What do a little girl’s dreams say about a country’s future?
What, in particular, do they say about Pakistan?
Pakistan has been making headlines in the US. Last week retiring Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen accused that country’s spy agency of backing a deadly attack on the US embassy in Afghanistan. Pakistani officials vehemently deny the charges. Relations between the countries are at an all time low.
Dawn is the oldest English language newspaper in Pakistan. Today’s edition has plenty of coverage of the dire state of relations between the US and Pakistan as well as Pakistan’s increasingly good relations with China.
But it also makes room for the story of a seven-year-old, well-off girl in the port city of Karachi and her school essay on where she would most like to go in the world – real or make believe. Turns out the destination she covets beyond all else is…a supermarket, a well-stocked supermarket that she and her family already shop in on a regular basis.
Her teacher was surprised. The author of the Dawn article, Rafia Zakaria, is dismayed. She sees it as a reflection of the fearful, stifling atmosphere of today’s Pakistan.
Zakaria is Pakistani American. She’s a lawyer and has been recognized by the Indiana House and Senate for her work on women’s rights.
Zakaria writes: “in its limitation, in its inability to go beyond the mundane and mediocre, the child’s essay is an indictment of her elders whose fears of uncertainty and the unknown have eliminated anything beyond a visit to the store.”