I have briefly mentioned the differences between the haves and have-nots in Pakistan in a previous post, but here are some photographs of what is called “The Afghani Colony.” As you can see, this is not how most people in the West live. These people have no electricity and only communal hand pumps to bring water up to homes. This ‘colony’ is on a main highway in Islamabad/Rawalpindi. If you look at the background in these photographs you can see high-rise buildings gleaming in the sunlight. These hovels have no glass in the windows and cow dung is left to dry on the walls so that it can be used for fuel in winter. Ironically, diagonally opposite this ‘colony’ is a Metro hypermarket where the ‘great and the good’ of the area shop.
I asked about the colony and why the people were not better housed. I was told that the people choose to live there and that they have constructed underground tunnels where contraband from Afghanistan and China is hidden. I leave it to you to decide whether or not this is true.
As you drive past this ‘colony’ you see cows, goats and even camels, with the people selling milk from these animals on the side of the road. There are also roosters and chickens strutting and pecking in the dirt.
The children who can be seen scavenging for recyclable materials often live in places like this, or in temporary camps under canvas if they are shining shoes in the tourist season in places such as Murree. There are no recycling facilities in or around Islamabad, but stall holders and shop keepers will buy bottles, jars, newspapers and magazines from the rubbish collectors. Why should the government encourage recycling facilities when there is a free army of young children doing the country’s recycling?!
The tandoor men who sell rotis and naan bread will pay for old newspaper which has been cut to a certain size. Their wares can be wrapped in it – and who cares if this is hygienic or not? Shopkeepers wrap sweets for children in newspaper, and of course in Britain we used to buy fish and chips wrapped in newspaper back in the 1960s.
In Rawalpindi there is a water plant, but the water has to be boiled even though it has gone through a purifying process. I hadn’t realized this and became very ill with dysentery not long after I returned to Pakistan from Thailand in 2009.
The ordinary people in Pakistan do not have a good life, and struggle to survive. Because there is little electricity because of the power cuts they call “load-shedding” life is unbearable. You cannot imagine enduring temperatures of more than 40 ºC and no air conditioning or ceiling fan. There is no respite from the heat and people die of heart attacks. It feels as though your blood is boiling inside your body, but a woman still is supposed to be fully covered, albeit in light cloth. In summer the dupatta (scarf) is a liability, but useful to wipe the sweat from your face.
I don’t regret spending my time in Pakistan, but I now want to try to explain why it is that young Pakistanis become militant and in some cases prefer death to their miserable existence. I can see why some become suicide bombers, because they are in despair and hope that with their death, their families will be better off.
Pakistan is not recommended as a holiday destination because of the Taliban, kidnappings and insurgency.
- Living in Pakistan, Rawalpindi (lynnee8.wordpress.com)
- Sights of Pakistan (lynnee8.wordpress.com)
- Murree, Punjab Province, Pakistan – Perhaps Not a Destination for Foreign Visitors (lynnee8.wordpress.com)