Why is the international response so slow? Why do Pakistani’s around the world not trust its own government to responsibly collect funds and dispatch aid? Why aren’t more people helping? What can I do? Will anything I do make a difference, or is the situation so hopeless that we just sit back and watch Pakistan painfully try and resurrect itself from the realms of obliteration. Is there any hope, and if so what? Reflections and conversations of such nature pervade my mind, when for the few minutes I do allow myself to watch the footage of the catastrophic floods. It’s uncomfortable, it’s confronting, but at the same time I try and summon some sense from a disaster that is as unfathomable as it is unprecedented. I try and search for the reasons why sensibility and sympathy is conflicting with preconceived negative perceptions of Pakistan, which, in effect is hampering help so urgently required. I find myself thinking about the situations Pakistan has recovered from before, and how in Pakistan, when the going gets tough, they just get going. When I think about the current tragedy that has literally swept away the entire nation, I know that its people will rise against the tide of adversity because Pakistan knows, as the age old Japanese proverb goes, how to Fall Seven Times and Stand-Up Eight.How many times has Pakistan stalled, stumbled, fumbled and fallen? That wasn’t the hard part though, it takes greater courage to dust yourself off, stand back on your feet and plough straight ahead- bruises, cuts and all.
Pakistan is a good example of extremes – there’s the political climate in which Pakistan has always been in hot water, we now have the effects of climate change where Pakistan is literally under water, and there is the economic climate which the government (no pun intended) does not give a dam. Despite the struggle, despite the plague of sickness, despite the lack of proper support, Pakistan as a nation is a symbol for survival.You only have to look at approximately the seven times Pakistan has spectacularly fallen with the whole world watching.
First there’s the fight against terrorism and suicide bombers. Since 9/11 thousands of innocent lives have been lost through bombings at the Marriott Hotel, schools, and recently at places of worship like Data Darbar. There seems no end in sight, but co-operation and commitment to the cause is the biggest key. Second, there was the earthquake, after which Pakistan literally rose from the rubble to prove that when it needs to, Pakistan can draw on camaraderie of community, solidarity, and prosperity. Third, The Red Mosque siege again put Pakistan on the international map with many holding their breath whether the country would make it through or fall into utter disarray. Fourth, even Scotland Yard and the FBI couldn’t help Pakistan when
Benazir Bhutto was assassinated, but surprisingly they made it through with a supposedly transparent general election, all of course in the midst of the Supreme Court saga and the sensational sacking of the Chief Justice. Fifth, it seemed certain that after the Sri Lankan Cricket team bombing in Lahore that international Cricket in Pakistan was dead, and the Pakistani players would be too if they kept up their poor performances. However, Pakistan again bowled the world over and came back with a vengeance just last month in England, proving that like that final push in labour, Pakistan somehow comes through for a successful delivery. Sixth, the Air Blue Crash saw ordinary citizens turn into modern day heroes, saviors, fire fighters and aid workers. Seventh, now the disastrous floods, which we all hope is the greatest and last test of strength, struggle and survival that the nation has to face for a long time.
True to the Japanese proverb, Pakistan’s seven falls from grace will undoubtedly force it to again stand up, for the eighth time, and face the world. Somehow, in the battle of holding on to hope against banishing hopelessness, Pakistan will rise against the tide one more time. Winston Churchill once said: “We shall draw from the heart of suffering itself the means of inspiration and survival.”
Somehow, in the nation’s character of courage and conviction, Pakistan will scramble together and conquer the challenges it faces, albeit through fragmented forces and faiths. As history has shown, it has no other choice. It is time to get better, not bitter because in Pakistan’s case, Divided it Falls, but United it Stands Up, even if it means walking with a limp.