Sunday, October 26

Definition of an "Armchair Pakistani"

Pakistan is currently in the midst of financial crisis, with the government close to defaulting on its upcoming debt payments. With the US financial crisis, the elections, and Sarah Palin on my mind, it gets difficult to follow the news of my country. But things are getting progressively worse, with the prices of basic foods increasing daily, security lapses and the quality of life deteriorating with load shedding almost every 2 hours. But what can one do thousands of miles away? Well, if anything, one can be the most annoying of all critics, an "Armchair Pakistani".

Hmm...What does that mean and who are these "Armchair Pakistanis"? Well, for one thing, it certainly doesn't apply to just one country. By all means, apply it to your favorite foreign student whiner, your annoying neighbor or your teaching assistant in school. I know plenty of "Armchair Indians", "Armchair Chinese"...etc.

A simple google search will point you to my friends blog, who wrote about the subject at hand. I certainly cannot express myself as well as him, thus his post is worth revisiting.
I was at a yuppie Paki(stani) dinner recently.

Which means I have recently been subjected to much discussion about the 'state of the nation,' as it were.

Of course, we, as concerned citizens, using a bird's-eye-view from our perch 7,470 miles away, debated most fervently the topics that affect us least. The rights of women, the state of education, recent news bites, how to eradicate feudalism, fundamentalism, and other deep-rooted problems that we are all so qualified to fix.

For the most part, it was intelligent conversation. Granted, it was not only hypothetical but also hypocritical -- what could be more hypocritical than an expatriate teacher complaining about the lack of good teachers in the country? Yet, as far as such things go, it was of a reasonable caliber. Except the one girl who would offer up her views in neat little platitudes, like "women are treated so badly in Pakistan," or "there is so much violence in Pakistan," without any examples or follow-up comments.

Which brings me to my point. Why do people talk when they have nothing to say? Did she think people were going to respond "Oh, what a wonderful point, I hadn't thought of that?" Did she think that she was saying was particularly groundbreaking? I just don't get it.

Much to my delight, however, she, and we all, were chided by an older member of our party, who proclaimed us to be "Armchair Pakistanis," loaded with empty opinions and devoid of meaningful action.

Of course, in the true tautological manner of an Armchair Pakistani, it makes me sad and concerned that there are so many of us. I'm not, however, planning to do anything about it anytime soon. Surely this makes my country weep.
It's laughable how often scenarios like this occur in my life, as it has with my friend. It's not just my generation but older generations too, that preach subjects with no substance. Everyone has a damn opinion, thinks they have the greatest solution, but when push comes to shove, there is no action, no charitable donations, just empty talk.

Are you an "Armchair Pakistani"? Well, you are if you answer 'yes' to any of these questions.

Q - Do write a blog about the state of affairs in Pakistan, constantly updating it with your expert opinion and you haven't visited the country in over 10 years? In fact, even if you visit the country every year, but are happily working in DC or London, never planning to work or live forever in're included too.

Q - Amongst a group of non-Pakistanis do you assume yourself to be a beacon of information when its comes to South Asian affairs? Are your claim to expertise is a degree in Economics and a grandmother in Lahore?

Q - Do you constantly feel the need to defend Pakistan, when really....honestly...besides talking a whole lot, you haven't really made any difference whatsoever on the ground? And you're talking shit?

I feel raising awareness of the issues with blogs, conversations and so forth is admirable, but when one claims to be anything more than an armchair critic of the country, without having done anything for the country, without having a single inclination to do anything for the country in the future, and just talking non stop about it... it's just idiotic. I am an armchair Pakistani myself, but I certainly do not try to use this blog as a source of anything more than humor, sarcasm, and irritation when it comes to Pakistan related talk and certainly not self righteous preaching and complaining. I have done nothing much for my country thus far, so I can't walk the walk.....just yet. I am, however, an armchair Pakistani, so I know am justified in slamming this misguided group that I am part of.

Once you use your own funds to put poor kids back home through school, or use your knowledge and expertise to return to the motherland to work there and pay taxes to that government....then, in my opinion, you can talk. Because only then do you deserve to, and only then will we listen to you, and only then will we respect your opinion. But until that day comes around...shut the **** up.

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