My interview with Fl Lt Ayesha Farooq was published in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph. One of the things I found most fascinating was that when I met this most modern of Pakistani women, she was on leave for her wedding – and it was an arranged marriage. I picked out this detail for a tweet as I thought it offered an interesting illustration of how many people live in Pakistan today. They may have modern careers in the city, but return to the village to marry a cousin.
“We played together when we were children so I think he always knew I would not be a traditional woman,” she said.
If she hadn’t wanted it, I have no doubt this softly spoken but determined woman would have vetoed the idea.
Just a week earlier I had met up with an old college friend, now a high-flying international lawyer, whose family came from Lahore. He was with his wife of three years – also from an arranged marriage.
As an outsider, I find the concept fascinating. But I took some stick on twitter for flagging up this issue about Fl Lt Farooq as if somehow I was against it or it undermined everything she has achieved in overturning gender stereotypes. I’m not and I don’t think that.
It was just a reminder that the traditional can sit alongside the modern.
And I have a few friends who might be a darn sight happier if their mothers had chosen their wives.