Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Building Brand Pakistan - Part 5...another Young Pakistani Girl makes us Proud!

Those who think Pakistan is only about suppressed women behind forced veils, need to look beyond this media created stereo-typical image and understand that 1) veiled women are a minority in the Pakistan of today 2) most veils are not forced but voluntary sprouting more out cultural reasons than religious 3) veils,  hijabs or covering more than a bikini has nothing to do with your ability to succeed academically or professionally. 
A Brilliant young girl Sitara Akbar, who is only 11 years old and a resident of Chiniot (small town, north west of the city of Lahore,  Pakistan), set a world record by passing O-level English, Mathmatics and Science. (as Geo News reported on Sunday, 12 Dec 2011)
This is not the first time that the eleven-year-old girl from Chanab area of Chiniot had dazzled the world with her brilliance. She had passed O-level Chemistry in nine years of age, hitting a record in Pakistan. Sitara then went ahead and succeeded in setting her first world record after passing O-level Biology at the age of 10.
Sitara’s father lamented that she had once been expelled from an elementary school on grounds that she asked many questions in the class.
Great going Sitara!  Keep the questioning mind alive and kicking! That's what Pakistan needs! 
The world record holder was expelled from school "for asking too many questions"

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Building Brand Pakistan - Part 4

Pakistani youth making a difference in their own pockets - every little change adds up to become a revolution...[news posted from CNN]

14-year-old girl wins Pakistan's first peace prize

November 24, 2011|By Nasir Habib, CNN
A female teacher gives a lesson at a girl's school in the main town of Swat valley, Pakistan on August 1, 2009.
An eighth-grade girl was awarded Pakistan's first National Peace Prize Thursday for her online diary reporting on the Taliban's ban on education for girls.
Malala Yousufzai, a resident of Swat Valley in northwest Pakistan -- one of the most conservative regions of the country -- wrote about her frustration with the Taliban's restrictions on female education in her town.
Using the Internet, she reached out to the outside world, taking a stand by writing about her daily battle with extremist militants who used fear and intimidation to force girls to stay at home.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Building Brand Pakistan - Part 3

In an attempt to share what'good' is happening in Pakistan. Peshawar is not the most advanced cities of Pakistan, but this story shows that talent could be hiding in any town, under any circumstances - all you need is the passion and a little bit of encouragement and recognition. I'm so proud to see these two brothers aiming to establish a world record to bring glory to our nation.

We need to share more stories like these - this is the on the ground reality of our country.

You're from the country where they 'cook up their men' !!

I land at JFK airport and my husband and I go to the rent a car section to get ourselves a car for the trip. I hand over my passport to the lady at the counter - seeing my green passport, she jumps up with a laugh and says in her unique nasal afro-american accent...'Oh I love the women in your country, very strong women I must say, you cook up your men if you're not happy with em' and then looking at my husband she says 'You've gotta be careful man, she can be a tough one!'.  I was confused, first trying to translate the accent and then the context of 'cooking and men'! (at first I thought she means we cook food for our men, which we do).  I got her to repeat it for me and then i realised she was talking about the news two days back about this lady in Pakistan who happened to murder her husband and cook his body to hide the meat. She did it to take revenge from him for eyeing her daughter (his step daughter) for an affair while he was already married to the mother. She was so angry she decided to kill him and then cook him up. 
I hadn't seen this news till then, but the way the lady described it, we both had a good laugh about it. Then she looks at my passport and says 'O you've got your husband's name here' and turns to her colleague and says (in her accent again)  'Ya know, in their country marraige is serious business, naught like ours, where ya don know who your husban' is, or who's husban' he might be thamorrow'. I smiled at the fact that an american for once was appreciating the fact that we have our husband's listed on our passport. Usually we pakistani females dread the whole passport changing hassle and this chauvinistic law of having either your father or your husband as part of your identity (as if you, your living breathing meaty self were not enough to prove that you actually exist!). But this lady saw it as a sign of respect, something to go by as a legal and social protection. 

This might not be a very unusual interaction between a customer and a service agent, but post 9/11 any pleasant interaction between a Pakistani and a US citizen is definitely unusual now and I took a sigh of relief that one my first declaration of Pakistani identity in the US land, had something light-hearted to talk around it, rather than the monotonous link of terrorism.