donderdag 24 oktober 2013

The future of Pakistan

Yesterday evening I attended a lecture, organized by MO*, about the future of Pakistan. They invited the journalist Omar Waraich, who writes for TIME and The Indepedent, and asked Shada Islam (journalist, active for Friends of Europe, and Dawn), Bruno de Cordier (from University of Ghent) and Khalid Hameed Farooqi (head department Brussels of GEO-tv, biggest tv channel in Pakistan) to join the panel afterwards. What was I looking for there? In Prague, I made two friends from Pakistan. Friendship brings you closer to the world. You become more involved, and even stop zapping the television if you catch a glimpse of a country where one your friends live, because you... just care. 

source: Lonely Planet

 "The most dangerous country"
 The associations are kind of known. Terrorism. Taliban. Extremism. Poverty. Neighbors of Afghanistan. Troubles in Kashmir. Darkness.  Maybe the most dangerous country in the world.

More than 180 millions of people are living in this country, which has the seize of 26 times Belgium, or 3 quarters of Europe. This year was the start of new transitions, for Pakistan, but also for the region (India, Afghanistan... you know, this region), because there were elections. The journalist Waraich gave us hope for a better future, where politics, now only positioned by millionaires, will be replaced by the urban middle class, and where the relationship with India can be improved. He started his lecture with references to the book "Descent into Chaos", which was later followed by "Pakistan on the Brink", and added if we come from chaos to already the edge, it means Pakistan is already heading a good way. He said that even when Pakistan didn't exist people believed it will not stay long. But it will be a long way, he said, because there are still big challenges like the intern terrorism. Every day there is a terrorist attack. You've also the increase of influence of wahhabisme, extreme conservative religious fundamentalists (yes, all the words which scare a lot of people) Sunni's who want to return back to the source of the Qu'ran. 


Let us first clarify that Pakistan is a country of extremes. It is also an extreme big country. Someone said that in Pakistan you can find parts which will remind you to Africa's slums, while others have French restaurants, art galleries, libraries... like in Brussels. Pakistan cannot be described in one a few associations. It is just too diverse for it, like you also cannot describe Europe in just a few words. Even for tiny tiny tiny Belgium I don't know any associations. 

The biggest hope, they all agree, is the growth of the middle class and civil society. Civil society, de Cordier clarified, is just more than only what Westerners understand as civil society, but also religious groups for example. And don't forget globalization: social media, but also Pakistani going abroad, bring back something: money,  critical consciousness... Shada believes Pakistan can grow, like other Asian countries, if the Pakistani identify with their country, are not indifferent and intolerant, and start paying taxes, so important things like education can be paid...

Education for girls
Yes, education. Maybe some of you heard about Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl, who came up for education for girls, after she is tortured, and speaks worldwide. 

If I remember the numbers very well, only 12% of the girls go to school. Shada emphasized a couple of times that if women in Asia (and also in Africa, Middle East...) not get empowered by education and more rights there is no growth possible for these regions. 

Since a year I think to become a teacher, or a coach, and besides my passion of film making, also educate young girls in nature, geography, the world, even their body... because helping to grow people feels more satisfying. I already figured out I want to use stories, and films, to educate people to make them more critical, but I also feel the urge to finally go back to university, and start my masters in geography, with a specialization in education. I think geography, and nature, can help so many girls, because understanding the environment also helps to understand yourself, because you start to read the patterns, and the motives in the world, and you accept yourself, because you're not alone, as part of the world. I am a bit ecofeminist, trying to help women and nature, but it is necessary. 

After the lecture, waiting for my train back home, I had a clear vision. I don't know if I will teach children in Pakistan, but I feel more and more I want to teach girls, because I can leave the world as a better place this way. Maybe in Nepal. Or Swaziland. Bolivia? Or even in Belgium. We'll see. 
It is a seed in me, planted a time ago, and growing and growing, and it becomes stronger. 
Like Pakistan. There are seeds. They only need to grow, before the poison of extremism and terror takes over all the land. But I believe...

sources: my own notes, corrected by what I read in the article in MO*, by Gie Goris (in Dutch)

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