For every Pakistani who is a Canadian citizen, or immigrating to Australia, or the UAE or UK, there is one who would never even think of leaving. The country is a mess and it continues to surprise us with new crises. When someone leaves, it makes sense; the first right that the government is supposed to ensure for a citizen is that of security, of life and property. It makes sense, because the pragmatism of survival is unquestionable. Why haven’t all the people of North Waziristan left? Why is Karachi still so over-populated? Why aren’t more people immigrating? Why do we still have such a large Shia and Ahmadi population? When former PM Gillani made the statement, “Why don’t they leave? Who is stopping them?” the simple reply was that people don’t want to leave.
The case foremost in the mind of anyone today is of the Palestinian struggle. The Palestinians can’t leave, even if they wanted to. And by now they have suffered too much, and lost generations. The civilian population of Gaza is denied the possibility of seeking refugee status by fleeing Gaza, and there is no space available to become internally displaced within Gaza. Compared to this, Pakistan is still a free country. The residents of Ediak in North Waziristan Agency have refused to evacuate over the imminent military offensive against militants in the area. They were offered free transport to the Bannu IDP camps. Does it all come down to weighing pros and cons? What makes a man die for his country or his land? While states can declare wars and be “pragmatic,” people are not. Humans are attached to property. This is something that is acknowledged in all political philosophies that imagine the origin of a state. People want only the freedom to leave, but they want to stay.
Individuals choose to die, not for themselves but for others, they manage to see past their own wellbeing to that of the family, of the community and the nation. Apathy is the death of this sentiment, and as a nation we are increasingly becoming numb to the suffering of others. The everyday-ness of violence causes two individualistic emotions; to leave all this behind, or to not care until the danger is at one’s doorstep. When everyone else is trying to get immigration visas, if we are to stay, we have to care more. We have to stay not because of expediency, but because after these 67 years, we need to see a Pakistan that is safe for all.