The voices from my childhood still echo in my ears: “Sab ek jaisey hain. Awaam ko loot rahay hain.” These words were the ultimate truth for me, until I was old enough to closely observe, feel and live for myself. Live the life of a Pakistani.

If I take a trip down the memory lane, I can recall the visits to our haveli in the village: maasis draped in chaadars from head to toe, with hope in their eyes. The hope for a promising future.

On the contrary, visuals of all-night extravagant parties on the farmhouses, in the capital, concurrently hog my memories.

Whether being approached by an adolescent for monetary assistance to get his school books, or by an aunt in the neighborhood with her obsession of gossiping, every individual I have interacted with has always left a certain impression on me.

As I grew up, I realized, it wasn’t accurate to generalize and stigmatize the entire nation as corrupt, extremists or anything else whatsoever. I learned every nation has dilemmas to own and fight off.

Likewise, our point of distinctiveness is our predicaments that create a wall of anonymity between Pakistanis and the foreigners, leaving false perceptions.

We Pakistanis are divided into four kinds. These are absolutely centered upon two factors: status and intentions.     

Kind # 1:

It’s the people who can’t afford immoderate lifestyle. Most of them survive against the odds. They have to work hard for their daily survival. Nevertheless, they do not leave their moral ground.

I remember Chacha Makhan as an old – in fact very old – man. Seven years ago, he worked at our place in Peshawar. Adolescents and the memories of his late wife were all he had then. Thus, he was bound to bare all their responsibilities on his own.

Since his reflexes had also slowed down with age, he worked harder than usual to follow the instructions. He neither complained nor tried to adopt a shortcut to solving his problems.

Chacha Makhan’s trustworthiness and hard work has compelled me to acknowledge him in this kind.

Later on, his health did not allow him to work any further. But, even today, he visits us occasionally.      

Kind # 2:

They belong to similar economic conditions as of Kind # 1. However, they are self-centered and seek ways to wrong people for their personal gain. And more often than not such opportunities walk up to them.

Once I passed by an old lady, who was hawking girls’ accessories in a basket. On her insistence, I thought of buying a pony or two, since she was making an effort for her living. I asked for a few clips as well and inquired the amount I had to pay.

Seeing her poor condition, I intended to pay her more than it was due. Simultaneously I thought that it was a test of her truthfulness, which she failed. She remained quiet on getting paid a little extra. What if I had given the extra money by mistake? What if I equally needed that money?  

Kind # 3:

The third kind comprises people with above average financial status in the society. Nevertheless, it is observed, that money can bring them everything but sincere intentions.

During the popular elections of 2013, I witnessed a bizarre scenario in my village. Immoral behavior of people left me broken inside. My own people were harming fellow countrymen; unaware of their own rights.

While I was at a polling station to cast my vote, the so-called financially well-off, educated and literate individuals were abusing the innocence of the ‘illiterate’ ones by making them vote for their personal benefit.    

Kind # 4:

The last kind replicates the lifestyle of Kind #3, but their behavioral patterns vary on the basis of their intentions and morals. They possess the goodwill to provide others comfort by making any possible contribution for the betterment of the society, whether on an individual or institutional level.

I have witnessed all four kinds of ‘us’. Somewhere in the sea of people, kinds #2 and #3 have taken over. These two have contributed the most towards the portrayal of our image for the outside world. Meanwhile, the coexistence of kinds #1 and #4 is lost in the amalgamation of the aforementioned sea.

This juxtaposition of kinds led me to the conclusion that our souls have become corrupt to the core – we tend to not look beyond our individuality. We reckon our sincerity shall be with us, only. But the fact of the matter is: we have not even been sincere to ourselves.

Consequently, today our nation is in dire straits. The amazing tourist locations benchmark Pakistan’s beauty, and yet the plight of tourism persists. Despite possessing the youngest Microsoft expert, our younger generations are oblivious of rightly operating their skills and talent, for absence of counseling and platforms.

Time and again Pakistani women’s competence has been witnessed in sports. However, we have failed to provide them with equal representation. Meanwhile, child labor is rooted in our society.

Pakistan is a global exporter of numerous crops, vegetables and fruits, yet that does not help the incalculable people who sleep hungry every night. And instead of building dams we prefer getting washed away with the tides of floods.

Have we ever wondered why we are still in a developing state, despite tremendous achievements, and talent? It is our insincerity to our ‘own selves’. This has been the case for the past 68 years, only because kinds #2 and #3 have been ruling us on every level and in every field.

We need to create a fifth kind that propagates equality and goodwill among people, where kinds like #1 and #4 form the bigger picture – the true picture of Pakistan as well as Pakistanis. And this responsibility lies with each one of us as an inhabitant of this land, to re-route ourselves to this ideal, sincere kind – the fifth kind.