, 19 tweets, 4 min read Read on Twitter
Over the last few days, I've seen a lot of people attacking @Hafsa_Khawaja for her tweets about white people in Pakistan. I am in total agreement and am writing this thread to explain 1. Why she's right and 2. How foreigners should behave in Pakistan.
I'll raise my hands up and say that I experienced some of the best hospitality in the world during my time as a foreigner in Pakistan, and I am indebted to everyone who has shown that to me. I do know that Pakistanis can be incredibly kind and hospitable beyond belief.
However, why was this kind of hospitality extended to me and not to others? I met many foreigners when I was in Pakistan. It seems that some are worthy of the friendliness (Arabs, Chinese, and most of all, goras) and some are not (Afghans, Somalis, etc.).
So I don't buy the argument that criticising the actions of white people is a violation of the principles of hospitality, especially when said white people come to Pakistan for their own benefit. A certain comedian wouldn't have a career if it wasn't for Pakistan, for example.
Of course, all guests should be treated well, but this is a two way exchange. Each should do their part. There are certain lines you don't cross as a guest. Many codes of hospitality make this clear. There is a difference between being friendly and being exploited.
Many goray who use their time in Pakistan for their careers position themselves as some kind of saviour, or the patron of a certain narrative. There's nothing wrong with being involved in Pakistani affairs, but know your position.
And this is not me speaking from a perspective of identity politics. Many foreigners can have important things to say about Pakistani affairs. If I didn't believe that, I wouldn't comment on Pakistan as much as I do.
The reason I place such importance on remembering your own position is because it dictates the extent to which you are affected by a certain thing. It is not a matter of validity, but of privilege. Any gora can leave Pakistan if they want to, or if things get too tough for them.
Some people can afford to step in and outside of issues in Pakistan, and I include myself in this category. There's no need to be patronising or pitiful if you can decide when to make yourself relevant. You're always going to be indebted to your audience either way.
If your intentions to serve a foreign country are genuine and not based on building a profile, persona, or anything of that sort, then stake your reputation for the benefit of justice? Going after PTM by mentioning your own "Pashtun friends" reeks of being sheltered.
Be aware of the social circles in which you exist and don't base your analysis on them. Having contacts is fine, but remember who you are and who they are. Many realities exist within any any space for any number of people. Your truth isn't absolute.
Although in an ideal world, hospitality should have no price tag, being a good guest means knowing that people have made sacrifices for you. Any decent human being pays them back, and if they can, pay them back double.
This isn't just a Pakistani problem, by the way, but it is a general colonial leftover that we haven't yet disposed of. I see it in my part of the world as well, and so what I'm critiquing should not be interpreted as a uniquely Pakistani phenomenon.
Part of being colonised is wanting the validation of the coloniser. If you resemble the coloniser, you should not seek to replicate the hierarchy of colonisation. There are indicators that can show if you are doing so.
Some of these indicators include regularly being around powerful people, taking up positions in the centre of the frame, seeing that your word has unwarranted weight to it, and being allowed to flaunt the regular rules that others have to abide by.
With these indicators in mind, @Hafsa_Khawaja is perfectly right in her critique of career "Pakistanists". Some will come back with the patronising "we put ourselves at risk for your country" retort, but come on. We've all been to Pakistan. We know it isn't that bad.
I write this thread from both sides of the divide btw. On one side, I am a former guest in Pakistan, but on the other, I am also from a colonised background. I experienced it both ways, but I only say this to make my positionality clear. This isn't about me.
So I hope that any visitor to Pakistan, and particularly those from the more privileged backgrounds, take note of this thread of mine. Pakistan is a great place, yes, but like most places, it isn't perfect. You bear a responsibility to make it better.
And if you find yourself surrounded by powerful people and those who represent powerful institutions, ask yourself who you are really there for. Are you there for those who suffer (the poor, the minorities, the persecuted), or are you there for yourself?
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