Moving to Pakistan: My rational fears

Published: December 14, 2010
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I have been both reassured and cautioned by my Pakistani contacts.

As newspapers report more blasts every day, and as one of those blasts killed a would-be colleague, I have to admit it, I’m scared of moving to Pakistan.

And I’m defenseless. I don’t speak Urdu or Punjabi or Pashtu or any language except English and a poor smattering of Spanish. I’m American, and I look American. I’m female and tiny. My only defenses are my wits, and as my last post proved, those are sometimes off-mark. My friends and especially my family implore me—why are you going?

I often wonder if I should have been an artist rather than a journalist. These days both seem to be similarly impractical career choices, and one is a whole lot safer. As an artist, you can seem edgy, dangerous, flashy and exciting without actually putting yourself in danger. As a journalist, you can be bored and boring, even, while putting yourself in tremendous danger. I’m not sure the adrenaline is worth it, and sometimes I wonder if my contribution has any value. There are so many voices commanding greater knowledge than my own.

Am I foolhardy, guided by ego, to go and do and see and have people feign respect for my willingness to take these risks? If I’m not genuinely offering a fresh perspective, my efforts are merely a waste of everybody’s resources—most of all, my own.

I move constantly. I’ve been in Starkville, Mississippi nearly a year, which is about how long I stay anywhere.

I’m cozy here, doing my little PR job for a university, curling up to watch movies with my cats, dog and the best roommate ever, baking cupcakes for holiday parties and dropping in on my family just because, blogging under the tiny twinkly lights strung around my bedroom, crafting things, experimenting with vintage analogue cameras, stocking my etsy.com shop.

I’m not restless yet, but I’m leaving anyway. And half-hoping that Pakistan will change everything, that it will be the beginning of my life as an international correspondent, that I will receive fellowships and grants and assignments and clamber the world over, filtering my water and living out of a backpack.

And I’m half-hoping I can return to things just as they are—roommate, pets, crafting.

I’ve read about Pakistani culture and I want to see everything, but will I be able to travel by myself, to trust people? Will I immerse myself in the culture or will I hole away in my flat, too paranoid to make the most out of this extraordinary (for most Westerners) experience?

If I truly consider the situation, everything’s threatening. My biggest concerns are obvious—random violence, kidnapping and ransom, laws I can’t comprehend, fears I don’t even want to write. But even simple things, like drinking water, could harm me.

Recently, I met a handful of amazing Pakistanis, even in my little Mississippi town. I correspond by email with Pakistani contacts. I have been both reassured and cautioned by all of these people.

I’m not backing out of this fellowship. I won’t let paranoia define my choices.

But I do think I should come clean. I’m American, and I’m sheltered— and no, those traits aren’t synonymous, and yes, they’re correlated. And as much as Pakistan fascinates me, it also seems alien and perilous. And then, in creeps the paranoia…

cheree.franco

Cheree Franco

A graduate of Columbia University’s Journalism School and fellow for The Express Tribune. She writes about art and culture for Juxtapoz magazine and blogs at chereefranco.wordpress.com.

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

  • Raqib Ali

    Have you heard the phrase: ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’?Recommend

  • Raqib Ali

    Follow simple common sense rules:

    Don’t go alone for a week or so. First familiarise yourself with the help of locals then venture alone.

    It is OK for women to walk alone and drive in big cities. In smaller cities/villages, it is quite strange and will encourage people to meet you. Sometimes, you may attract the wrong kind.

    Public transport within cities is very unreliable and in a bad shape. Even locals who have half decent wages, do not use buses etc. Have a small cheap car or use taxis/auto rickshaws (tuk tuk). Travelling outside a city is fine (railways/planes/luxury coaches).

    Do not walk through poor neighbourhoods at night. Take a taxi.

    There are many female foreigners living and working in big cities in Pakistan for decades (especially in education sector). Talk to them. They can offer you practical advice. Recommend

  • Riaz Khan

    As long you are careful, there is no danger! Experience which you would get in Pakistan cannot be repeated any where in the world. Besides we are very hospitable people. There are only few dirty eggs who are creating these problems otherwise majority are peace loving.Recommend

  • Khan

    Your biggest fear which I would assume is death through terrorism or some wanton act of violence will not materialize. You are more likely to encounter theft, extortion at every level when dealing with any form of bureaucracy (govt, customs, utilities, etc) and frequent and perpetual sexual harassment (might just be frequent stares and it will wary in towns vs villages).

    Dont be fooled by people who go out of the way to help you as you will find genuine good Samaritans to be a rare breed. Remember, third world rules apply and if its too good to be true, then assume the worst. Recommend

  • parvez

    Welcome to Pakistan. It appears you are coming as a journalist with preconceived ideas, suggest you try jettisoning these and come with an open mind.
    What I found intriguing was ” I ————— and I look American ” could you please explain this. I am not being facetious, I genuinely would like to know that you mean by this statement.
    Best of luck and I hope you have a memorable and pleasant time in Pakistan.Recommend

  • http://billaytoot.wordpress.com Bilal

    agreed with Mr. RiazRecommend

  • http://na prasad

    I believe I would be as nervous going to a nearly all-white town. As a South Asian woman I would feel a lot safer walking down a street with South Asian men or Middle Eastern men milling around. White men scare me. And if I saw a group of them on the street I would turn around and walk in the opposite direction.

    You are coming to a part of the world where courtesy has evolved into an art form. Also sadly we worship the white skin so you can relive the not-so-glorious memsahib days of our colonial past. Beware of the over-smart characters who would want to be extra friendly. People will stare – so be prepared and try not to be unnerved – they are just being very very curious. And I am assuming you will meet a lot of savvy, good-looking Pakistanis who would wear you as an accessory – the slightly derogatory term for you is gori (white woman).Recommend

  • Talha

    You will enjoy your time here, there are many things to do and many places to visit. Sure there might be a few dangerous moments now and then but danger is cool and Pakistan is very dangerous (according to western publications).

    Ask me for a list of places to go and things to do in Karachi, I will tell you.Recommend

  • Faria Syed

    We are very excited to have you as a fellow. I’m sure this will be the start of a great career.

    Recommend

  • cyma

    Hey,

    i totally understand your fears … your paranoia… i wont say what you feel or questions you have are wrong .. but i would surely say it is NOT as bad as it seems and sounds at times…. i dont know which city you are coming to… i also dont know where you are going to work and live… so cant say much about how difficult its gonna be…. what would help is
    – coming prepared, knowing and accepting that its a different place and willingness to learn from the experience.
    – try making contacts before you reach, if nothing else, we are famous for our hospitality :) all over the world. people would actually spend time with you to orient you with surroundings and help you understand how things work here .
    – many foreigners live here, depending on which city you will be coming to, you can always request your host organziation here to get you in touch with such groups ( One group fro example is expats working with UN , British council etc)

    and when you put your step here , donot forget that a very small portion of us Pakistanis have projected the picture you have in your mind and here you are meeting the majority and hope this experience would help you se the other side of us :)

    and if you by any chance are coming to islamabad :) do let me know i would be more than glad to facilitate you to adjust here well :)

    Best of luck!Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/mudassar.nawaz Mudassar

    dear respected Cheree,i assure you with certain degree of confidence that INSHALLAH u will find circumstance over here totally different against Ur perceptions!if not 100 then at least 99 % people are really peace loving,hospitable,loving,caring and respectful to others.although we are behest with international great game but we all are living here.it would be a great chance for u to learn and see many new things and see the world from this side of the world!
    i welcome u on behalf of all of us!Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/mudassar.nawaz Mudassar

    @parvez:
    good reply!Recommend

  • Amna

    your fears are very understandable and expected. With all the media coverage on Pakistan, you don’t expect another reaction. Not to say none of it is true; and even overseas Pakistanis tend to be guilty of feeling fearful going to Pakistan as well.

    But just be careful, I hope you have some responsible contacts that can make your stay there more comfortable, and good luck! You just may fall in love with Pakistan, despite all the issues and flaws Pakistan has….it has a very strange beauty and a lovely culture…so if you are going to go, dont over think it, and just be positive!Recommend

  • Ali

    I really hope that people of the world learn that, them and us becomes WE… and we, all of us need to work together to save our world from the environmental disaster that we (all of us) have caused…

    I hope the ppl of Pakistan and America move past war, hate, great games etc. and just get on with development…

    The only reality that i can tell you about my parents country is that it is not at all what you expect, and always surprising!

    Just please please dont write condesending ‘oh my God they have a six lane motorway and semi decent infrastructure i didn’t expect – maybe its not such bad place afterall’ kind of articles, as remember Pakistani readership is also not what you expect and is always surprising!!!Recommend

  • http://grsalam.wordpress.com Ghausia

    You’ll be perfectly fine. No one will condemn you or arrest you for driving on your own, or going on a grocery run, people are generally welcoming towards Americans here and will be helpful, its the government we have issues with anyway. The language thing won’t be much of a barrier, even taxi drivers can understand basic English. Its going to be different, but you’ll adjust it eventually. Oh and don’t drink the water, really, stick to mineral water bottles. Welcome to Pakistan Cheree. :) You won’t be leaving the cats behind will you? As a fellow cat lover, that is my biggest concern! :D They’ll be so sad without you!Recommend

  • Tariq Qureshi

    Salaams and peace to all,

    There was a page on facebook, about Americans in Pakistan or in Karachi. I can’t seem to find it. Following seems like one source of information.Recommend

  • Tariq Qureshi
  • Shahbaz

    Well Write-up,,,,,, and agreed with yiu Riaz…..Recommend

  • http://www.fattaurus.com Ahmed

    you will do just fine.. and you will see how much things are different than they are shown on news… good news doesnt sell anything… you will be surprised how things are when you get here…Recommend

  • R. Qureishi

    I lived in Pakistan first 25 years of my life (in Lahore). For the last 12 years, I have been living in London.

    I’ve never been victim of violence in Lahore. London (and Paris) seem much more violent. Pakistan only got bad publicity. Just use normal precautions. Recommend

  • Syed A

    Hi cheree,
    Every one has cautiously encouraged you to go to Pakistan.
    I from Tironto openly present you my companionship if you wish to be accompanied by me to Pakistan.
    I am a multicultural Pakistani by birth only, having spend my childhood & youth in Dubai & USA, my passion is researching international political news, with few trips to Pakistan knowing good academic & talented connections to understand complex Pakistan.
    It’s your choice , have s safe trip!!!!!
    BonVoyage! Recommend

  • http://dinopak.wordpress.com Hasan

    I am utterly shocked at the responses from you guys. Goes to show the insensitivity of a nation that doesn’t want to change itself.

    “Use precaution”
    “Don’t go out alone”
    “Get back home early”
    “Its not that bad”
    “Oh I never fell victim of it”

    Are you all serious? Every passing day, people die in a ‘would be’ Islamic country all we can think about is ourselves? Don’t you all understand the value of a human life? Her fears are justified and I will never call it paranoia, because she have lived in a country where she can move freely and express herself with freedom. Can you do that in Pakistan?

    As Pakistanis we should all be ashamed of ourselves, our country is deemed dangerous not just by foreigners, even by our own nationals living abroad. Bombs going off, people being killed its a norm in Pakistan. Why? Why can’t we all make an effort to make our country a safe place for us and our next generations? or we are just content that unless we aren’t affected everything is cool? Even if we aren’t affected, why don’t we have the heart to atleast feel for the people who are affected with this everyday violence, families broken apart in a mere instant. When will we get a heart.Recommend

  • Zeeshan

    i assure you this will be the most exploratory time of your life, come here anyway.Recommend

  • Tariq Qureshi

    @Hassan. W/o taking the discussion off on a tangent, yes anyone can express and move freely in Pakistan. More so that the United States of America these days. ;)Recommend

  • http://dinopak.wordpress.com Hasan

    @Tariq: Its expression which brought down Aasia bibi too. Until this country is in the hands of the Mullah. No one is free here.Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/HashimAbbasi Hashim Abbasi

    Things aren’t perfect here but we Pakistani’s have one thing that stands out and that is we respect women… you would be fine and nothing will happen to you unless you go around asking for trouble. Just give my country a chance and you would see how humble and generous Pakistani people are. Dont judge us by the actions of a few. Hate crimes are there in your US too but that doesn’t mean that every American is a racist and same goes for Pakistan. Hope you have a wonderful stay here and go back and tell people in the US about the good things of Pakistan that aren’t covered in the news there.Recommend

  • Omar

    Cheree, as you are familiar with spanish, I would recommend you visit Cuidad Juarez or Nuevo Laredo in Mexico prior to your trip to Pakistan. All the things that you will experience there such as crime, sexual harrasment, and general unease are present in Pakistan. If you can imagine yourself living there for more then a week, then you will have no problem living in Pakistan. However, if you find it that its too much, you would have saved yourself lots of money and time by making a short trip from home rather then all the way across the world. Recommend

  • Moazzam Salim

    …as it should be dear Cheree. Your fears are genuine and your concerns are realistic. But let me assure you most of the Pakistanis are not like the ones portrayed on the media. We are better than that but have fallen into a web of conspiracies. An overload of martial laws has not only hampered our real way of life but has also maimed us for life, a tarnished nation. As a nation we are still trying to make a global breakthrough on all the decent things but in reality we have been condemned to face our darker sides and to live with their grotesque consequences. We are what we are and there is no denying that you will face a lot of hardship in coming over here. Your determination therefore is precious and it may actually result in something great. I hope you find your hopes intact after landing here. Have a good time here. Goodluck Recommend

  • Tippu

    First up, congrads on the posting and dont even think of passing up the opportunity.

    Your fears are justified. Im a pakistani but have lived most of my life outside pakistan. You will notice that once you land in pakistan, all your fears will disappear. It is a wonderfull country and the common person is veyr friendly and hospitable.

    But do take some precautions.
    1. Only travel with folks you trust and know.
    2. Stay away from the smaller mosques (sadly, mosques are a favorite targets of the fanatics).
    3. For the first 3 months, only use NESTLE bottled water, even for brushing teeth. Stay away from the local brands. and NO SALADS!!!
    4. Stay away from demonstrations or at a safe distance anyways.

    Apart from that, you will LOVEEEEEEEEEE the country. It is awesome!!! :)Recommend

  • Tariq Qureshi

    But I guess the biggest problem that the foreigners face here … is the stare … consistent and constant stare!Recommend

  • Tariq Qureshi

    On the streets of Pakistan, if they know that you are from US, they won’t discriminate against you as the Americans would, if they knew you were Pakistani. They won’t call you a terrorist :). If anything, the ‘ratio’ of people discriminating against you will be very low. You would be surprised by the hospitality.

    No off topic comments please, Hasan!Recommend

  • Amadeus

    This country’s a pretty cool place – so don’t worry. =)Recommend

  • Rehan

    Except for the beaurocrats and army personels, everything is pretty cool…Recommend

  • Humanity

    All comments are quite reflective of the good people, except for bureaucrats, army personal, police, mullah and mullah-followers, and the lunatics.

    A reality check is that stay clear of religious infractions. Treat all whose name include a revered Muslim name with utmost respect and extra care. Kiss their business cards and place them in a shiny gold box perched on a high mantle. For more information, check out the blasphemy allegation against the doctor who was disrespectful to the medical rep who some think as a revered person by the way of his name. Also research the Aasia Bibi blasphemy case to learn what not to do in the land of pure.

    As long as you avoid hurting the feelings of an ultra-sensitive person, it is a real cool place :) The problem is one does not know which button would tick him/her off to go running to file a blasphemy FIR against you :(Recommend

  • Anoop

    You will be fine as long as you dont throw a Visiting Card of some guy whose name has ‘Mohammad’ in it into the dustbin. You will be, or rather, can be accused of Blasphemy.

    Even thinking about throwing the Visiting Card in the dustbin might be considered as Blasphemy in Pakistani Courts, I suppose. Recommend

  • Ali Hassan

    I would never advice you to come here but if you decide otherwise, you are always welcome.
    Do not forget to visit PESHAWAR.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/majid.u.rehman Majid Urrehman

    Don’t wear revealing cloths. Don’t trust much on your local friends rather try to experience urself like you should buy ur grocery, ur bakery etc urself.

    This American lady has lived in Pakistan for many years and she thoroughly enjoyed Pakistan. She would prove a great source of information although she has completed his project in Pakistan and has moved back to America. http://www.facebook.com/hcarreiroRecommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/majid.u.rehman Majid Urrehman

    Regarding interaction with Mullah (clergymen) category, my advise would be that if you feel afraid of anything, try to consult with the clergyman of nearby mosque. You will feel safest ever in the world. Basically try to avoid desi elites.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/majid.u.rehman Majid Urrehman

    Here is that American Lady’s blog which has a separate tab on Pakistan. http://expatheather.com/Recommend

  • Cheree

    Hi ET readers—thanks for all the advice and well wishes!

    To address concerns that came up in the comments:

    Ghausia, my kitties thank you for your concern, but my roommate will take purr-fect care of them till I return!

    And Parvez—I should have written that I look Caucasian—you’re right, what does “look American” mean? But I have light skin and hair (although not light enough to be Nordic!) and blue eyes…unless Pakistani cities are swarming with foreigners, I will stand out.

    I agree with Ali, that “them” and “me” should become “we”—and I hope this fellowship helps me write from that perspective. I come from Mississippi, a rural state that tops a lot of unflattering U.S. lists—worst schools, highest teen pregnancies, poverty, obesity, race-related hate crimes…When you say you’re from Mississippi, many Americans have a preconceived idea of who you are and where you grew up. I know a lot about stereotypes and I try to police myself, to keep stereotypes out of my headspace. I do an okay at this, but it’s not a flawless process.

    Since I wrote this post, I’ve spent time on the Lonely Planet message-boards where recent travelers say lovely things about Pakistan. I’ve also contacted other Columbia Journalism School alum, native Pakistanis mostly, and a few Americans working in Pakistan in different cities—and everyone is helpful, hospitable, encouraging, as all of you have been in these comments.

    I was an exchange student in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in high school, and I’ve traveled internationally. I’ve been stared at, I’ve been harassed by men on the street (more often than not, this has happened in the U.S.), I’ve felt threatened, I’ve been unnerved, I’ve been sick from Mexican water. Nothing comes with guarantees—you just have to do a cost/benefit analysis, right?

    I’m actually really excited to come to Pakistan. And the more I network with people living there, the more excited I get. I’ve had cold feet in moments, but I have no doubt this will change my life—and I can’t wait! Recommend

  • Cheree

    Also, I want to assure everyone, I will be careful with business cards…Recommend

  • Tariq Qureshi

    Seems like Indians are starting their usual activity?Recommend

  • Raqib Ali

    @ Anoop

    It is surprisning how less our Indian neighbours know about us!!

    Pakistani newspapers all have name Mohammad on them. One or two Urdu ones even publish religious article and even Quranic verses. You know how we treat papers? Like everywhere else!

    If you don’t want to say anyting good about my countrey, at least do not lie. The writer is gonna visit Pakistan and I am sure she will write how wrong you were!!

    Yes blasphemy laws are being misused. But mostly accused have been Muslims and NO ONE (Muslim or non Muslim) HAS EVER been given ultimate sentence (higher courts always allow appeal). Recommend

  • Saad Durrani

    @Cheree:
    Now here is the solution. If you are coming to Karachi, you will soon get a tan and those hair could be died black or brown or even “purple” if you like. Wear sunglasses in the day and people would not see your eyes.

    Learn some “Urdu”. It will help and talk confidently.

    Well, once I told a female friend, “Pakistan is like a bad boy. Everyone hates him but when you are involved, it would be hard to let go.”Recommend

  • http://www.sidrahmoizkhan.blogspot.com Sidrah Moiz Khan

    Come to Pakistan and you will realise that it’s not as bad as it is portrayed.Recommend

  • parvez

    @Cheree: really appreciate your response.
    Keep the “I’m an American” label as unobtrusive as possible – you’ll be fine.Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Raqib Ali:

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/89180/doctor-arrested-on-blasphemy-charges/

    It was a precaution more than a generalization about Pakistanis. White skin, American Citizenship, A Christian sounding name and Female Gender is a dangerous combination in Pakistan.

    “Yes blasphemy laws are being misused. But mostly accused have been Muslims and NO ONE (Muslim or non Muslim) HAS EVER been given ultimate sentence (higher courts always allow appeal).”

    –> So, the doctor in the above case has to spend his lifetime earnings in hiring a good lawyer and stay in jail for God knows how many months or years and a mere perception of Blasphemy. Even if the courts let him out, some nut case will probably kill him when he gets released. Or, as in some cases a nut will kill him jail!

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/11/pakistan-man-accused-of-blasphemy-shot-dead-after-being-released-from-jail.html

    http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Punjab:-young-Christian-man-accused-of-blasphemy-killed-in-prison-16328.html

    I am not generalizing or anything. I am just saying the law of the land can be and are often exploited and most of the victims are the minorities.

    But, you accused me of spreading a lie. Which part of my comment is a lie? Could you please point out?

    I can provide respectable references/links for all my points.Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Raqib Ali:

    http://tribune.com.pk/story/89180/doctor-arrested-on-blasphemy-charges/

    It was an advice more than a generalization about Pakistanis. White skin, American Citizenship, A Christian sounding name and Female Gender is a dangerous combination in Pakistan.

    “Yes blasphemy laws are being misused. But mostly accused have been Muslims and NO ONE (Muslim or non Muslim) HAS EVER been given ultimate sentence (higher courts always allow appeal).”

    –> So, the doctor in the above case has to spend his lifetime earnings in hiring a good lawyer and stay in jail for God knows how many months or years and a mere perception of Blasphemy. Even if the courts let him out, some nut case will probably kill him when he gets released. Or, as in some cases a nut will kill him jail!

    http://www.jihadwatch.org/2010/11/pakistan-man-accused-of-blasphemy-shot-dead-after-being-released-from-jail.html

    http://www.asianews.it/news-en/Punjab:-young-Christian-man-accused-of-blasphemy-killed-in-prison-16328.html

    I am not generalizing or anything. I am just saying the laws of the land can be and are often exploited and most of the victims are the minorities.

    But, you accused me of spreading a lie. Which part of my comment is a lie? Could you please point out?

    I can provide respectable references/links for all my points.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/mudassar.nawaz Mudassar

    @Anoop:
    please anoop this is not fair! blasphemy is far different from that what u are stating
    !while u have never visited Pakistan how can u come to knw about that?this is not fair!we proudly respect our prophet and not just our prophet Muhammad (S>A>W) but also other messengers of god just like Him we cant withstand even some obnoxious comments about Jesuss so it is not a matter of criticism because i think every adhering follower should respect his and others religion its a preaching of Islam!as far as throwing a paper into dustbin with a name Muhammad on it is concerned,it doesn’t fall in the category of blasphemy as if somebody unknowingly throwing the a piece of paper into a dustbin it is his personal affair but if some one public-ally and intentionally speaks ill against Muhammad it’ll surely never tolerated by any Muslim in the world! so u better study the concept before presenting ur point of view! regards!Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/mudassar.nawaz Mudassar

    @Cheree:
    its surprising on ur behalf to focus on an inappropriate suggestible without peeping into the real issue!Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/mudassar.nawaz Mudassar

    @Hasan:
    who told u that this country is in the hands of Mullahs? this country belongs to the people of Pakistan!not mullahs!we ourselves are responsible for current circumstances,not a single group can be claimed to bring this fiasco!but change is coming an its vital,and Alhamdulillah we are very optimistic about our future! Recommend

  • Anoop

    @Mudassar:

    I’ve not visited Pakistan, nor will I do, as I have very strong opinions about God and Organized Religion(including the Hindu Culture) which many people ,even in India, wont agree with. But, there is absolutely no danger of me going to jail or accused of Blasphemy in India, but I do in Pakistan.

    I am not for Blasphemy but I am against Blasphemy laws. If mere words can hurt then we would not need Machine Guns and Nuclear Bombs. If all-forgiving Allah can forgive him/her, why cant you?

    Its not that you will be mentally paralyzed if you hear anything against your Prophet or Allah, so where is the harm?

    I always place people above God. If someone talks against someone in a threatening manner then that is hate speech and it could be considered as punishable depending on the content. But, if someone talks against an Ideology you cant put him/her in jail or give him death. After all how are you sure that ideology is even true or a concept called God even exists?

    Thanks to the Internet and my Constitution, I can say stuff like this and get away with it in my country. Recommend

  • Tim

    As an American recently returned from a trip to Pakistan, I want to encourage you to press ahead. It’s a wonderful country, truly, and one that many Westerners and specifically Americans don’t understand. I had the privilege to grow up in Punjab, and this was my first trip back in ten years. It was as amazing as I could possibly have hoped. It’s a beautiful country, and you really won’t find more hospitable people anywhere in the world. As other commenters have pointed out, use common sense (just as you could in downtown Chicago, for instance), and be aware and respectful that some cultural traditions are rather different than what you might find in America. Having a knowledgeable guide is also wise. But the food, the land, the people will make every insecurity seem less important. Enjoy your trip!Recommend

  • Tony Singh

    Pakistan is as good or as bad place as any developing country. As in any society, there are good, evil and shades of grey in between. So long as one follows the simple rules of culture, no problems. I say this because all said and done it is the land of my ansistors.Recommend

  • someone

    i just came back from Pakistan!
    and i went there after 9 years. Its not so bad, and incidents happen everywhere but the ones happening in Pakistan are highlighted by the media which is why it might sound really bad but in reality its not.
    And i would say the most convenient way for you is to rent a car or buy one (you can buy a nice corolla for about rps 500,000). One U.S dollar is worth around 84 Rps. Once you have a car just arrange for a reliable driver. This way its easy for you to travel around and its safer.
    You might become a victim of theft, but if you are careful it can be avoided! Then again it doesn’t happen to everyone!
    It won’t be life threatening!

    I am sure you will enjoy and it will be a great experience!
    I had a blast and on the last day i was crying because i didn’t want to leave so soon.

    Just to let you know, people will probably stare at you ( which is normal), because you are white and they have never or rarely seen any white people. They get fascinated which is why they stare. And also because they might be curious about what you are doing there.

    And yea, you can walk out in jeans and a shirt! Its not a problem its normal esp in big cities. Just don’t wear a tan top. Sleeveless or small sleeves are fine.

    You will notice that people there have a curiosity and a staring disease. LOL!

    But generally people are very welcoming and would love to help you out. Do not trust everyone though! Just be careful!!!Recommend

  • http://none Bangash

    I would not advise you as a female to travel alone, by yourself in Pakistan. I just went to Peshawar/Islamabad and felt reassured and saw normality, but I also saw the checkposts and heavy security.Recommend

  • Erfan

    Go for it !! Pakistan is absolutely fantastic place and you will have fun. Recommend

  • Erfan

    Oh
    Wait don’t go to Peshawar. Recommend

  • Viren Das

    @Tariq Qureshi:
    Hi Tariq … why generalise all Indians?
    Anoop, has a point of view, though it is jaundiced and sarcastic.
    All he is hinting at is the plain fact that others, including Pakistanis,
    have pointed out … that there is a conservative element, euphemistically put,
    in Pakistan that will scapegoat foreigners. It happens … and not just in Pakistan.

    There are other Indians, Ms. Prasad’s pointers are to be revisited,
    who have been very supportive of Ms. Cheree’s visit and stay in Pakistan.
    Moreover, she brings a distinctly female point of view … which I should say,
    is more relevant and pertinent than the less than helpful reply from most of the males,
    whether Indian or Pakistani.

    So, please, do not paint with broad brushstrokes. Thank you.
    And Anoop sahab, your point of view did not enlighten no one. Recommend