Pakistan is stuck in its chrysalis. That’s all.

In linguistics, the difference between a developed and developing country is a mere suffix – ‘ed’ or ‘ing’. In reality, the transformation is excruciating. Like a butterfly shedding its cold and hard home, its chrysalis.

Pakistan turned 67 years old yesterday on 14th August 2014. In human years, sixty-seven years is about white hair, wear and tear of the mind and body, and a lot of wisdom (or lack thereof). In country-years, sixty-seven is a toddler scraping his knee from falling too much. There are always exceptions; toddlers who walk or run before their time. But Pakistan is not that toddler. Pakistan needs more time to straighten its walk. That’s all.

Yesterday I thought about Pakistan’s status as an independent state. I watched local television that showed flag-painted faces, made-up women in green and white dresses dancing and singing to patriotic songs. I remembered school and universities hoisting the Pakistani flag and holding independence day celebrations. The news was bombarded by the freedom and revolutionary march headed by politicians Imran Khan and Tahir-ul-Qadri. I read posts of ex-pats drowning in nostalgia and praying for their homeland. I read Facebook statuses badmouthing the situation in Lahore and Islamabad because of the long march. I also heard chants of hope and change emanating from a selected few. I heard everything that I hear every year on the 14th of August. An unending cycle of hope and despair, taking turns to show its face like a ride on a sea-saw.

Rants about corruption and terrorism have long been exhausted.  There is an unlimited supply of accusations and poignant speeches about Qaid-e-Azam shifting in his grave due to Pakistan’s current situation. Occasional incidents shock us. Most leave us indifferent and scornful. This independence day, as an ex-pat who chose to leave her country behind, I wanted to feel bad for my country. I had all the reasons to because all that can go wrong, is. But I also knew that sitting far away, problems magnify with unrealistic proportions. I remember relatives or friends living abroad calling to ask about the deadly situation. I’d always hold the media responsible. Sure, things were terrible, but surely bullets weren’t flying over our heads as we ate Fruit Chaat (Fruit salad) on the curb of Lahore’s famous Liberty Market. Life goes on with exceptional vigor every day in Pakistan. Resilience comes back with the astounding accuracy of a boomerang.

credits: Express Tribune

credits: Express Tribune

I am learning to think past the grey and look forward to the colors. Compelled as I was, I couldn’t subdue feelings of hope as I donned a green and white shalwar kameez at home yesterday, sitting continents away. I couldn’t stop comparing my beloved land to a butterfly trapped in its dingy home, waiting for the right time.  Call me delusional, call me unrealistic, but I have seen my country in some of its God-given glory and I know what it is capable of. We are a free nation. We always have been. I don’t think it’s possible to take away a person’s freedom. As long as you are brave enough to think, you are free.

This nation will remain the land of the free as long as it is the home of the brave – Elmer Davis

A couple of months ago I made a pact with myself. I would not join the line of critics and naysayers predicting the downfall of the country. I would not join ex-pats and other Pakistanis in their drawing rooms to throw mud on my country’s face. Social iniquities that dominate don’t define the entire country. It’s important to highlight and bring awareness when it comes to evils; Not just for the sake of criticism but to ignite small flickers of change. I see that change in the mindset of new generations, when they go to work each day bent on earning an honest living. I see that mindset shining through archaic concepts of the older generations, when they admit their past mistakes and strive to correct themselves.  As long as these tiny flames cast shadows of hope, and as long as the Pakistani flag sways with life, I will not let anyone call my country a failed state.

Laugh if you will, just as other creatures may laugh at an ugly chrysalis. Laugh if you will, just as people laugh at revolutionists. But then don’t come running to me all red in the cheeks when you realize how right I am. And how wrong you always were.








  1. mihrank · August 15, 2014

    Great and informative article – Thank you for sharing it!


  2. ummezahra · August 15, 2014

    I’ve been explaining 14 August to my daughter for the last 3 years… since she was 3 years old… Although the situation in Pakistan has deteriorated on many fronts during this period, I felt really passionate this year educating my daughter about the history of the country in light of the ongoing struggles for freedom for the palestinians folks and many others. It was really refreshing to see the ‘happy independence day’ cards and messages on fb this year. We have a long way to go but we have come a long way as well.


    • Nida S. · August 15, 2014

      You did great! I have yet to give my almost 5 year old a proper lecture but look forward to it. i’ll be one jubilant mother If my children grow up to feel strong love for their homeland

      Liked by 1 person

  3. AghaAhmedullah · August 15, 2014

    Loved the post. This is the exact spirit of hope every Pakistani needs today.


    • Nida S. · August 15, 2014

      Thanks a lot. This burst of hope comes from many in my generation and even younger folks like you. May Allah bless Pakistan. Always.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. pavanneh · August 15, 2014

    Great post. Very powerful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. livelytwist · August 15, 2014

    Your post speaks of love for your country and hope. I think to an extent I understand the hopelessness and cynicism that colours people’s utterances being (originally) from a crawling developing nation myself. The question people ask when we express hope is this: what is our hope based on? Rainbows or reality? You write:

    “I see that change in the mindset of new generations, when they go to work each day bent on earning an honest living. I see that mindset shining through archaic concepts of the older generations, when they admit their past mistakes and strive to correct themselves. As long as these tiny flames cast shadows of hope, and as long as the Pakistani flag sways with life, I will not let anyone call my country a failed state.”

    It would seem that hope is being reinvented. Happy 67 years Pakistan!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Nida S. · August 15, 2014

      Thank you :D! Your words give me renewed hope. I thought maybe I was being too idealistic with my words, but then that’s how I feel. And I have to write only what I truly feel.


  6. Akiff · August 15, 2014

    Nice portrayal of the current state of our country.

    Sent from my iPhone



  7. aishakhan0208 · August 15, 2014

    It gladdens my heart when I read hope and pride in between lines.I am especially proud of the young people like you, and the younger generation of my kids.They are all fiercely patriotic. Clamouring for a change.I admire Imran Khan for dragging the young into our dirty present day political scene, with the naiivity of change happening overnight. Its still better than cynicism! Well done Nida, keep the green and white colours flowing, wherever you choose to live.


  8. Waqar Gull · August 16, 2014

    Beautiful article, generating lot of hope and positivism. I appreciate your attitude of patriotism and love for our Beloved Pakistan. I am sure, till the time our young generation thoughts, are in line with yours, nobody can do any harm to us.

    Khush Raho Nida Beta.
    Yours uncle Waqar Gull

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nida S. · August 16, 2014

      I hope and pray we are all right! Thank you so much for the encouragement:)


  9. emphadiate · August 16, 2014

    As an expat who has loved Pakistan from the beginning, I have to say that I owe it to my parents; people like you, who have refused to let the negativity effect our loyalty or belief.

    The people who built this nation, were passionate, dedicated, ready to sacrifice anything. Though it’s been a bumpy road, I agree wholeheartedly with your butterfly metaphor: Better days are yet to come.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. bik1012 · August 16, 2014

    Yes Nida you have again touched a chord; Beautiful and elegant


  11. Pingback: Pakistan : Stuck in its chrysalis | The Word Theatre
  12. Sohail ekram siddiqui · August 22, 2014

    Really bright and encouraging thoughts indicating a awesome ,brilliant mind. I treasure your thoughts!


    • Nida S. · August 22, 2014

      Thank you so much for your valuable feedback:)!


  13. Holistic Wayfarer · August 28, 2014

    As a former linguistics major, I love your opening. =) Thx for teaching me the country’s history.


    • Nida S. · August 28, 2014

      Good to hear from you D.:)! You were missed!


      • Holistic Wayfarer · August 28, 2014

        LOL Thanks. I don’t like to go around thinking I am. But that’s nice to hear. I am so behind on myself it’s not funny.


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