The election will be upon us soon.
But I thought I’d chime in again on some foreign news, and weigh in, as I usually do on the current events in Pakistan. Since the space between my blog posts is rather large, I think I’ll explain again the reason why this is relavant.
Pakistan borders, Afghanistan, Iran and India. U.S. intelligence indicates Osama Bin Laden may be in either Pakistan or Afghanistan, and has been conducting Cambodia/Laos-style bombing campaigns in Pakistan, reminiscent of the Vietnam war (Vietnam, in this case being Afghanistan).
Hopefully that put things in some perspective in one sentence.
Recently the Marriott hotel was bombed and burned to the ground in Islamabad, Pakistan.
Big deal? Isn’t this the middle-east, aren’t suicide bombings as commonplace as the drive-by-shootings in Los Angeles?
To answer those questions. Yes and No.
This is not the middle-east, this is a country with strong cultural and ethnic ties with India, so they’re not Arabs. Middle-east is an area that encompasses mostly Arab countries. Islamabad was one of the safest cities of South Asia. This is a city inhabited mostly by diplomats and by the educated elite of Pakistan. Most of the Pakistanis send their children to Internationally accredited American or UK-based schools there. English is more widely spoken there than Urdu. Women, whether they are non-Pakistani, Muslim, or not, are not covered like ninjas are not required to wear head-scarves. Women drive on the streets, women run businesses, corporations here. On occasion, some Pakistani girls even wear shorts or dresses in public here. This is not a new or recent thing. People didn’t all of a sudden just wake up and decide to “become western”. It has been a part of this democratic country for a while. My parents grew up listening to the Beatles and The Stones, going to parties in their days. The fanaticism is the anomoly. It is very recent. I will explain later.
Most of the press is describing the causes of the bombing of the Marriott hotel as an attack against Western values, etc.
As long as I have been alive, the Marriott has been in Islamabad. 90% of my relatives, and I believe most of the residents of Islamabad view the Marriott as a Pakistani landmark in Islamabad. Since I was a toddler, visiting my grandparents during my summer breaks, I remember countless weddings and receptions we attended there. Pakistani rock bands (yes, they have rock bands in Pakistan) played concerts in the Marriott. Local artists and craftspeople held exhibitions there. All Pakistanis mourn the bombing of the Marriott. I can’t compare it to 9/11, since the loss of life was not that great. But this has been a terrible blow to all Pakistanis, especially the residents of Islamabad. This is where all the kids hung out, even went on dates, had New Years’ parties.
Contrary to the media, the country is not full of fanatics and Taleban. These are foreign elements that have infiltrated and are attacking. People living in Pakistan know this, but they are powerless.
I guess this is my eulogy to a city I once loved because things can never go back or be the same again. Too many people have memories lost. Life will change their now, people will be afraid to go out or do anything. The terrorists have won, and will continue to win, as long as the US continues their fractured foreign policies of dissension and torment and oppression.
There was a point I was going to try and make. Something poetic, prophetic, or whathaveyou. But I just got caught up in the emotions remembering the Hotel, that I lost focus. Lost in memories. All I can think of is Leonard Cohen’s song Chelsea Hotel, for some reason….. I guess somehow his paradoxical dry-wit would actually sum up this absurd reality we are living in. Where jester is king…