I feel as if I’m going through purgatory right now. Is addiction to the Internet possible? It’s been a particularly frustrating day for me as my Internet went out this morning right as I began a conference call with a few people in US. For my nature of work, I find constant access to high speed internet incredibly important. But it’s not just the lack of Internet that really frustrates me, but also terrible customer service, lack of healthy competition among Internet providers, and a general sense of apathy. I’m currently using my cell phone’s connection to check essential email and write back to people. In the bigger picture of Pakistan though, a good Internet infrastructure is the least of the country’s worries. I’m here for a week to visit my parents and it is shocking to see the country from an outsider’s perspective.
Most third world countries – especially ones that have been colonized by England in the past – are developing rapidly and the prospects seem promising. I wish I could say the same about Pakistan. Having grown up and spent half of my life in Pakistan and the other half in America, I find it all too easy to draw comparisons and complain. However, I try to observe the situation impartially and objectively. As I’ve grown up and began paying attention to the state of my country, I’ve watched things degrade from OK to worse. It’s almost as if we’re taking steps backwards while others are pushing forward.
Right now as I write this blog, the power just went out. No big deal. I don’t get power for more than 14-16 hours a day. And I happen to live in Lahore, the second largest city of Pakistan where things are still great. Other places have it far worse. The country has been facing a power shortage for more than 5 years now. People have improvised solutions to this problem. Those who can afford it use a gas generator or a UPS system to power a portion of their house when the grid is down. I have a UPS system installed in my home as well which is used to power essential things such as lights, fans, the internet, and my laptop. But this solves the symptoms and not the problem.
The saddening part is that we have plenty of natural resources including an abundance of coal and very strong sunshine for solar power. Our power consumption is probably a tiny fraction of America’s or China’s. China has even offered to help us by directly providing cheap electricity to us. Even though we are perfectly capable of solving this problem ourselves. But anyone with considerable power in this country is corrupt to the core. From the very bottom all the way to the government leadership, everyone tries to cut corners and promote self interests. The power crisis is just the tip of the iceberg. I would expound on this topic but there is plenty out there glaring in the news.
The fresh blood and cream of the crop of this country leaves in pursuit of better opportunity. I’m part of this… My sister and I urged my parents to let us move away to America when I finished high school. Today, all of my high school friends are scattered across the world. Barely anyone stayed; it’s almost as if we all implicitly acknowledge that there’s not a bright future for us over here. Sometimes I wonder if it was selfish of me to leave. If the new generation won’t fix the problems with this country, then who will?
Despite everything I’ve said, I love Pakistan! My parents live here and I grew up in this country… It’s home. I especially love Lahore and it’s people. The food over here is unique and absolutely amazing! I’ve made lifelong friendships over here and continue to meet up with friends from Pakistan all over US and Europe. Their sense of humor never ceases to amuse me and I can spend hours hanging out. My childhood and positive experiences bring a strong nostalgia. There are fleeting moments when I see a glint of hope in this country. Perhaps it will get me to return one day in an attempt to improve life over here. For now, I know I’ll return to London with a renewed appreciation for basic necessities that we all take for granted.
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