My Little Green Notebook

“Stripped of my name and identity?
On soil I nourished with my own hands?
Today Job cried out
Filling the sky:
Don’t make and example of me again!
Oh, gentlemen, Prophets,
Don’t ask the trees for their names
Don’t ask the valleys who their mother is
From my forehead bursts the sward of light
And from my hand springs the water of the river
All the hearts of the people are my identity
So take away my passport!”

By Mahmoud Darwish

Today thousands of brilliant over–achievers are turned away from foreign education. At first they were denied their visa, now they are denied admission. The Pakistani passport is the deep cause of all of this. Events such as 9/11, 7/7 and Virginia Tech have made foreign applicants seem dangerous, and committed to spreading terror. Why should any university risk the lives of competent students and its prestige for a forgone conclusion? They cannot be blamed for having such simple concerns. It is policy makers of the day who have bred this new form of discrimination: The Green passport discrimination!

Although the long chapter of black discrimination and gender based discrimination have come to an end , one dangerous type of discrimination prowls the earth this form of discrimination to me really encompasses all forms of discrimination. It is a violent atrocity against justice and the bedrock of human rights. The deep green passport today serves as the labeling brand or chain any slave would wear before the abolition of slavery. Its effect is frighteningly similar to that of the star badge worn by the Jews prior to the holocaust. It has the alien like capability to horrify college admissions officers and customs officials. Whatever we may familiarize it with, it is bound to us. Not even tremendous efforts and funds can free us off this doom. It is our past, present and future. It is our curse.

The most ironic feature of this discrimination is that it comes from nations who have fought hard and long wars to free themselves from discrimination. The Western world has freed itself from the tyrannical communism. Now they fight wars for equality and democracy in Afghanistan and Iraq. The history of this struggle dates back to the stories of female and black emancipation. My question here is simple, if wars have been waged against oppression and tyranny – why do these liberators turn their backs on this new genre of discrimination.

The crux of my argument lies on one key pillar. It is wrong to stereotype or generalize about nations and people. A simple green passport or one unified religion are not binding factors that bring people together to do the same deeds. This simple green color does no good in bridging the gap between the intellectual and civilized class of Pakistan with the fundamentalist and extremists such as the Mullahs and the Taliban. Why are we expected to posses the same beliefs, life experiences and influences just because of a shade of green.

I am neither afraid nor ashamed to carry a Pakistani passport. In fact I treasure it as my identity set out by Qaid-e-azam, The Muslim league and the struggle of the Indian Muslims. I prize my heritage and my culture. Pakistan was chartered to be a secular state. Why is it than that my passport reeks of Talibanization, fundamentalists and extremists. Each time I am honored with a customized checking at the airport terminal, it is a crime against the very bedrock of what my nation was built to stand for. I feel a mighty un-doing of our country and our great patriotic flag. Each time a green passport holder is randomly screened for possible weapons of mass destruction our flag deteriorates a little more. The green symbolizing peace fades to a violent aggressive red. The white outlining toleration flickers to a faint decayed brown of ignorance. And the marvelous crescent and star solidify into the skull and bones logo. The long and short of it is that the more we are discriminated on the basis of our passport, the more integrity we lose as Pakistanis committed to peace, tolerance and discipline. The more you blame someone for committing a crime, the more guilty he or she will feel. The effect is obvious here. As Pakistanis are condemned terrorists they will lose track of their true identity.

The world owes the Pakistani community an apology for its harsh stereotypical attitude. Just as illegal immigrants from Mexico and Haiti are pardoned for their violations; Pakistanis too must be forgiven for a crime they did not commit. As outlined true Pakistanis would never do such inhumane acts of violence. It is against the code of the nation on which the true identity of every Pakistani rests.

Shahryar Malik

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