A day before the Supreme Court issued its controversial judgement on the Panama Papers Case disqualifying Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, he was on an official three day visit to the Maldives. During his trip one of the last things he did as Prime Minister was to oversee the signing of MOUs on bilateral cooperation on tourism, trade promotion, higher education, and human resource building. The focus was also on internship opportunities for Pakistan’s growing number of youth which according to the Jinnah Institute constitute nearly 60% of the population of the country. There’s little question as to why traveling to the idyllic islands of the Maldives would be a welcome escape for young Pakistanis fleeing economic woes and pollution. But to count Pakistan amongst the most sought after destinations is a more complicated assertion. Pakistan is working hard to change its image of being a country riddled by terror attacks into one of a friendly, beautiful, and even peaceful destination for tourists around the world. Is Pakistan a much safer country today? The answer to that is surprisingly…yes. Just one proof of that is that the processions commemorating Ashura, often deadly, this year were peaceful. Attacks have gone down and there has been significantly lower numbers of fatalities due to such attacks. According to the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) terrorism, already in decline in Pakistan, decreased by another 27% in 2016. However, last Thursday’s suicide attack on Fateh Pur Sufi Shrine in the Jhal Magsi district of Balochistan is a cause for concern. Pakistan cannot afford a setback, even a psychological one.Bulleh Shah’s words are not just a reminder for us to delve deeper into our souls but also a reminder of Pakistan’s pluralist history which stems from the ancient Indus civilization of HarappaThe attack in Jhal Magsi was the second attack this year on a shrine at the time of the dhamaal. On February 17 2017 Sindh was hit with a suicide attack at the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sehwan that killed more than 80 people. Resilient Pakistanis responded by holding another dhamaal (Sufi ritual) and the army responded swiftly – both helping with recovery of victims and killing over 100 suspected terrorists. This fall on September 27, marking World Tourism Day, the Governor of Sindh, Muhammad Zubair, spoke to a audience about the need to focus on Pakistan’s beautiful tourist attractions as not only a way to change the country’s image but to also “…utilize this source of income.”Terrorism has already caused a lot of damage to the country’s image globally. In the same year as the attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team, in October 2009 two suicide bombers attacked the International Islamic University in Islamabad. But international cricket returned to Pakistan this year. And this summer the Sri Lankan team’s captain stated he is eager to return to Pakistan again for the first time since the team was attacked. He plans to bring the team to the T20s taking place this month as things are looking increasingly more positive. These are good signs. Though the premature ousting of the Prime Minister is a setback and does call Pakistan’s stability, competence, and thus relationships with other nations into question, things are still grudgingly moving along. In June, China called for increased cooperation on security and joint anti-terrorism measures which may further help Pakistan achieve its counterterrorism goals. But there are many factors at play. Tourism is now increasing in Pakistan not only due to increased security but also improved infrastructure. “Connectivity through roads makes life easier for the working class and tourists, and helps every segment of society though much more needs to be done,” says activist and youth leader Naseem Khan Achakzai.Achakzai is Director of the first ever International Youth Summit taking place in Lahore this November. Organizers received over 3,270 applications from young leaders in over 90 countries. The focus of the conference will be on peace, education, and sustainable development, which are key ways Pakistan can move toward a brighter future. Achakzai is passionate for the opportunity because he believes that, “…times have changed and Pakistan has moved on,” and that, “…the youth of Pakistan no longer want to see Pakistan as an unsafe place, but one that is just as safe as anywhere else.”The Summit will also take both its international and local participants on a spiritual and cultural tour to appreciate the heritage of Pakistan. Young leaders from Brazil, France, Poland, Turkey, Maldives, Malaysia, Iraq, India and United States and more will travel to Kasur among other locations. They will see Changa Manga and pay a visit to the resting place of Baba Bulleh Shah. The hope is that they will take back with them memories of the best of what Pakistan has to offer and spread that message in their home countries.Bulleh Shah saw humanity through the lens of love and offers Pakistan the perfect counter extremism narrative. One of his famous poems speaks of not breaking the human heart for that is where God resides. Such messages resonate deeply with all people regardless of faith. Yet extremism threatens to curtail some of that rich history, and erase much of what brought so many willingly, and non-violently to accept Islam to begin with.In a depraved way it makes sense why extremists would attack the dargah, because the extremist mindset is fundamentally opposed to the narrative Sufism provides. Extremists view the world with the intent to judge, shun, and hate, whereas Baba Bulleh Shah advocated self-reflection and love for one’s fellow man as a service to God.If we are to internalize such messages of love, devotion, and self-reflection to conquer our own evils first, we not only do a service onto ourselves but we also improve society as a whole.“Yes you’ve read thousands of books but you’ve never tried to read your own self; you rush into your temples, into your mosques, but you have never entered your own heart; futile are all your battles with the devil for you have never tried to fight your own desires….” Baba Bulleh ShahAnd as many wonders as there are in Pakistan’s beautiful valleys, there are more lessons hidden away in its decorated shrines. Self-reflection is one of them. “Who am I? Does anyone know? I am no worshipper in a mosque, Nor a temple-frequenter, I am neither pure, nor impure, Nor Moses, nor Pharaoh. Does anyone know?” Baba Bulleh ShahBulleh Shah’s words are not just a reminder for us to delve deeper into our souls but also a reminder of Pakistan’s pluralist history which stems from the ancient Indus civilization of Harappa, to Buddhism, and then to Islam.Terrorists have tried to control the narrative of Pakistan into one that is isolated, closed minded, and insecure but Pakistan has a vibrant and rich soul. After all Pakistan, home to the K2 mountain, the second highest peak in the world, the beautiful Hunza Valley which according to the World Bank boasts a remarkable female literacy rate of 90%, shrines of Sufi saints, ancient temples, and the wondrous ruins of Mohenjo-Daro, has much to offer the rest of the world.But as we reach out to the global community, host young leaders, and even invite Chinese workers into our borders, we must protect and cherish our historical sites, our shrines, our diversity, our culture, along with the modern-day questioners and guides amongst us.We can come a long way from the tresses of extremism if we do. Political uncertainty aside, we know that young leaders visiting Pakistan this November will not be visiting a failed state but a state attempting not just survive but thrive…and for now the rich lessons here are still waiting to be actualized. The author is a freelance journalist and former contributor for Al-Jazeera America. She can be reached at Meriam.Sabih@gmail.com or twitter @meriamsabih Published in Daily Times, October 14th 2017.