POSSIBILITIES IN PAKISTAN
From Bevan Springer
New York Amsterdam News
NEW YORK (September 27, 2012) – It’s been about two weeks since I returned from Pakistan – a trip which shattered my stereotypes of life on the South Asian subcontinent.
All sorts of negative media coverage has been directed at Pakistan: its on-again-off-again relationship with the U.S. and most recently the recent deadly protests following the release of the inflammatory and offensive “Innocence of Muslims” film.
But, the general public is in the dark about what Pakistan is really like so my visit to Karachi was an eye opener.
While my Pakistani schoolmate from Pearson College in Canada had helped shaped perceptions of the Islamic Republic as a modern, progressive country through a television documentary (which chronicled the lives of professional Pakistani men and women who defy the prevailing stereotypes), I still approached my visit with some degree of trepidation given the chaotic portrayal of life in the Western media.
On the spiritual side, my visit came at an excellent time – it was during the holy month of Ramadan when I gained a greater appreciation for the reverence and commitment locals have for worshiping God and disciplining themselves through the month-long fast and celebration of life in the Most High.
On the business front, while the local currency is weak and salaries depressed (most middle class families have servants), Pakistan represents a tremendous opportunity for Westerners particularly in the textiles and services sectors with extremely competitive – actually better than competitive – pricing of products and services.
One of the largest exporters of textiles to the United States, Pakistan presents real opportunities for professionals interested in printing, book publishing, video editing, and perhaps the sourcing of pharmaceutical products which are available at a fraction of the cost of prescription drugs here in the United States.
The cuisine is excellent, mainly of the spicy variety, and is incredibly affordable for Westerners, not to mention much more authentic and palatable than the variety of south asian fare offered across eateries here in America.
As for my opinion of life in Karachi, while it was a new experience, it was also familiar and reminded me of Trinidad and Tobago where cultural diversity thrives, and where there is an addictive rhythm and spice to life.
Pakistan is not without its challenges as poverty is relatively acute and one could not help but think how its economic fortunes could be turned around if the country aggressively pursued both business and leisure tourism possibilities as the country is blessed with some natural wonders, particularly in the north.
After an aborted attempt to visit in the early 1990s, I am pleased I can cross this exhilarating nation off the bucket list and seek new destinations to explore across the planet … or I may just schedule a return visit.
Have a great weekend folks. And remember – help the economy back onto its feet – keep traveling!
CAPTION: A view of the Himalayas from Nathiagali, a mountain resort town in Pakistan.