I was discussing some of my design work with a friend of mine, wondering what the film and design industry in Karachi is like, and how my work could make a difference back home.
Considering I have an educational background in film and design, she pointed me in the direction of a video blog post. She sent me a couple of examples of what people were currently doing and I was inspired to do something similar.
Having lived in Pakistan most of my life, I knew that most people abroad saw Pakistan through the lens of the media and news channels, and it was not half as bad as it was described in the news. Luckily, I was going to be going on a camping trip that weekend, so I decided to take my camera along and ask a couple of campers what their perception of Pakistan was.
What I hoped was for their perception to change, to be viewed from a new lens – my lens!
At first, the campers around were a bit hesitant about the interview but they soon started easing up to the idea.
Funnily enough, many of the responses reflected on how Pakistan was a reminder of the partition of the subcontinent and how Pakistan reminded them of India. It was great to know that many of the participants enjoyed Pakistani food and culture.
I asked the men and women, both, whether they would ever visit Pakistan and almost all of them said they would love to do so! The women were interested in Pakistani fashion. One of them went as far as saying she would love to visit her friends in Karachi and shop for all the beautiful dresses Pakistan has to offer. Another mentioned how he would like to visit Lahore as the city was once a Sikh kingdom and most of their gurus originated from Lahore; he thought that Lahore was a beautiful part of the country.
Upon asking them whether they believed everything the media told them or how their perspective was different from that portrayed by the news, I am proud to say, many of them said they didn’t really believe the news.
One of the campers said,
“So I know what the truth is, media doesn’t really make the country look good though or the people. The Muslim people in general”
“All I hear is what’s on the news, and it’s like a fear factor going on over there, it’s just that they try to keep everybody afraid…it seems like everything’s a pot with a lid on it, ready to blow up”
Having enjoyed this experience, and realising that Pakistan is in dire need of a new visage, I decided that I would like to continue conducting similar interviews. Although this was my first time and I feel like a lot still needs to be discovered when it comes to the general image of Pakistan across borders, I’m hoping that my lens will help bring about a change, as nominal as it may be.
One of the campers, when asked what message he would like to send back to Pakistan said;
“Message to Pakistan from Canada is about love, it’s about peace, about getting along and if the fella that’s interviewing me right now is an example of Pakistan, I find the people are very kind and honest and no different than I try to be myself here in Canada.”