The Pakistani Dream

Painting used in this illustration is by my patriotic husband -he made it while painting butterflies with kids..

The below article is something I wrote 2 years back.. when my dad was alive and I had come back after visiting my parents in Canada.. He was fighting cancer at that time…I wrote this on his birthday on September  17, 2013.. ( I don’t exactly remember if that’s a coincidence or I missed being there for his birthday, which probably triggered this..)


An 18 hour flight back to Doha, to what I call home for the last 10 years now. Thousand of miles away from my aging parents, siblings, nieces and nephews…. Is that what really is home?

How I wish we could go back in time – my grandparents generation where all the siblings lived happily with their families “and” in the same neighborhood. I still remember my mom’s phuppo (Aunt) and phuppa (Uncle) would just drop by to ask for ‘khairiat’ (well-being) during their evening walk. Hardly any family member lived outside of Karachi – let alone Pakistan. People were happy, content and safe – This “was” Karachi!

Then came my parents’ generation where half of their siblings went abroad and settled there for a “better future”. My parents did too but my father found it difficult to settle away from his roots. We grew up in Karachi with a few of our mamoos and chachas around. We were around 18 cousins in Karachi – Eid, BBQs, picnics, birthday parties, visit to Nana’s and Dada’s house on weekends …. lots of golden memories.

As we started to grow up and started to settle in life, we started to move out of Pakistan again for a “better and secure future”. Out of those 18 cousins only 4 currently remain in Pakistan cause they are still young and not settled yet. As for us three siblings, we settled in three different countries and eventually our parents, specially my father who couldn’t settle away from his roots during his youth had to wrap up his whole life in Pakistan and migrate. All of my parents’ grandchildren are outside Pakistan and probably will never want to settle there. So basically, we won’t have a next generation in Pakistan!

This is just not happening to my family but every other family we know of in Pakistan. What it makes me question is that what exactly did we gain from the “independence” we got in 1947. My grandparents left everything they had in India and moved to Pakistan for a “safe and better future” of their next generations. The irony of the situation is that after only two generations, they won’t have any descendents in Pakistan.

The 1947 Migration. Photo credit- The Citizens Archive of Pakistan

Muslims wanted a separate state to be able to practice their religion without any fear. We clearly have not achieved that in these 6 decades of independence. The only thing that has changed is the threat – from Hindus to Muslims themselves. Neither a Shia Imambargah nor a Sunni mosque is safe from the “Muslims”. So basically we gained Nothing! Someone very wise I know said, which I believe is so true for Pakistan..

Division on the basis of differences is wrong as there  will always be differences… and the division will never end….

Painting by my husband- different shades of green depicting various Muslim sects and the blood shed..

The sad situation in Pakistan is that anyone who gets an opportunity to get out of Pakistan grabs it with both hands and moves out for the safety of their family. Some people get lucky that even outside Pakistan the extended families are living in one city but that’s a rare case. I envy them! The whole big family concept is disappearing. That’s what I think we gained out of this independence eventually – Disintegrated Family Units spread across the globe.

I was born and brought up in Pakistan yet when I think of taking my kids to visit Karachi, it scares the hell out of me. It’s sad because they will never know and relate to Pakistan the way we did. They will never experience growing up with extended family and cousins like we did. It saddens me that they only get to meet their cousins once a year – and that’s the best case scenario!

I wish Pakistan was actually what the founders dreamt of it to be and we didn’t have to look ‘outside’ of Pakistan for a “safe and better future” for our coming generations. Wish my kids could go visit their Nani- Baba’s & Daado’s house on weekends, go for sleepover to cousin’s place during midterm breaks – experience the simple joys of extended families. Wish there was a “Pakistani dream” that didn’t involve emigrating.

Author – An Expat Pakistani Mom.

Another one by my husband..

The above was wriiten two year ago.. but most of it is still relevant today.. except that now only 3 cousins remain in Karachi.. one more has moved out.. We just came back from a trip o Karachi this winter.. and the one thing  I am really happy about was that the city was peaceful this time (Alhamdolilah and I really hope it stays that way..).

It really breaks my heart to see these huge empty houses with aging & sick parents living alone, looked after by servants…and they themselves don’t want their kids to come back because of the instability of the country…There is a room in every house which has box full of toys .. waiting for the grandchildren to visit them …. annually (and that’s the best case scenario). This is the story of every other house we know of…

I wish Pakistanis would understand the basis of every religion, every sect is love. The essence of the teachings of each and every religion is love, kindness, tolerance, giving back to humanity…. I wish we can focus on the common aspects rather than the differences …

My husband’s depiction of the solution to the problems in Pakistan…


P.S. By now you know how patriotic Mr. Incredible is 🙂 The kids say Daddy’s favorite color is green. 🙂

And by the way..these are my personal views … yours may be different… but lets focus on the common aspects and not differences 🙂

On that note… Till next time.. Ciao…


3 thoughts on “The Pakistani Dream

  1. your posts echoes whats been on my mind for ages Bano, it breaks my hearts that as expat kids my children will never experience the kind of amazing childhood i had growing up in Pakistan with a well knit extended family around.
    and hmm sufism+patriotism! looks like utp and I will have a great time gupshupping with you guys, any Dxb plans?


  2. Rahat

    Some very bold questions, touched by a personal but also a common experience. Questions felt by many, but not openly aired. Our common histories go back much further than 1947. If indeed, humanity celebrated what what it had in common, rather than what divided it, I wonder what might have been.


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