Faisal Qureshi and the parasites of Pakistan: An interview
Faisal Qureshi, commonly known as FQ, is a social activist, a life coach and an entrepreneur. He is also a television host with daily live socio-political shows. Even though an Electrical Engineer by qualification he has opted to become a self-taught programmer and an entrepreneur. He is the founder and chief executive of three software companies, and one Human Resource development company. He is also on the board of an early stage event and marketing services company. His goal in life is embedded in his life statement “What man is a man who does not make the world better?”
Ideas Evolved (iE): Who is Faisal Qureshi?
Faisal Qureshi (FQ): If you’re expecting a philosophical answer, you should know that I am not philosophical. I’m just an average guy, who wants to live a better life…there you go.
iE: Does it bother you that there are so many Faisal Qureshis?
FQ: No! There are three of us and we’re all friends. Yeah, great friends. It gets confusing when people call the wrong Faisal Qureshi. I checked into the hotel this morning, they said, “We were just wondering which Faisal Qureshi you were!” The comedian Faisal Qureshi he doesn’t live here much, he travels a lot out of the country so we don’t meet much with friends but the actor Faisal Qureshi and I are very good friends. Work for the same channel, and we’re buddies, he’s like a brother to me. So we’re alright, we have fun with the name.
iE: How do you manage to do so much?
FQ: I don’t like wasting time and there are enough hours in the day in everyone’s life to do as much as you like, but we idle a lot. And we have not harnessed technology. So all the things I do, they really revolve around a telephone or a computer. People think I’m on twitter 24 hours a day, I’m not, but I’m always on twitter. Because people fail to realize that twitter works on a phone. So if I’m being driven, if I’m sitting talking to you, how much does it take to tweet every 15 minutes, or respond to 10 messages? And then you can spend 10 dollars and buy a bot software which tweets for me in the middle of the night, what’s the big deal? So you harness technology, you harness the resources available to you and you can do a lot. The things I’ve done are…I don’t why you say I’ve done a lot. What have you found about me on Google that you say I do a lot?
iE: Tell us about Mensa. How did you get involved with it?
FQ: Ah… Mensa is a high IQ society; you can find out definitions and try to figure out what Mensa is but somebody defined it very well, Mensa is some place where you go and you crack a joke and people understand the jokes. It’s very elitist. It’s for people with a certain wavelength. If you’re sitting in the 98th percentile you’re slightly idiotic anyways so it’s good to hang out with people like yourself. It isolates the intelligentsia of a society. It’s a good thing. I eventually gave up; I moved on, I got tired.
iE: You’re also apparently an electrical engineer?
FQ: That’s my degree. But I don’t work as one. I have a business; I’m in the software business. I’m not a practising electrical engineer. I gave up electrical engineering 20 years ago, boring!
iE: Why’d you take it up in the first place?
FQ: Dad’s an electrical engineer; he was in the electrical engineering business. He figured kay aakhri aulad hai is ko tou electrical engineer banaoun. I became an electrical engineer; it was a dry and dull sort of thing, selling electrical things. It was boring. Then one day I said I don’t want to do it anymore.
iE: When did you realize it’s not for you?
FQ: I realize that I constantly keep changing; I keep picking up new things. I became a photographer for a couple years. See, I have something that pays my bills which is that I’m in the software business. Other than that, I keep doing new things. I became a photographer for a while, and then I wanted to come on TV, so I came on TV. I want to do new things, I want to learn, I want to experience life and I keep doing that. If I find something more interesting tomorrow I’ll start doing that. I did radio for a while, now I’m really obsessed with internet content so I’ve started the 247 Online.TV. That’s my newest venture. The world’s only organised YouTube channel which has daily programming and shows. It’s called “247online.tv” and it started as a project called “speakforchange.org”. Speak for Change; you guys don’t want to talk, so I figured you will never talk (The “you” here is not meant for the interviewers).
iE: About what?
FQ: About life, about the world, about change. Pakistan’s youth is a lost cause. I’m sorry to break this to you.
iE: Why do you think that?
FQ: You have no interest in Pakistan. You need to fall in love with your country.
iE: How do you do that, how did YOU do that?
FQ: Either you do it or you don’t.
iE: I do agree that the majority of the youth wants to move out of Pakistan.
FQ: Yeah, because you have no love for the country, no ownership. And you will always be wanderers. You will be gypsies for life. You will never have an identity. Moving out? Great, please move out but you’re not moving out for a better life, you’re sucking this nation’s blood then abandoning it. I will say it very blatantly, you are parasites. You’re here because your parents can’t afford to send young girls abroad because of the cultural difference and so they feel nervous. And it’s cheap education here, they’ll bring you to your late teens or early twenties and then they want you out of here. So you’ve sucked up all of Pakistan’s cheap water, you’ve sucked up all of Pakistan’s resources and when you’re worth something, you leave.
iE: You think it’s our fault?
FQ: Yes it is, absolutely. You decide what phone you want, you decide who you want to marry, you decide what you want to do in life but when it comes to leaving you say “Oh, dad said it.” Why can’t you make a decision on that? Why don’t you fall in love with the country? If the three of you fell in love with a man, you’d fight for him. For the country you say “Ah, it’s okay things are alright.”
iE: That’s not entirely true. I know people who are patriotic about Pakistan; they’re fixated on staying here. They do love their country.
FQ: Okay then let me take it to the next level, if you actually love this country, why aren’t you doing anything about it?
iE: Right now we’re studying, we can’t do anything yet. We’re doing small things-
FQ: Is that right? You can’t do anything? If I grabbed your friends hand, what would you do?
iE: I’d hit you.
FQ: Thank you, so if I throw filth in front of your house why don’t you hit me?
iE: *awkward pause* Because I wouldn’t know-
FQ: There you go, you love her more than you love this country. Which is fine, she’s your friend, but you take ownership of that friendship. You don’t take ownership of this country. If I scratch your car, you’ll kill me, if I scratch your neighbours car, you won’t give a damn. If I hold your friends hand you’ll get angry but if I hold some random girls hand you wouldn’t care, you would run for your life. Why? How are they any different? So you don’t really love this country, you’re parasites. Sorry.
iE: We might eventually grow up to become better…
FQ: Nope, you will never. It’s either there or it isn’t. We grow up with it. I went to a film right now at the DHA cinema and I was really impressed they played the national anthem and I looked around in disgust… Only one old man got up! And I wanted to smack everyone in that theatre! Don’t you even feel shame not getting up? And you’d get up for the American anthem if you’d lived there. Because everyone gets up and you would feel like an idiot sitting there so you’ll get up. *makes funny imitation of American anthem*. So YOU can make it fashionable, you can make it trendy. You’re wearing jeans with a long kurta, how did this come to happen? Somebody made it trendy. Somebody made kurtis trendy. Kurti aik cheez ijad hoi, hamary culture say nikli hai na? So we have the power to make patriotism trendy, fashionable. It’s sexy to be Pakistani and I don’t mean wear a kamiz shalwar. No, no it’s sexy to love Pakistan; it’s sexy to speak Urdu. Why is it a matter of embarrassment if you speak Urdu? You should be ashamed you don’t speak your mother tongue. But you feel no shame; you actually feel pride in saying “Meri tou Urdu kamzor hai.” Doob maro yaar.
iE: Maybe we’ll do something about it now because no one’s ever said this to our face yet. So, your job creates many controversies, have you ever been threatened because of them or because of something else you might have said to someone?
iE: Are you afraid sometimes?
FQ: No, I learnt very early in life that if John F. Kennedy can die with one bullet and Ronald Reagan can live with six, you know what *shrugs*…he took six at point blank and he lived to be an old man. And JFK took one and died a young man. You know jab time aye ga tou aa jaye ga.
iE: What do you think about Imran Khan?
FQ: He can’t do anything for you.
iE: Do you think it’s all a drama?
FQ: No, he means well but he’ll fail.
iE: Why is that?
FQ: Can he fix you?
iE: Don’t you think that strong leadership is important?
FQ: Really? Your dad isn’t leader enough for you? Your mum isn’t good, life isn’t good? What was my first answer when you said who am I? Somebody who wants to live a better life. You want to live a better life? Do you really like this life? Do you really like this city? You go out, men staring at you, *shayphutnyeayen* there’s shour. There’s gand, there’s filth. Lahore is so much better; Karachi is like a bucket of filth. And even then if you leave your bubble, you understand you’re living in a bubble? Leave this bubble and it’s a culture shock. All you have to do is take a right on Davis road and go twenty feet and it’s a culture shock. It’s a beautiful bubble we’ve created, each have created for themselves called DHA and Cantt and Cavalry Ground and Gulberg and beyond that it’s a hell hole out there. So is this how you want to live your life that you can’t open the curtain and look outside? You want to live a better life? Imran Khan can’t do it for you. You have to do it.
iE: I thought we were supposed to care for our country?
FQ: You SHOULD care for your country.
iE: So why rule out Imran Khan?
FQ: What would he do? Will he stop your mother from breaking a red-light? Why don’t you stop your mother from breaking a red-light? People say the laws aren’t enforced in Pakistan. What do you want? You want the policemen to drag you out of cars and beat you? Is that what you want? Roza hai? Why? Would you like to have a drink? No, why not? No one can see it. It’s between us; it’ll be our little secret…
iE: God is watching!
FQ: Thank you! You’re fasting why? Because God is watching you! So when you run the red-light who’s watching? Oh, police nahi thee bhai! Uh, what happened to God?
iE: So, you’re saying breaking a red light is a sin?
FQ: Isn’t it? Yes it is, putting people at risk. Throwing filth out of your car, isn’t that a sin? “Safai nisf iman hai?” You just threw half your faith out of the window. What happened to God then? Why did God say Ramzan kay rozay rakho? Why? Because it teaches you that God is watching. You just answered that question and didn’t see it. What it teaches you is, if you were living alone in a house and if you’d fast you would eat the whole day. There’s nobody else! It’s just you and God. Yet the moment you break your fast you become a dirty, filthy pig. So you haven’t learnt anything from Ramzan. Everybody goes to the mosque to pray. Why do we pray? One of the most fundamental things… to value time. And guess what this nation doesn’t value the most? I was impressed with you guys that every time you said 2’o clock the phone rang at 2’o clock. I really liked that. And I said 6’o clock you were here at 6‘o clock. One can plan life. And this nation learns nothing.
iE: How did the other nations do it then?
FQ: They had the desire to live a better life.
iE: There’s a very small middle class who recognize the problem but do nothing to fix it. Then there’s the lower class that are oppressed, they are the ones who suffer and they are the ones who are behind strikes and revolts but they have no aim.
FQ: It’s not their responsibility. It is your responsibility. Wo tou ghareeb hai bechara. You can’t blame him. I’d like to see you ride a motorcycle and see how many red-lights you break, it’s okay. It’s the bloody Mercedes and the Range Rovers and the Toyotas and the Hondas that I want to kill. What’s your problem? It is your responsibility to speak for them, they can’t speak. They’d be beaten down, they’d be arrested. I’d like to see 50 young ladies like you standing at an intersection saying, “whoever runs this red-light will have to face us.” I’d like to see how many people have the courage to run a red-light when 50 of you are standing there. And it’d be a statement and a half. Don’t pick up garbage. I don’t want you to pick up garbage. I don’t pick up garbage. Sorry. Your poop you clean it. But I do stand and if somebody throws garbage I take a picture and I say, “I will put you on the internet.” Do that. Tell them, “You’re a filthy bug.” Show them ‘the face’. If 50 or 60 of you were standing at one of these commercial areas and to every car who parked wrong you said, “Uh-uh!” it’ll take one night for that problem to disappear at least from that area. They fear you, they can’t bribe you. They can’t touch you. They can’t harass you, because your daddies will make their lives miserable. You’re the elite! You’re the powerful. You are the educated. You’re the aware. So the responsibility lies in your hands. And if you really love this country – okay, it’s not even love. If I locked you in here, you have no way of leaving; you would fix this bloody place. You’re homes are beautifully cleaned, manicured lawns, gardeners and maids right? Generally speaking, you don’t live in dirty houses do you? Do you sleep in a bedroom full of filth? You don’t, right? But you live in a city which is garbage. Why? Because when we drive through the city we know that we are going to a clean place. “It’s okay, just bear with it for 5 minutes.” “It’s okay, turn your windows black. Put these visors on your cars; just don’t look to the left or the right. In 5 minutes we’ll be home, everything will be okay.” And we live our youth thinking, “it’s okay. We just have to put up with this crap for 15 years and then we’re out of here.” “It’s okay, just ignore it. Let it go.” But if said no, you will have to drive for the rest of your life, every day, in front of Ghanta Ghar. Either your daddy will fix it, or you will fix it. Right now, I said if I hold your hand, you’re going to hit me, because you know you’ll eventually get away. But if you knew that of all these women in the city, your turn will come. Today it’s you, tomorrow it’s you and the day after it’s you. (In case this is confusing, there were three interviewers). Then you’ll start standing up for each other because you’ll say, “Damn it, I have to stop this. It’s coming to me.” And if I tell you your number 55, your turn will come on 19th august, you will panic. “Oh my God, 14, 15, dad do something!” and he will stop it. But right now you say “Hum tou bach kay ghar bohanch jayein gey.” And “We don’t have to go there again, it’s not our problem.” The moment you’d realize that you’re stuck here, you’d fix it. And you have the power to fix it. How many politicians do you know? How many bureaucrats? Civil servants, government servants, corporation owners, bankers, people of influence, army… You know all these people… They’re uncles and aunties, right? So who the hell are you complaining and running away from? Your own family? How sweet is that! So we are running away from ourselves! And then we say that things are bad. You asked me how the other nations got fixed… When you took all the criminals of the world and threw them in Australia, they created a country whose visa you’re dying to get, let alone nationality. Same thing happened with America. It’s because they were stuck there, so as long as we’re stuck here, might as well fix the bloody place! But for you, it’s only a pit stop, you’re gonna get out of here. So what you say is “It’s okay, woh ghareeb hai” “It’s okay woh mar raha hai” “Woh hartal kar raha hai” “Woh loot raha hai” “Woh chor hai” “Hummara tou kuch nahi jar raha, I’m going to get out of here”
iE: So you think there is no hope for Pakistan?
FQ: Oh, there’s such tremendous hope for Pakistan! There is such beautiful hope, you have no idea! All it’ll take is about 50 of you, and the country will turn around!
iE: But you need someone to wake them up so-
FQ: No. Your desire for a better life will wake you up
iE: And that will only happen when we get affected by it?
FQ: No, if you want to live a better life… You’re already living a crap life, if it’s such a great life, why do you want to get out? It’s obviously a bad life; if you were living in Manhattan would you want to get out? Uh-uh… So, you know it’s a bad life but you have no desire to better it… You just want to get out of here, and you know what, you’re such a lazy nation… Who bheins pe kawwa nahi hota jo jooein khata hai, that’s what we are, you sit on a bheins, jooein khaaein, khatam ho gayein then we go to the next bheins… So what do you do? God gave you a country, He gave you freedom, you sucked the country’s blood like kawway, jooein khaaein and then you move on to the next one… “Chalo Amreeka chalein yaar” You did not build anything, you only sucked its blood. Best tou yeh ho if you say ke dekho yaar ye meri gali hai. Take me to your street and say, “This is my street” It would be so beautiful if you would tell me your street address and when you finally get to the street you see beautiful trees and flowers and a clean street, but this won’t happen,! You’ll tell me to go to that street, look to the right, and the fifth house, the one with the beautiful brown gate is my house… Beyond the house you have probably never taken ownership, aap ne apna ghar bohat khoobsurat banaya ho ga Masha Allah, but you don’t even go out to see the neighbour’s house, let alone the city, or the vicinity, or the province. You live in Punjab, right? North Punjab? Do you even know what south Punjab even is? Do you know why Bahawalpur is so angry? Do you know that they have no university there? And you know they don’t have hospitals? Do you know that the rest of Punjab doesn’t have decent hospitals? Multan is deteriorating… Do you know that beyond Lahore there is no real city? This is the only real city in the province! Karachi is the only real city in all of Sindh! Hyderabad and Sukkur are like ghost towns, toot gaye hain wo, khundar, ruins literally… Have you been to the Fort recently? Have you seen the condition that it’s in? It’s your heritage, your history… Why don’t you talk to your politician uncles and aunties, what the hell are they doing? Why is it like that? You know what, its unimportant because you’re gonna get out of here and in a couple of years you’ll be gone.
Okay, rapid fire round next:
That’s a difficult one!
Samosay or Pakoray
Pakoray, no! Samosay, yes!
*laughs* Pitwaaogi! PTI is… *loooong pause* blind faith in a fantasy
Karachi or Lahore?
Lahore, more beautiful but I can’t leave Karachi!
Munni or Sheila?
Hah… Sheila, because I remember that song, Munni I don’t remember
Okay… Message for the youth of Pakistan
Wake up to a better life!
iE: Do social networking sites like Facebook and E-marketing forums like Ideas Evolved change anything?
FQ: They are the only way that something in the future can change. Mainstream TV, radio has no power anymore. Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and this IdeasEvolved.. that’s where the power lies. In a matter of a few years, social media will completely take over the world.
iE: Will that change Pakistan?
FQ: Social media can take over the world but it cant change anything. Change comes from people who want to change. NOONE can change you, except for a desire to change. If YOU have a desire to change, NOTHING can stop you. It may take time, but if you dont have a desire to change, I cant put a gun to your head… No-one can change you, even God will not change you! Woh kya hai Quran mein, “Jin ke dillon pe tallein hein”, what does that mean? They dont want to change! Burn them! God has erased civilazations from history, do you want to be erased? Think about it!
iE: How do you think Islam affects Pkaistan? Like what influence does it have on Pakistan?
FQ: Islam has no influence whatsoever on Pakistan unfortunately, I wish Islam had some influence on Pkaistan! We wouldn’t need any police! Logon ko ehsaas hota ke Allah dekh raha hai. Yahan Musalman hain hum, momin koi bhi nahi hai. Allah ko sab mantey hain, Allah ki koi nahi manta! Sab naatein parhtein hein, “Shaan-e-Madinah”, “Nabi ko dekh liya”, “Mujhe Madinah pohonchadey”.. Koi yeh nahi kehta ke please give me his virtues, and his deeds and may I be llike him, not look like him but behave like him. So we try to look like him, what we think he looked like, with the beard and the hair and the clothes, but we never try to act like him. That, oh jee mein koshish kar raha hoon… Koshish kya karna hai? How difficult is it to be a good person? Its just that we dont want to. So Islam unfortunately has no affect on Pakistan, I wish it did! I really wish it did!
iE: One last question, is there something that you want to say to the people?
FQ: Yeah, just take ownership, you cant keep running away, this is your identity, this is your home, this is what you own, and you cant change that, no matter how hard you try to change that. You can be gypsies forever if you like. If you cant make it here, you might make money somewhere else but you wont really make it as a person, you’ll never make it. You have such great oppurtunities… Let me put it this way, if you were a German, you’d need atleast two to three doctrates to actually be worth some thing because everyone is a doctor in Germany. Yahan pe tou if you do your O’Levels from Grammar school, you’re Queen Elizabeth! So imagine the opportunity available to you, there is so much that you can do.. But we run away because we’re just lazy. So don’t! Take ownership! Do it for a change! Value it! And ask your selves, are we just parasites?