Damn Foreigners


I have to tell you that when I read Shireen Mazari’s column yesterday I almost fell out of my chair laughing. The only thing that kept me in my seat was my concern for her health – she really went off on a tirade! I found myself laughing again this morning for a related – though opposite – reason when I read Sami Shah’s piece in the Express Tribune. While I’m certain that the timing had to be coincidence, but Sami’s piece served as a brilliant (and hilarious) rebuttal to Shireen Mazari’s madness.

We’ll start with Miss Shireen. Apparently she was asked by a foreign journalist if she had a comment on a statement by the American Embassy. This, of course, set her hair on fire. Here’s a perfect example:

And if that was not enough to nail us evil “non-professional”, “biased” media people of Pakistan, then the final query as to why we publish pictures and identities of US personnel because we endanger their lives, it seems that the underlying objective here is to allow US personnel to go about their business, suspicious though it may be, totally unchecked. That cannot happen and if we see anyone doing something suspicious, it is our job to report it. After all, there have been countless stories of US and other foreign media persons breaking the law of the land by going to areas for which they have not had visas, and some of them posing as scholars (I myself fell victim along with the HEC, to this scam by an American “journalist” while at the Institute of Strategic Studies).

This is The Nation‘s major issue – foreigners in the country. Well, I should be more clear – Americans in the country. If the Taliban are here to blow up schools or attack GHQ, The Nation doesn’t really care. It’s those pesky ‘suspicious’ Americans that are ruining everything. I’ve always found this pretty strange, I have to tell you. I mean, when was the last time I saw some suspicious looking Americans walking around. I guess Shireen Mazari spends her time in different places than I do.

This is what made Sami Shah’s piece today so funny to me.

I am sick of foreigners in Karachi. The city is overcrowded as it is, without having to deal with the added stress of an influx of visitors. It’s getting quite ridiculous. Every time I turn around my path is blocked by more foreigners. American CIA death squads keep taking up all the tables at the local coffee shops and Israeli Mossad assassins are clogging up traffic as they commute across the city, returning to their hideouts after another day of black-ops killings.

And don’t even get me started on the RAW guys. Bank lines are twice as long because of all the checking accounts they are trying to open. I can’t get reservations at any restaurants unless I book a month in advance, all the tables are pre-booked by Men in Black Shalwaars. Heck, I think the reason why the bathroom in my office is always occupied is because it’s full of Indian spies trying to climb up into the ventilation shafts. It certainly explains the footprints on the pot.

I don’t care if it’s good for our economy. They may be spending foreign currency when they purchase those guns they use to kill religious minorities with, motorcycles to get away on and tires to set fire to as an act of protest against their own activities. But all it does for me is drive up local prices. The paan wala near my house won’t take anything less than blood-stained dollars and Indian rupees still slick with the saliva of the victim they were earlier used to choke. Sure, sure, it means an increase in tourism. The “Hunt Bin Laden” travel package is gaining in popularity, I understand that. Making it an exercise-heavy trekking holiday was an inspired idea, I admit. The trek through mountains and into ominous caves (bring your own night vision goggles and swords) has attracted the odd American seeking vengeance and calorie loss.

But now I have to deal with American tourists wearing fanny packs and carrying iPads equipped with English-Urdu translation applications stopping me all the time to ask me if I’ve seen any tall Arabs attached to dialysis machines. Do you have any idea how exhausting that gets?

Rehman Malik is the only other person who understands my suffering. Even he is sick of the free reign we have given these foreigners. He blames them for the recent spate of sectarian violence in Karachi (can you call it a “spate” if it is fairly constant? When does it officially go from “recent spate” to “constant state”?). It makes sense of course. Given how safe Pakistan is for foreigners, the fact that they would abuse our hospitality by killing Shias in Karachi is unsurprising. After all, how many RAW agents can you let into the country before you start wondering if they have more than Zainab market shopping and crabbing on their agenda?

I don’t blame Rehman Malik for coming to this obvious conclusion about foreigners being responsible for the murders. The alternative is to blame the same violent religious groups that have been threatening and killing Shias for the last two decades. And who would believe that? No, no. It must be foreigners.

I wonder if “the government has no control over the terrorists and is actually a bit frightened of doing anything against them since it would mean decreasing the size of our own security protocols” can be written in less than 140 characters? It’s probably why
@SenRehmanMalik hasn’t tweeted it yet.

To be fair to Rehman Malik though, his explanation is still less imaginative than Raza Rabbani’s. He claims the killings are part of “an organised conspiracy to make the country a market of multinational companies” (I wish I was making that up. I wish it so much.)

This is why I hate foreigners. They must be responsible for the killings. They have to be. The alternative is that it’s our own people doing it. And who wants to face up to that reality?

Okay, I’ll give you a minute to keep laughing. 🙂