The western media usually tends to exaggerate and play up all that is going on in Pakistan. Unfortunately, that’s not the case this time.
I have been back in the homeland for about 40 hours now and am finally experiencing it myself. Although I am in holiday mode and am enjoying the spring weather, cruising down the streets of Islamabad, and catching up with old friends; I can still sense fear across the city for the first time ever. Whether it’s my driver, mother, friend, or uncle; they all just seem to be under constant stress and worried.
To be honest, everyone is leading their day-to-day lives and following their routine. The only difference is that they are more alert on the streets and keeping their fingers crossed while trying to get from one place to the other. Even though the security is extremely tight; you can’t help but wonder what’s inside the truck in front of you, why there has been a car behind you for about 10 minutes, or if that stranger on the street was actually staring at you or not. I must admit, even I was a bit paranoid last night as we just hired a new driver who was sitting in the back seat text messaging away and looking a bit shady while I was driving home at 5 am. It’s sad because once upon a time, we were worried about thieves and robbers and we could protect ourselves by hiring security guards and now we’re just helpless and nothing is in our control anymore.
We were informed last night that the city is under “high alert” and that the World Bank, many NGOs, and all offices are going to be shut today. Although I am here now and not just reading about all of this in the papers, it seems to be easier to pretend that all is fine and stay in denial while I’m on holiday.
On a lighter note, I have not been to Pakistan in spring time in a decade now and had completely forgotten how brilliant the weather is over here.