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Sunday, January 27, 2008

A Reason to Believe (01/27/08)

A Reason to Believe
By Shahzad Roy
Jan 27th, 2008

WHEN I was 10 years old, I saw on the nine o’clock news on PTV a woman with a dupatta draped round her head saying, “Pakistan tareekh kay aik naazuk mor say guzar raha hai.” Then I turned 20 and again saw a woman, this time not wearing a dupatta on her head, saying with eloquence on the nine o’clock news, “Pakistan tareekh kay aik naazuk mor say guzar raha hai”.

Déjà vu… why? I tried to analyse the situation to find out how come Pakistan is still stuck at the naazuk mor even after the passage of many long years. I reached the conclusion that 50 per cent of our knowledge lies in asking the right question. Government functionaries, intelligentsia, armed forces, critics, human rights activists and, for that matter, all stakeholders ask questions. But they end up slinging mud at each other, for the simple reason that the questions they ask are never right in the first place.

The question usually asked is: “Why is the state of health and education in Pakistan in such dire straits?” The complacent response is: “At least we have some schools and a few hospitals. Something is better than nothing.”

After pondering over the state of education and health in our country, I realised that the “something is better than nothing” view cannot apply to education and health. Just imagine, would so many youth have agreed to become suicide bombers if proper education had been provided to them by the state? If they had been only taught to ask the right questions and had inter-faith dialogue at the institutions they attended, they would have thought thrice before embarking on mindless missions and most definitely have refused to be used as a pawn in the hands of others.

When it comes to healthcare, a lukewarm (something) effort — by a doctor of questionable credentials (something), to cure a patient by giving him a substandard (something) medicine or injection — has a high probability of killing the patient rather than curing him.

Quality education is every citizen’s right and its responsibility lies with the state. A paradigm shift is required in the mindset of state authorities, the people and the education system to save our future generations from destruction. The first step towards this shift would be changing the textbooks.

Just by building schools, training the teachers, increasing administrative controls, the issue of providing an education that makes a ‘thinking’ individual, will not be addressed. A student must learn from the textbook how to learn, change and inquire freely rather than becoming a “lakeer ka faqeer”. If we want our future generations to ask the right questions then a culture of discussion, interaction, proactive thinking and asking questions needs to be encouraged.

It’s high time that a quantum leap was taken in the education and health sectors. Nothing is as powerful as the idea itself, whose time has come.

The problems of education and healthcare are just the tip of the iceberg. Multiple interventions are required to turn the country around. To name a few: The state’s failure to provide timely justice (more than 70,000 under-trial prisoners are languishing in Pakistani jails), housing, power, employment, communication, clean drinking water (without which 250,000 children die annually) has created problems that should prompt the rulers to declare an emergency.

Whenever these questions are raised or talked about, most of us say, “Oh bhai! This is Pakistan.” My answer to this cliché is, where you live should not determine whether you live happily or live poorly and die.The difference between a developed or developing — rather declining — country is that people in the former are given a ‘reason to believe’ by the state and the media, that they are working to achieve and maintain a decent living. Whereas in the latter case, the state and the media fail to create this ‘reason to believe’ for the citizens. In the absence of this ‘reason to believe’, citizens lose a sense of direction and move and act aimlessly. The absence of this also leads to lack of thinking, questioning and movement by the citizens.

Only having a ‘reason to believe’ sets the ball rolling — slowly, but in the right direction. It is not strange when extraordinary people do extraordinary things. But when they have a ‘reason to believe’, even ordinary people start doing extraordinary things. That is precisely the moment when a group of people start turning into a great nation.

The writer, a pop singer, is president of Zindagi Trust, an organization working for child welfare and education.



  1. "a reason to believe" wonderful article by shehzadroy.it was August 2008.when i saw on Geo or Express channel "sheikh Rasheed" was saying again that" pakistan tareekh ka nazuk tareen mor say guzar rha ha" i burst to laugh and suddenly i stop by thinking that if Shehzadroy will be watching this programme then he will clutched his head vd his hands and will say to Almighty God."pakistan tu nhee badl payia hamary pyray buzrug en ka fikra he badal day" ameen.

  2. Itna saara likha tha, google per account bananay kay chakar main sab ur gaya!. Anyways! Asalamoalaikum Shehzad Bhai, I have been off and on following zindagi trust since the time it was established but i was not aware of this blog site until tonight. Whatever you are doing, most people can think and usually die while ONLY THINKING! AP NE KAR DIKHAYA HAI. Bravo! MASHALLAH. I was interested in volunteering for WRITING (have already sent email to concerned zindagi trust mailing address) because due to my own professional obligations, currently fieled work is not possible for me (though i used to be event organizer at college level), maybe later, after a few years when my training is complete, but for now, if you could just guide a little what exactly to write about, i think i could do that. Shehzad bhai, all my mom's as well as my prayers are with you and your cause. I wish i could be part of that too. Keep up the good work. Regards. Mariam

  3. Asalamoalaikum, Though off and on i have been following zindagi trust, yet, tonight was the 1st time i tumbled across these posts by Shehzad bhai and to be honest, all of it is extremely motivating. I had Qismat with me the day it was released and it is still the only audio being played in my car or on computer since then. Hats off to Shehzad bhai for bringing up such majo issues in such subtle ways that are effective and yet at the same time good to listen to. Though because of my professional training being in progress, i won't be able to volunteer much as far as field work is concerned but i suppose i could WRITE, (have already sent a mail to zindagi trust volunteer section regarding this matter). But i'll be honest with you Shehzad bhai, since 1995, i have been listening to you, singing with your songs, admiring your passion and patriotism, and the main reason to volunteer is to do something about the betterment of the country.
    You know what sir, most of people of our era, people who are considered 'AAM ADMI' want to help individually, but to create a platform to focus and chanalise the energies and abilities is not a child's play and you have proven time and again that you very much capable of doing what most people keep on just thinking of doing and pass away. AAP NE KAR DIKHAYA HAI. I truly wish more of us would be courageous like you, Ameen. If possible i would like to email Shehzad Roy in person though i don't know how. Anyways, all the best for the good work and let me know if i could help regarding any writings or not? Regards. Mariam

  4. hey! nice work with the trust! i would really like to help out in whatever way i can...however, i am unable to get a hold of anyone who could guide me a little! :)

  5. Hi Shehzad,

    I have jst read ur article which is quite impressive and thought povoking. I completely agree with ur point of view about an education in Pakistan which is terribly sad. Education is something that can persuade a person to lead in his /her life or a motivativational force to excel,bt ,unfortunately ,we are quite far behind in this race despite knowing its importance.

    Pakistan education sytem have so many loopholes which need to be addressed. But i have to list couple of things which are important for intiative measures according to my personal experience of studying abroad.

    Every institution must have a system underlying a strategy focuses on creative thinking of stdents that needs to portray a strong personal opinion based on their learning rather than sticking on a "Ratta system" . Students should know there is no right n wrong , only need to support their standing well.

    Our educationalists focus too much on en glish which needs to be strictly restricted because it jst snatches away a confidence from that person who is equally or perhaps more talented than other. It is true that english is an international language ,but, there are countries they are doing well without making english lanaguahe as weakness e.g. China and other Europeon countries.

    Well, its an end of my suggestions . Now i really want to congardulate you on working on such a sensitive and important issue.
    I just want to be part of your organisation and would love to contribute in your endeavours in anyway.

    Wishing you best of luck.


    Samira Liquat

    E.mail= sam_rabnawaz@hotmail.com

  6. My pray for shaehzad he always become with results for social reform and “Believe when we initiate any work with positive thinking there is not any reason we were failure but always need to be doing positive and I am also engaged with youth and after of starting working on Youth context in (YAAD) youth alliance and activism development my believe should more strong on positive working because whenever I have worked started 20th young mail and female are engaged with my idea and they are contributing both in their communities and district and the purpose of youth YAAD is exploring opportunities for youth so that they raise collective voices for their rights.

    Best wishes for shehzad Roy…….
    From 'Syed Iqbal Shah
    District Sibi Balochistan

  7. Hello Sir!
    We are a group of electronic engrs. recently graduated from SSUET. We wanted to present our services in whatever department required. We can surely serve in managemnet, educational, event management and related activities. we have also mailed to Mr Arif Shah and other official addresses available on your website.

    we are deliberaty looking forward for your response & reply

  8. I am organizing an event at my university and i am also a chair person of that society named as ZAVIYA this would be an event for special children, it would be an honor for us to have you there as a chief guest, the name of my university is PAF KIET.
    Best Regards,
    Chair Person ZAVIYA,
    Quratulain Malik

  9. nice sir i m very impress from zindagi trust abhi to m graduation kar raha ho but wada ha jab koi acha earn karne lag jao g zaror milo ga ap ke liye and agar ap koi ab mere kise service ke zarorat ha to i promise free of cost m ap ke har jobe k liye ready ho main national textile university c graduaton kar raha ho thax

  10. plz! urgent helping money me.
    My mother is seriously ill. Off the Wall is his heart. Doctors have told him two thousand dollars. He is now appealing for assistance.
    Hasten to do good, even if not too late.
    If you want to support. Western Union or our account number so I am online.
    My name Khurram Shahzad Khan, a city of Rawalpindi, Punjab province name, country name Pakistan.THIS ACCOUNT NO .Account no# 00110210128981
    Account Title. Khurram Shahzad Khan
    IBAN# PK37ASCM0000110210128981
    Branch code# 0011
    Bank Name. Askari Bank Limited, 12-Tufail Road, Lahore cantt.
    Punjab, Pakistan.

  11. I want My Childrens Bright Future But I cannot Afford Their School's Expances I Am A Poor Worker In This Country & Tries To Earn Halal & ALHAMDULILLAH I Am Proud To Earn Halal But In This Income I Cannot Afford Studies Of My Children For Which Sometimes I Am Really Ashamed . If Any One Or Mr Shehzad Roy Can Bear The Studies Expences Of My Children ,I Will be Very Thank Full To Him & My ALLAH For The Whole Life .. May ALLAH Bless Every One
    My Number Is 03145005626