2004 was a great time to be in Pakistan. The Indian cricket team was in Pakistan for the first time that decade in what turned out to be an epic encounter. Indians had made it across the border in masses, especially for the Lahore ODI signifying the improving relations between the two countries that were at an all time high. I remember that game vividly, I went with my cousin and we sat next to a lovely Indian couple. They were having such a great time in the country that they regretted not bringing their daughter, whom they had left behind worrying about the treatment of women in Pakistan, stories which they said were way off the mark. Imran Khan was also at the game, but had refused an invitation to the executive box because of the potential presence of President General Musharraf. At the time Imran Khan’s decision to enjoy the spectacle from the stands was about the extent of opposition to the country’s premier, and vicious politics from all sides seemed to be on the back burner, for the moment. Cricket wasn’t the only thing going right for the country; the Karachi Stock Exchange was amongst the fastest growing stock exchanges in the world, reflecting the healthy shape of the economy. The War on Afghanistan has helped Pakistan’s cause a great deal, the sanctions placed because of Pakistan’s nuclear ambitions were lifted and there was a steadily increasing inflow of foreign aid. My uncle chose a great time to get married. For his wedding had people coming in over the world to join in on the happiness.
Fast forward 6 years and the same people wouldn’t come to any wedding if you bought their tickets for them. Pakistan is still in the news, now more so than ever, but for all the wrong reasons. The recent bombing at the Ahmadi mosque in Lahore is just one of about a gazillion things that have gone wrong. The point of this article however, or indeed this blog, is not to dwell on the negative. Skepticism continues to be the main theme of so many prominent journalists in Pakistan. Though we will deal with all issues in Pakistan, it will be done without trying to be skeptical about the future, we are just three guys trying to change Pakistan and the world for the better.
‘The Blue Rickshaw’ was created by the three of us so that we could write about what interests us, and our views and opinions on different matters. Politics will be a common theme of discussion on this blog, but it will not be the only thing. The adventures of the cricket team will be well documented, as will life in Ann Arbor. The title of the blog allows us to link to both Pakistan and our beloved college, Michigan. The colors of the university are maize and blue, with ‘Go Blue’ being the trademark chant for all sports teams here. Rickshaws of course are the standard form of transport across Pakistan, and no matter what automobile you get to ride in, nothing beats the thrill of that first ride in a rickshaw. I must admit Emad came up with the name and full marks to him for it. The name really struck a chord with me though, and for more than the reasons mentioned above. One of my favorite memories from boarding school was getting permission to go out and get dinner outside of the confines of campus. There were six of us from my class at that time, and we were standing on Mall Road in Lahore desperately searching for a rickshaw to get to a restaurant. Finally we found one, but since at the time they were so hard to come by all six of us crammed into that rickshaw. It was the start of an epic night, but that memory also reminds me one of my best friends from boarding school who was a part of that great rickshaw ride. He was recently martyred in a terrorist attack, and now that memory is mixed with the harsh realization of the real issues that our country is facing on a day to day basis.