Friday, May 07, 2010

America Seduces Pakistan - And I Have Front Row Seats

I have spent the last week and a half as a guest of the U.S. Department of State participating in an International Visitor Leadership Program titled The Administration of Justice, A Project for Pakistan.

The program is aimed at giving Pakistani legal professionals with an insight into the American legal and political system; in this regard we will be meeting government officials, judges, members of think tanks, as well as ordinary Americans. My fellow participants on the program are:
S. Ahmad, Assistant District Public Prosecutor, Punjab
M. Ahmad, Assistant Commissioner and Sub-District Magistrate, Swat
G. Bari, Assistant Prosecutor General, Punjab
R. Khan, Lawyer, Lahore
M. Lakhani, Lawyer, Karachi
I. Rehmani, Lawyer, Bahawalpur

As you can see, it’s a diverse group of Pakistanis who have never met each other, and who might not get a chance to meet one another back in Pakistan, so as much as this is a program centred on finding more out about the U.S., it helps me in finding a bit more about Pakistan.

I had hoped to write a daily blog but that boat sailed away a long time ago so I’m going to do the next best thing and write about the highlights of the trip. Number one on the list, by virtue of it being the first thing I experienced upon landing, was the protocol.

Man, protocol rocks! I can totally understand why Pakistanis love getting public servants to come to airports holding a cardboard sign with their names on it. And no, protocol has nothing to do with saving time while demeaning the respect of those public servants and their offices, or about being able to smuggle in goods (i.e. booze); the real prize is that such display of power allows you to look down on other people, laugh at their misery and generally feel superior. Needless to say I'm feeling pretty superior right now after all how many Pakistanis are received by a protocol officer an officer from the Pakistan Desk at the State Department when they land at an American airport (that too at 6 a.m.) and get escorted through customs. 20 minutes, that's how long it took for me to leave the airport. If you 're one of those people who thinks that this American administration is not serious about improving its ties with Pakistan, think again.

Disclaimer: Perhaps, I exaggerate. The presence of State Department officials wasn't the sole reason for me getting through security so quickly. Being on the first plane of the day helped big time and travelers to the U.S. should take note and get a flight that comes in early in the day.


Ahsan said...

AKS, I hate you.

Smci said...

If you're in DC, make sure you swing by South East.

There's an excursion I'm sure the program wasn't planning on taking.

It'll teach you volumes about America.

And mind you, it's the capitol of the most powerful nation on Earth.

Smci said...

Seriously, if you guys ARE in DC and the program permits, and any of you guys are homesick, I hear a few pharmaceutical companies are hosting the "Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent in North America" (APPNA) at a "Qawwali Night" with Amjad Sabri.

You may laugh, but last I was told the event is overbooked. Those doctors love them Qawwalis.

As far as I know APPNA is the most prominent Pakistani organization in the US. (Maybe Ahsan can back me up on that?) So you can get a peek at the wackiness that is the Pakistani-American community.

Naqiya said...

aks you fool! can you please call or email me your damn number?? i need to make taiyaris for your arrival to nyc!

also, you say "highlights of the trip" but theres only this tiny tidbit about the airport. wheres the rest!

Naqiya said...

@ ahsan - the !! are all for you!

Anonymous said...

@AHSAN, please elaborate!!

AKS said...


We were DC for a week and we were explicitly told not to venture below 14th Street. Invariably, me and Lakhani (the 2 Karachiites) ended up there one night with our State Dept. chaperon and gawked as a man was arrested. This was not the smartest thing to do as I was asked by an area resident (teenagers on tiny bmx) what we were doing standing there, and if this was a bloody show. I pointed to the old white man accompanying us and told them I was waiting for him.

Jafri said...

Ahsan did you get a chance to discuss the Dr. Afia case and the "due" justice dispensed to her?
I would really like to know.

AKS said...


Ahsan wishes he was as cool as me and got to ask about Dr. Afia. And no I did not ask about Dr. Afia because due justice was delivered to her. Both my khalas live in the United States, they are highly educated and plenty religious, they've never felt the need to transport themselves and their kids to Afghanistan - wanna be terrorists go to Afghanistan, normal people don't.

I did ask a State Dept lawyer about the legality of drone attacks and got a no comment response.

Amna Zaman said...

USA has warned Pakistan to step up the heat on militants or we will be facing major problems. The worst might just come god forbid due to these crazy Taliban who try to kill people all over the world.