Gora complex unabated

Published: February 24, 2013

Mr Galloway went on to announce that he had “hundreds of thousands of followers” on Facebook and Twitter and asked the audience to immediately follow him. PHOTO: REUTERS

George Galloway came, he saw, he conquered. Conquered who, one may well may ask?  Karachi’s literati and liberal elite who intermingle, for one, who fawned over the UK Member of Parliament (MP) at the recently held Karachi Literature Festival (KLF).

With high expectations, one went to hear him speak at his first session with Irfan Hussain as moderator. After all, Mr Galloway had no less than three outings at KLF, the last being as being the keynote speaker at the closing of the festival, so evidently even the Oxford University Press was not immune to his galloping charm.

Mr Galloway arrived, cocooned by a phalanx of fans, and carrying a cigar which he then lit on stage to merrily puff away on. The unfazed moderator proceeded to ask him rather obsequious questions which made it all too obvious that he was a great admirer of the MP. Questions ranged from the amazing style with which Mr Galloway took apart US Congressmen over the Iraq War (the grinning MP informed us that the YouTube video had had millions of views, hence we should all immediately check it out) to his reputation as “Gorgeous George’’ in the UK press and whether he is still known by that moniker. Mr Galloway’s bald pate and periwinkle blue eyes aside, we were informed that that he is a much married man now, so he is no longer referred to as gorgeous.

Mr Galloway then spilled forth his pearls of wisdom like “Bourgeois Pakistanis hate the Bhuttos because they challenge the power of feudals in Pakistan”, “Bilawal Bhutto is not a feudal”, and “The feudals hated Mr Bhutto because he introduced land reforms which threatened them, hence the feudal lobby got him hanged.” One had barely recovered from this lesson in history when the MP questioned why on earth Pakistan was friends with the US “who don’t give a damn about you.” Far better to be friends with the Chinese, he graciously advised, since they are ‘’true friends’’.

He also knew with certainty that Pakistan was lucky to have Bilawal Bhutto as a leader, because he had learnt ‘’so much’’ from his mother. Mr Galloway regretted that he missed the Bhutto scion’s speech, but rest assured he knew it was great although it did not contain his valuable input.

Mr Galloway went on to announce that he had “hundreds of thousands of followers” on Facebook and Twitter, recited the details of his accounts, and asked the audience to immediately follow him.

With the important stuff out of the way, the floor was thrown open for the question answer session. A senior member of the audience prefaced his objection to Mr Galloway’s cigar by saying,

“I hope you don’t mind my saying this, but you should not be smoking in public places.”

While Mr Galloway’s response was to blow smoke rings, the moderator gallantly intervened,

“He may not mind, but I do!”

Needless to say, the chief guest continued smoking on stage, because after all this is Pakistan where the colonial mindset persists despite the departure of the British Raj. And if there is a “gora” who panders to all the right causes by being anti America, pro China, pro Iraq and pro Palestine, then hey, he is going to be feted and adored by one and all. So what if these very positions win him votes in UK from Muslims and unseat well entrenched Labour Party contenders?

An enthusiastic gentleman brought up Arab Spring and it’s relevance to Pakistan and asked imploringly whether such a revolution was possible here. Mr Galloway grandly announced that Pakistan should go ahead and have a revolution, since he was all for it. The grateful audience clapped wholeheartedly while the beaming moderator gazed at the benign MP. Thank God, we have the permission to go ahead with the revolution,  now where do we start? seemed to be the question agitating the minds of Mr Galloway’s admirers who flocked around him like bees to a honey pot, undoubtedly wishing to hear more of his golden words once the session and his cigar drew to a close.

At the session “Pakistan through Foreign Eyes” moderated by the folksy Cyril Almeida, bespectacled Hasnain Kazim of Der Spiegel questioned why Pakistanis are so obsessed about what image foreigners have of Pakistan.

“Why do you care what we think?” he earnestly asked a blank audience who had been castigating foreign correspondents for not giving a positive image of Pakistan.

Why indeed? Does it behoove us to be pathetically grateful to the likes of the notorious George Galloway for actually liking unlovable Pakistan? Shock and awe. Why so much stress on getting the rest of the world to like us? Rather it may be time to start looking inwards and attempt to iron out the chinks in our armour.

Maheen Usmani

Maheen Usmani

A freelance writer who has covered subjects ranging from socio-political issues to women's rights to counter terrorism, sports, travel, culture and music. Maheen tweets @MaheenUsmani twitter.com/MaheenUsmani

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Hassaan

    Wonderful blog. Compendiously written. Recommend

  • Gary

    “Why do you care what we think?”

    Insecurity may be? Doesn’t insecure people/nations seek validation and approval? Recommend

  • http://www.thetrueperspective.com Hamza

    Brilliant analysis. Also Hasnain Kazim’s question was spot on. Why do we Pakistanis care so much about what the world thinks of us? Here’s why. Because we’ve craving for the world’s approval and its not forthcoming. Because we’ve played dangerous games and the world got sick of it and now they don’t want to have anything to do with us. That’s why we crave foreign approval.Recommend

  • Dilawer Ali Dahraj

    Utter crap!Recommend

  • mokh

    Good blog but I dont think you’re right about the gora complex-the audience liked what he was saying but not who was saying it so much-there was no sign of a standing ovation at the end.Many are aware of Galloways reputationRecommend

  • http://saidcanblog.blogspot.com Said Chaudhry

    I love the smell of napalm in the morning.Recommend

  • Maria

    Gorey rang ka zamana kabhi hoga na purana! damnnn !Recommend

  • M Baloch

    I think she was searching Bernard Lewis, Samuel P. Huntington and Dershowitz in KLF but unfortunately she had to meet this man…! Recommend

  • Ali S

    @Hassaan:

    Does using big words like “compendiously” make you feel more educated?Recommend

  • Adnan

    Reading this made my Sunday a wee bit more interesting. Thanks for writing it.Recommend

  • Parvez

    …………am astonished that you took George Galloway seriously.
    He’s a ‘ loud mouth ‘, and at the KLF he was an entertainer and he played his part well. Agree he completely fluffed the Bhutto bit and more so the reason you should not have taking him seriously, at least on this occasion.
    On the cigar smoking thing……………..offfff what can I say.Recommend

  • Leftist

    Send his picture to BBC or Sky or local UK news paper whilst smoking.

    Smoking in public is an offence and shows moral standing if outside UK.

    His picture will tell his followers what he is upto. Recommend

  • Zara

    Man, you are so right about Galloway. Thinks no end of himself!Recommend

  • Sonia Butt

    Why do we Pakistanis care so much about what the world thinks of us I think missing the link is “Why do we Pakistanis not care so much about what we think about ourselves?”
    We are a faltering nation with a windless path, one of the saddest statements I heard was when Mira Nayyar the famous Indian-American film maker was asked why was “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” a famous book by a Pakistani converted to a film could not be entirely filmed in Lahore and other parts of Pakistan she said no international company would sell insurance that is required in these major film productions for foreign actors. Its a simple statement that made me ponder...is Pakistan such a dangerous country that no one can guarantee the safety of its foreign crew. Better still what does it say about each one of us Pakistanis? What are we doing to change this perception? NOTHING!!!Recommend

  • Hafeez

    More of a mirror than a blog. Thanks for writing it.Recommend

  • F. Alam

    Well done Maheen. I hope you don’t take such a long gap next time.
    .
    There are two types of people: those who look away from their reflection in a cracked, rusty mirror because they don’t like what they see AND those who can look unflinchingly at their reflection, even if they don’t like it. Pakistanis fall into first category and look for people who are willing to assure them that they are ‘beautiful’.
    .
    Gora complex is not just limited to us! Even next super power is falling into the trap:. http://blog.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2012/05/23/theworldsmostracistjob_adRecommend

  • http://[email protected] Burjor

    “Why do you care what we think”. Because we think that we are the center of the universe. Our politicians, “leaders” have brainwashed Pakistani’s so badly that they are made to think that Pakistan is a very important country. The sad truth is that Pakistan does not matter. For a nation that does not care about its own people, why should others be bothered ????.Recommend

  • Faiza M

    @Parvez Why should she not take Galloway seriously? Not only did he have his introductory session at KLF with Irfan Hussain, he also addressed a press conference and gave the closing keynote speech. Is the KLF a circus with clowns like these dominating or a serious literary festival? This is where the gora complex comes in. Perhaps you are the victim to it yourself, hence you can’t see it. Recommend

  • M.Adnan

    Nice Well done Maheen. Recommend

  • shahida kazi

    Agree with the writer 100 per cent.Further the Literature festival this year seemed more of a debating club for so called liberal elites than about serious discussions on literature.Even the book launchings and discussions were more political than literary.Recommend

  • Azfar

    I was there at this KLF session and it was excruciating to see the extent to which people were sucking up to ”Gorgeous George”. Recommend

  • Saira

    Re Gora complex: Truth is a bitter pill to swallow! Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Faiza M: No Faiza, I was there and I saw him for what he was, and he didn’t bother me in the least. Possibly because I am comfortable in my own skin and don’t let petty notions get the better of me.Recommend

  • Nobody

    @Gary:
    Yes. The way our lovely Congress here in the US seeks approval from Israel/Jewish lobby and anyone who bluntly speaks out against atrocities committed by said Israelis is made to apologize because he/she hurt their feelings and they didn’t like what he/she had to say. Don’t tell me you don’t see how often the US is pathetically seeking approval from the Jewish lobby in this country and starts running around giving out undeserving and misplaced apologies. No one is immune from that apparently. Recommend

  • Nadeem A

    ”Bilawal Bhutto is not a feudal.” George Galloway. Hahahahahahahaha!!Recommend

  • Tazeen

    George Galloway is desperate for sycophants who are popping out of the woodwork in Pakistan. No wonder he had such a whale of a time at KLF. Galloway khush huwa! Recommend

  • Imad Hassan

    Check out @Parvez’s comment. Typical gora mentality native. Why should one Not be bothered about GG’s bakwaas? Why give him the license to talk rot which you don’t give other natives. Ghar ki murghi dal barabar,eh? Recommend

  • Arzoo

    @Sonia Butt: Just google Mexico to really find out what a “dangerous country” really means. Political violence and political instability is a big issue in the present day Pakistan. But dozens of countries in the world would parallel or exceed Pakistan as being “dangerous.” Pakistan is going through a phase and will ride it out. Recommend

  • Zalmai

    @Arzoo

    “@Sonia Butt: Just google Mexico to really find out what a “dangerous country” really means. Political violence and political instability is a big issue in the present day Pakistan. But dozens of countries in the world would parallel or exceed Pakistan as being “dangerous.” Pakistan is going through a phase and will ride it out.”

    Mexico also has beautiful resorts like Mazatlan, Acapulco, Cancun, Los Cabos and many others where millions of tourists visit yearly without fearing for their lives. How can you compare Mexico to Pakistan. Recommend

  • Iman

    Love your sardonic take on our liberal and well read elite who made an ass of themselves over Galloway.Great stuff! Recommend

  • Hassan

    ”If there is a “gora” who panders to all the right causes by being anti America, pro China, pro Iraq and pro Palestine, then hey, he is going to be feted and adored by one and all. So what if these very positions win him votes in UK from Muslims and unseat well entrenched Labour Party contenders?” You nailed it right there.Recommend

  • Shazi

    George Galloway refuses to debate with an Israeli student.. what some people will do to get more votes from confused and sheep like Muslims. Ridiculous & unprofessional of him to back out at the last minute.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/mahmood-naji/george-galloway-israel-debateb2750167.htmlRecommend

  • Parvez

    @Imad Hassan: I have a short answer for you : try being tolerant of others it never deminishes you.Recommend

  • Mateen

    This brings back memories of the good ol’ British Raj. Kiya zamana tha or kiya angrez thay! Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    Galloway is an accomplished speaker in a very Anglo way. He knows his niche, which he can masterfully take care of. Regarding his take on Bhutto, it exposes his lack of astute observation.
    .
    Once a gora has said it, Bhutto is now a certified heavenly being. ending up in the same class as Gabriel and Archangel Michael etc. Even several notches above any human being. Ask any PPPilya for confirmation.Recommend

  • Aisha

    @Abid P. Khan Well said. Jiyalas must be in seventh heaven now after Galloway’s ringing endorsement of their esteemed leader and the royal son. Recommend

  • Sonia Butt

    @Arzoo: Just google Mexico to really find out what a “dangerous country” really means. Political violence and political instability is a big issue in the present day Pakistan. But dozens of countries in the world would parallel or exceed Pakistan as being “dangerous.” Pakistan is going through a phase and will ride it out.
    I understand the angst you are going through but denial should not be one. An attempt to connect Mexico to Pakistan is comparing apples and oranges. Yes, Mexico is going through a violent period but it is more drug related with cartels trying to narrow their business and assassinating anyone that comes in their view. There are NO Mexicans killing each other for religious reasons as the ethnic cleansing that is going on daily in Pakistan.
    If you are under the mistaken analysis …”Pakistan is going through a phase and will ride it out. you have a long wait. The only change that can come is when the man and woman on the street say: “NO MORE WE CANNOT AS A NATION SURVIVE UNDER THESE CONDITIONS” then every man..woman..and child has to make a sacrifice and ‘talk is cheap’, for example ‘actions speak louder than words’ Recommend

  • kaalchakra

    Sonia Butt, in Mexico too, it’s Mexicans killing one another. Violence is a world-wide phenomenon. It swells and it ebbs everywhere. More people die daily in New York city gang-related shootings than in Pakistan. Most Pakistanis live in peace with their neighbors. Let’s not get carried away by alarmist views propagated by nation’s enemies.Recommend

  • Naseem ur Rehman

    Maheen, this is the best piece I have read so far on KLF. You captured the session so well. I wonder who did a better job? The honorable speaker or the distinguished audience, not to forget the moderator. Is such a plaything worthy of ripe age? One small suggestion for you is don’t go any where with high expectations. Cheers.Recommend

  • Nishant

    sheikh rasheed also somkes cigar on TV
    so what Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    @Nishant:
    “sheikh rasheed also somkes cigar on TV
    so what”

    .
    Ghar ki murghi….Recommend

  • Tazeen Rehman

    The pseudo intellectuals of Pakistan who blindly endorse the views of foreigners cosider themselves enlightened.
    I personally think that the majority of them believe that they are doing a service to the Pakistani nation by upholding the values of liberalism and fairness. Perhaps to the contrary they are tarnishing their own image.Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Tazeen Rehman: Alama Iqbal is reputed to have said :
    ” When I go the West I see Islam but no Muslims,
    When I come to the East I see Muslims but no Islam. ”

    Was Iqbal a psuedo intellectual ?Recommend

  • http://www.bbc.com Sacha African

    Nice to see maheen coming back to writing after a long time on ET :)

    CHEERS maheen for this excellent observation. Here in UK, many pakistanis are obsessed
    with Gollaway’s rants and i completely understand your point of view. its a pity that you were the odd one out in KLF and the rest were drooling thier eyes on saddams best friend Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    @Parvez:
    “….Was Iqbal a psuedo intellectual ?”

    .
    For anyone in Pak, the very idea of evaluating the intellectual capacity/performance of Iqbal sooner or later would realise, it is off-limits.
    .
    How can anyone utter that?Recommend

  • Nayla

    @ KAALCHAKRA “More people die daily in New York city gang-related shootings than in Pakistan.”

    NYC averages around 1 murder per day (including all murders – gang related, domestic, etc). So, Pakistan averages less than 1 death per day due to violence?

    http://projects.nytimes.com/crime/homicides/mapRecommend

  • Parvez

    @Abid P. Khan: Well said.
    I was trying to make a point to Tazeen Rehman’s comment. Its disheartening when people like Tazeen refuse to allow tolerance to even be considered in their thought process. The fact that two people can have differing views but still remain civil, is just not acceptable to some and that is a shame.Recommend

  • http://- Abid P. Khan

    @Parvez:
    “…The fact that two people can have differing views but still remain civil….”

    There is a cultural gulf defining Westerners vis a vis us. The Average Joe, one runs into a pub, after downing his ration of six, can become aggressive and noisy. An average Paki on the other hand is always aggressive and noisy. Rooh Afza or no Rooh Afza. Recommend

  • Parvez

    @Abid P. Khan: That made me laugh outright………..very perceptive.
    To make things clear I am no ‘ Westerner ‘ as far as my thinking goes, but I am a moderate and a pragmatist. The anger of the local ( Paki is not really acceptable ) is understandable as this stems more from frustration ( born out of many causes ) than anything else.Recommend