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Friday, November 8, 2013

Islamabad innit!!!!!

Islamabad more popularly known by the locals as Isloo, is the national capital of Pakistan. Located about a four drive north of Lahore, Islamabad along with its neighboring twin city of Rawalpindi form Pakistan's fourth largest city. The twin cities as the locals like to call it, for a new visitor if it were not for the sign boards it would be very hard to tell when one Islamabad ends and when Rawalpindi begins. Both cities are quite different from one another one, Rawalpindi is an old pre-partition era urban center, which since partition has been home to the Pakistan armed forces and before partition it served a HQ for the British Indian army, the locals are proud to hail from Pindi, while people from Islamabad are even prouder of their city. Islamabad is a purpose built well planned city commissioned by the then president of Pakistan Ayub Khan to serve as the future capital of the nation. At the time the nation's largest city Karachi had served as the capital of the newly formed nation since its inception in 1947.

My recent trip to Islamabad carried with it a lot of excitement, as though I was not a first timer to Islamabad I had never gotten the opportunity to actually explore the city and its laid back vibe. My previous trip in 2010 to the twin cities featured a wedding in Rawalpindi which did not leave time for exploring Isloo, and the trips before that were either express visa trips into the diplomatic enclave or transit stops for journey onto hill stations like Muree, Bhurban or Nathiagali.  I can not even describe how excited I was to explore our nation's capital and the best part about it was going to be that for the duration of my stay, I would not have to worry about the state of safety and security which is a natural cause of concern for all those who hail from the city by the sea Karachi, which has a ridiculously high crime rate.

I am usually not the one to believe in the envious eye but my trip to Islamabad did not exactly kick off to such a great start. To get to Islamabad I hopped on the afternoon Daewoo Bus Service from Lahore to Rawalpindi (which is where the Daewoo stop is)  and half way through shortly after the mid point rest stop, the engine fan caught fire and our bus had to make an emergency stop around Kalar Kahar near the Salt Ranges of the Punjab province. We got on a replacement bus an hour or so later and made our way to the twin cities. I arrived in the twin cities a few hours but just in time for dinner. We had dinner reservations at this lovely outdoor-ish Italian restaurant by the name of Tuscany Courtyard, which as the name suggests had a nice spacious courtyard. The food was absolutely brilliant and worth every penny, considering we had a 4 course meal for 2K pp, so all in all good value for money. It wasn't long before we spotted our first parliamentarian. As we stepped out, speaker National Assembly Ayaz Sadiq walked in with his family and surprisingly no security escorts, maybe its just a surprising thing for us Karachi City folks to see politicians with security left right and center.

Then began the touristy trail the following morning, I had already made a list of To Do Things and Must visit Places in Islamabad for my short trip. Due to the constraint length of the whole trip, I did not get the opportunity to visit Saidpur Village or the new Centauras shopping mall. We started Saturday with a visit to Lake View park located alongside  Rawal lake. The picturesque lake side park is not only a vast spread of green but also features a bird park for bird brains and bird lovers, paddle boating, hiking trails as well as a Go Karting for the the adrenaline junkies. All that fresh air was intoxicating.

Followed by Lake View park, we made our way to Shakarpariyan and the Pakistan monument, the latter being a monument made during the era of president Parvez Musharaf. The stunning monument in its impressive pillars carry equally impressive carving which are a reflection and testimony to national symbols and national pride. The impressive compound of the monument also offers spectacular views of the city, by far this has been my favorite stop in Islamabad. A quick lunch later, we proceeded to visit Serena hotel, which is by far the most luxurious and priciest of fancy hotels in Pakistan and a popular choice for foreigners as well as they can commonly be spotted around the hotel premises, in any case all over Islamabad foreigners can be easily spotted, be it convenient stores or luxury hotels. Something we Karachi folk don't get to see much off.

After a short rest, we proceeded towards the magnificent Shah Faisal Mosque which is not only a symbol of Islamabad but also one of the architectural symbols of modern Pakistan. With its enormous courtyard and massive worship capacity, it is easily among the largest mosques in the world this combined with its stunning and mesmerising modern architecture. As dusk kicked in, we proceeded to a popular Islamabad hang out among the youths of the city 'Chaye Khana'. Initially I was curious what the big hype was, why was it Islamabad's popular to go place, once there, felt like home, felt like I was in just the right kind of cafe. Definitely worth a visit on a trip to Islamabad, and they do pretty decent Peshwari Kahva and Doodh Pati. For dinner time in Islamabad, Monal located on top of the hills is a Must Visit for not only spectacular scenic views of Islamabad but also for its incredible Pakistani food. Unfortunately time constraints I could not get the opportunity to visit this restaurant during day hours and had to settle for illuminated night light night time views, which though not as breath taking as they would be during the day are still fairly impressive. Good food, good company and a good view, best of all peace of mind and safety.

As my trip came to its conclusion I wondered when I would be back in our beautiful and stunning national capital. I am not certain whether it will happen any time soon, but I do hope to return, finish my tourist trail and spoil myself with all that fresh air, for the time being I am going to see where my travels take me next.

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

The Self Hating Pakistanis among us, who are they ?

The word 'Self Hating Pakistani' has been on the air online recently on social media, some attribute me as having come up with it, but I am pretty certain I am definitely not the first person to propose this idea or expression that their exist among us many Self Hating Pakistani's. Those who think I came up with the concept or the word 'Self Hating Pakistani' i was rather asked to clarify and elaborate on what it means, so I figured out why not throw in a quick blog to elaborate a little bit on this. I am still debating in the process of this blog, should I go about highlighting in bullet points the attributes of the so called self hating Pakistani's or behaviors that they display publicly, or should I just simply define who or what is a self hating Pakistani?

Let's begin with how do we define a 'self hating Pakistani', there are many definitions, some call even today's so called liberals of Pakistani society also liberals, but in simple lay man's terms a self hating Pakistani is simply one who not only does not feel a sense of pride in their national identity, but feels a sense of repulsion towards their country and its symbols of nationalism. At the same time they do not waste any time in attacking or criticizing their country. However we must not end defining this expression at this subtle definition, to elaborate we must list out some traits, attributes and publicly displayed behaviors by such people to get a clearer idea of who a self hating Pakistani.

Let's start with Pakistan's liberal intellectual lot that one finds among the urban middle classes in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. I am not going to say all of them, but a fair few of them are very cynical, I am guessing some of them have even grown up to reading NFP's Smoker's corner, and they consider it their national duty or God given national right to criticize their country arguing 'they criticize because they care'. Sure it's one thing to let's say for example criticize and rightfully bash your country for failing to protect it's minorities, it is another to label your country as one that is some demonic being hell bent on bringing misery and pain on its citizens. A lot of off on the ground movement and social media movement by the so called liberals has kind of reflected the 'our state is a monster' vibe.

My personal favorite among the self hating Pakistani lot are those still attached to their distant ancestral homelands that are not a part of this country and have failed in fully adopting and embracing their identity as Pakistani's even after generations of migration. To identify them is fairly simple, watch and observe their apathy and silence towards insults thrown at Pakistan and keep rambling about the land of their ancestors, along with the culture and traditions of those lands that lie in a foreign country now. It was that very foreign country their fore fathers left over 6 decades ago, yet they also associate themselves with the immigrant stamp card. It requires just common sense to know you are not a immigrant after three or so generations. You will also hear them make remarks by that this country is not theirs, it got hi jacked by others, even though in reality their ancestors made this country. You  will also hear them make derogatory remarks about other communities found in the country through their delusional sense of cultural superiority.

There are also those who only see Pakistan and its status quo through the eyes and ears of their political associations or political parties they associate themselves with. The resentment and and lack of attachment towards the Pakistani state and establishment usually comes from Left Wing or secularist Political parties that do not advocate nationalism, nationalism doesn't necessarily have to be tool of the right wing, even the left can say Pakistan first. In countries where people are loyal to their land, regardless of their left or right political orientation, when it comes to nationalism there is compromise. Such individuals with associations with left wing parties are also very strongly critical and resentful of the armed forces, its not rocket science to know what hatred for ones own defense force does not only to the morale of the soldiers but also to national unity and cohesion.

Then there are simpler defining characteristics of self hating Pakistani's, they include those who have lived abroad at some point or the other or have gotten some exposure to what life might be on the other side, seeing grass as greener on the other side, and are continuously in this aspiration of running away, you might even hear them  say something like 'Pakistan se Zinda Bhaag' while laughing. Other examples include those idiot bafoons who can't keep their mouth shut at a cricket match. Colours Green and White and support for our national cricket team is a small part of Pakistani nationalism, a self hating Pakistani would celebrate on watching their national team's defeat especially at the hands of those rich fat cat arch rivals across the border. They will atleast show a fair deal of apathy at the hands of defeat and maybe even mock those who feel a sense of frustration at watching their national team taste defeat. Speaking of the big bully next door, some of your self hating Pakistani lot has had exposure or experience of interaction with those from across the border and would go to any lengths to develop or adhere to opinions that are politically correct or those meeting approval of those next door.

 I would also classify those as Self Hating Pakistani's who have a disliking for their fellow Pakistani's because of their ethnicity, cultural back ground or even their adopted way of life or even their outlook on life. Mocking of diversity which makes any society beautiful is a recipe for breakdown of harmony. Believe it or not it is actually very fashionable among many Pakistani's to stereo type other communities from an orientalist style perspective, if you ask me it is pretty distasteful. This includes showing apathy or even joy at the misery off one at the expense off the other. You also know you have a Self hating Pakistani around you, when they would blindly without keeping an open mind just outrightly label anything that touches on nationalism or patriotism as propaganda.

Lets throw in one more catagory to the label of self hating Pakistanis, those Pakistani's who have lived overseas on relatively greener pastures. For them moving back to Pakistan is an extremely difficult choice one that they would only make when their forced against their will. In their case I am not sure if its the creature comforts of life in a developed world that makes them fall in love with these greener pastures, the ability of fully exercise their individuality or the illussion of freedom? In the case of the latter it usually applies to those who have spent university years abroad and have not fully experienced the perils of the rat race working life abroad, even as off now I know off university students abroad who are terrified of returning home as days come to an end. Or they really jusy think its cool to say hey man I live in London or New York or California?

So how many self hating Pakistani's do u know ? Well I have managed to list or jot down a few things from the top of my head, others who might come up with alternative attributes of self hating Pakistani's, feel free to jot them down in the comments.