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From Pakistan - The Land of the Immodest!

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    From Pakistan - The Land of the Immodest!

    My criticisms are rooted in feelings of love for Pakistan. They should not be confused with hate or resentment. I've only been in Pakistan for a week. I've already developed some strong feelings, some good, some bad. Unfortunately, most of this essay deals with the 'bad'. I'm afraid that I may be drawing broad conclusions based on generalized events and observations. At any rate, this only reflects how I feel at this very moment, and it may (probably will) change.

    "Without modesty, we could not have, nor rightly value at its true worth, that bold and pure candor which is at once the final revelation of love and the seal of its sincerity." Havelock Ellis

    Pakistanis lack modesty. This three word sentence is actually used by Pakistanis to comment about those 'others', those living outside, those living in what they perceive to be an environment of complete and utter shame. Pakistanis often question how these 'others' can live and raise their children in such conditions. Conditions which to the best of their understanding lack 'modesty'. Where both men and women can walk about freely, wear whatever they wish or nothing at all, see whomever they please without the necessary veil of 'modesty' which seems to be a necessary constituent for the healthy functioning of an 'Islamic' society.

    A paradox appears so transparent in Pakistani culture, morals and 'way of life' that its astonishing how many Pakistanis look beyond it and see it necessary to criticize the 'other'. Pakistani's have no shame. Pakistanis have replaced modesty with a perverted sense of values.

    A cab driver in a dirty street where my mom was raised, in Rawalpindi, picked us up a few years ago. He stared at my mother inquisitively. After boarding his taxi he told my mom she looked familiar to him. My mom out of concern for her safety said she didn't know him and told him he must be confusing her with someone else. He asked if she lived in the neighborhood and she said yes. They than went on to discuss the loss of innocence and security in Pakistan, a loss that was recent and had offered a debilitating blow to conditions of the past. Conditions, which encouraged respect and love. Pakistan and its inhabitants are quickly becoming devoid of virtues of respect and love. Virtues embedded in the rather simple concept of modesty.

    Pakistanis today value 'individualism' and the pursuit of material riches over anything other. The dollar bill has taken the place of the generosity and simplicity which was once offered to fellow humans in light of a strong spiritual and cultural tradition well known to those who had traveled and touched the region. Pakistanis teach their children these values. They teach their children to respect above all the 'dollar' bill. They teach them the necessity of division at an early age. Pakistani children know who to respect and who to offer no respect to. The downtrodden, the impoverished, the poor, the beggar, the servant, the slave, these are all individuals who are worthy of no respect, rather disrespect, for they have not carved a niche for themselves in society worthy of recognition.

    So we have Pakistanis teaching their children to follow the dream of the dollar bill. We suck the creative juices out of our children and we encourage them to pursue promising careers which will not only bring in a wealth of 'dollar' bills but will also grant boasting rights. Because in the immodest environment in which Pakistanis are brought up, being able to boast about your material possessions, your professional status, your connections with the elite, become the most valuable weapon you have. Modesty is a virtue lost.

    These values become instilled in our children. As they grow older they learn that they must 'choose' a mate with the divisions in mind, with the class, ethnic, religious borders drawn. They must 'choose' a mate who is not only within these narrow borders, but whose family also can 'boast' of great material possessions, professional status, and connections with the elite. Both sides than engage in a game, often even resorting to lies to win the other over. Being immodest, lying about your wealth becomes commonplace.

    Children are taught to 'disrespect' and cheat. This they are told will make them hard and strong and better able to cope with the harsh realities of life in Pakistan. In this respect, those simple people who work hard for their money, the laborers of Pakistan, become the target of attacks. They are chastised for their insubordination, their inability to meet the demands of the immodest. They are chastised often for the most innocuous of actions, in-deliberate mistakes we all make, but when made in presence of the immodest become an inexcusable sin.

    The extended family which is the hallmark of so many Asian societies is little more than a farce in Pakistan. For in Pakistan, in their classic immodest behavior, children fight with their parents and their siblings over the 'dollar' bill, over inheritance, over rights to materials. They are willing to disrupt their social ties, ties which stretch over years and years and include fond memories. They are willing to disrupt these ties and replace them with material gain. Gain which will help them attain that ultimate 'nirvana' for Pakistanis, that ultimate boasting right, which is so important in this land of immodesty.

    On my brother's flight to Pakistan he sat in a plane chalk full of 'immodest' Pakistanis who were visiting Britain, ironically paying respects to the British Raj. Almost all of those in the plane, excluding the infamous 'others', those strange breeds of Pakistanis born outside of their parent's native land, were drinking their liquor. Have they no shame, my brother asked. Have they no shame, not because they drink, but because of their mentality. Their ability to criticize the 'other' while engaging in the behavior they criticize in support of their ambitions to out do their neighbors in the race of immodesty.

    I find this society peculiar. Peculiar because I am one of those 'others' from outside. I can see certain redeemable values in those who occupy the lower classes of Pakistan, but I do not see any redeemable qualities in those who occupy the middle and upper classes. Maybe I'm being harsh. But it seems almost as though the values so often associated with the corrupt incestuous leadership of Pakistan have trickled down and found their way into the lives of Pakistanis and soon will even penetrate the lower echelon's of society. Its at that point perhaps that Pakistanis will have to re-evaluate their institutions, their values, their way of life, which will have degenerated into something in complete contrast to what Pakistan's founders had envisioned.

    This lost modesty has successfully contributed to the debasement of values in Pakistan. It has contributed to every ill this society harbors. What a shame!


    "Where is the hope, where is the faith, where is the love. What's that you say, there's love?" U2

    achtung ji
    read ur entire post though it was too long but it was true to its core .....however this one sentence hits it to the point

    . Their ability to criticize the 'other' while engaging in the behavior they criticize in support of their ambitions to out do their neighbors in the race of immodesty.



      Nice to see you back. Are you posting this from Pakistan?

      Good essay.


        Br Achtung,

        Good to hear from you. Interesting essay, I'm sure your feelings will change throughout your stay, keep me posted and let me know if you visit my home place Azad Kashmir (may not be a good idea at the moment). Drop me a line anway.

        Take care.


          WOW, well at least you have formed an idea...and I agree, though this may be the purest for of 'bad', it is quite true....


            Achtung: Your essay brings tears but its so so true. I seriously think that a revolution is around the corner for Pakistan. The purpose and meaning of life has entirely vanished and the hearts are no longer pure.

            Later on


              Achtung…good to see you here

              Some really good points and from what i understand true.

              Hmmm if I remember correctly, didn't stud predict you would be disheartened by the situation in Pakistan?

              What is surprising that it happened within one week.


                Achtung ji,

                U are not being harsh at all , i guess the truth which people learn in months and years took U just one week

                [This message has been edited by Pakiice (edited June 03, 1999).]


                  Asalamu Alaikum,

                  An excellent essay. I guess I can't really judge if it's harsh or not because I didn't see those things to the degree you did when I did go to Pakistan, but I would say you are making some huge generalizations about Pakistanis. Maybe someone from Pakistan could tell you their experience, since they would of seen the corruption that has undoubtably entered Pakistan come into existence in a more gradual way then you've seen.

                  Why are the "others" different? Well, this is just my opinion.. but every society has become more and more morally loose. In the streets of Toronto, a woman can walk around topless, where she couldn't have even worn shorts about fifty years ago. Think about the locks on your doors at night.. alarm systems.. this kind of stuff didn't happen before.

                  For us, as the "others" we're kind of in a time warp. Our parents left Pakistan when it was in a better state. When people were kinder, and more honest. If you ask any Pakistani how they feel after returning to Pakistan after an extended absence you will only hear sorrow about what their city has become.

                  When our parents came to the US or Canada, they taught us to live according to the values they had when they left. Although we do have some undeniable "western" attitudes, our parents 60's and 70's morality is still instilled in us. In a sense, it is easier for our parents to keep us maintaining those values because they tell us "We're not like these Americans, or Canadians," and we accept that as why we shouldn't act like them.

                  Had we been born and raised in Pakistan, I'm sure we'd have some of the qualities you spoke about in your essay. I think these things have cropped up quietly and gradually into the attitudes of the Pakistani people, and until they take a step back, they won't be able to see what has happened.

                  As for the hypocrasy that you wrote about.. that is just people being people. We criticize them, they criticize us.

                  Proud to be of the 70's Pakistani Mentality,

                  [This message has been edited by Yacoob (edited June 04, 1999).]


                    Yaqoob nice job.

                    ……When our parents came to the US or Canada, they taught us to live according to the values they had when they left. Although we do have some undeniable "western" attitudes, our parents 60's and 70's morality is still instilled in us. In a sense, it is easier for our parents to keep us maintaining those values because they tell us "We're not like these Americans, or Canadians," and we accept that as why we shouldn't act like them.

                    My parents did exactly the same, and more. when I stated what other Pakistanis were doing here and in Pakistan, my father would reply…well they aren't kashmiries. Implying that we as kashmiries have a higher set of values and beliefs. I found that for my father, it is even more of a shock when he sees what is going on.

                    In comparison to what is existing in pakistan now I would also say that I'm proud to be of the 70's Pakistani Mentality…. along with the American.

                    [This message has been edited by kashmirigirl (edited June 04, 1999).]


                      I think being modest does not help in fiercely competetive and poor societies. Braaging about material benefits is better than glorifying poverty. Am I right?

                      Achtung, u r in Pakistan, good. Why don't u visit India. For a Canadian like u that should be easy. you can give a comparative essay of problems in these countries.

                      [This message has been edited by ZZ (edited June 05, 1999).]


                        Dear Achtung. I like how you are really “experiencing” true cultural and regional idiosyncrasies. It is lovely to see that some “other” has so much love and really want to know why is this “immodesty” present. Dear Friend, with all that cultural ‘adjustmenting’, I hope you are having a good time otherwise. It does take a little while to get really into the mental mood to enjoy that land. The land we all love so dearly, sometimes I wonder why? I can never think of any reason not to love Pakistan despite all its shortcomings.

                        Enjoy.. and don’t forget to try local delicacies. In Pindi, the ‘Balti Gosht’ and a drink “some local cola” they sell in front of Shabistan cinema on Murree Road.

                        Ok Lalay???


                          Asalamu alykum

                          wow Yacoob, I always knew that there was a difference between americans and us Pakistanis who had come here long ago and also between us and Pakistanis now still in Pakistan!!! but, I had never thought about what you said and it makes alot of sense though....yeah you are right, the entire world is changing and become more lude or anticonservative, everywhere, it is not just us!!!

                          I agree with Kashmirigirl, "...In comparison to what is existing in pakistan now I would also say that I'm proud to be of the 70's Pakistani Mentality..."


                            Folks I am writing a few lines here....please understand as much as you can , I dont mean it to be a discussion..
                            Modesty , as I understand it , is the view of self , a bit tilted towards looking at areas needing to be changed..The ability to accept our weaknesses is very helpful , as it is the first step towards personal growth..
                            In order for us to accept our weakness , we have to have confidence in our worth as a person..The very strict religious and cultural code that we are asked to follow , leaves all of us with the deep seated sense of , "Not being good enough"
                            cause being human , we all have actions and wishes that go against it.....
                            We spend the rest of our lives ,trying to prove that we are not that bad...hence no room for modesty...
                            Bragging about ones talents is useful in a competition , What we would hope to happen soon , is to get the ability , to brag about our understanding of personal weaknesses ,(we all have them , and the few who are aware of them are in a better position to do something about em.. )