April 18, 2010
IN ALL the countries that I have travelled to to perform stand-up comedy – the US being a regular destination – I have never been held up or interrogated at customs. Or I hadn’t, until I arrived in Pakistan.
I spent six hours at Lahore customs, as I did not have a visa in my British passport to enter the country. The people who organised my gig had mistakenly assumed that because my parents were born in Pakistan and I, too, am brown, they would automatically let me in.
The customs officer asked: “Are you Pakistani?” Yes. “Where were you born?” England. “That makes you a foreigner.”
He looked through my passport, which is filled with US visas. He said: “Are you a spy?” No, I’m a stand-up comedian. “What’s that?” I tell jokes. “And will you be doing that in this country?” Yes. “Oh, is this the entertainment for the Taliban?” he asked, quite seriously. No, I replied. Continue reading
This is the most interesting documentary on Pakistan’s First Military Ruler and his government. I saw some of it a few months ago but after watching the second part, I feel this ought to be shared with people on PTH for comment and discussion.
By Ali Ismail by WSWS
9 December 2009
A new report commissioned by the British Council reveals widespread dissatisfaction and frustration among Pakistani youth. Based on interviews with 1,500 18-29 year-olds from across Pakistan, the report also sheds light on the bleak socio-economic prospects facing the vast majority of young people due to unemployment and underemployment and the lack of basic public services, including quality schooling.
The report warns that unless Pakistan drastically increases access to education and creates millions of new jobs for its young people, social and political upheavals are almost inevitable in coming years. Continue reading
I saw this film a while back but I decided to check it out again and was surprised by how close it came to admitting the truth about partition. Here is a sample.
By Nabiha Meher Shaikh
On my way to Pakistan for Easter break at the end of March, my watch (yes, my watch) got stopped at security. I took it off to put it in the scanner, and as I was gathering my things, I realised that it was not there. I panicked and looked at all the Bresis (British desis) around me suspiciously. When I asked the quite clearly Muslim, Brown Bresi (because they all look alike for some weird reason! I mean really. They do. I often see couples who could pass off as each other if they changed clothes, which is quite sick) where it was, he told me to get it from the main security desk. Continue reading
Our leaders are losing sleep over the Taliban’s advance and what that could spell for Britain
I would like to welcome Zahid Abdullah to Britain. He is a Pakistani student of English literature, rather than the snarling prose of the theocrats who threaten his country, and suffered the keenest blow a lover of books can take when he lost his sight. Undeterred, Abdullah divided his spare time between producing talking books for the blind and supporting the Centre for Peace and Development Initiatives, a pressure group that campaigns for the classic liberal causes of human rights, freedom of information and freedom from “barbaric acts of terrorism”. Continue reading
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CHEAT SHEET: After eight years of a White House that often seemed blinkered by the threats posed by Pakistan, the Obama administration seems to grasp the severity of the myriad crises affecting the South Asian state. The media has followed suit and increased its presence and reporting, a trend confirmed by CNN’s decision to set up a bureau in Islamabad last year. And yet, the uptick in coverage hasn’t necessarily clarified the who’s-doing-what-to-whom confusion in Pakistan. Some commentators continue to confuse the tribal areas with the North-West Frontier Province. And the word lashkars is used to describe all kinds of otherwise cross-purposed groups, some fighting the Taliban, some fighting India, and some fighting Shiites. I admit, it’s not easy. I lived in Pakistan throughout all of 2006 and 2007 and only came to understand, say, the tribal breakdown in South Waziristan during my final days. So to save you the trouble of having to live in Pakistan for two years to differentiate between the Wazirs and the Mehsuds, the Frontier Corps and the Rangers, I’ve written an “idiot’s guide” that will hopefully clear some things up. Continue reading