Sunday, December 03, 2006

The Land of the Pure

Great column in Alien Panda's favourite newspaper on how you can get away with anything in Pakistan if you're rich and well connected and nothing if you're not.
The owner of Nirala Sweets is reported to have killed a six-month-old baby and injured the parents while racing his sports car (I am told he was driving a Porsche. Why people would keep Porsches and Hummers in this city is beyond me). He fled from the scene after performing the grand feat and is now reportedly threatening the parents with dire consequences to prevent them from pressing charges against him.

Compare that to
About a week ago, I visited a jail where I met with about two-dozen juvenile inmates, all from poor families. Some might have been guilty, but most were there on charges that boys from affluent families would laugh about. An 11-year-old was under-trial for illicit sexual relations, a charge, which, even if true, should have half the population of Lahore and at least some percentage of the clergy behind bars. Some were being tried on the charge of loitering; some for possession of illegal arms; some on the charge of theft (amounts ranging from Rs1000 to 5000), some for possession of small quantities of cannabis (ask boys and girls at farmhouse parties about that!) and so on.

Since when is possession of cannabis a crime? I'm no "farmhouse" partier, but come on man. Hash is sold on the streets of Peshawar literally like chewing gum. In fact, I'd venture to suggest it's easier to get hash in Peshawar than imported chewing gum. Tell me I'm wrong.

By the way, the story of the guy driving an expensive car killing a baby rang a bell for me. I was racking my brains trying to figure out where I'd heard a story similar to it. Then it hit me: Mohsin Hamid's Moth Smoke, where the protagonist's rich friend runs over a kid in an expensive car (I think it was red) and then the middle class protagonist gets blamed for it and goes to jail (sorry if you were planning on reading it). The only difference is that in the book, the victim was a teenager whereas here it was a 6-month old baby. Pakistan: Where reality trumps fiction.

1 comment:

ayla said...

Sadly this is the reality in many other places too :O(