After every major media agency began coming up with its own gallery of 2009’s images, I began wondering if anyone has compiled a similar collection of notable pictures relating to Pakistan in 2009. A quick Google search hasn’t revealed anything so far, except for an extremely painful look at acid burn victims.
Since there doesn’t seem to be any Pakistan-centered album out there, I thought it would be a good exercise in…well, refocusing on Pakistan. A lot of us spend so much time engrossed in daily dramas that we forget the bigger picture – and in this context, I define the bigger picture as my country. A country that I’ve spent less than a fifth of my life in, the history of which I was never formally taught, but also the country where I have made my best friends, and where I actually grew up.
At a social gathering yesterday someone remarked, during discussing Pakistan’s troubles, that “it’s a good thing we left.” Understandably, most of the people sitting there (all Pakistanis) were upset by that statement and thankfully, another man immediately called him out for it. “Yes, right now Pakistan is having difficulties, but things can get ugly here too, and when they do, where will you go, which country will take you in – Pakistan, or India?”
Perhaps that old adage about absences and hearts is at play here, but I find myself increasingly engrossed in debate and discussion revolving around Pakistan. I guess we’ve all been involved in arguments debating the best way to solve a problem – here, we can’t even agree on what the problems are, much less try to solve them. It’s bitter and divisive – hardly ideal, one would concur – but I think most of us have common reactions when we hear news of the latest tragedy. Most of us will get emotional upon seeing these pictures – angry, depressed, bitter, shocked…profoundly upset. Perhaps, then, we can rally around them and, for the sake of the victims depicted here, try to think rationally about how to proactively solve problems?
This rather limited collection has pictures that have been collected from various sources – Google Images, DAWN (they have a fantastic collection), LIFE , BBC, and my own archives – I visited Karachi, Multan, Lahore, and Islamabad this year, and would like to include an urban upper middle class perspective too. To track what happened, I used two timelines: Wikipedia’s rather limited and incomplete one and Huma Imtiaz’s excellent compilation, if a list of explosions can be described as ‘excellent’. I’ve tried to credit the photographers wherever possible, and obviously do not lay claims to any pictures except my own. The following photojournalists,amongst others, have taken many photos and deserve to be hailed for their exceptional efforts:
And without further ado:
Pakistan in 2009