If Michelle Obama Came to Pakistan: Remembering Jackie Kennedy’s Visit

Posted on May 26, 2010
Filed Under >Sehar Tariq, Foreign Relations, Society
14 Comments
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Sehar Tariq

In 1962, Jacqueline Kennedy – the then Frist Lady of America  – visited Pakistan. Her trip was widely documented and photographed and now a color video of the visit is also circulating on the internet. It is worth watching.

Watching it, makes me nostalgic for gentler times in Pakistan. And not just gentler times but times when bombs and blasts were not the only defining hallmark of our nation. I wonder what would a Michelle Obama visit to Pakistan today might look like?

Well its highly unlikely to happen because how US-Pakistan relations today are defined by a deep mutual distrust, even hatred; fueled constantly by the media and clergy, and targeted not at individuals or agencies whose actions we do not like but at entire nations and all nationals.

But forget Michelle, no other First Lady is likely to visit either. Actually no one is likely to visit!

With the security situation in Pakistan, especially the targeting of Westerners we have deprived our country of a valuable source of income but also good publicity! With our borders closed to visitors and the airwaves open to the ‘breaking news’ images of terrorists and angry young people, Pakistan is not high on the list of popular tourist destinations.

But if some brave First Lady were to venture into Pakistan, her trip would look remarkable different. In this video of Jackie Kennedy’s visit, there are large crowds lining the roads and waving to her. There would be no crowds, thronging the roadside. The would be barricaded miles away.

Jackie and her sister Lee, dazzle the gathered crowds with their smiles and ‘trendy American dress.’ There is no covering of the head or of the arms and legs. Both sisters appear in fashionable form fitting dresses with bare arms and legs. And there is no furore. The crowds seem unmoved by the western dress and rather charmed and enamored. Clearly, there was a time when we were not obsessed with women’s dress and were more tolerant and accepting of what foreigners chose to wear. I doubt it would be the case anymore. If some foreign dignitary wore such clothes today, I imagine, there would be: loud proclamations of collective istaghfirullahs, a program by one of our numerous televangelists declaring them ‘Wajib-ul-qatl’ and some protests by the Jamaat-e-Islami women’s wing demanding a ban on foreign dignitaries.

But the saddest was the realization that no other female foreign dignitary will be visiting the Khyber Pass region anytime soon and walking about freely. And not for a long time, will this region be rightfully recognized for its rich culture, its dancers, poets and legendary story tellers.

14 responses to “If Michelle Obama Came to Pakistan: Remembering Jackie Kennedy’s Visit”

  1. Watan Aziz says:

    Can Pakistan be known for scientists, mathematicians, astronomers and inventors?

    Can the residents of 3 cities look at the rest of Pakistan as more than a tourist destination?

    Can the northern areas be known for world class universities? Hospitals of specialized medicine?

    I certainly hope Mrs. Obama visits Pakistan. But I pray she does not see this video before her visit. Because, in the almost 50 years since this video, nothing significant has changed for Pakistan except for the 3 major cities (that is if you consider that to be progress on the world scale). Watch the video again in disbelief, that is if you can muster disbelief.

    I mean, really, had Mrs. Kennedy gone to Mai Jori Jamali’s village, Mrs. Obama would have seen the same quality of water. 50 years! No change! Shameful.

    How shameless can the educated Pakistanis be?

    In the time the world has gone from mainframes to tablets in the palm of the hand, from delivering medicine via syringe to diagnosis by DNA, all you can talk about is your “tourist destinations”? Your entertainment by “rich culture, its dancers, poets and legendary story tellers”.

    Yes, I want to shame the educated of Pakistan.

    You are the cause of this failure.

    You are the root of this problem.

    You have done nothing for Mai Jori Jamali and are now ready to brand her with a label that may hide your guilt and suggest that the failure is not yours but of _______ (here, fill in your favorite hate word for the blank).

    From the “botleywalla” to the “aytoonwala” to the “enlightenmentwal”, we have seen all. Everyone a crook to keep himself in power. Common between all of them is the denial of justice and equity. Supporting them, the selfish educated of Pakistan in 3 cities who bought and kept goodies for themselves.

    Don’t throw it on vaderas or the ignorant mullah or whatever else you have been brainwashed into. Yes, they are not part of the solution. But you are part of the problem. You do not have bandwidth enough to hear back from me on instance after instance where you, the educated of Pakistan are the problem.

    So you are the reason why Mrs. Obama might skip visiting Pakistan.

    But if you want her to visit in their potentially second term in the office, you can make a difference. Change your conduct!

    Think of Shazia Masih.

    Think of Mai Jori Jamali.

    Think how you can change those lives instead of your own.

    And I will guarantee, a visit by every first lady of the world who would like to see the most capable university and most comforting hospital and highest percentage of good looking boys and girls in schools where world class education is being taught. That is the Pakistan I want them to visit.

    The great future is yours only if you will accept the responsibility.

  2. izaz haque says:

    spectacular video and trip down memory lane. Unfortunately, along the way Yahya Khan, Zia ul Haq, and Pervez Musharraf happened (not to mention our erstwhile politicians with nary a thought towards nation building).

  3. Syed Ahmed says:

    @ Aziz
    I think you should go to one of the cafes in Karachi in the evening….
    I dont know which park your sister goes to, I have my serious doubts on throwing dupatta and giving her life threats….unless she was wearing something really behuda…

    Yeh Qaum sirf roti rehti hai…..Her cheeze mai koee meen maikh nikal ker bus rotay raho….rotay raho

    Best Personal Regards,

  4. Syed Ahmed says:

    @ Aziz
    I think you should go to one of the cafes in Karachi in the evening….
    I dont know which park your sister goes to, I have my serious doubts on throwing dupatta and giving her life threats….unless she was wearing something really behuda…

    Yeh Qaum sirf roti rehti hai…..Her cheeze mai koee meen maikh nikal ker bus rotay raho….

    Best Personal Regards,

  5. ali hamdani says:

    relation between these two countries carry immense importance actually. Rehabilitation is something that is very successful in especially USA so we must learn from them to help militant rehabilitate. Other than that I think this step would help to built trust deficit.

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