Raza narrated, “I studied at the Saint Mary’s Academy Rawalpindi. It was a beautiful campus and that is where I was until 6th and then as my father moved back to Lahore, I came to Lahore and then I joined Aitchison College
So I went to Aitchison College I finished my education I did my HSSC or a levels as just to let you know I topped my class.”
I was an introverted type of a shy child who was mostly into books and nature.so my early years were spent with trees. In Rawalpindi we lived in Peshawar road when it was not that developed so it was almost like a jungle and that’s where I learned my love for the nature and I used to read a lot as a child and read all the fairy tales in English, urdu. When I came to Aitchison College Lahore, that’s where I discover the literature and so for years and years I was just reading and reading.
What would I be if I were not a journalist, well I was actually a civil servant in 1993 I took the CSS exam and I topped the exam in the entire country so I worked for the government for almost a decade. Then I branched out to Asian development bank which I also left after a few years of working both in Pakistan and its headquarters in Malila. So I enjoyed both my jobs so if I were not a journalist would probably be a civil servant or somewhere in the ADB
I think we all make many mistakes and I certainly have made many mistakes I my life but I have to say that there is none that I regret its all part of living and it’s all part of life. So I can’t really say that if it is a big or small mistake. I do have made many times small mistakes.
Talking about his anger, Raza said, “What makes me angry is the fact that when I see so many people across the world not only in Pakistan, going through all sort of manmade problem you know weather its hunger , weather its violation of human rights, war, civil conflict, civil war. These thing made me angry but most importantly is not being understood at a personal level that’s what makes me angry.”
The risks I have taken, well you take all sorts of risks but I think that my work for the Pakistani television industry maybe I did take many risks in the sense of challenging the extremists and you know trying to expose them so a lot of people used to caution me to be careful, to be quiet, to be you now more careful, but the thrill of it maybe that I would call the risk.
Raza, while talking about his Passion, smiled, “I’m passionate about many many things I’m passionate about life, I’m passionate about the people, im passionate about the world, im passionate about you now, generally human beings. So I were to reduce it, it is humanity and the idea of a connectivness of all human beings. That makes me passionate.”
I am from Lahore originally that’s where I was born and my identity is as a Lahori and after Lahore I moved with my family to Rawalpindi. I spent my early years there and we returned to Lahore where I finished my high school. I had a very nice childhood I would say. It was a very idyllic and the way childhoods are fun, carefree, lots of love and friends.
Raza has spent a very extra ordinary life, and he is very proud of it! He said “I am not sure what I am proud of, I can though vey happily say that I have accomplished a lot and as I told you when I took the CSS exam that was a very proud moment I topped in the entire country. Thousands of candidates had appeared and I stood first in that exam but then I did other things as well. I wanted to be a writer you know when my book came out it was also a moment of accomplishment. Every time I write something I makes me happy.”
I am trying to understand what brings me where. Well currently I have been to US and the circumstances have not been very pleasant. I had to leave Pakistan last year after I was attacked and my driver dies and I felt insecure and traumatized so I’m here for some time and I’m trying to reinvent myself. I have just joined a college here where I’m teaching and writing my next book.
When Aalishan Pakistan asked, what he gave to Pakistan he said, “I don’t know what I gave to Pakistan, it’s a difficult one. Well I mean you know I try to change the public opinion I contributed in my humble way to setting an alternative narrative in writing in media other than that I did lots of hard work when I was a government servant. I was posted in 3-4 small towns of Punjab where I worked very hard. When I was with the Asian development bank I implemented a lot of reform projects in which there are many accomplishments that I can think off but I still think I need to give more to my country. ”
Raza while talking about a murder attempt on him, said, “Yes well it was unfair, it was unjust and it was horrific and barbaric. Everything about it was wrong and there is no explanation, there is no justification for that. But I think the most horrible part of that is that you just for your views just for speaking out, for expressing your views you can face bullets. That is the worst part.”
There is a lot that frightens me about Pakistan. Off course you know the extremists frightens me, the rogue elements of the state frighten me. But these are normal things. Overall if you ask me the love and the happiness and the contentment of being in my own country outweighs all these fears.
Where would I be after 25 years… I don’t know. I would like to be in Pakistan. I think those will be sort of last days of my life or years. So I would like to be in Pakistan. Preferably in Lahore. And doing good things.
I am not scared of going back to Pakistan IA. I will go back. I just have to deal with my trauma and the unfortunate part of putting somebody at risk that is my big issue. If I go back and if someone else get hurt or harmed because of me I will not be able to forgive myself. I have tried to cope now but next time I won’t be able to do that so until I get an insurance from the state of Pakistan, from the highest government authorities I will not go back.
Well obviously Pakistan is my identity. Pakistan gave everything to me. My education, my parents, my experience, the diversity of Pakistan, what I have learned from Pakistan as a citizen as a government official as a consultant as a journalist as a writer. I owe everything to Pakistan.
The best moment of my life was actually going to Ajmeer sharif india- A sufi dargah I always wanted to go as a child. So I actually reached there in 2006. It was fantastic.
The worst moment of my life was when I saw my companion and my driver Mustafa died in front of me. Because I happen to be the target and he got killed in front of me so that has been the worst moment. Something that I never wanted. I really hope nobody ever goes through that.
For many years, for almost two decades 20 years I had a regular job. Leaving in the morning and coming in the night to home but of late I have changed my schedule. i work a lot from home so it’s a mixture of home and outside. And I’m enjoying it.
All I have to say o the readers of Aalishan Pakistan is that Pakistan is a great country because I have great people and a country is nothing without its people and I have great hope and faith in Pakistan’s youth and majority of its young population which I think is dynamic, is eager to change the system. Eager to change the country and that is what you need to pursue. Find ways in which the old Pakistan is replaced by a new, prosperous, just and forward looking Pakistan.