the 9/11 attacks put a ‘distortion’ towards Islamic extremism in the public consciousness which has remained ever since:
There was no terrorism in Pakistan to speak of until General Musharraf, under pressure from the US, broke longstanding agreements with the tribesmen and sent troops into Waziristan to hunt down Taliban escaping from Afghanistan. The force used was excessive, inappropriate and unlawful. It is the basic cause of terrorism in Pakistan today (Yeh Khamoshi Kahaan Tuk, by Lt. Gen. Shahid Aziz and The Thistle and the Drone, by Akbar S. Ahmed).
Taking advantage of the situation, some other actors have jumped into the fray using Afghanistan as their base. India, for instance, has about one million people of Indian origin living in the United Kingdom and she needs only two consulates to look after their needs. On the other hand in Afghanistan, where there are only 3,600 or so Indian nationals, she now maintains seven consulates, most of these in towns along Pakistan’s border. They are widely believed to be involved in supporting terrorism inside Pakistan.
Similarly, CIA memos reveal that in 2007 and 2008 Israeli agents posed as American spies and recruited men to work for the terrorist outfit Jundallah in Pakistan to carry out false flag operations against Iran (‘False Flag’, by Mark Perry, foreignpolicy.com, 13 January 2012).
What We Can Do
Sitting back and allowing things to get from bad to worse is not an option for the sake of our children and grandchildren, if nothing else. To pin hope entirely on the government or some other body too is flawed for no government can succeed without public support. By withholding it we are in fact setting up Pakistan to fail. Mindless criticism, moping and groaning do not help matters either yet allowing poor and corrupt governance to destroy our country is not an option either. The people of Pakistan must realize that all nations have to go through a tough time before they can achieve greatness. Sometimes people of a nation don’t have a choice but to stand up against threats from within, from their own people and from their own leaders. The only way out is to think positive, join hands and pull together. Just get up and do your part —- starting with spreading the message to as many patriotic Pakistanis as you can.
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