Ever heard about a small country in South Asia named Pakistan? Although a tiny country, its population size of 220 million is not so tiny. When people in the West think of Pakistan, terrorism is usually what pops to mind which can be a limiting view. Pakistan was founded on the 14th August 1947 after declaring independence from India and the British colonialists. The first decades of Pakistan’s liberation were celebrated; however, this did not last as the late 90s saw Pakistan become a target of terrorism. This grandiose wave of terrorism resulted in the West developing a negative general stereotype about Pakistan as a country collectively. I am here to break some of the stereotypes you might have heard about Pakistan.
1. Women are oppressed in Pakistan
Before I move any further, here is a kind reminder for you; this article is written by a female Pakistani student currently studying in Hungary on a fully funded scholarship. I remember when I first came to Hungary, my Hungarian friend casually asked me,
“aren’t you supposed to cover your head and hide your face, is that not what you women do in Pakistan?”
Well, that is not true. Women have played an essential role in the development of Pakistan.
Be it politics, engineering, medicine, education or fashion. Malala Yousafzai, an activist for women’s education, is from Pakistan. Pakistan also elected its very first female Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, in 1988.
Moreover, ‘Aurat March’/ the Women’s March has been a very important movement in the history of Pakistan advocating women’s rights.
Pakistani women also play a huge role in contributing to the GDP of Pakistan. Women are not forced to cover their head in Pakistan and there is no such law regarding it – it is entirely their choice.
2. All Pakistani’s are brown-skinned people
This is not true at ALL. In Pakistan, you can find various people from different ethnicities. Pakistan is a multi-cultural society with close to 15 major ethnicities coexisting in one country.
These ethnicities include Pashtuns, Baluchis, Sindhis, Punjabis, Kashmiris and so on.
All these ethnicities have different facial and physical features, traditional clothing and food. While some ethnicities enjoy spicy nerve-wracking food, others enjoy plain salty food. So, that is the tea, we are not all brown-skinned people.
3. Pakistani’s cannot speak English
Fun Fact 1: We were colonised by Great Britain.
Fun Fact 2: Pakistan’s official language is English.
Pakistan’s native language is Urdu while the language of instruction (official language) is English.
English is taught from the day you step into kindergarten. However, even today many of the people are unable to converse in English because of poor language skills. Since we are on the topic of languages. Did you know that in Pakistan, approximately 75 languages are spoken? Yes, 75! Diversity in Pakistan is at a high level.
Like I mentioned above, Pakistan has various cultures, this means that within hours of travelling between the country’s districts, there are languages that other groups in different regions do not speak.
The most popular languages, however, belong to the largest ethnic groups who possess their own modern and ancient literature.
Most languages in Pakistan belong to the Indo-Iranian language group, including Urdu, the national language.
4. Travelling in Pakistan is dangerous
Fun Fact: Pakistan was ranked as the top country to travel to in 2020 (but Covid-19 happened) according to the CN Traveller. Since Pakistan decided to introduce a more relaxed visa policy to boost tourism, Pakistan has been seeing a major tourism influx. Why are people coming to Pakistan? Pakistan is a country full of culture, diversity, nature, history.
The beauty of the Northern areas will captivate your soul leaving you immediately scheduling your next trip back.
Do you not believe me? Follow Eva Zubeck, a Polish blogger who visited Pakistan a few years ago returns often. Apart from this, traveling to the North-eastern part of Pakistan, will lead you to Lahore, also known as the ‘heart’ of Pakistan, due to the loving nature and hospitality of Pakistani people residing there (you will find hospitality in every corner of Pakistan).
If you are a history boffin then Lahore is your go-to place, it has the Mughal Palaces, historical monuments, and experts who can break down the historical division between India and Pakistan. But that is not all.
If you travel further towards the south, you will find yourself near the Arabian Sea in a city called Karachi.
Karachi, the largest city of Pakistan and 7th largest city in the world with a population of approximately 15 million. With various beaches and an ample amount of touristic activities, Karachi has earned the nickname City of Lights and the City That Never Sleeps.
All in all, I am not saying that Pakistan is not a dangerous place at all. Crime still exists in the country, but crime exists everywhere else too.
However, Pakistan has fought hard to combat terrorism and has succeeded in doing so.
When COVID-19 is no longer a threat to the world, Pakistan will open its borders again for tourism and will welcome you with open arms.
Written by: Mariam Hamid