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Global Citizenship And Pakistan

February 28 and 29, 2016 these dates will be embossed in the memories of Pakistanis till millenniums now. February 28, Sharmeen Obaid Chinoy, a Pakistani-Canadian filmmaker wins another Oscar. February 29, Malik Mumtaz Qadri hanged till death. Sharmeen was awarded Oscar for her documentary,” A Girl in the River: The Price of Forgiveness”, based on honor killings in Pakistan. In her documentary she tells a story of a lady who eloped and then hunted down by her father and uncles. Though she survived this episode but her story highlights the stories of thousands of other girls and women who are the victims of religion killings in Pakistan. Now coming to the second date I mentioned priory, 29th February, 2016, a rare date though. News channels were flooded with red markers saying, ‘Malik Mumtaz Hussain Qadri executed ’. Salman Taseer, who was the governor of Punjab province, Pakistan until his murder in 2011 was murdered. The sin he did was defending a Christian woman named Aasia who had the allegations of violating the Pakistan’s blasphemy laws. Taseer outraged, judged by different clerics and media groups became a blasphemer himself. A fine evening when he was leaving after lunch, Mumtaz Qadri, his own bodyguard opened fire at him and shot a round of 27 bullets and then surrendered himself to the other guards at the spot. Why I told these two stories? Sharmeen and Taseer, both were doing a job, a job that not everyone can afford. It was their global citizenship. They could have thought that wait what the world of the radical clerics will think or how they will be judged? But there was something more valued. Now what is global citizenship? Which these two Pakistanis were practicing. One may take its literal meaning that is being the national of the whole world but it does not end here. It’s something more than being and thinking about just your own self. It’s more about the whole world and mankind. It’s like being the representer of the whole world rather than being of just your own culture, religion or state. And this global citizenship does not come with no strings attached, it has a price and someone has to pay this price and in my case the personals, I mentioned above paid that. A point to keep in mind is that we should never confuse global citizenship with patriotism as if you go in depth, both are totally different scenarios. Now coming to the point that how you can promote it?  Multilingualism seems effective. But to me multilingualism is something more than knowing just few more languages, it goes beyond that. The world is changing dynamically that if you don’t have a medium to communicate then how you will able to participate as a global citizen? So for me multilingualism provides that medium and the best example I can give here is this essay. But there are certain questions that need to be answered like are we doing enough? Are we giving the world what it deserves? Are we playing our part?

National citizenship is something which comes on its own. You cannot question or change it. It is sort of involuntary, it comes on its own. In contrast to this, global citizenship is voluntary, and it’s under your own control. You groom it, you promote it and you nurture it. In the same way national citizenship is attached with some political strings but global citizenship goes beyond that, broader than that. So in my opinion what citizenship you are born with can’t be questioned but with which you die, counts. So one should have the essence of global civics that how the world is changing, what is the demand of the hour and act accordingly.

Everybody has some basic rights and necessities which should be fulfilled in order to keep the things smooth. And in my view all the humans are connected together into a nexus and those basic rights and necessities breathe on that nexus. Now the question is who is actually supposed to promote and take care of this nexus? It’s none other than the global citizens we have. They are active, they know how to take stands. An active global citizen takes action to support causes they believe in. As in the example I gave above, Salman Taseer, he took stand for a Christian woman and ended up dead. He was never afraid of what he was doing because he knew he was right. Same goes for Chinoy, despite of being judged by so many Pakistanis, she showed this dark side of Pakistan.

People sometimes confuse global citizenship with patriotism. Are they the same? Certainly no. Taseer no doubt was a notable patriot. But what he did? He choose his global responsibility over the national interest. He stood with the right thing. He got fatwas registered against him by so many clerics but he did not stopped and in the very same way Chinoy showed the real face of the radical groups doing honor killings in Pakistan, despite of being Pakistani.

As I am writing this essay, communicating my ideas and thoughts to the world, is it a big deal? Yes but the point more interesting here is I’m doing so in a language which I never knew at the first place, which is not mine. I learnt it and now I am using it to convey my ideology, my vision that how I see the scenarios around here. Now coming to multilingual capabilities, for me it is like the gate way to one’s self, culture and his values. A competent language user not only knows how to speak in order to communicate but also how to use his linguistic abilities to adapt as well as convince others. So in my eyes a global citizen is the one who knows that what is the relationship between linguistic and communicative capabilities. The eagerness to learn another language aggravates as your inner communicative competence pushes you, as you try to indulge yourself with other cultures. I would give my own example, though it’s not a global one but more of a state one. Now a days I’m living in Peshawar, a city in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwestern region of Pakistan sharing a long border with Afghanistan and doing my bachelors from a national university here. When I got the admission, I was happy and sad at the same time because the northern areas of Pakistan catch headlines most of the times due to the bloodshed between the Taliban and Pak Army in the ongoing military operations and I had this image in my head that it would be a horrible place. But when I came here, the things were opposite, not entirely but it was much better. As I indulged myself more and more with this place it became friendlier but the only barrier I was facing was the language of the locals. I still remember when I first went to a local restaurant and I did not know how to call the waiter but gradually I started to explore the culture, the people, everything, that what these people think, what they are, what they do and how they see the military operations being carried out around them. And it turned out to be a surprise that most of the things I used to think were opposite and they were…normal. The thing I want to communicate here, is your eagerness to learn about other cultures and how to communicate, increases as you become more and more compassionate about it and to get there you need to cross that communication hurdle you have in your way and only then you can enjoy your true citizenship either its national or global.

In the end I want to ask few questions that are we doing enough? Are we on the right track? Yeah to some extent but its need of an hour that we start to see the things on a big perspective without any difference of caste and creed. Start realizing your real worth, the identity with which you were born, your national identity was not in your hand but what you make of yourself and what you do to this world is now up to you.  Realize the essence of the global civics and global rights and start raising your voice on them. A global citizen needs to be active, aware, educated and once you know the rights of responsibilities you can be one of them. Try to live in a culture which colors your perceptions, never be afraid of what will come because a true global citizen is the one who takes action to support the cause he believes in. The stories I shared earlier and the opinions I made on them are my very own. There are people who still hate Salman Taseer and see his killer as a hero, we got a mosque at his name in our very own capital and people still blame Sharmeen for showing the negative side of Pakistan. So it’s you who has to take a stand and do something. So, in my eyes a true global citizen is the one who learns from the past and anticipates the future for the betterment of the whole mankind, not only of his own country. Happy global citizenship!

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fahad farooq

fahad farooq