Tuesday, February 14, 2006
A shallow liberalism
I am chatting about Lahore with a new friend, Qurratulain ‘Annie’ Zaman, a sharp 25-year-old journalist who works with the Daily Times here. I’ve been told by a lot of people that Pakistan has become much more liberal in the last few years, that one sees many women in jeans, many women working in Pizza Huts and so on, which one didn’t see five years ago. I ask Annie about that. She says:
The liberalism here is very shallow. Parents will happily allow their daughters to wear tank tops and jeans and go out for parties and so on. But see how they behave when it comes to the cartoon issue. Or when their daughter chooses someone to marry.I nod. I’ve seen such ‘liberalism’ in India as well. And the cappucino is similar too.
They want to feel liberal and westernised, so they allow all these surface displays of so-called liberalism. But deep inside, they haven’t changed.