We aren’t unique

Relax. We aren’t unique as we pretend. Sir Gerald Kaufman is in Karachi & gave a short but interesting Interview to Urooj Zia covering different topics. Though he personally may not be of any interest, his views about Karachi should be “encouraging” for us that we are not yet alone.

” I did notice one thing when I looked out of the aeroplane today, just before landing in Karachi, and this is what I made of it: in France they drive on the right-hand side of the road. In Japan, people drive on the left-hand side. In Pakistan, they try to compensate for both by driving in the middle of the road.”

” Whatever problems you see in Karachi, they most certainly aren’t unique – people get the same issues almost everywhere “ said this man who served his people for 37 years as MP in UK. He was bold & blunt to slap the Army as nothing could stop this democratic soul who grew up in a society with a different mindset ” I’d prefer valueless and cowardly acts from a democratically elected government to courageous and valuable things done by a dictatorship”. He was loud & clear.

His comment that British police aren’t armed (though it’s unrelated to Khi) made me think if it’s possible to change perception about our police if we follow them. Not sure if our ministers have read his “How to be a Minister” but after all we can take clues from them. 59 years of separation isn’t a big deal. Or is it?. You see, we are no different than rest of the world or may be he was diplomatic or may be favouring us for our efforts on their war on terror.Read full interview.

I am visiting Karachi after 30 years and, though overcrowded, polluted and noisy, I would still call it a vibrant city. It will be too early to comment on its status as a safe or unsafe city as I only arrived last night and have not moved around the city much he says in other interview taken by Perwez Abdullah from THE NEWS.

28 Comments so far

  1. Arsalaan Haleem (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 7:10 pm

    Quite an interesting interview. Well done, Urooj!

  2. UZi (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 7:14 pm

    Thanky! : ) Sir Kaufman was loads of fun to talk to — the kind of person one can sit down and exchange ideas with. I was given a slot of 30 mins — I could’ve gone on for, like, an hour and a half or something! :D

  3. UZi (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 7:16 pm

    Thanky! : ) Sir Kaufman was loads of fun to talk to — the kind of person one can sit down and exchange ideas with. I was given a 30-minute time limit — I could’ve gone on for, like, an hour and a half or something! :D

  4. FAZEEL (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 7:49 pm

    A quick question about Sir Kaufman.He has the great many things to say about Pakistan, Karachi, and our political and social set up. Does he has any say in England? It seems that he is living in such a plitically incorrect country where they have to take dictation from Bush on their foreign policy and they are fighting Bush’s war.

  5. UZi (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 8:22 pm

    Why do we pounce on anyone the moment we hear as much as a peep from them about our political set up? :-\

  6. MB (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 8:57 pm

    ” Does he has ……………….. fighting Bush’s war. “

    Check the link that is provide or that BBC link as sub link & his views on Israel. Though he was a strong supporter of Zionism , his equally tough stance against Israel & calling their leaders war criminal is not a small thing.

  7. FAZEEL (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 9:30 pm

    Dude I was mentioning his political views on Pakistan.So what he is a Jew and condemned Israel’s action(FYI not all the jews like Israel).Then again does he has any say in England? Why people are always come and crtisize our political and social set up not even look at themselves. Why do we have to listen and say not even a word??

  8. UZi (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 9:48 pm

    He did not criticize your political setup — he just answered questions that were put up to him. :P

    PS: He’s absolutely right about the dictatorship bit. The way I see it, either accept that you’re a dictator and use your power to do good, or resign. This mock-democracy crap that we have right now is not going to achieve anything other than half-baked pseudo-intellectualism (is that even a word?) — and that’s putting it very VERY mildly.

  9. Turab (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 10:24 pm

    thank you gora sirjee for commenting on a situation on which you have no knowledge !!

  10. BoZz (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 10:25 pm

    Here is something for us. Off the point but what the hell….

    KARACHI – Pakistani police are hunting a man who dug up his father’s two-year old corpse and took it home in a hijacked ambulance to try to bring him back to life.

    Abdul Rehman’s family say he is mentally ill and has never been able to cope with his father’s death, police said on Saturday.

    “He dug up the corpse on Thursday night after he had hijacked an ambulance and its driver at gunpoint and took it to his home,” Ghulam Murtaza, a duty officer at Ferozabad police station in the southern city of Karachi, told Reuters.

    Police raided the house on Friday after a complaint from the trust that owned the ambulance and from Rehman’s brother.

    “He kept the corpse, which was nothing but a skeleton in his bedroom, for well over 12 hours. He escaped when we raided the house. We have buried it again,” Murtaza said.

    Rehman had also kidnapped a vagabond who slept in the graveyard and locked him up at home, police said.

    “He told us he saw Rehman chanting magic spells and pouring rose water on the corpse to bring it back to life and was crying bitterly,” Murtaza said.

    Rehman faces a year in jail for defiling a corpse, police said.

  11. MB (unregistered) on March 3rd, 2007 @ 11:46 pm


    That’s interesting. These stories remind me of fake fakeer episode of Gumnaam. Oh, we have miles to go in literacy before sleep. Back to topic ; With philosophy, politics and economics under his belt & journalist, writer & MP for 30+ years as roles he definitely has a say. The para “Influential back-bencher” is interesting one. Apart from that only Uzi may contribute something on him about the extent of his influence.

  12. kidal (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 3:08 am

    I really think we pay way too much attention to what other people think of us or say about us. I have no grudge against Kaufman or any gora. My concern is my people. We have a serious self-esteem problem. In Pakistan we are not short of ideas. What we need is the courage and strength to act. And visitors and observers like Kaufman can’t help there.

  13. Tahir (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 7:22 am

    Syrian president had to say something about western style of democracy, the other day, I think you all read that too. The thing is one size does not fit all. In US we are seeing that inspite of more than 70% of the population against the war in Iraq, they cant stop it. In US people say, that US is owned by capitalists and they have two faces, one is of donkey and one of elephant, but the same people are in power all the time.
    Its also a myth that democracy is the only way nations can achieve progress. China for example is not a democratic country. Many democratic countries are now experiancing a ride down the hill.If you have witnessed the life style of a UAE citizen or a Brunai citizen, you well forget what western democracies have to offer to their citizens.
    in our own history, the golden period of Caliphat,it was not democracy (Western style).
    Then some champions of democracy, in our country think that democracy will only be restored if BB or NS will come in to power, they have their own dictatorships in their parties, i wonder what their supporters have to say about that, can today one think any jiala will challenge PPP chairwoman and become the chairman of ppp? or a smart, educated PML young leader, can replace NS??. If someone of you dont personaly like Musharraf, it shall not be the reason to support any gora coming down and telling us how to live. In many respects our cultural values are superior than theirs, and they shall learn from us.

  14. JayJay (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 8:03 am

    “the golden period of Caliphat”

    Which one? I don’t know of any such utopia. The Caliphate I know of was full of intrigue, conspiracy and bloodshed. Brothers were killed for throne, fathers assisnated, nephews blinded, harems thrived, war booties got wasted on building mahals, etc.

    Democracy is not perfect but has proved to be better than all other political systems the world has tried so far.

    We should not be so touchy about external criticism of our political system but will rather expose it to criticism to learn and improve.

  15. Tahir (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 8:11 am

    @ Jayjay
    Yes we have tried it too, and during that golden period, our country became so great ;)
    Chill jayjay.
    We are not ready for that style of democracy now.

  16. ash (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 8:58 am

    its one thing for an outsider to say dictatorship is worse than a bad democracy but those who have lived under our honorable feudal shamocracies beg to differ

  17. BoZz (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 3:30 pm

    True we are not ready for democracy as yet. First we must get a decent education.

    But what irks me most are people like Tahir who are still entrapped in their colonist/slave minds. This becomes so evident when they try and riducle others by calling them ghoras. Or is it the ‘Paki’ style of referring to grapes out of reach!

    And pray tell me what values are we left with that are so superior?

    And unlike what Mr. Tahir is blurting we will not improve till, not they, but both of us start to learn from each other.

    “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge.”

  18. Tahir (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 8:42 pm

    I called them “goras” as someone used this word in this post, so i continued. (i am quite gora myself, and have a gori GF also)
    The cultural values that i think we are better at(u might have a different openion, i respect that), are family values, general love between people, hospitality etc..
    You are right, that the learning shall be both ways, i did not say that it shall be one way. My argument was already defensive, so i did not use the phrase “both ways”.
    by the way , interesting how u judged that i have a slave/colonial mind, just because i used the word “goras”…
    who would be a slave?? the one upposing them or the one submitting to everything they?
    xing tong, xu shi!

  19. BoZz (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 9:18 pm

    Congratulations on your ‘foreign’ GF. Multi-culturism is the way forward. And yes you are right that I do beg to differ from you about our values being superior.

    I have had the opportunity of living with and amongst the people of the West and other cultures too. By no standards can I judge their love for their families, fellow human beings and animals to be any inferior to ours. In fact I doubt if we can claim the same to be as close to theirs especially when it comes to fellow human beings and animals! The facts speak for themselves.

    Yes there is a difference in the projection of the same as compared to ours. We do excel in emotionality. And if tears are a yard stick for measurement of love, respect and values than we win hands down.

    Most things in our society, including values, love , respect and even religion are based more on the apparent appearance than the essence of it.

    As for our famous family bonds, these are more due to lack of independence, lack of opportunity and poverty. These factors seemingly portrait us as having a one big happy family while the truth is way over the other side.

    Having said that, I am not trying to paint the picture with one brush and one stroke. I am sure there are exceptions but it is the general rule that we are talking of.

    “The greatest of fault, I should say, is to be conscious of none”

  20. f.ahmed (unregistered) on March 4th, 2007 @ 11:35 pm

    nice topic:

    the problem with us pakistanis is that as soon as we see a gora saying anything, esp.about our culture/country…etc, we all get really excited…..

    many years back when i had just started my job and was a trainee, my manager once told me gleefully/with real excitement in his eyes that he talks to at least one gora in europe daily…..our firm had H.Q in Switz.
    i looked at him and was amazed how proud he looked at being able to talk to goras everyday!! the same is ture fo everyonef us:))

    if a gora says anything good about us/our country we wear it as a badge of honour!!

    dowe really need a gora to tell us what we are??

  21. BoZz (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 12:25 pm

    No I guess we do not need anyone to tell us who we are. We are doing our own lovely publicity for decades now. Excuse me while I flip the channel for this Ad………

  22. MB (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 12:49 pm

    My 100 claps for this comment BOZZ

    Let me quote it word by word

    “Most things in our society, including values, love , respect and even religion are based more on the apparent appearance than the essence of it.

    As for our famous family bonds, these are more due to lack of independence, lack of opportunity and poverty. These factors seemingly portrait us as having a one big happy family while the truth is way over the other side.

    Its 1000 percent true. The so-called eastern family bond is because of the said reasons & not because we are some good souls, because the facts as he stated speak how much we love & respect our fellows around us.

    Give us a chance and we sure will beat WEST in how to shatter values & traditions.

  23. kidl (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 2:02 pm

    MB, I could turn your argument around. We have been able to preserve our humanity despite the immense economic, political and social problems we are faced with everyday.

    How do you think people living in the good old US of A (just as an example) would cope with life if they were facing the same level of poverty and lack of opportunity that we experience? In my opinion, they wouldn’t do very well.

    I think we should recognize that our religion and our set of values help us immensely in dealing with the difficulties of life. I would say that our ability to maintain the (relatively better) family structure is a basic value upon which our society is built.

    Your theory that our family bonds are strong because we are poor and dependent ignores religion and culture, which are stronger determinants of a society’s values than its economic status.

  24. BoZz (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 2:05 pm

    Your last sentence MB makes me laugh. I am not sure who you are appealing to, to give us a chance! I hope it is not God, for he ain’t coming down to help us to do our own work!

    But for the hell of it let us look at two recent items that I came across which I think will demonstrate our famed hospitality and values and much more.

    For the sake of bandwidth I reproduce only one article and give the link for the other one.

    1. JÄMSHORO: A function at the Sindh University witnessed an embarrassing scene when the chair of German Consul-General
    Hans Joachim Kiderlen broke down under his weight.

    The German consul-general came to the Sindh University on Friday to attend the lecture of Former Justice Dr. Javed Iqbal on “The Meeting Point of Eastern and Western Thought and Culture”.

    The pin drop silence of the Audience was broken aIl of a sudden by a crashing sound of the falling down of the German consul-general
    as the loose and weak bottom plank of the newly bought chair could not bear the weight of a slim person like Hans-Joächin Kiderlen and
    broke down.

    It was revealed that the whole seating arrangement in the main auditorium hall of the Arts Faculty building has been fixed recently
    with new furniture costing several hundred thousand rupees. However, the quality and durability of the furniture has become
    questionable owing to its substandard material.

    2. http://lzbone.blogspot.com/2007/03/bad-experience-with-marriott-karachi.html


  25. BoZz (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 2:14 pm

    In theory KIDL you are right. However ground realities here are different.

    If in fact our values today represent and reflect that of our religion and culture, then God help us!

  26. MB (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 2:30 pm

    this is a laugh at myself, our nation & our values…..
    What else i could do.
    I wish i could slap this to Mushy’s face who wants the world to spend billions for his MEGA SHEGA projects…….. what impression that german guy will take back.

  27. F.AHMED (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 3:48 pm

    @ kidl:

    well said KIDL!!!

    from time to time we need a dose of self-confidence like this. i totally agree!!

    i noticed one thing in the western reporting of their militaries performing in IRAQ and AFG. they are full of bravado for their men in uniform showing extraordinay courage in face of the enemy….

    i just wonder what will be their recation if they face the same odds as their enemies…..e.g: if they do not have a single helicopter/airplane and their enemies have the best in the world, if they do not have electronic warfare capacity & their enemies have the best…and the list goes on and on…

    i don’tthink they will stand and face the enemy for one day!!

    by the same token your point also holds true for our general condition of our societies….we face extraordinary odds!

  28. F.AHMED (unregistered) on March 5th, 2007 @ 4:01 pm

    the german gentleman should not have exp that!

    i would just like to give an example of a european country:

    i was about to visit europe in 2001 for an official trip and an aunt came to our house a few days before i left and told me to beware about people in Italy!

    i asked her why, what happ?? she had just returned from Rome or Milan and told me that she was attanding a conf. and went to the ladies room and one lady came from one side started talking to her and at the same time another lady came from the other side…

    after a while while she came out of the restroom she noticed that the bag she was carying had been slit from the side and her small purse inside was gone….

    when she went to the police the police told her to go home and stop worying as there was no chance of her getting anything back…and did not even register the crime!

    bad things can happen anywhere! not just in pakistan.

    i think the german would have thanked his stars that it was just a case of a broken chair not a kidnapp attempt:)

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