A US pilot’s tale: The gauntlet of goodwill

Published: November 24, 2010
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As a US helicopter pilot I have had a chance to meet new people

I’m a UH-60 Black Hawk pilot with Task Force Denali, a US Army aviation battalion sent from Alaska to provide flood relief to Northern Pakistan. I blogged about my first impressions of Pakistan nearly two months ago, and I’d like to share some more thoughts about my new friends here.

Surrounding our barracks and the control tower, hangars, airfield, and base itself are Pakistani military guards and commandos – tough, well-trained men armed with assault rifles and pistols tasked with maintaining security 24 hours a day.

I didn’t know what to make of these guys when I first saw them. Take, for example, the sturdily built sergeant (whom I now know as Ishaq) with a graying beard and long mustache whose appearance alone made him perfect to work for security.

“Where is your card?” He demanded one night as I waited by the control tower. I had ventured outside without my security badge affixed to my jacket. “Kidr ja rahe ho? (Where are you going?)” He continued sternly. “Here, sit down. Speak to my officer.” He motioned toward a chair and a gentleman wearing civilian clothes.

I produced the card from one of my cargo pockets, thankfully, and was able to excuse myself to the barracks, but Ishaq had made an impression. I vowed never to go anywhere without my security badge prominently displayed.

I mentioned the incident to some of my fellows, and they shared similar stories of this tough-looking sergeant. So the next time I saw him, I gave him some distance. Surprisingly, Ishaq called out to me. “How are you?” he asked, smiling, and we made small talk for a few minutes. The time after that, he gave me a hug and a handshake, and we chatted as if we were old friends. Within a few days, I had progressed from stranger to brother.

Working closely with Pakistanis for the past three months, I have seen that gestures of friendship like Ishaq’s are commonplace. They usually stand when someone enters the room, hug him, shake his hand, and offer chai. They love conversation and want to hear about each other’s families and speak about their own. Even people in far-flung villages will ply us with tea and food, inviting us to try our best at Urdu. This interaction is called “gupshup”, and as another commando friend told me today, “Zindagee sirf gupshup hay.” Life is just chitchat.

As I am writing this, I hear my American friends bantering outside the barracks. Some are playing a spirited game of dominoes. Others are telling jokes and laughing. Gupshup is not unique to Pakistan, but somehow Pakistan’s gupshup is unique. It’s in-your-face.  I find myself unable to maintain a demure affect because everyone is so curious and welcoming.  “Bockmann!” I hear as I walk to the washroom or hangar.  “Assalamu aleikum! Keah hal hay? (Peace be with you!  How are you?)”

Suffice to say, there is practically no way to go anywhere without saying hello to everyone, once they know you. I call it the “Gauntlet of Goodwill.”  Friends, strangers, soldiers, and civilians – everyone greets us warmly. My friend Naeem calls me “brother” and asks how our family in America is doing. This makes me feel at home.

I hardly imagined Pakistanis would treat us so well!  They are often critical of our government and society – as well as their own – but they see the good as well, and they are among the most courteous, genuine, and caring people I have ever met.

My American friends and colleagues can attest to this. Fellow pilots CW2 Denoncour, CPT Powers, and even our battalion commander, LTC Knightstep, have shared plenty of “doodh patii” (milk tea) with our hosts. CW2 Jenkins and PFC Mahadeo are regulars in the afternoon cricket matches. Several Pakistani friends have brought gifts for our families, as we bring stuffed animals for children in the villages. We have celebrated Eid and comforted each other in times of loss. Surely, this is not just flood relief but friendship.

Henry David Thoreau insisted that “No exertion of the legs can bring two minds much nearer to one another,” but I disagree. I’m glad we travelled from America to fly our humanitarian missions here because not only are we filling a profound need, but meaningful friendships are being made. Indeed, our gupshup and chai have brought minds “much nearer to one another” on topics ranging from politics and cricket to religion and movies.

After three months in Pakistan, I have come to appreciate this country for its breathtaking landscape and mouth-watering food.  But more than these, I love it for its people, my friends: Ishaq, Naeem, and all the rest of the “Gauntlet of Goodwill”.

john.brockmann

John Bockmann

A former teacher who is living his dream of flying. He and his wife, Katherine, enjoy hiking near their home in Alaska. This is his first deployment.

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

  • Ali

    Thanks for helping the poorest of this country. You might feel rather bad at home with all the freezing cold of Alaska so enjoy whatever time you have left in this country. Best!Recommend

  • Amna Mela

    This was a great read. It’s true what you said about Pakistanis being critical not only of foreign policies but of our own as well. We’re concerned about things only because we want to see the nation succeed. A lot of people here call out things for being wrong regardless of whether it is our own goverment which is responsible or another.

    It’s refreshing to hear the perspective of someone seeing Pakistan with American eyes. I love how in the states, I can go out and be anonoymous. I also love how when I’m in Pakistan, people may be intrustive into each other’s lives but ultimately it makes for very close-knit communities. If you ever see a Pakistani funeral, you’ll see how no one is left alone in their grief. I think that’s what a lot of overseas Pakistanis miss the most about home, the intimacy between people.

    I’m glad you’re making an effort to get to know the people and the culture. Live long and prosper haha. :)Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    Thanks for sharing your experience, btw, did you try, “Naswar”?Recommend

  • Talha

    Please forward this to Fatima Bhutto.

    It will solve many problems.Recommend

  • Raqib Ali

    Another wonderful account. Pakistan can only be understood if visited. I have met many foreigners who have been living and working in Pakistan for decades. Some are teachers, some came to study in private schools and joined local English language theatre. They go about their everyday life without any problems.

    Many foreigners have found respect and fame in Pakistan: eg.. Jenifer Musa, known as Queen of Baluchistan. She was elected as member of Parliament
    http://intellibriefs.blogspot.com/2008/01/queen-of-balochistan-passes-away.html

    George Fulton took the challenge of becoming a Pakistani within three months and was given nationality when Pakistani people voted for him. Since then, he has made Pakistan his home
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Fulton

    I am sure John Bockman will be one of our friends forever; like Jenifer Musa & John Fulton. Recommend

  • Humanity

    John, glad to see you picked up a lot more Urdu phrases , besides bakra, bakri, and bo-bakra.

    Building bridges among people is a noble cause, indeed. Thank you for sharing your experience with the readers. Your humanitarian effort is greatly appreciated. May Allah keep you safe and bless you for your kindness and big heart. Ameen.Recommend

  • F. Alam

    So glad that you are still doing a noble job. You are our guest and we are proud to have you in our country. Its people like you who build bridges. I read your previous blog too and it appears that you have great parents who support your decision. I pray no bad thing ever get close to you! Recommend

  • IZ

    “Gauntlet of Goodwill” – that is a really funny, and spot on term. I think you’ve identified a cultural more of Pakistanis that we ourselves are not very aware of. And the funny thing is I have experienced this difference of cultures from the opposite end when I went to college in the US. One of my friends remarked to me how they noticed that whenever I was walking across campus to get to class I would also stop to greet anyone I knew who I passed by and ask them how they were and how things were going – often when one or both of us were in a hurry to get to class on time! He said I was being too polite and I should just say hi and keep moving instead of asking everyone about their health etc. as I did. For me it felt like the normal, courteous thing to do!Recommend

  • http://www.pakspectator.com Sana Saleem

    Pakistani image is portrayed much bad than it actually is. Pakistanis are friendly in nature and very helpful. Thanks God that u have got a good impression :) Keep happy n smiling John !Recommend

  • sheeba

    thank you peoples for your support and help…..but i believe that we are a strengthen nation ever….and that’s only the reason behind the PAKISTANRecommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/ahadkhan Abdul Ahad Khan

    Absolutely loved your Blog! Reminds me of the book “Three Cups of Tea – By Greg Mortenson”. He had almost similar experiences with Pakistan and its people. Please do tell the world about your “Gauntlet of Good Will’. We really need it at the moment!

    Cheers! :pRecommend

  • Shahid

    Thanks a lot to you and your nation for your great help in the time of great need.
    I just want to say that we are critical of your govt’s counter productive policies and we surely aren’t against the American people whom we share a lot in common.

    Pakistan according to many Brits , Aussies and Americans is a place to live a happy life surrounded by one’s family and loved ones – gathering on meals & looking after parents , and respecting the elderly.

    I hope that this trip of yours may change some Minds in the United States about our Economically poor but morally and culturally super rich country.
    Thanks again & i hope you will come back again in some peace time to make up for what you might have missed in this trip.

    Take care & God Bless !Recommend

  • Faisal Qureshi

    This is indeed a one of the greatest readings of my life, I really feel happy and appreciate the way the US troops are contributing towards nation-building in Pakistan and development community of friendship. Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    bockmann…good on ya mate – although you really do need to try naswar Recommend

  • Shehriyar

    so true about how we if we know someone we have to greet them. Usually it takes me minutes meeting everyone when we are a huge group, but its a culture in its own way, the way we meet. people literally apologize for the times they have left without shaking hands with someone. Here in the US i rarely meet people who want to sit and have a good meaningful conversation, partly because most of them are oblivious and ignorant about whats going on in the world and partly because they have been brought up in an atmosphere where “just having a good time” is the theme in everything. however there are always a few individuals who go against that norm. i hope the western world realizes soon that we are not a terrorist state, but a country with magnificent beauty, landscape and of the people,multi-cultural and honorable and a very deep sense of survival.Recommend

  • Yousaf

    Great Work John, We appreciate much and hopefully you will take all the positive to US, I am sure you will be our ambassador to US People.

    Thank you. Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    So refreshing to hear the good words from an American soldier. Wish u cud spread this in the US as well as so that the too much negativity about Pakistan cud be checked as well.

    Our problem is that masses r un-educated and poor… and the educated and have ones are not playing any effective roles.

    Keep on the good work!

    Best of Luck…Recommend

  • parvez

    Great read.
    It says a lot about you, as you chose to look for the good in others. Best of luck.Recommend

  • Majid Urrehman

    Pakistanis are good but if you will read and meet desi elites of Pakistan, they would only whine. My Regards to you on finding the true face of Pakistan.Recommend

  • Adeel Malick

    wooooo… this article worth thousand readings…. I am like…Humanity is the way forward… If the religion, Culture, language don’t match… the Gestures and goodwill can bring people close.Recommend

  • faiza azeem usmani

    very nice article..gentleman! Pakistanis are very loving and caring people..we treat our guests as friends..
    im sorry to say but it is reality that western media is not playing its role responsibly..they give such a bad image of Pakistan in west that instead of humans we are being imagined as aliens..
    i m glad to see that there are some honest US soldiers who reveal their experience through right forums i.e. by writing articles and by sharing their stories via media..this is the way by which people like u can convey the ground realities w.r.t Pak..
    share ur experience with ur friends and colleagues n ask ur other colleagues, who have visited pakistan, to write their experience as well.. by this, we can sort out our differences n west wud cum to knpw what n why people of Pak think about them in such manner..Recommend

  • Tyrone

    John,

    I just love the way you write so clear and frank just so heartfelt.

    Great to see you are enjoying your stay here and God bless for the good work you’re doing.

    Pakistanis are well known for their hospitality and openness.

    You’ll find them more welcoming than most Europeans who aren’t as warm.

    I admire the way Westerners who come here even for business meeting try to fit in and learn the language and the culture.

    That’s ironic when we have people who try to speak English only and ignore their own home-grown culture to pursue Western fashion and lifestyle.

    By the way Happy Thanksgiving I’m sure you’d love to be home but you’d agree your right where God meant you to be.Recommend

  • Saboor

    Thanks for sharing all this. Infact people of Pakistan can not be leaders, they can become good followers. I mean they need leadership. Once they have found good leaders, this nation can rule the hearts and everything.Recommend

  • Ummar

    A typical military and as well as day to day life :)Recommend

  • Sheraz Ahmed

    Cue hysterical, frothing Fatima Bhutto tweet in 3…2…1…Recommend

  • Shahzaib

    This is really heartwarming. Loved it!Recommend

  • Turab Ali

    Thanks for coming here John and helping the troubled people of Pakistan.I Live in karachi and always witness Chinooks,Blackhawks and the occasional Nighthawk flying overheadRecommend

  • Jung Hee Sung

    It would be great to see Pakistan prosper and develop a government system that is respected by global nations. Pakistan has many challenges lying ahead, but it can rise above these challenges and prove how beautiful, respectful, and harmonious the country and its people are. We want to see Pakistan as an emblem of success, not failure. Recommend

  • Mishraz

    Very well written article. Your expression definitely engaged my imagination and took me to your barracks.

    Pakistan and Pakistanis are known for their hospitality, However I am very pleased to learn that, being in your position you not only acknowledged it but also shared it with your fellow colleagues and the world. Recommend

  • iftikhar

    I guess ur flying from and to kalam, accompanying the chinooks. I see them daily. we thankyou for ur support.
    keep it up.
    and thanks for all the lovely words.Recommend

  • noor

    keeep smiling brother!Recommend

  • Muhammad Aisf Sohail

    Thanks for coming here John and helping my countrymen.Recommend

  • MANSOOR

    Thanks, soldierRecommend

  • M Sharjeel Ashraf

    I am overwhelmed…. Tears of happiness and joy come to my eyes… I believe that it is the governmental and political differences which have created a feeling of distrust and hatred towards each other but civilians of both countries are generous and courteous enough towards each other.. This article should be more widely published in magazines, newspapers, shared on social networking websites and even foreign newspaper so that the world come to knows us Loving People and not as Terrorists….Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    John, this was really sweet and so heartfelt. Thank you for all your help, and believe me, we may have our issues with the American government, but we’re not biased enough to hate its people too. :)Recommend

  • Muhammmad Sharjeel

    thank’s blackhawk pilot i think you first american who like pakistan and pakistani’s……. you eat Biryani lolz……….Recommend

  • SUMBAL

    im very delighted to read ths story of yours.infact im proud that i belong to ths country and sum one has realised that ths country still has good lot…….thanks once again infact pakistan is existing just b coz of these great people like Ishaq, Naeem and WE WORTH GOOD RESPECT AND DIGNITY .the only thing that matter is to have a falcon eye who can identify these remarkable ppl in Pakistan………..PAKISTAN ZINDABAD:-)Recommend

  • cheema

    its a gud story it makes me feel gud. of course pakistanis are great people but there is a severe clash of interests between american government(american people are not informed about ground realities) and pakistan, due to foolish short term policies of american govt. i fear that if these policies would not be changed then the deterioration of one of these two countries is inevitable ,and definitely pakistani militery will never let its country to disintegrate.Recommend

  • zeeshan jadoon

    Hi,
    First of all very very thanks from the people of Pakistan for helping us in this disaster,and good to hear gud responses from some miltary men about Pakistan,I can assured you and all other people of America and other world that we (Pakistani)are a peaceful nation,its nothing true about anything which media is exagerating about Pakistan.Recommend

  • John Bockmann

    See? You folks are great. No need for a “falcon eye”, Sumbal; I am surrounded by good people here, and I can’t help but extrapolate this sample population to the rest of Pakistan. Yes, I know that’s simplistic, but as Ghausia points out, it’s heartfelt. I just hate that good, honest Pakistanis are victimized by terrorists, then identified with terrorists because of fear or prejudice. Perhaps some news outlet in America will pick up this thread so I can stop preaching to the choir. Also: Ali and Waccas, get over it–I’m not trying naswar! But I will have another plate of that halwa puri chana stuff…Recommend

  • Arslan

    Thanx for helping those in need.I was delighted to read this article coz finding someone from states who is really aware of true nature of Pakistanis and their homeland has become a rare event.Thanks to Western Media and a bunch of extremists altogether for such a barbaric and untrue image of Muslims and Pakistanis in the west. John, just imagine you are a patriotic Pakistani, you will see by yourself why are we so critical of US policies. As far as US citizens are concerned, I bet you won’t find an even friendlier and honest nation.Its only such experiences and consequent sharing of these with your compatriots thats gonna fill the gap between the two nations.Thnks again for your thoughtfulness and Goodluck with your Urdu….!!Recommend

  • Mudasser Mian

    I am reading this while looking forward to a relaxing thanksgiving holiday season with my brother and his family here in Dallas, TX.
    I have no words to express my gratitude for your kind and heartwarming words that show the world a completely different perspective on Pakistan and the Pakistani people.
    May God bless you and your family, and reward you for the good work you are doing helping our people out there. You make every righteous person proud.Recommend

  • Suleman Malik

    Hi.

    1st of all, thanks to you for coming to Pakistan for the flood relief mission.I am also thanksful to you for having a positive view about Pakistan and Pakistani’s.Because of your views, it may be possible that in all over the world who read your this message, may be they will think positively about the Pakistan.Because now in all over the world it’s a view that “Pakistan’s are terrorist”.

    May you live long.

    Suleman Malik
    Pakistani Citizen
    U.A.E
    Mob#00971-0509143694
    Recommend

  • Abdul Samad Khan

    hm we hope u will promote positive image of pakistan in USA we r loving and caring people we r not terroristRecommend

  • Sikandar

    @John
    This is the one story out of millions which took your attention just dig deep you will find many…… Plus World hasn’t tasted the essence of Pakistan…… :DRecommend

  • Khurram Aziz Shah

    the pilot is from the general lot … I think …!!! hope this ‘gauntlet of goodwill’ is exchanged between the higher authorities too.Recommend

  • M.AT

    @John Bockmann:
    hi john, thanks alot for coming here and helping our people, now that you have done so much fo our country i guess we owe you something in return. well i would defenitely love to take you out on a tour of Lahore, Punjab. if by any chance this is possible please let me know.

    Regards
    M.ATRecommend

  • http://www.myspace.com/sarfraznawaz Sarfraz

    Well self praise has no recommendation so i woulnd’t compliment my own country and its people but i guess you’ve witnessed all that yourself. Nobody detests America and its people, they love you. Not because they want American visa or nationality but because you’re white and speak English hahaha. No kiding man it’s true. If you ever visit some rural areas of Pakistan people would treat you as if you’re some kinda white aliens. And being a metalhead i’ve always been a huge fan of American heavy metal music. A friend of mine went to University of Virginia to do masters in August this year. So me and almost every other Pakistani has no good reason to hate America and its people but have all the reasons to love you guys. But it really frustrates us when all of us are labelled as terrorists whose hearts are filled with hate towards America. Live long brother and keep serving your nations in the skies and on the ground. By the way never ever try to taste “NASVAR”. I tried it once, it was so bitter and distasteful that i ended up vomiting out everything and my head started spinning like a football.Recommend

  • Rameez

    Great !!!!Recommend

  • Waqqas Iftikhar

    dude..halwa chana puri….you are gonna be packing on the pounds..Recommend

  • Imran Sindhu

    @Amna Mela:

    you wrote good comments
    but
    this is only one person view not whole Americans. if you read the surveys research conduct by different organizations lots of Public think that Muslims especially Pakistani Nationals are Terrorist.
    this all happening due to our government wrong foreign policies as well well our peoples who are going to abroad they do that works that we can never imagine.
    As Islam Is related you know well it is the religion of Love peace Brotherhood and A full guide to led a simple and peaceful life.
    But
    Our Mullahs and Deen Theeky dar Are not portraying Islam Very they have contradiction in their thoughts, Speaking and their act. thats why we are being forced to be as Terrorist.Recommend

  • Zohaib

    I am proud that you feel this way………..You see that is what makes us Pakistanis………I wish your message goes through to everyone and the people who are in positions to make the decisions.Recommend

  • http://www.thetrueperspective.com Hamza Malik

    Pakistan Zindabad!

    And John, once a bro is always a bro! You’re welcome to Pakistan anytime!Recommend

  • Munis Quadri

    Both of your blog entries are indeed a nice effort to relay the good image of Pakistan . You earn my respect. Thank youRecommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/britpak Mohammed Abbasi

    Dude! Go easy on the Pakistani food – we need you guys going home looking ok, not with huge bellies Recommend

  • Amer

    John, Nice to hear from you again. Thanks for all the great work that you have done helping the people of Pakistan in their time of need. Having lived in the US for many years, I know that the general public in the US don’t have the same views as you do about Pakistan. I don’t blame them either, it is mostly because of the negative media coverage of the country, and the events of the recent years haven’t helped either. I am sure that the image will get better once this war is finished and there are more people to people contacts between the US & Pakistan. The Pakistani people are always friendly and we have a strong tradition of warmth & hospitality. You are always welcome to Pakistan.
    Again a heart felt thank you and best wishes to you & your family. Recommend

  • Muhammad Omer

    lol a very good question and i might suggest our american friend here that he should actually go for it. It will make him feel more attached to Pakistan ;) @Ali Hassan: Recommend

  • Aamir

    Glad that you like Pakistan. This just goes to show that there is more to Pakistan than just bombing and insecurity. Its a beautiful country with great people living in it :)Recommend

  • Hassan Tariq

    @Ali Hassan:

    hahahhahahahahahahaha,,,Recommend

  • Jawad

    Thank you Jhon for the nice picture you have sketched of our society…. else Americans have always been so critical. US Govt no doubt maintiains alone interests and cares hooks about the sacrafices Pakistan has given to safeguard the American interests. Firstly war against the soviets in Afghanistan for which we are still paying and secondly war against the Taiban for which again we are paying. Anyway any good comments are always welcome and thanks once again…Recommend

  • Atif

    well wrote…Recommend

  • K. Khan

    John you remind of “Three cups of Tea” story from Greg Mortenson. Another fine man from Amercia. Great job. Recommend

  • Muhammad Ammar

    Hi Jhon, it was really nice to hear from an American that he liked Pakistan. You are a good person.. I should thank you and all the Americans who are helping Pakistanis in the time of need. I am a Pakistani but i could not find a way to help Pakistani people.. You people have good heart.. I should thank you for your good thoughts and your help. Recommend

  • Waqas

    Im a Pilot Officer in Pakistan Airforce…It was such a palable blog and really great to hear such nice remarks on Pakistan. The wrong projection of Pakistan by the meda as “A TERRORIST STATE” is absolutely a wrong concept increasing the gulf b/w us and the outer world. But people like u can work really good in bridging the distances and sharing this beautiful experience with ur fellow coursemates so they might know the truth that “We actually are working for Peace of World”Recommend

  • Ali

    @Jung Hee Sung:
    Thanx Alot bro 4 such nice comments.In Pakistan there is no cosmetic smiles.Pure hearted and simple ppl make this Country a beauty 2 live.The Scenic hearth robing scenic beauty of many of its areas are worth watching. The image of Pakistan being developed by sum media is totally based on lies.but there are always ppl who speak the truth and show the real, lively Pakistan :).
    Pakistan Zindabad.Recommend

  • http://tamistan.blogspot.com turab hasan

    Thank you John for help!! You are more than welcome to stay at my place in Calgary canada!!

    Thank you for your kind words too!Recommend

  • farukh jehanzeb

    pleased to see this kinda gesture from an american….interactions can solve many problems:)Recommend

  • Mushtaq Khattak

    Cool , good work mitte, we dont have any probleum with civilions of america the only probleum is the governmnet and Jews in your country… I know you are a lay man like us in political activities , but anyhow i really appreciate the way you poster Pakistani real face to the world….
    May God be with you…Amin?

    One advice i will gave you my brother “Please do study Quran , its same like Bible your Mind will get open more then you saw in Pakistan and perhapes it might help in changing your life to a true man what God like” its my suggetion other then upto you

    Have a Good one my brother (Love from Australia)Recommend

  • rahim haider

    thts the reality what you have seen in pakistan. i appreciate your feelings for people of pakistan and iam sure you will be owned whenever you will visit again. regardsRecommend

  • dr.naveed

    nice to read your experience.i am glad that you found us so comfortable.
    we muslims are not like the international media portray,we are helpful,humane,peaceful,we respect and want respect in return.
    if you respect

    our lives
    our families
    our religion
    our feelings

    we will always be with you when u will need us .
    hope you will write a book soon. :)
    wish you good luck,and have a peaceful life… AMEN !Recommend

  • Hira Mela

    I can read this article over and over again. After a very long time, I have read something which touched me so deep and I absolutely felt every word. I just want to thank you for being vocal and sharing your experiences as generally the western media and people are so critical of pakistan and pakistanis.
    A job well-done!Recommend

  • Hani

    @John Bockmann: Recommend

  • Hani

    Dear John,,,,,,,
    I m a highly qualified, very liberal and law abiding Pakistani citizen, having two fellowships and also holding a doctoral degree in Medicine.
    I would like to share in exchange, what I experienced in US.
    I went to US for my Specialist coarse in 2004. Whole of my stay in US was very legal & according to laws. Not only I was humiliated at US airports & when I was coming back the immigration officer told me that I had overstayed in US, I showed him my passport & my stay was very legal and without any flaws. Then I was told that I had been working illegally there in US, God knows how, ………..(actually very funny, I was a visitor). Then I was told that I may not be able to come back to US.
    That was very strange….how can I be told that my stay is illegal and I had overstayed in US, just due to some stupid and prejudice & biased guy sitting at airport. I wrote to humanitarian agencies in US, US embassy in Pakistan, president of US and a lot of other people, but great US system of justice, I was not replied, even bothered to be replied.
    That immigration officer probably forged all of my INS record and in return I did not go back to US, neither I want to go now.
    Any how may God bless u…….!. Moreover, I know u will not be having courage even to reply this mail.
    Thanks.
    An ordinary citizen of PakistanRecommend

  • Tahera

    John, thank you for this second blog. I think we’re getting spoilt hearing so much praise from an Amreeki, and you might have to to write for us on a regular basis!

    Seriously, though, I’m glad to know your experiences continue to enrich you, and your sentiments for Pakistanis remain the same after three months here. Hospitality is without doubt a prominent feature of Pakistani culture (we just need to know the visitors come in peace!).

    I find it particularly poignant that you and your colleagues are forming bonds of friendship, and have acquired an understanding of Pakistani gupshup, Cricket and Urdu – any understanding, however small, is a start.

    I am reminded of some wise words from Einstein: “Peace cannot be kept by force; it can only be achieved by understanding.”

    You might have found the path to lasting peace, John. Recommend

  • Irfan Khalid

    Thanks for helping the our brothers, the article make us very delightful and it is written very well. Our culture is very rich but now it is mixing because of globalization, busy and robotic lifeRecommend

  • http://habloid.wordpress.com Habiba Younis

    touching!Recommend

  • John Bockmann

    Fun reading these comments! Can’t address all of them, but thank you sincerely for your feedback. Briefly: Talha: I got a twitter account to see what Fatima Bhutto was tweeting about. Turns out, it’s mostly normal stuff–not nearly as scandalous as I’d hoped. :) Sarfraz: I definitely was a “white alien” at some places we visited, but always treated extremely well. Rock on! M.AT: Would love to tour Lahore (and Karachi, and Peshawar, Quetta, the Northern Areas, and everywhere in between)! God willing, some day I will. Mudasser I grew up near Dallas. Go Cowboys! …next year maybe. Mushtaq: I have read every page of the Quran! Hani: God bless you, too, Friend. Passing through customs is bad enough without being humiliated! Come to Alaska and give them another chance. Tahera: “Peace through understanding” is right. That’s my goal, and it’s nice to know that you, Einstein, and I agree. Keep up your good work! Recommend

  • http://yahoo.com Muhammad Azhar Khan

    I am overwhelmed ….. Great read. Thanx for helping my devastated country men, exploring the real Pakistan and sharing it with everyone …..
    Thanx AlotRecommend

  • Syed

    Assalamoalikum/Hi..

    trust me bro, I had tears while reading this. Maybe because presently I am in Europe and people are not too good. In 2 years, I could only find a dozen or two who treat us like normal. Rest maintain distance as if we didnt have shower for ages. But I do not blame them entirely. Media and miscommunication plays a vital role. Foreign policies, governments and extremist all come second.
    I would like to thank you and your team for being friends with our national heroes. Also I would like to thank Pakistani people who are working hard to maintain our country’s image, and wish them luck.
    God bless us all, save us from Evil, shower us with countless rewards and help every soldier fighting for good causes come back home with victory. Amen.

    Regards,
    Syed.Recommend

  • Tyrone

    John you’ve seen that our soldiers are alike and folks here are just like your small town US folk friendly, hospitable and welcoming.

    Unfortunately our leaders are also alike: looking out for self interest, reluctant to do the right thing and strait jacketed by policy and other pressures!

    Sadly the top brass of both our armed forces are the same more inclined to look for a belligerent solution instead of giving diplomacy a chance.

    Any idea why people around the world are so alike and yet so different?Recommend

  • bano bawany

    John
    thnx 4r help needy people. & feal about, our love with u.
    BanoRecommend

  • Umair

    Mr. UH-60 Black Hawk pilot , i read your experience in Pakistan, I just want to say ” We are Pakistani , and we are just like you”Recommend

  • Najam Nawaz Saqib

    I am really happy to know the feelings of an American pilot regarding Pakistan. Based upon your these experiences, do tell your family, friends and other people back home that Pakistanis and Muslims are not terrorist. They are peaceful,kind and loving people as you have noticed.We ourselves are victims of terrorism. we are not exporters of it.We want peace.
    we welcome and thank you for your efforts for helping our flood affected people. Recommend

  • M.AT

    @John
    John whenever you plan to come to Lahore you can coordinate with me. i check this blog every day. Best of Luck and keep up the good work. Recommend

  • Solangi

    Thanks for highlighting to the world that we, Pakistanis, in general are freindly and peace loving, and have got a bad reputation due to actions of a small but very stubborn minority.Recommend

  • Rahim

    really nice and refreshing to hear good words about our fellow countrymen from an american soldier. not only this elucidates the courtesy of people in the northwest of our country, it also shows some light on the courage of pakistanis that even during these precarious times when terrorists attacks have garnered a permanent place in our news, pakistanis are still hopeful of having the good and peaceful times coming back.Recommend

  • Aamna Saiyid

    Such articles are a much-needed source of comfort in these days of distrust and misconceptions. Thank you John :)Recommend

  • Aysha

    I read this story today and it was really refreshing to read something good about our country and its people as usually we are always hearing worse things specially on our media. Interaction with other people is always good as you can see them as other human beings just like yourself.I thank Mr Bockmann for sharing his experience with us. Recommend

  • assad

    John,

    Thanks for all your work in Pakistan helping the needy! I wish more of your compatriots see the other “real” Pakistan which is not about terrorists and terrorism. May God bless you and your fellow servicemen for doing this relief work!Recommend

  • http://www.mensapk.org Hasan Zuberi

    On behalf of Mensa Pakistan, would like to thank you for your relief efforts and above all your contribution to change the perception about us, Pakistanis, in a positive way.

    I hope your message of “pen is mightier then sword” will reach to American leadership and will help being the actual change. Recommend

  • Abu hazim

    Actually Pakistanis are friendly people by nature, but when someone try to challenge/interfere them, they become angry rather we can say they don’t like to be ruled or dictated. Recommend

  • Abu hazim

    Actually Pakistanis are friendly people by nature, but when someone try to challenge/interfere them, they become angry rather we can say they don’t like to be ruled or dictated.Recommend

  • Abu hazim

    We are thankful to all international community for their support during the flood relief operation and also at the time of earthquake 2005.
    Actually Pakistanis are friendly people by nature, but when someone try to challenge/interfere them, they become angry rather we can say they don’t like to be ruled or dictated.Recommend

  • http://none Bangash

    Thanks for your help and glad you had a good time in Pakistan.Recommend

  • http://www.aajizattari.blogspot.com Muhammad Yasin

    I really like the way you use terms related to Pakistan so fluently in between words.

    I wish such stories get place in American and International newspapers so that the world knows real us as opposed to the prevailing hypothetically exaggerated dark images of us. Recommend