This is not a picture of some Pakistani house bombed by US drone strike, neither the man in the picture belongs to any of the violent extreme religious groups. This is the quintessential rural portrait of economic devastation. A simple devoted religious man sitting on the ruins of what once used to be the house of his equally simple and religious father hoping to renovate it someday to meet the needs of a growing family when his 7 acres of land produce enough profit which is an economic improbability. Besides small land holdings his livelihood depends on trading cattles on Eid-ul-Azha.
Other than making a livelihood and renovating his house this man has other more important preoccupations in his life and that is saying his prayers five times a day and a village mosque expansion project he inherited from his father. In leisure time he drinks a cup of hot steaming tea of pure milk and smoking “Hukka”, a luxury that people from urban areas don’t enjoy.
Rural life during the past two decades has undergone a drastic change that might not be visible on somebody’s return back to his village after a decade or two. The culture of “Chaudhrahat” or what you might call “Nobility” in English is vanishing as people realise the need of education to fight economic destitution. As people are awakening to the wisdom of “Rumi” in saying;
Life is a balance between holding on and letting go.
The rural values are changing due to the grim economic prospects of relying on the produce of your land and cattle. Particularly when it comes to the female segment of the population. Previously, two or three decades ago people refrained from sending their daughters to schools or universities for the sake of their honour. But that trend now seems to be changing. Females are not only being educated but also they are being added to the working force. Mostly taking the jobs in teaching.
Men (those who are educated) are taking jobs in armed forces, bureaucracy, Law, and banking. Migration from rural areas to urban areas is taking place at rapid pace. Adding to the trouble of administering urban areas. Also, on a brighter side of the picture the ever increasing middle class will stimulate the country’s economy and help the government fight poverty.