Since facing the armies of PTI’s cyber cadre I’d promised myself that I would not indulge in any more online debates. I thought I was doing a good job until 2 days ago I was deleted and blocked by a friend of mine for criticising the governmental propaganda in its Vision 2025 videos. Before the said blocking, I was reminded that I’d basically run away from the country to an alien land instead of becoming part of the process of its development. Furthermore, I was labeled as a petty keyboard warrior and nothing less.

Okay.

Before we move onto the discussion that brought us to these claims, I‘ll use a few inches over the claim that I’d lost the right to become part of the discourse on Pakistan’s development due to the change in geography. One does not become any less Pakistani if they start living elsewhere. If anything, you actually become more of a patriot. Not many who leave their country can manage to completely forget where they come from. Nothing acts as a reminder to their true roots than to be in an alien environment with its alien customs, language, norms and modus operandi. Man is but an animal of habit and there is nothing more difficult to give up than routines infused with emotions and memories. Even those of us who come to escape want to go back to the lands of memories. Forging a new identity might be legally easy but tends to be formidable and frustratingly cumbersome in actuality. Leaving the geography out of choice or circumstance does not detach the umbilical cord that attached those who have gone to everything that has been left behind. Those of the lands who think otherwise are doing a great disservice to the country they insist on loving more than the others.

That said, there are many advantages of the said ‘escape’ as well. Living in Pakistan, we tend to have very low expectations of how things must work. We tend to be too easy with the leaders above; we’re too innocent with our expectations. There is nothing as terrible as to live in the bubble of one’s own making. North Korea for example believes itself to be the most powerful nation of the world. Pakistan, similarly so, believes itself to be the absolute most important country on the face of earth. In this bubble, myths are believed, reinvented and ingrained into generations to come. In such bubbles, the Pakistan of 2016 seems to be progressive and developing with a pace fast enough to soon entitle itself as the (obviously self-proclaimed) tiger of Asia.

However, it is argued that the expatriates lose their understanding of the reality of things back in the country and indulge in obfuscating comparisons that are contextually nonsensical. In the world of today where we live in a globalised setting, benchmarking cannot and must not be escaped. While this has nothing to do with the geography, the intermingling of transnationals in an international settings allows one to notice progress beyond the biases we are all prone to. Much like a model UN, an expat indulging in an intellectual discourse has to present their argument that convinces others as well as themselves. In that light, each one of us act as ambassadors on the international stage and this is where it gets interesting. As the stage is neutral and scientific, no amount of emotional baggage can hide away the stats that exist. There is no rationalising of circumstances. As should be, such debates are black and white in nature. Countries like Pakistan need such black and white debates rather desperately.

Those in the lands must understand that beyond the border, the environment can and is a lot more hostile than the one most of us are used to. It’s a relentless race at a pace most of us are yet again not used to back home. And, it is in this race that most of the expats are running breathlessly, competing against the strongest of world participants, learning new things, harnessing their strengths, and nurturing their potentials in the way. Once the race is completed, a majority of the expats will run towards the plane and fly back home. Once there, they will introduce what has not been said before. Once home, they will try things that haven’t been tested before. Such innovations are the only tool Pakistan has to become a better version of itself. The road to progress starts with painful acceptance not comforting disillusions. The realisation will come when we see things from new angles; those that we tend to shy away from because it’s simply convenient or, usual.

n             The author is a freelance writer based

                in Islamabad.