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Losing my naivety with Pakistan

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Kamran Abbasi

When did you lose your naivety? I guess this is an unfair question since we lose our naivety in many different ways. On some matters we remain naive until our deaths. I lost my naivety about Pakistan in the mid-1980s. I was still a teenager, on a visit to Lahore. I held an idealistic image of Pakistan in my head. The Land of the Pure, built on a benevolent Islam promoted by its faultless founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. A new nation, inhabited by proud and talented people, establishing itself in the world. All this idealism thrived despite the martial law of General Zia-ul Haq. My romanticism was blind to the absence of roads or electricity in my family village beyond the Murree Hills.

I was browsing in Ferozsons, Lahore's grandest bookshop, when an elderly shop assistant approached me. He asked me what I was looking for. I wasn't sure but I was interested in the story of Pakistan's creation. It wasn't easy to find a well-written Pakistani perspective. My idle quest captured the old fellow's imagination. He was instantly animated. He had a story to tell; his own story. He had lived through those times and met with the legends of his age. They had gone on to create Pakistan and died. He sold books in Ferozsons and lived. His was an interesting tale, although he saved his choicest anecdote till last.

When did you lose your naivety? I guess this is an unfair question since we lose our naivety in many different ways. On some matters we remain naive until our deaths. I lost my naivety about Pakistan in the mid-1980s. I was still a teenager, on a visit to Lahore. I held an idealistic image of Pakistan in my head. The Land of the Pure, built on a benevolent Islam promoted by its faultless founder Mohammad Ali Jinnah. A new nation, inhabited by proud and talented people, establishing itself in the world. All this idealism thrived despite the martial law of General Zia-ul Haq. My romanticism was blind to the absence of roads or electricity in my family village beyond the Murree Hills.

I was browsing in Ferozsons, Lahore's grandest bookshop, when an elderly shop assistant approached me. He asked me what I was looking for. I wasn't sure but I was interested in the story of Pakistan's creation. It wasn't easy to find a well-written Pakistani perspective. My idle quest captured the old fellow's imagination. He was instantly animated. He had a story to tell; his own story. He had lived through those times and met with the legends of his age. They had gone on to create Pakistan and died. He sold books in Ferozsons and lived. His was an interesting tale, although he saved his choicest anecdote till last.

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