Pakistan is a country which is mostly in the news for all the wrong reasons. Its reputation is consumed by the terms like Terrorism, Radicalism and political turmoil. Our Global Image is devastatingly negative and due to our tainted reputation, people avoid travelling to Pakistan even for work let alone for touring. Same was the case with Clara Arrighi. She was terrified even with the idea of moving to a place full of intolerant and dogmatic people.
When I was told I was going to Pakistan I started to think about all the reasons not to go, how to convince my office not to send me. I did not want to spend the next six months of my life in between mud roads and traffic, dirt and smelly donkeys. I definitely did not want to share my time with radical people, extremists, and walk around all covered.
But she was made to visit Pakistan and you will be surprised to know what happened next.
Clara Arrighi is a working Spanish woman who was asked by her company to live in Pakistan for six months in order to handle some projects. In her post on Facebook, she told people about the phases she went through before and after visiting Pakistan. At first, she was really startled by the news and sought other’s opinion. Some people said some really crazy things that added to her misery and didn’t really help the cause.
”Prepare to get sick and food poisoned,” they told me. “You should change your job”. “No, I´ve never been to Pakistan but I´ve been to Bangladesh and I know it’s the same” … or India, or Afghanistan.
But finally, someone said something that she herself believes in now.
Luckily, someone also told me: “When you go to Pakistan you cry two times: when you are sent there and when you have to leave”. Seven months afterwards I indeed have cried two times.
Upon her arrival in Pakistan, she experienced something new and something she really did not expect. She explored different aspects of Pakistani culture and different facets of its beauty. That day she discovered a new-found love for this country.
The untouched gorgeous beauty of Pakistan is impossible to describe with words. Everything in this country is untouched; the nature, the culture, the cities. Women in their colorful dresses and the way they allow their Pashminas to fall loose over their heads, showing their dark hair. Men playing cricket, such a refined English sport to be played in white clothes drinking high tea, is here the street sport by far, played in every corner of every street. I have climbed stunning mountains, swam in incredible clear lakes amidst the most beautiful hills, visited majestic mosques and drank uncountable types of chai. I tasted lots of different dishes. I did not get myself sick or food poisoned at all, but I definitely got myself a bellyache for not being able to stop eating such delicious food! And the mangoes, oh the mangoes.
She believed that Pakistan is nothing like what it is presented in front of the world. She was overwhelmed by the hospitality and warmth she received here in Pakistan.
However … it doesn’t matter how beautiful a country is, you will always remember how it made you feel. And this is what makes the difference in Pakistan. I have never seen so much hospitality anywhere in the world. Incredibly warm people, genuinely kind. I have never felt so welcomed. There is this tendency to smile. A society that has been for so many years oppressed and still can be so tolerant.
This one instance of a tourist’s experience in Pakistan shows us how badly we need to promote tourism. Pakistan has all sorts of things going wrong for it. Political instability, rise in corruption, extremism are few to mention but in the face of all adversities, it stands firm and fighting. Pre-conceived notions about Pakistan made Clara have second thoughts on her decision but now she’s glad that came here and fell in love with it. Her post was a testament to the cultural richness and hospitality of Pakistan and with it comes a challenge for people to visit Pakistan and not fall in love it.
Read her original post here.