Identity, Life

My fellow Pakistanis, we don’t need white people to validate our country anymore

We're 70 years post-independence and we still consider the opinions of white people to be more important than ours.

This summer, a white American male comedian, Jeremy McLellan, came to Pakistan to do a bit of social work. He worked with a team that provided free dental care to kids in villages. Since he is a comedian, he planned a few comedy shows in the country as well. His schedule only allowed for him to perform in two cities; Lahore and Islamabad.

Stand up is still fairly new in Pakistan so I was excited! Click To Tweet

Jeremy posted about his impending visit on Facebook constantly, and his predominant Asian Muslim online community was very excited.

People were counting down the days leading up to his visit.

A white person excited to go to Pakistan, my, how the tables have turned, eh?

His shows for Lahore and Islamabad were immediately sold out and people could not have been more excited to have Jeremy in Pakistan. He chronicled his entire trip on Facebook with a post every night about the day’s adventures.

Pakistanis loved the comedian's posts about the country. Click To Tweet

In one of the posts, Jeremy mentioned that he saw remnants of colonialism were still strong in Pakistani society today. He noticed how he was treated better than those around him.

When people commented that this was because Pakistanis as a people are incredibly welcoming and treat guests with respect, Jeremy clarified that this was not the case since his American friend of Pakistani origin was not treated with the same respect Jeremy was, even though technically his friend was a guest as well.

 

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Even Jeremy noticed the colonial mindset that is still entrenched in Pakistani minds. Jeremy really hit the nail on the head on that one: Pakistani society is still deeply entrenched in the colonial mindset.

It is obvious in our obsession with fair skin and speaking English.

So when a popular white person came to Pakistan, we felt we had to please them, consciously or unconsciously, because we think that they are superior to us and their approval is the one that counts.

When Jeremy pointed out that the colonial mindset that still existed, people agreed.

But something that has been absolutely nagging at me is how we constantly celebrate and revel in how much Jeremy loves Pakistan. Don’t get me wrong, I smile whenever I see his positive posts about Pakistan. Why wouldn’t I? I love my country. But what irks me is how important we have started to hold his opinion.

I am not attacking Jeremy specifically. We do this with every white person.

I have seen it too many times.

The only difference is Jeremy made public posts that we share and these posts make us feel validated.

Do we really need a white man to tell us our country is great in order for us to love it? No.

It feels like no one loved Pakistan till Jeremy said it was great. Click To Tweet

I went to Jeremy’s show. He seemed like a great guy and his love for Pakistan seemed genuine.  But constantly needing his validation on everything within Pakistan is not something I am a fan of.

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Yes, it is great that a tourist came to Pakistan and had a great time.

 

It is even better that his views on the country provided a counter-narrative to the widespread belief in the West that Pakistan is a war zone. He showed that Pakistan is just a normal country and Pakistanis are like the citizens of any other country.

Surprise, surprise! Pakistan is a normal country. Who knew? Click To Tweet

But we should not take his opinions so personally or believe in them so strongly – just because of the color of his skin.

It is time we grew out of this colonial mindset.

We are a free country and aren’t ruled by white people anymore. We should stop feeling the need to please them.

A white person’s seal of approval should not be what prompts you to be proud of your country. The question is when that’ll actually change.

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Rameeza Ahmad

Rameeza Ahmad

Rameeza Ahmad is currently majoring in Psychology with a minor in Media Studies at Forman Christian College. Her likes include: reading, writing (surprise!), food and felines. She dislikes: the patriarchy. Always up for learning new things and seeing new perspectives. She tweets @Rameezay

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