By Nausherwan Ali
Recently, I came across an article titled “What is the Korean Dream?” by Seong-Hyung Hong published in the World post in which he discussed a vision for his people, a vision which transcends national boundaries and which if translated into reality, will add to the splendor of the Korean people. The writer compared his “Korean dream” with the American, Chinese and Japanese dreams, and highlighted the values which make the Korean dream distinct from other popular ‘dreams’. It has become a norm among economically progressive countries to propagate their sociocultural values and flaunt their success. Success, however, has different connotations; it might be progress in the field of science and technology for one nation while for the other it might be as simple as being happy. Yes, happiness is being quantified through various surveys and indices, and Pakistan has surprisingly fared well in them.
Ranked as the 16th happiest country in the world (out of 151 countries) by the Happy Planet Index and 81st by the World Happiness Report, 2015, we are certainly in a position to tell the world our dream of being happy; a Pakistani dream. So, what might constitute a Pakistani Dream? Rather than getting entangled in a religopolitical debate, we should focus on the simple things which make us happy. Like for instance, procrastinating, from exam preparation to buying new clothes for the Eid, we wait for the very last moment and in the end curse the shortage of time and our luck, of course. Not just that we also find immense pleasure in sharing our happiness with others, even if they don’t want to be part of it. Playing loud music and dulcifying the ears of thy neighbors with a boisterous laughter or at times the roar of gunfire, are all symptomatic of joy which we so joyfully share with others. The same merriment is witnessed, the moment it is announced in a wedding ceremony that the food is ready. Some people in keeping up the spirit of storing the surplus for future generations pile up their plates with food items to such heights that even Mount Everest will die of shame if it looks at these mounts of biryani, qorma and what not. This generosity is not limited to the humans alone but the way half-eaten pieces of chicken are thrown to the floor for the benefit of the feline family, speaks volumes of the love and sensitivity we feel for animals. Hence, Pakistani marriages are a perfect example of the saying; eat, drink, and be merry.
Happiness in our country comes in different brands and sizes. If you visit the less urbanized areas, you shall see not just children but adults urinating in public, as if to support Tolstoy’s claim that the land belongs to all and if it belongs to you, you have a right to find a corner and do whatever makes you happy. While if you move into the urban centres, you shall see a perfect display of an egalitarian society, where anybody could spit a chewed beetle leaf or throw a cigarette butt on the road, and feel happy about it because happiness is the premier motive behind our every move. Moving ahead, in the quest of joy, some Pakistani men go out, in order to play our “national game” (no, I am not talking about Hockey) which is staring at everything which looks remotely female. Now staring at women isn’t a simple act of joy finding, sometimes the women return the ‘favour’ with their sandals if the stare is accompanied by a witty remark or some other kind gesture. This national game of ours is played widely in markets, colleges, hospitals, offices, and even in the social media, where unknown people stalk profiles of females and send such heart wrenching messages for friendship that one experiences bathos and pathos at the same time.
Thus, happiness is not just living above the poverty line or enjoying sustainable development, but here it is manifested in our everyday attitudes and doings. We don’t need to follow an American or a Korean dream, when we are already living in a dream; the Pakistani dream which has given us the liberty to celebrate or urinate, to make a noise or babies, to break the queue or the law, to stare at a girl or a transgender, to cheat in the exam or curse uncle Tom, to do nagan dance or eat mangoes for a Z mobile, to dance in the dharna or mobile phone ads, whenever and wherever we want. We are happy; well, this might be our dream.
About the Author
I am allocated to the civil services of Pakistan, currently based in Attock and waiting to start my training formally. I, like many others, have an opinion on various issues concerning our society, and we all try to influence others in our own way; and here in lies the evolution of a society.