Theorists will tell you that the existence of national heroes is important in developing a nation in the direction we want it to go. There seems to be some truth to this as is evident when we take a look at Paul Bogle (Jamacia) and Jose Rizal (The Philippines). But for a nation to truly progress, it needs, not only its historical heroes, but also its heroes of today.
Who are the national heroes of Pakistan? Are they found in the sports arena, the governing authorities or the higher stratum of society? Sad to say, a dearth exists when we look among those who have the means to make a difference.
The foremost among few, Muhammad Ali Jinnah said that Pakistanis should “stand guard over the development and maintenance of Islamic democracy, Islamic social justice and the equality of manhood in your own native soil.” It is a wonderful national ideal, a banner that should be carried by all to shape this nation. Words of democracy, social justice and equality of manhood; they are magnificent words, powerful words. But where are the present day heroes who take action against all odds to make these words a reality in Pakistan? Do we not have anyone we can look to as an inspiration of the character and ideals we want for our nation? Do we have anyone the young upcoming citizens of this nation can model? Is there anyone in history or this present age? The answer is: there are not enough of them, maybe none of them, for they are hard to find, almost non-existent.
Recently I have met some individuals who stand out in the crowd. In the eyes of an indulgent wealthy and governing elite, they are nobodies, insignificants, not worth the count. However in my eyes they are the heroes we are seeking for our nation.
They started their lives in the lower rungs of society. They are the sons of servants, sons of the impoverished. Not content to remain the recipients of degradation, inequalities, injustices and impoverishment, they by sheer determination and hard work against all odds, have pulled themselves out of poverty to provide a better future for themselves and their families.
As a small boy Ali pushed vegetable carts to help the family income and to cover his school fees. As he reached adulthood he continued to hawk vegetables in the streets and eventually graduated with IT credentials. Because he had to work and go to school at the same time, graduation came well into adulthood. A man of thirty some years, he has now landed his first IT position.
Omer is the middle son in a family of six boys and two girls. After school he had to help his father in the small family shop and could only study late at night, after closing. He remembers that he and his siblings studied on the charpai. He now holds a comfortably paying position and has sacrificed much to see his children get a good education.
These are the heroes that the nation of Pakistan is built on. These are the people we should look up to and admire. They are inspiration. They are those that make one proud to call oneself Pakistani. We need to look for heroes not in the echelons of a privileged society, but in the back alleys and gullies where the affluent never go.