Today is the 65th Anniversary of Pakistan’s Independence Day, the day in 1947 that marked Pakistan’s entry into the world as an independent nation, separate from India and the British Raj.
Growing up the holiday was marked for us with a day off from school and a festive atmosphere. While today I sit in an office building that has little clue this holiday exists, the day is forever in my memory. With the emigration of many Pakistanis the holiday has expanded world-wide as people gather in places around the globe to celebrate their country, to hope for their country.
It’s hard to know where to begin when it comes to Pakistan. Certainly it has a troubled history when it comes to leadership and, as in any place, it is crucial to separate people from politics. Pakistan is 95% Muslim with a population of over 190 million people. The literacy rate, defined as those over 15 who can read and write, is about 54 percent but drops to 40 percent when looking at women alone.
Pakistan’s median age is 22 years and 95 percent of the country is under 64 years of age. The “school life expectancy rate” (referring to the number of years the average person goes to school in the country) is 7 years.
Events like the flood in 2010, the capture of Osama Bin Laden, and frequent news alerts on and from the country can paint a bleak and depressing picture; a tattered photo of a country assaulted by everything from poverty to terrorism.
But it’s been through my personal experience, speaking to others who know Pakistan well, and through the blogging world that I feel privileged to see an image that goes beyond statistics and lets you feel more of the heart beat of this country.
The recent reunion I attended in Illinois brought together over 150 of us, connected to Pakistan in some way. Through conversations and speakers the picture painted of Pakistan was hopeful. It was a joy to be with people who love and care for Pakistan; those who know God is present and at work in the country.
In honor of the day and the country I have included a slide show “Faces of Pakistan”. As our media assaults us with stories and images that promote fear, it is ever important to remember that countries are made up of people, and people are created in the image of God.
Blogger’s note: One of my favorite bloggers from Pakistan is Zainab Khawaja, a student at NUST (National University of Sciences and Technology), a multi-campus university in Pakistan. Zainab takes her readers from Pakistan to pop culture and everything in between. Another favorite blogger, Khaula Mazhar has written some hilarious essays that can be found on both her blog and in Dawn Magazine. http://khaulamazhar.wordpress.com/. My favorite is called Immigrating Granny.