That's a common phrase thrown at people in Pakistan. Yes, it's a difficult place to live in if you are aware of injustices and turmoil. But at the same time, it is a beautiful country, full of warm and welcoming people, some of the most delicious foods, and vibrant ceremonies.
People keep saying leave Pakistan for many reasons. It is unsafe for women. It is unsafe for minorities. It is stifling for artists. It is struggling as an economy. It isn't a place for kids to grow increasingly. But hold on.
For the most part, this is true. However, people are still choosing to live here, to stay here.
There are countless others who are contributing to this country, granted they may never get recognition for it, but there are so so so many of them here. There are extremes but for every bigoted person, you will find a person who will show you kindness and welcome.
Recently, I posted something about a popular designer and her transphobic mission to ban a film in Pakistan. The only people who actually started a conversation were supporters of her cause. They all said something similar:
It obviously was hurtful, because I was standing against people who didn't want Pakistan's diversity celebrated. It reminded me of all the times that people have said the same thing so scornfully.
Pakistan was created to give a home to a minority in 1947. That's what they teach us in school. But why is it, that after it has been thriving for decades, minorities have to face the same abuses that we learned about in school? Did the minorities who became the majority become like their abusers?
A country that was made for minorities, no longer served its own minorities.
I don't know the answers. But Pakistan is home to me. Since the day I was born, I don't know any other place called that for me. But for all these years, hearing "leave Pakistan" has always been heartbreaking. To me, it says, "You don't belong here."
What power does it bring to people to say that? How is keeping people out going to serve them? Why do we have to be so divisive and unkind? People don't choose where they were born in. People can't. Fate put me here. I don't know why. I don't know how. Something happened and I was born here. And that's that.
So many times I and many other people have been given this sort of ultimatum, but these very people can't give us a ticket to leave so why even feel powerful enough to be like that? I'm not stealing anything from them, not overstepping any boundaries; I'm paying taxes, contributing to the economy and to the future just like everyone else here, then why be so hurtful?
Even if they disagree with me...
Even if anyone disagrees, the maximum I can ask for is to leave my personal space. I won't ask you to pack up and leave your home or change who you are.
So my question is, what gives them this false sense of power to own a place that is occupied by people other than them? In a beautiful country like Pakistan, what possesses them to be so ugly towards other people who choose to live in the same country, probably miles away from them in a different city? Have they forgotten kindness, charity, warmth, and humanity by being a majority for over seven decades?
While these xenophobic attitudes are fewer in number, it is still deafeningly loud. They say words hurt, perhaps they have forgotten this too. I still find solace in being around my friends, working on the things I work on, and enjoying a chicken Manchurian. It's important for me to hold on to that, rather than let the hate and darkness in hateful people's voices.
We are in a critical time in history. What we do now will impact the great many that will come after. How you want that to affect them is all in our hands collectively whether we agree or disagree. So I hope that one day, despite all our difference, we may come together with just plain ol' kindness. Maybe the world would just be a better place if all 8 billion of us were just kinder.