Group Blame and Guilt by Association

Rabeya Jawaid (Pakistan, LPC UWC 2010-2012)

‘Jeevay Jeevay Pakistan’, ‘Dil dil Pakistan’ and all the patriotic anthems that are sung on Pakistan’s Independence day 14th August, seem quite pathetic when one realizes how disadvantageous it is to be a Pakistani in today’s world. About four months back I was chosen to be a part of the trip to North Korea. Our staff supervisor said he would get us all China visas which are required to get into NK, if we all provided him with our passports, visa fees, and one photograph in time. Happily holding only my passport and photograph I went to his house, informing him I did not need to pay any visa fees for China because I was a Pakistani.

A couple of days later, all the passports arrived. All the students from countries like Estonia, the Netherlands, Swaziland, Hong Kong, the USA and many others received their double-entry visa to China which was required to go to NK through China. However, the staff supervisor said he was sad to say that the Chinese Embassy had only given a single-entry visa to me, and he could not understand why they did this. Anyway, he told me to go to Pakistan and apply from there, since Pakistan and China are such good allies and friends and it should not really be a problem.

Chinese consulate in Karachi, 7 visits in scorching heat: each time asking for different letters. When all were provided, they wanted the North Korean visa. I could not possibly provide them with this because it is issued only 2 days before the flight. When I protested in the office, saying all my friends from all over the world on the trip had already got their visas and I had provided them with all the information they had requested for, the Pakistani lady at the counter told me ‘Well you’re Pakistani, and you will not get the visa.” I do not know who to blame. The terrorists? The theifs? The Islamic extremists? The ‘bad’ people in Pakistan?

All I know, is I am a young Pakistani suffering from the misdeeds of some vicious Pakistanis, and I also do know that the world needs to be able to distinguish bad from good. If generalizations keep occurring, and bad and good keep getting mixed, and the innocent keep suffering, there may actually be no remaining difference between the good and the bad in the future, which will worsen matters further. I would like to end with a sentence from an article published in The Slate recently about the fact that the Norwegian who carried out the recent attacks was a Christian (in his own words, a “Crusader” for “Christendom”)

and when the preacher to whom he has been linked is you, you suddenly discover the injustice of group blame and guilt by association.

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