Articles of the year 2005

No Loiterers
Published on October, 27th 2005

I have just returned from a five day trip to Nanjing at the invitation of the Chinese Olympic Association to witness the closing of the National Games of China.. And what an incredible experience it has been. The warmth of the Chinese people was extremely welcome, probably--- no, definitely the only country in the world where we are genuinely welcomed.. This welcoming stops the minute the plane lands at Bangkok airport and you have to change a booking, an impossibility, only slightly less difficult than getting a transit visa into a country that hosts all manner of visitors and offers the most bizarre entertainments, but Pakistani Passport in transit --- no way. The natural friendliness and cordiality of the Thai vanishes on viewing the green passport now machine readable, but it does not get you in anywhere. Why has our country slid to the bottom of the heap in spite of the claims of our Government.? Will our Foreign office not assert itself for making travel a little easier for the non khepia? Will our President please send some senior staff of the FO to various Embassies with a normal green passport applying for a visa as a regular citizen. I have just been told an incredible story. Some Indian and Pakistani workers were arrested in Singapore for illegal entry. They were summarily sentenced to be publicly whipped. Our Pakistanis were duly whipped in front of a hostile crowd. The Indian High Commissioner called the Singapore Prime Minister—no less, and threatened that the Indian Aircraft Carrier was on its way to Singapore with its accompanying fleet if even one Indian was flogged. The Singaporeans backed down immediately. The moral here is, the President should make it clear that it is these same expat workers who are remitting over 4 Billion $ a year, every year thus keeping Pakistan afloat, and paying the salaries of the three piece suiters! They are the ones who have dug deep into their pockets for the earthquake victims. It is time they were given the recognition and the respect they deserve, and the protection their machine readable passport entitles them to.

Coming back to the Chinese National Games. The closing ceremony was truly spectacular, and it clearly indicates that the 2008 Olympics will set a new standard of excellence. The traditional dance sequences, the music,the choreography made the previous actual Olympics look ordinary by comparison. The stadiums, and the city itself is being spruced up, to make it a truly memorable experience for the actual games. From the Sports side the Chinese are preparing themselves very thoroughly, and at the National Games 8 world records were broken, this has already sent a message to the rest of the Sporting world that the Chinese are now the contenders for the overall medal tally. They have set about with a determination to show the world that the Giant has awoken, and has a new pride shown by their venturing into space successfully, once the private preserve of the US and the Soviets.

wn by their venturing into space successfully, once the private preserve of the US and the Soviets. With this in mind, China is demonstrating itself to be a far more open society than one had earlier imagined, (or was it the western media spin).Nevertheless they are a happy and contented people, very hard working, and what one notices straight is that nobody loiters around. They look busy, and are busy, their entire industrial commercial activity is the result of this hard work. We in Pakistan are addicted to loitering. From the most important offices in the Secretariat to the Panwalla. You can spot the Pakistani indulging in his favourite pastime—loitering. Even something as mundane as a road digger at work is being observed by a group of loiterers. With nothing better to do. This is definitely a National pastime, and sets us apart from the industrious Chinese. Even while the Margalla tower rescue operation was underway hundreds of people stood around just watching. A truly sad sorry sight.