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A is for Abbotabad or should I say Abat ta Bad…

9 Jun

In 65 years of Pakistan’s History Abbotabad did what Karachi, Islamabad and Lahore couldn’t do for our country. People in America might know nothing about Pakistan other then the fact that “Abbotabad is In Pakistan”. Most of the Americans I met during my 5 weeks training dint know the geography of Pakistan what to talk of Pakistanis. They would ask me, Is Pakistan flat,does it has mountains, is it close to sea and so on.

Americans as a nation are considered to be curious and their curiosity in knowing about Abbotabad must have broken records if there was a curiosity measuring meter.

During my recent visit to USA for Journalism Training, I was asked the following questions

B: So how far do you live from Abat ta Bad?

Me: Well, I live In Karachi which is in south and abbotabad…

B: What, how did you pronounce taaaaa

Me: yea its pronounced Abbotabad not Abat ta Bad and its in north of Pakistan very far from where I live

B: What kind of a place it is, does it have mountains?

Me: Yes it is a very beautiful mountainous region of Pakistan.

B: Have you ever been to Abat ta bad?

Me: Yes I have and I have stayed there for 3 days.

B: Is it is a very affluent area with mansions n Barbed wires

Me: Clueless…sometimes I just gave up But I answered these questions almost everyday when I met someone new.

Dictionary meaning for Mansions needs to be re written for both Americans and Pakistanis after Bin Laden episode. By “Mansion” most Americans get the idea of a palace and barbed wires would mean extremely secure area. What they don’t know is mansions like Bin Ladin with barbed wires are common in Pakistan especially in conservative northern region. But how can  American people or American Media  know because finding out how the weather is going to be tomorrow and should he or she take his umbrella seems to be far more important issues than knowing the theory of barbed wires and mansions in Pakistan.

Before my visit, I had an idea from my various American Return Friends that America is not well known for its general knowledge but I thought things might have changed after Pakistan and America being called allies on the war on terror and that somewhat 30,000 people in Pakistan have died in Pakistan fighting this war in addition to 3000 who died during the 9/11 attacks

Irony isn’t it !!!


Meeting a Tribal

7 Jun

Have you ever met someone from the tribal areas of Pakistan? I am sure most of us haven’t, isn’t it ironic that we talk about tribal areas in Pakistan all time, blame them for being backward and fundamentalists for promoting extremism without actually having to know them. I don’t know about you guys but I used to be like this until I met T.

 T was one the journalist who was part of the USA-Pakistan Journalism Exchange Program with me. He works for development of radio station and belongs to Khyber agency of FATA region in Pakistan. He is light skinned and tall guy who looks nothing like a typical image I had of tribal people in Pakistan. He would crack jokes and make us laugh all the time. T can converse very well in English, not only that I found him to be one of the  most confident and relevant journalists amongst all of us.

Even though he had some annoying habits such as always coming late and questioning waitress about why isn’t Pepsi common in America like it is in Pakistan, but for most of it T opened my eyes about “Tribal Pakistan”.

At one of the de-briefing at Department of State T told everybody that he has pictures of people getting beheaded for only offering cup of tea or glass of water to FC. He further said that Drone Attacks take place in his areas and kill innocent people as Taliban would come to any house and ask for food and tea, locals can’t dare to refuse Taliban as they are strong.

T said he was happy that Bin Laden was not found in tribal area because for years his people were blamed for sheltering terrorism but the truth was something else. T claimed that tribals are not the only ones responsible for the present state we are in. T further added that tribals are not embraced in Pakistan; they are looked down upon and disgraced as fundamentalists.

T said “Nobody really cares about tribal Pakistan”

I wouldn’t talk for anybody but myself and I agree with T. Thanks for changing my perception 🙂