Of Premiers, Horses and Men

I love my city! For all that makes it essentially Islamabad. The long winding roads, the lush greenery still persisiting despite the efforts of the various agencies to turn it into a twisting, growing network of tarmac and metal and there is no other place in the world that has that inherent peaceful air as right here.

But I admit to feeling a certain degree of alienation on certain days and those days are usually the ones when there are delegates or foreign dignitaries in town. All of a sudden, the roads from the airport to the secreteriat, to Faisal Mosque are decked out in flags, lights and banners. And Islamabad’s appearance undergoes that drastic change like a bride does before and after a visit at the parlour. Warm welcomes and political window dressing aside, I wonder how much truth there is to the statement that my fair ciry, the capital of a state lies actual miles away from the actual country. Where I am all for the capital representing a proud, dignified fair face to the world, there is such a thing as going overboard. For all intents and purposes, Islamabad is the capital of a developing 3rd World country with a budget deficit, international liabilities where the majority of the population lives under the umbrella of ballooning inflation and sweating under the strain of making ends meet which is tough because of the burgeoning population, lack of medical and health care facilites, education and social infrastructure; an impoverished country of 160 million people where the government constantly seeks foreign investment and aid to help boost its infrastructure and industry demands, as well as expand much-needed energy sources.

In that regard, I don’t understand how all this helps. What is the point of spending hundreds of thousands of rupees to make horses dance to the beat of dhols along with their masters, having people lining up the boulevards because they can’t get past the barrages of security and police guards that block the major roads of the city to allow the premier a smooth, unblocked passage, and having university students and what nots skip classes to welcome an entity that will not even see them through the tinted, bullet proof windows of the millions of dollars worth of mercedes that will be taking them to thier destination of the Presidency or Prime Minister house.

Although the Chinese premier is here to sign a raft of economic deals on Friday aimed at expanding a burgeoning bilateral trade that grew 39 percent last year to $4.26 billion including a free trade deal with Pakistan that will more than triple bilateral trade to $15 billion in five years; you’d think Islamabad is a prospective bride’s family that have caked layers of foundation on the bride’s face to ensure she remains ‘gori’ and waiting to welcome a particularly fussy groom and his wedding procession. Just how fair it that? So many Pakistanis don’t identify with Islamabad as the capital of their country and somehow, I don’t think all this fanfare is going to help make that connection.

4 Comments so far

  1. A for apple (unregistered) on November 24th, 2006 @ 10:25 am

    Very true … Just stand for few minutes at constitution avenue and you start feeling depressed … IS this the image of Pakistan we want to show every foreigner … with millions of people still living in this country are deprived of basic food and living necessities… yet the HUGE amounts spent in such useless show off is heart breaking … Mughals are long gone but NO WE ARE HERE we’ll build another Shahi Qilla (PM Sect.) on this avenue … !

    Poor people who had to suffer from long waits with roads blocked … with major official activity of the city in this area (F-5, G-5) … roads are blocked off … buildings are searched and what not … Wait till Hu Jintao is here and until someone else arrives …!

    Long Live our Show Off Culture … and Begging trends …!

  2. 1967 (unregistered) on November 24th, 2006 @ 9:45 am

    I was 30 mins late to office this morning due to road blocks by the police because the presidents were here at Marriot. There were a few sights of angry people falling out with policemen. But do not blame these folks only. I think it’s the overall environment and the polictical situation of this region that dictates the rules of engagement.

    But we do have societies in the world where premiers mix with public and people, whether they agree or disagree with their policies welcome them all, not over here I suppose where most of the folks are handicapped by their insecurities, and false egos. But then over here “insecurity” is a affaire générale with the most.

  3. 1967 (unregistered) on November 24th, 2006 @ 11:21 am

    Well, poor people have to suffer always. Consider the status of our economy, most economist I know say that it is getting over heated. An average Joe in Pakistan is worse off than he was a few years back, because there have not been sufficent imporvements in health and public education sector. Inflation is an all time high creeping into double figures. Prices of common food consumables like milk, bread, vegetables has trippled in three years. Although petrol prices have reduced in foriegn markets..government here has not done anything about it…Just bringing hundreds of TV channels, Mobile phones, and motorcycle manufacturers would not solve problems of 90% Pakistanis. And on top of it, we have to stand in a line, to watch the convoy of our “masters” pass by?

    Ofcourse only the top few percents are benefiting from all this, they are whiping off all the cream from the cake while the rest suffer.

    We have to look at better examples, Germany rose from the ashes of world war 2 in 30 years, Japan psotioned itself as a world leader after facing the wrath of an N Bomb. What have we endured that it has become so diffcult for us to solve our problems?

  4. Phil (unregistered) on November 24th, 2006 @ 8:22 pm

    Islamabad – the prodigal child of Pakistan, ready to wed any new suitor at a moments notice. LOL, nice post. Very very notty allusion ;)

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