At this point I'm flabbergasted. Having participated in countless conversations chronicling how difficult it is with-this-damn-green-passport to get another country's embassy to give you the go-ahead to enter, it had NEVER crossed our mind that the Pakistani embassy may be giving others a tough time. Rather, given the humongous number of goras sitting in Islamabad, it seemed as if visas were being handed on on a platter to anyone willing to venture to the land of the crazy suicide bombers. So there I am, both eyebrows raised, asking the ladies sitting around me (of assorted nationalities: Swedish, Polish, British, Australian, Spanish and American) if it was actually true: were foreigners really finding it difficult to get a Pakistani visa?
They replied in the affirmative.
At this point I'm quite impressed with our embassy. I never thought we'd ever have the nerve to limit the colonial masters entry. But it seems that beginning with the Amreekans and ending with goras on a universal scale, the Pakistani visa is a difficult commodity to acquire. Most foreigners working here are not allowed to stay on once their work permit has ended, unless sponsored by a Pakistani organization. This prompts my next question:
Err, why would you WANT visas to Pakistan anyway?
They look at me as if I'm asking a silly question (and I promise you, I was NOT asking a silly question). And they elaborate: Pakistan, says the Swedish lady, is a great place to live. Specially when one is growing older. She particularly appreciates the ease with which one can acquire attendants. I agree. I have - many times - counted my maid in as one of life's great blessings (not to be confused with the times when domestic help also becomes one of lifes great burdens).
Servant talk aside, I find, there are OTHER reasons why people want to come live in Pakistan. The climate is nice (we're pretty much only talking about Islamabad here, so sure). For development sector workers, Pakistan is a great place to work (true that, we have lots of room for development). For businesses, Pakistan is ripe ground for investment. Lots of consumers, and a pretty much untapped market. Plus LOTS of scope for raw material, the motherland is rich in more than just suicide bombers it seems. Speaking of which, it's also true that some goras are thrill seekers, they just like the excitement of living (and working) in a conflict zone. Either way, a lot of people I find are keen to stay on in Pakistan and very disappointed that our embassy is being stingy with visas. An American woman went to the extend of exclaiming something I have heard before, but never in this context. It seems she's thoroughly frustrated with the visa issues and she wishes she could just marry someone and acquire an (additional) Paki passport so she could be rid of this nonsense.
It suddenly struck me that I've been going about life the absolutely wrong way. All this while I've been looking around for someone with a ferangi passport, what I 'should' be doing is flashing the green-book around like a badge and saying *yoo-hoo* Pakistani nationality, anyone?! It's an amazing revelation, and truth-be-told it's super-cool! Now, I realize, all I need to do is find a nice gora man who wants my Paki passport so we can work on establishing a win-win partnership. What-think-you-of-new-strategy?