Postcards from Hell: 4. Hospitality

This will be old hat to those of you who know Pakistan. But anyone who believes it is a failed state peopled by Western-hating suicide bombers will be surprised to learn that Pakistanis have taken the art of hospitality to a completely new level. Barely a day goes by without an invitation to a dinner, tea or meat roasting from someone that I met in a lift weeks ago. No interview is conducted until I have been completely and fully rehydrated. And no meeting starts without a plate of biscuits, at the very least. Nothing is too much trouble and the whole thing is pretty humbling for an Englishman who gets nervous when he has more than two unrelated people in his house at the same time.

As I say, old hat or the naive cliches of a new arrival in Pakistan, whichever you prefer. Or both.

Anyway, at least this little story has made some good headlines around the world, reminding people that there is more to this country than most of the stuff you read in the papers…

A hotel cleaner who earns just £200 a year has been hailed a national hero in Pakistan after he returned $50,000 in cash left behind by an absent-minded guest.

Essa Khan found the bag of notes stuffed in a safe deposit box while carrying out a routine inspection of a room vacated by a Japanese NGO worker before another guest arrived.

I’m no expert, but I’m pretty confident that wouldn’t have happened in a failed state.

Postcards from Hell is my little list of things that are cool about Pakistan, my new home, or which contradict the notion that the country is some sort of failed state


4 thoughts on “Postcards from Hell: 4. Hospitality

  1. I’m not as sure as you on the connection between an anecdotal example of personal kindness/responsibility/honesty and the likelihood of systemic state failure.
    It’s entirely possible that Pakistan doesn’t belong on the list, but your arguments will have to move beyond isolated and defensive examples of positive aspects of your new life there.

    Of course, still always interesting.
    Cheers,
    B

    1. Erm, this is supposed to be a light hearted look at Pakistan. If you want a detailed policy analysis, you won’t find it in this series. That said, Pakistan is very far removed from being a failed state. And, I have even added a blurb at the bottom to explain that some of these are just things that are good about the country to counter the perception that tehre is nothing positive here.

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