Articles of the year 2006

Back to Earth
Published on January 25th, 2006

The newspapers of late have been full of the handling (mis) of our Pakistani members of the delegation accompanying PM Shaukat Aziz on his trip to Washington. It surely must have been a rude awakening for the Peoples representatives, that they were not accorded the superstatus, of lording it over the regular citizens ( read you and me) and were frisked by the Security personnel on arrival at the Washington airport. This incident has been brought to the notice of the National assembly, and of the Senate. It has even been made the subject of some editorials. I don't understand what the fuss is about. Was the Pakistani flag burned or trampled on? Are the members of the delegation to be treated as beings of a superior race, and to be exempt from and above the US laws? We know that they behave in Pakistan as if they are above the law, and if we see them being brought down to earth, even if it was in the US, we are comforted by that knowledge.

If it is of any comfort to our team members, Dr Mahatir on an official trip in the special Government of Malaysia's plane was asked to remove his belt, while still on board, he complied without fuss His international standing then and now is probably greater than that of the combined team of the PM's delegation. He stated at that time that he would never again visit the US. I wonder how many of the delegates feel strongly enough to make such a statement, and forego their visas for the US.

The surprise is the indignation of the Pakistani press and the fury with which they have chosen to attack. These are the same political figures that are held up to constant ridicule by the journalists, with considerable justification, so the anger is somehow misplaced. The media is doing a tremendous job in exposing the weaknesses of all sectors of our society, and has succeeded in the Supreme court of Pakistan taking Suo Moto action in quite a few instances. In itself this is a responsibility that has been shouldered by the Media effectively, and honestly. To now take up cudgels on behalf of a number of freeloaders out on a shopping spree at our expense does not make any sense. Especially when these lawmakers behave despicably both within the country and without. Their loutish behaviour has been repeatedly written up, but to no avail. They continue as if the law is there to be flouted, with impunity. So if they do get searched on arrival in the US, I say why not. We normal citizens of Pakistan have to put up with these indignities on a regular basis, all over the world, without any recourse to a complaint cell or procedure. When these matters are brought to the attention of our law makers they choose to ignore the complaints pretending to be engrossed in other more important matters of state. Now that they are being given a taste of what it feels like to be a normal traveling Pakistani, they are screaming foul. Perhaps they should take the staff of the Foreign office, and send them to various countries to see for themselves the contempt that we Pakistanis are treated with. This would be an opportune moment to overhaul the Foreign office functionaries, and to try and salvage some of our Pakistani pride which seems to be at a discount in most places. In fact when complaints are made the reply is pat--- "then don't go there." If this advice is given to our Washington returnees by any of the Foreign office representatives, he will be looking at a quick posting to Ladakh, or Lhasa..

It is time that action on behalf of us normal citizens should be taken, and we the vocal minority should try and assert ourselves for the silent majority that suffers humiliation on a regular basis in foreign lands, at great emotional cost, and do manage to keep our Nation afloat. Without their valuable contributions to our National exchequer, we would have gone down many years ago, not to mention having to forego the Bullet proof Mercs on order for our lawmakers. It is for these long suffering workers that I would suggest that a special cell be created in our Embassies for their protection, and to listen to their woes. With the proviso, that if a worker complains about a particular officer he must be transferred out forthwith. I wonder what happened to the Embassy worker who thrashed an expat in the Oslo Embassy just before the President's Oslo visit?