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Aisam Qureshi’s Country

September 12, 2010

It’s my first week in Denver where I’ll be attending graduate school for the next two years and I’m soaking in how kind this city is. It is the most laid back, genuine U.S. City I’ve experienced. The sincerity with which people prod “No, where are you really from?” when I initially respond “California”, is priceless. I feel like a novelty here. At an Eid Celebration last night, even a local of Pakistani descent pointed out “Wow, the guys are going to flip over you. There are no ethnic girls in Denver”.

Ethnic”? I’ll take it; I realize I’m getting a pass for being a Californian female. Because in light of increasingly disheartening news from Pakistan, be it about floods, match fixing in cricket, and mostly terrorism plaguing the country since 9/11, Pakistani’s have captured the American state of mind in a less than appealing way. Once indecipherable on a world map for most Americans, Pakistan emerged as our stalwart ally in victory after 40+ years of Cold War. Yet as we turn to Islamabad again to fight a War on Terror, we possess a deep skepticism of Pakistani intentions.

Pakistan is rampantly associated with concepts of Terrorism, Extremism, Al Qaeda, Taliban, Corruption and disaster as D.C. and Islamabad are ever more understood as reluctant partners. Plus post thwarting the Faisal Shahzad situation , expert indications that homegrown terrorism poses the biggest threat to the United States, stabbing of a cab driver of Pakistani descent and Amnesty International’s recent report that hate crimes against Muslims is on an alarming rise, being Pakistani seems like an uphill battle in America. So on an individual level, Pakistani’s and Americans may be feeling the same skepticism that governments harbor for one another in bilateral relations. But this week the world was abuzz when Pakistani tennis player Asiam-ul-Haq Qureshi with irresistible sincerity exclaimed:

Since September 11, every time I come to the States or western countries I feel people have the wrong impression about Pakistan as a terrorist nation. I just wanted to declare that we are very friendly, loving and caring people, and we want peace in this world as much as Americans and the rest of the world wants.

There are extremists in every religion, but just because of them you cannot judge the whole country as a terrorist nation. I just wanted to get this message across as a Pakistani

In plain terms Qureshi clarified that his country is a mostly moderate nation where people expect the same peace and security desired by all people. He reminded us of Pakistan’s humanity, directly countering the “transactional” ties that progressively complicate our understanding of Pakistan. Fareed Zakaria might agree. In a recent piece, he eloquently concurred:

Across the Muslim world, militant Islam’s appeal has plunged. In the half of the Muslim world that holds elections, parties that are in any way associated with Islamic jihad tend to fare miserably, even in Pakistan.

In his article “We’re Safer Than We Think” Zakaria points out that Muslims in Pakistan and beyond are if anything, less safe from terrorism than we are as they suffer the brunt of radical Islam’s consequences.

Over the last few years, imams and Muslim leaders across the world have been denouncing suicide bombings, terrorism, and Al Qaeda with regularity….The fatal problem with these kinds of attacks is that they kill ordinary civilians—not U.S. soldiers or diplomats—and turn the local population against Islamic radicals.

With more thorough detail, Zakaria’s is saying exactly what Qureshi did; Pakistan is not a country of terrorists. So next time I get asked where I am “really” from, I might just say “I’m from Asiam Qureshi.’s country”.

ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED @ The Foreign Policy Association

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5 comments

  1. This is a good writeup by Zainab Jeewanjee who still has to prove her loyalty to the Country of Her Birth by insisting on being a CALIFORNIAN. An Italian or English descent person does not have to endure that dilemma. One does not become a bona fide Californian by growing a pretty wag-to-order tail.
    Once a great Judge in Chicago, Nicholas J. Bua said to me: “My ancestors from Italy had to dig graves, when they arrived in the USA”. I responded that they did not travel first class to New York. Besides I am diging graves of Rabid Racism.

    We must accept our originality in order to over-ride our ethnicity. We are not The Other. The KKK and the McCarthyists (of any hue or viewing) are.

    Pakistan has suffered due to its corrupt leadership-onthetake and plunder by its good-for-nothing bureaucRATS. Consequently, good people even living overseas (although born asnd bred abroad) like Zainab have to suffer invidious circumstances/ consequences. I have lived in Pacific Palisades and Denver during the SIXTIES.

    I like this American dictum: today is the first day of the rest of your life: and when going gets tough, the tough get going.

    Yee-yeeing won’t solve the problem. You gotta hold the problem by the horn, upfront!

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  2. True. It is fact that Pakistan is not a country of terrorists But alas it has been made safe place for extremism,Al-Quaida,Taliban, Corruption , Mismanagement,Favouritism,Nepotism etc.As a matter of fact all these have been motivated and or cultivated and made to flourish with the massive uncontrolable and non-accontable foreign Aids and Loans.The future of Pakistan is so politicise that not a single organisation is ammune of corruption .The drone attacks have added salt to injury making the wound not to heal by using the 4th generation of antibiotics..

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  3. hi its an asset u have saved here.. dont let it be deleted.. thanx for this .. mmmmmmmch

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  4. wonderfully presented and written.

    Count me in, i am also from Aisam Qureshi’s country

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  5. beautifully written as usual. however, these two should have focused on winning instead of sounding like an apologist hashed metaphor. yea we get the whole indopak friendship angle but its time to get past it and deliver. disappointing performance…

    Like



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