What a privilege to be in Lahore to see famous Pakistani musicians Noori and Hadiqa Kiani and more impressively in a tent full of polio social mobilisers, vaccinators and staff of polio eradication organisations at a polio benefit concert on my third day in Pakistan!
When we think of Pakistan we can only really think of civil unrest, the Taliban, Muslim extremism, graphic images and footage of political turmoil thanks to our sensationalist western media who seem determined to paint Pakistan only in the most negative ways.
I am largely here to learn more, experience the country and its people and to share with others the real Pakistan.
Just three days into my experience I’m not sure if it is luck or just the way the country is but I have stepped in a country that is incredibly friendly, safe, generous and hospitable where 2000 polio workers can come together and rock on a comparative scale to that of the Global Citizen Festival I was a part of a month ago in New York. I’m pretty sure it’s not luck and that is just the way the country is!
For this World Polio Day please see the images and colours and energy of the people that seems not just reserved for this occasion but reserved for life in general. Pakistan is a proud and passionate place that welcomes strangers and has to live with the negative media tar brush that paints horrible stereotypes to the rest of the world.
The writing on my five weeks here I’m sure will not be the 7pm commercial western news you might be used to… I hope to have you along for the journey so you can share in the conversations like I had with Malik my rickshaw driver to the concert who said ‘You are my brother, I appreciate you, thank you, you are a good man, lets work together (for polio)’ and then didn’t want to charge for the hell-raising 30-minute ride through a mindfield of donkeys, trucks, vehicles and pot-holes… (I insisted of course with small tip of resolve to do my best to advocate for his country and also polio eradication within it!).
Happy Wold Polio Day from Happy Pakistan!
PS. Thank you to UNCEF Pakistan for the invitation to attend the event in Lahore and for allowing me to join in with their amazing work and that of WHO, Rotary and others here in Pakistan for the next 5 weeks.