Things are never as bad as they seem. The reason I say it was that even I was a little swayed by the news of regular bomb blasts and suicide attacks in Pakistan - from the northwest to Lahore, from Karachi to Islamabad. I started to wonder whether it was all blood and mayhem. I wondered whether I should have just stayed put.
Unfortunately all that BBC or CNN ever blast about Pakistan is the blasts. They never run any other story. As if all that is going on in the country is people blowing themselves up. This is the 6th most populous country in the world. Surely there is something to talk about. But nooooo. We have an agenda. We are fighting the War on Terror. And Pakistan is not cooperating. All terrorists are coming out of Pakistan. Lookit, lookit.
Luckily, things did not seem so bad as they really are. Suicide bombers were not running amok in Islamabad neither in Karachi. Things were as they have been.
What was a little different was the scheduled power cuts even in the commercial areas. So, I would be there shopping and suddenly the persistent and annoying humming of the generators would start, plunging my senses back into the familiar chaotic noise of downtown Monrovia. Pretty much every restaurant and shop has a generator as a back up. Every house also has a generator or a UPS. Life goes on and people work their ways around obstacles.
Apparently, the state owes $ 2 bn in unpaid electricity bills! I guess that explains a lot.
Unbelievable as it may seem to the Western media opinion-makers, there is a lot going on in the Land of the Pure.
Now that I have blasted enough at the Western media opinion-makers, I was rather unimpressed with the quality of the Pakistani television media. The news channels were taking the same page out of CNN or BBC. It was all mayhem and blood and gore. It was all corrupt politicians. It was all shouting experts shouting at each other on those expert panels dishing out their wisdom on what's exactly going on.
There was this one panel hosted by this buxom lady who talked more than her guests. At the particular time I was watching the programme - trying hard to figure out what was going on - there were 3 other women guest panelists who between them and this lady hostess were just going on and on. The 4th panelist was a shy man who got so fed up said, 'why did you invite me to this panel if you don't even let me talk?' That was funny.
For sure, no one can really say what's going on in the Land of the Pure. Anyone's guess or analysis is as good as yours or mine. But geez, that does not mean objective and a stab-at-intelligent analysis should go out the window. All it seemed to be was highly sensationalised reporting. Like how that CNN does it.
What I was pleased about was that the comedy was as good as ever. And I mean satirical political and social analysis. I watched a bit of that "Four Man Show" and "Hum Sab Umeed Sey Hain." It was hilarious and biting as ever.
Oh and lastly, how can I forget? BB was plastered everywhere. Propaganda clips were on the TV all the friggin' time. Her face was plastered along with Jinnah and Zardari and what's-his-name Prime Minister everywhere. It was ridiculous. She has been made into a cult figure. They EVEN changed the name of Islamabad Airport. That annoyed the hell out of me.
Conclusion: Things aren't bad as they seem. Actually, they are. But please put a better spin on it? The real truth is that things are bad as they seem for the poor and the wretched. They always suffer the most when things get bad. It's true in any part of the world.
Note: The pics up there are of the famous Najam Sethi being hilariously parodied on The Four Man Show.