Pakistan is a paradox, it is one of the most beautiful places you could ever visit, but you don’t hear about that on the news. It is full of bright, educated, exciting people, but you won’t read about them in the newspaper. It has a storied history full of kings, battles, and innovations that you won’t learn about in schools.
You see, kite flying in Pakistan is one of many things that albeit more precarious and more interesting than it is in the west.
Every year groups pay for large ornate bamboo kites to be built to have them battle in the sky. They plan incessantly, spending fortunes on these kites. The strings they use to float them in the air are coated with powdered glass called door (sic) and is known elsewhere as cerol. People fly their massive kites in an effort to cut other kite flyers’ strings.
The reason it is banned in the city of Lahore, Pakistan, is because having children and men racing through the city on roof tops with their eyes in the sky is inherently dangerous. When a kite is cut the string covered in glass floating through the streets can pass by the throat of a motorcyclist, which are numerous, and largely unprotected, helmet-less and often burdened with two children and a few bags of groceries. A cut kite string becomes a flying sword. Kite wars in a busy metropolis is a public safety hazard, people were hurt, or even killed in the yearly kite flying festival. The kites themselves are prized trophies, which makes them valuable. People will run after them on roof tops tracking them as they descend deeper into the city. Imagine a child running atop roofs of brick homes and ledges, only to misjudge a long distance and land halfway through a window or stuck on a rod iron gate, another four or five boys will make the jump safely but a tragedy has occurred.
Imagine for a moment that the United States was located in the centre of Europe instead of on a giant island off alone as it almost is today, and that just after the Revolutionary War, when the country was bleeding hungry and tired, the military depleted, the farmland burned and cities crumbled by canon, that 4-million starving refugees, some of whom who have never left their villages in the mountain before walked across America’s boarders and set up shop for life because of an armed struggle that was threatening their lives. It isn’t as easy as, “let’s stop sectarian violence and get all these peoples in line so they aren’t a threat to the world (which they are not)”. These are people who have been displaced by two brutal wars and have been dropped into a country that isn’t even 100 years old. That country happens to be a nuclear power with one of the largest standing armies in the world – which not surprisingly and perhaps because of this, is surrounded on all sides by countries that are unstable themselves. Pakistan isn’t perfect but it’s wonderful.
Three facts to learn about Pakistan:
Women and girls live freely in this society. They go to school, they go to work, and lead successful lives.
The most dangerous thing in the country is its roadways. The nation hasn’t had cars for all that long, they are still working out the kinks when it comes to public transportation and the rules of the road. If you’re not a local, take a cab or get a driver.
Radical Islam doesn’t exist, and certainly not in Pakistan. That term is bigoted crap invented by ignorant policy makers and lazy journalists who don’t look much farther than the press releases burped out of the offices of said ignorant policy makers. Murderers and terrorists are not true Muslims, no matter how they identify themselves or how the media reports their goals and intentions. It is high time we stop denigrating the second most populous religion in the world because we are too damn lazy to understand what’s really going on. If you’re blowing up markets with bicycle bombs, you don’t represent Islam.
Ask me if I’m going to return to Pakistan, and I’ll tell you I will and as often as I can. I’ll bring my mother here. I’m going to eat Falooda with my dad in a Lahorian marketplace and get some Chicken Karahi for my sister with fresh roti and a Sprite with lime for her children. I’m going to bring my kids here, climb mountains and hunt goats. I can’t wait.