When in Pakistan

There’s an old saying that goes “when in rome, do as the romans do”. The implication is that when you’re im a particular place you sort of adhere to it and behave like the locals. Handy advice but not when it’s applied to Pakistan. Why? Because when in Pakistan:

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# 1 – Politics dominates your life

Pakistanis are obsessed and over obsessed with politics. And we’re not talking the usual “saas bahu” strategic games, but in fact, more of the national kind. No dinner or shaadi is complete without a political debate or some new youth organisation being formed (of course usually they’re active only on Facebook).

Life was simpler when idiots didn’t have a public platform.

Pakistanis love nothing more than to gas about the current political crisis which threatens to destroy the fledgling democracy, bitch about how politicians they have elected to power have looted them and of course, reminisce about how “things were much better under the General”. Guys, there are other things in life other than politics!

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# 2 – Actions speak louder than words

This is something one has to keep in mind at all times in the land of the pure. Speaking out in a closed minded nation can often mean trouble. In extreme circumstances (well normal circumstances nowadays) it can mean death. So if you have something on your mind don’t be all civil and write, blog or even verbally state your thoughts… chances are you’ll be digging your own grave. If you insist, take action! Or stay put.

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# 3 – Democracy equals Immy Bhai (yes another political point)

Lord help the Pakistani nation if Imran Khan does not make it as the next Prime Minister. A country obsessed with politics, conspiracy theories are abound. If it isn’t the bogey man trying to ruin our women it’s two, not one, invisible hands that are out to ensure that someone like Imran Khan does not make it.

But short of Bane we’re not sure who else might be involved.

See here’s the thing. While our young enlightened ones are all gung-ho about democracy and human rights and whatnot, criticise Immy Bhai and behind those shiny, happy faces are jaws lined with three rows of fangs! So next time you engage in anything political just remember two things: democracy and Imran Khan. That way you’ll be sure to get an invite to the next social party.

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# 4 – Blasts!

Sadly we’re not talking happy times here. There was once a time in Pakistan when one could say “hey have a blast!” implying that the person goes out and has a jolly good time. This often involved meeting friends, listening to music, eating, dancing, singing or whatever made them feel good. However! Now having a blast means experiencing, hearing or even supporting the dreaded bombs. A nation that has been tore apart and shred to pieces by bomb blasts and suicide bombings means that almost every person’s life has been affected negatively in one way or another. Mentally, the effects are long lasting. Literally, the word “blast” can no longer be heard except on the news. So no more “blast” wishes.

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# 5 – New slogans

“Roti, kapra, makaan”. Yes another political point. Who doesn’t know this slogan? Zulfikar Ali Bhutto coined this slogan way back in his hey-day and it rings true to this day. Except given the current socio-political environment, new slogans have emerged. One would assume that given the extreme disparity in Pakistan, different slogans would apply to different socio-economic classes in Pakistan but we assure you, this time round the entire nation is screaming for two things only – “Gas aur bijli!” But what became of roti, kapra, makaan?

Well while Bhutto hit the nail on the head he forgot that it all boils down to “Gas aur bijli!”

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Categories: The World I Know

Author:Mehr F Husain

Mehr F Husain was Features Editor of The Friday Times. She lives out of a suitcase.

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One Comment on “When in Pakistan”

  1. February 23, 2012 at 11:39 am #

    You are wrong. The correct expression is, “When in Rome, do as the Romanians do.”

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