Stories about Americans

As Pakistani as you

This past summer I met with a prominent lawyer, one who supposedly fights for human rights and women’s activism in Pakistan. Before I met her, I believed her to be a symbol of the fact that women can bring change in Pakistan. However, when I confessed to her my desire to live in Pakistan and engage actively in civil society, I was snapped at and told crudely that my “misplaced sense of patriotism” was unwelcome. Unfortunately, her crass “holier than thou” attitude is not unique to her. There are hordes of Lahoris, Karachiites and more, itching to tell me that ...

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Pathan explains a thing or two, to Dharna dude

The characters: Dharna dude from Islamabad – loves X-box, facials, and PTI. Pathan from Peshawar – father died in a bomb blast, brother abducted by the Taliban. Dialogue ensues: Dharna dude: Hey Mr Pathan man! What kind of a Pathan are you? Don’t you know that Waziristan is under attack? Why didn’t you come to the dharna? Pathan: I don’t understand one thing, why can’t you guys do a dharna against the Taliban? I mean, against all the suicide bombings and stuff? Dharna dude: Oh my God! What is wrong with you man? Taliban is a reaction! They are fighting the big devil dude. Tell me were ...

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Raymond Davis: Who dare point a finger at an American?

Earlier this week a US ‘diplomat’ shot two Pakistani men in broad daylight. Despite the dramatic nature of events there have been rational elements in our society who are still trying very hard to look at the issue objectively. In the interest of presenting a fair picture the media has produced criminal records of the men who were shot, there have been those who have tried to justify Raymond Davis’ actions by saying that Qartaba Chowk, the area of the shooting was unsafe and there are even some who have maintained that a ‘gora’ in Pakistan is always at risk. While many ...

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Wake up America, Islam is not the enemy

“Pakistan is going down.” This was the headline that appeared on the screen on a CNN broadcast as I prepared to board the 16 hour New York – Lahore trek, returning to a country I’ve grown to love deeply but that the newscaster was condemning as the most dangerous country on the earth. Squirming tirelessly on the flight, I thought about all that’s happened over the past few months I’ve been in Pakistan – and particularly the flooding gap between the liberals and radicals, which the international media has so loudly proclaimed – and felt an overwhelming sense of restlessness. How could the international ...

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Chasing a moving target: Where is Osama?

Nine years after 9/11, speculation is still rife about the whereabouts of Osama Bin Laden and his aides. A recent statement by an unnamed Nato official puts his presence in the area between Afghan and Pakistani border, close to the Kurram Valley. Is this a big surprise? The denial by the Pakistani government was swift, as usual, and the Interior Minister categorically put the burden on Nato to provide the credibility of the claim. Now, Mr Malik may be an interior minister, but he is not a wise one. In the past, we have seen the usual denials on other allegations ...

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A pack of chips

I was travelling via air in the US in March this year and it skipped my mind that in local flights passengers have to pay for their meals. Very confidently, I asked the flight attendant for a pack of chips. “Well, you have to pay,” she said. As I was about to give her money, she informed me very kindly, “We take credit cards only and not cash.” The poor traveller in me was hungry but boldly let go of the pack of chips. Only for it to be returned with a smile by the flight attendant who said, “I often ...

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