I can just say it again and again, I have never met any culture that was more hospitable as the Pashtuns. I have been welcomed in many places around the world but nobody went so far out of their way for their guests as the Pathans that I met, says Manolo Ty -a German artist, photographer and author of “Pakistan Now” in an exclusive interview with THE PASHTUN TIMES in Berlin.
The interview is conducted by ‘Noor Badshah Yousafzai,’ Berlin-based editor with THE PASHTUN TIMES. Here he has discussed with Manolo Ty in details the situations in Pakistan particularly and in the region generally from a German perspective.
Noor Badshah Yousafzai: Please can you introduce yourself to our readers?
Manolo Ty: My name is Manolo Ty and I am an artist and photographer from Germany‘s capital Berlin. I have been travelling now to almost one hundred countries in the world and documented the peoples’ lives and their environment.
Noor Badshah Yousafzai: What were the reasons behind writing the book “Pakistan Now”?
Manolo Ty: Before I came to Pakistan I did not know much about it. There was a lot of negative media reports about the country but I always met some far-travelled people who told me that Pakistan is special. At some point I decided I have to see it myself and make up my own mind. From the start I was very surprised about the great hospitality all over the place – and especially as a guest at the Pashtuns. As I realized that Pakistan is so much more than violence and fundamentalism I needed to give something back to the Pakistani people who welcomed me with open arms. I needed to make a book and show Pakistan to the world.
Noor Badshah Yousafzai: How do you see the Panjabis ruling elites treating the Balochs and Pashtuns in Pakistan?
Manolo Ty: I have to say that I know to little about politics inside Pakistan. The one thing that I know is that all Pakistanis – may it be Punjabis, Balochs or Pashtuns – should realize that there is some much beauty and strength in diversity. Instead of fighting against each other everybody should celebrate the cultural plurality. I think we have something similar in Europe and we just started to realize how great that actually is a few decades ago. We still make jokes about each other, but at the core we love to be part of this amazing cultural mix with different languages, traditions and ways of life.
Noor Badshah Yousafzai: Political analysts think that Pakistan is not only breeding terrorists but it also exports terrorists? What do you think?
Manolo Ty: With my book “Pakistan Now” I want to look beyond the stigmata of terrorism. Pakistan is a country of 200 million people and we should not let a small minority of ill-fated mislead individuals determine the life and the perception of the good-hearted, peaceful and hard-working majority.
Noor Badshah Yousafzai: Do you think that Pakistan will survive in the future and how do you see the future of Balochs and Pashtuns in Pakistan?
Manolo Ty: I see the possibility for a great future of Pakistan. But the key point is to deal with corruption on all levels of society as well as education. Peace can be a catalyst for progress. But that will be just achievable if everybody works together and pulling in the same direction. In my opinion there should not be any different treatment wherever you are from. But at the same time it is important to keep the great culture of Pashtuns and Balouchs alive.
Noor Badshah Yousafzai: What do you know about the Pashtuns and Balochs? How you were treated there by both of them.
Manolo Ty: I can just say it again and again, I have never met any culture that was more hospitable as the Pashtuns. I have been welcomed in many places around the world but nobody went so far out of their way for their guests as the Pathans that I met. So far I sadly travelled too little in Balouchistan to give an educated statement. But I believe I would be treated amazing there as well!
Noor Badshah Yousafzai: Like Berlin-Wall, do you think that Pashtuns will also be able to remove the Durand Line that separates Pashtuns.
Manolo Ty: As with the Durand Line I do not believe in separation. Berlin showed to the world that it is important to pull down walls. I am also very proud that it happened in a peaceful way, too. We are living on one planet. We have to realize that we are all together in this. There are far greater problems we should focus our energy on than fighting or segregating each other. We have to protect our environment before it is too late.
Noor Badshah Yousafzai: Please, what is your message to the Pashtun nation across the Durand Line?
Manolo Ty: Looking on a greater global scale you can easily see that being united is a winning model. Look at the United States or the European Union. Sadly since Brexit and Trump we are now in a time of disintegration and nationalism again. History told us that this can end in a catastrophe and we should stand together in tolerance and respect. But in retrospective history also told us on the example of Germany‘s reunification that the best way to remove a border or overcome a war is the peaceful protest and smart political juggling. If you can prove that there will be just advantages for everyone to be together again then reunification will be an unstoppable truth.
Noor Badshah Yousafzai: Thanks for giving us your time.
Manolo Ty: You are welcome.
THE PASHTUN TIMES