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Pakistani Youth Stands Against Stereotyping on Independence Day

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On Aug. 14, 2012, Pakistan turned 65. Big streets of Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad were lit amid loadshedding (power outages), patches of celebrations with national flags and flickering green and white lights 'til the sun finally went behind to renew for another day.

Meanwhile, beyond the pendulam, something unusual was making rounds on the web all day. Some of it, came from just a click of a mouse, while others made their way across the world from other continents and countries. These were images of people -- young and old, mostly youth, local and foreign, who stand against the hackneyed phrases the depict them as 'terrorists,' 'extremists,' and the likes of others, 'dangerous' -- sums up to a massive collage called 'The Anti-Stereotyping Pakistan Independence Day Photo Collage.'

Young blogger Mehreen Kasana thought of this online campaign to break the boilerplate notion/s that Pakistan is associated with. The campaign introduces itself as follows: "We're here to tell the world that it is virtually impossible to stereotype a population of 190,291,129 est. people into one racist, demeaning, hurtful character. We're diverse, we're different, we're humans just like you. Stop stereotyping. Stop the hate."

Families, students, office-mates, overseas Pakistanis and non-Pakistani foreigners spoke out, holding placards and signs saying, "When you tag, it hurts us." Others said, "I am Pakistani and I refuse to be stereotyped."

Evans Knight's message that came from America was incredible. Evans made special effort to first learn how to write in Urdu. He wanted his message to make sense to local Pakistanis who can't read English and 'to show respect.'

With "more than 1000 messages," the voices joined in from beyond Pakistani nationality as Chinese, Americans, English, Palestinians and Indians (the rival neighbor) joined the campaign to show solidarity and support.

"Someone from London sent this picture of their co-worker saying Pakistanis are sweet and above stereotype," says Mehreen.

These images are a narrative given by every citizen and friend of Pakistan who expresses the contrary to the typically dark image portrayed by global media.

The "racist portrayal of Pakistan in media" globall is unjustified, and many bloggers in the country have been using social media to change the perception about them as angry, extremists, and radical.

In 2009 a similar, only larger, campaign called Go Green got more than 150,000 Pakistanis to express their patriotism. In 2011, Pakistan broke the world record of most people singing the national anthem.

"These stereotypes are discriminating and narrow," says Kasana. "There is a lot more to an entire nation than bombs and explosions."