Should foreign travelers hide part of their Pakistan experience, in the interest of local populations?

In no country you can be asked so frequently a question like “What do you think about Pakistan?”. It is not an open question. The expectation is to hear the positive message you will deliver. But real life and real countries are more complicated. Particularly, when you have to talk about a state led by Imran Khan who waged months of a hybrid war against your homeland. To sustain a tourism turned to local populations, Pakistan image must be restored through transparence and governance change. Driving foreign travelers discourse will not compensate the PM positions of the autumn 2020.

Here below is a comment I received about my paper “Kind regards from Pakistan”. What I had to say would became longer than expected. That’s the reason why I decided to present it as an article.

Table of content

  • Feed back received from “Neatgye”
  • Answer to “Neatgye”
  • The calumnies struggle intended to cut mountain communities from their livelihood can’t be ignored.
    – Pakistan wonders & good people have been widely documented.
    – Silencing an embarassing case is the opposite of helping.
  • Pakistan efforts for promoting foreign tourism have been recently seriously damaged for years to come.
    – Wonderful, kind, and loving people of Pakistan are not the visible ones.
    – The fact European travelers have to be careful in Pakistan should not be hidden or it will backfire.
    – Current image of Pakistan will not be materialy improved just by eluding a local abuse.
    – Imran Khan and his partners conducted a poor PR campaign.
  • The solution is not in an external Pakistan window dressing.
    – “White washing” Pakistan reputation thanks to foreigners does not work but creates national tensions.
    – Pakistan image cannot be restaured without a change in its governance.
    – National omerta about the consequence of a rogue behavior would prevent any positive change.
    – Where is Pakistan at the end of 2020 year?
    – The road to hell. Imran Khan lost his hybrid war and his quest for Muslim leadership. He humiliated and weakened his country.
    – This is not where Imran Khan promised Pakistan would be.
  • What is the remaining option after this nihilist race?
  • Exhibit

Feed back received from “Neatgye”

Mr Bernard.

I appreciate your highlighting the truth about the dark underbelly in Pakistan, but how does it help the millions of wonderful people inside Pakistan that are kind, loving people and need revenue from Tourists of France?

Neatgye 2021/02/15 — Link to the comment

Answer to “Neatgye”

Dear Neatgye,

Thank you very much for having read my paper “Kind regards from Pakistan?” and for your feed-back. I appreciate the way you turned it. The question you submit is a relevant and a delicate one. It comes frequently to my mind. I already thought writing about it. You offer me this possibility.

I will try explaining what is my position about such an issue. Habitually, I would not express myself about a foreign governance. However, due to the Pakistan authorities interference into France internal affairs and due to the violence they promoted, I need to talk about this propaganda and about its consequences for Pakistan and my country. It is a significant part of the problem.

The calumnies struggle intended to cut mountain communities from their livelihood can’t be ignored.

Pakistan wonders & good people have been widely documented.

As I informed you on September 9, 2020, and, as I explained in the text you are commenting, I wrote here, on Medium, 12 other articles, widely complimented and shared, about Northern Pakistan. They promote a responsible tourism for empowering local communities: “High Asia, stories of the Karakoram”. Since more than two years and a half, I continue to help and support these communities through various initiatives.

I am not close to the Pakistan political authorities like Cynthia D. Ritchie is. I am not an appointed influencer like Eva Zu Beck, Rosie Gabrielle, Jordan Taylor, Alex Reynolds are. I am not on Pak army, Tourism ministry, PTI party or ISI payroll. I am independent. Nobody orders me what I should produce and what I should not. I act according to my values, my conscience and my respect for the interlocutors.

Silencing an embarassing case is the opposite of helping.

In the article you comment, I introduced a Karachi rabid woman, who is famous in Upper-Hunza for her malevolence against mountain families and their external guests. I never directly experienced such a nationalist, extremist, racist, colonialist and radical religious constant harassment in any other parts of the world against peaceful people.

Ramla Akhtar — One of the numerous public posts of the Karachi stalker against Wakhi mountain people of Upper-Hunza, Northern Pakistan
One of the numerous public posts of the Karachi stalker against Wakhi mountain people of Upper-Hunza, Northern Pakistan

For helping “the wonderful people inside Pakistan that are kind, loving people and need revenue from Tourists of France”, as you say, I suggest you to feel concerned with this case. This is something serious. Indeed, the stalker runs an actual media slandering campaign for depriving mountain families from their visitors revenue. If you want to help. If you want to oppose this destructive endeavor, I am ready to fully and openly cooperate with you. I will explain you what information is available, what has been already performed and what actions we could conduct together. Unfortunately, this is the only assistance I could see. Because, since recently, the image of Pakistan is so spoiled in Europe that none of my other positive or negative words would be of any importance. Condé Nast Travel and Forbes travel recommendations already belong to another era.

‘Traveller by Condè Nast’ ranks Pakistan as number one travel destination for 2020
One of the world’s best travel portals, Traveller by Condè Nast, has rated Pakistan as the number one holiday destination for 2020.

The Not Hot List: 10 Best Under-the-Radar Trips for 2020
Wild Frontiers has been tipping Pakistan as the next big destination for a couple of years now, but with the recent visit and royal seal of approval from the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, they anticipate the destination will continue to be one to watch. “Pakistan is perhaps the ultimate adventure travel destination,” says founder Jonny Bealby. 

Let me remind how it happened.

Pakistan efforts for promoting foreign tourism have been recently seriously damaged for years to come.

Wonderful, kind, and loving people of Pakistan are not the visible ones.

I thought the radicalized Karachi woman was an isolated case. However, at a time we were experiencing murderous terrorist attacks in France, I discovered terrible posts on Twitter. They came from numerous Pakistani citizens, including from your government. It made me understand the rabid stalker represents an actual segment of Pakistan population. It cannot be underestimated. It was disturbing to read calls for punishmentvengeancejihadbeheadingsforced conversionssharia implementation and nuclear bombing against our country below M. Khan’s flood Francophobe tweets and “fatwas”. According to European mentalities, this is not the way “wonderful, kind, and loving people” can behave.

Pakistani Prime Minister sending condelences to the family of a religious extremist, the leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, who called for droping nuclear weapons on France
Pakistani Prime Minister sending condelences to the family of a religious extremist, the leader of Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan, who called for droping nuclear weapons on France

Read – Pakistan and Turkey: When governments become the godfathers of the terrorist threat!

In the video, one can see a female teacher beheading the effigy in front of the students so that they can be taught how to behead a human being and to make sure they can get ‘vengeance’ on France

The fact European travelers have to be careful in Pakistan should not be hidden or it will backfire.

I do consider travelers should not visit Pakistan, without strong and explicit warnings, at least until another governance is implemented by your politicians.The latter ones have to act reasonably. It is true they are facing a challenged and weak legitimacy. However, they should not instrument external scapegoats through false information for naively expecting a Muslim international leadership under their rule or for establishing an artificial unity around them. It promotes murderous violences in their country and abroad.

Current image of Pakistan will not be materialy improved just by eluding a local abuse.

When I see your mention about the “REVENUE FROM TOURISTS FROM FRANCE”, I don’t think you assess correctly how the last 2020 months of Pakistani PR have been a devastation in western countries and especially in France. I suggest to listen to a third party, Francesca Marino, an Italian journalist and writer. She knows very well our two countries. Read her article published on 28 Oct 2020 (the day before the triple Islamist murder in Nice Basilica).

…This campaign started less than a month ago, when the burning of French flags, calls for jihad and hate speeches in Pakistan, ‘endorsed’ by Imran Khan and his Foreign Minister Shah Maqmood Qureshi, seemingly ‘resulted’ in the the stabbing of two journalists in front of the former office of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo. After that, another Islamist beheaded a school teacher, Samuel Paty, who showed Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons to his students…

Paris Beheading: What Pakistan PM Needs to Understand About France
Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan has done it again, projecting himself (via Twitter) as a ‘protector of the faith’…

Imran Khan and his partners conducted very negative PR campaign.

Let’s remind that the first attack was committed by Zaheer Hassan Mehmood, a young Pakistani man, who was hosted and subsidized by France under the isolated minor status. It appeared, actually, he was more than 18 years old when he arrived in our country and he was not without a family. His murderous action was praised by his father.

Quos vult perdere Jupiter dementat.

It did not prevent Imran Khan and his cabinet to escalate, during months, their propaganda. Each measure France authorities took for protecting their citizens from terrorism, in accordance with our strongly demanding state of law status, was denounced by Recep Erdogan and his pet, Imran Khan, as an islamophobic step. This was not tolerable but it went on until an ultimate infamy summit.

Fake news and false accusations:

French Embassy in Pakistan retweets Shireen Mazari the human rights minister for Pakistan. It was three weeks after Nice Basilica triple murder.
French Embassy in Pakistan retweets Shireen Mazari the human rights minister for Pakistan. It was three weeks after Nice Basilica triple murder.

The solution is not in an external Pakistan window dressing.

“White washing” Pakistan reputation thanks to foreigners does not work but creates national tensions.

Asking strangers, namely some of the victims of the official hate speech, to paint Pakistan in pink will be of no help. It is not the proper solution as Samira Shackle explains:

How western travel influencers got tangled up in Pakistan’s politics
Long before she became headline news in Pakistan, Cynthia Dawn Ritchie was simply a tourist. In 2009, Ritchie, an American woman living in Houston, Texas, took a trip to Karachi, the sprawling megacity in southern Pakistan.

It will not fool foreigners. Like with Cynthia D. Ritchie’s activism, it will abusively comfort just one part of Pakistani audience. In the meantime, the other part of the audience will bitterly denounce a “post-colonial hangover”. They will be rightly outraged by the fact that their potential contribution and their concrete local knowledge would beignored. Like it was the case in 2019 Pakistan Tourism Summit.

It will not repair the damages Imran Khan and his, nowadays dead or alive, inspirators (like Khadim Hussain Rizviarmy or ISI generalsRecep Erdogan, etc.) did to their country reputation with their September, October and November 2020 anti-France campaign.

Pakistan image cannot be restaured without a change in its governance.

Insulting , deeply shocking, blatant lies, disgraceful, ideology of hatred and violence.

Make no mistakes, this “communiqué” has been reviewed and approved at the highest state level. These selected words are extremely unfrequent in the diplomatic sphere. They did not target a simple heinous “Human rights minister”. They are reserved to enemies waging an aggression war. This is how Pakistan is, now, perceived in France.

The situation is not improving. Now, this is the turn of Pakistan President, Arif Alvi.

National omerta about the consequence of a rogue behavior would prevent any positive change.

In my opinion, Pakistani people should realize, and be allowed to say, how the irresponsible public international behavior from some Pakistan political or religious leaders have been durably detrimental to their country and its people. I looked for a presentation of the costs for spreading an international Muslim hatred against France. I detected none on Pakistan media. Pakistani journalists, including those living abroad, are scared to write on certain issues. Even Islamabad AFP (Agence France Presse) keeps silent. It is not just enforced by state censorship and retaliation. “Positive Pakistan” is the national doxa. The only solution to have a glance on the reverse side of the medal is to obtain it from India. This is not a healthy situation.

Where is Pakistan at the end of 2020 year?

France takes huge step against Pakistan; revokes visas of 183 nationals (November 2, 2020)
France takes huge step against Pakistan; revokes visas of 183 nationals — This action is directly linked to the…www.dnaindia.com

French President, shampoo, cosmetics are all haram in Pakistan. Just not French defence toys (November 5, 2020)
I remember vividly how former US President George W. Bush’s photographs were pasted on the floor tiles of a shopping…theprint.in

After UAE, now France makes a public spectacle of Imran’s Pakistan(November 20, 2020)
France has refused to provide the technical know-how needed for upgradation of Mirage fighter jets in Pakistan Air…www.newsbred.com

Paris Declines Pakistani Request To Upgrade French-made Jets And Submarines After Imran Khan’s…(November 23, 2020)
After Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly defended Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s claim that French…greekcitytimes.com

Khadim Rizvi’s blasphemy fire will only intensify. It’s out of Imran Khan govt’s control now(November 23, 2020)
The French ambassador in Pakistan must have breathed a sigh of relief as Khadim Hussain Rizvi of the Tehreek-e-Labbaik…theprint.in

A dilemma for Pakistan as UAE cuts off work visas (December 14, 2020)
For the struggling economy of Pakistan, foreign remittances from expatriates are lifesavers, and the United Arab…www.lowyinstitute.org

Pakistan leaders actually promote India while killing their country international reputation

A dilemma for Pak.India, France to hold naval drills (Feb 23, 2021)
India and France will cement their defence cooperation in April when the Charles de Gaulle aircraft carrier strike…www.hindustantimes.com

The road to hell. Imran Khan lost his hybrid war and his quest for Muslim leadership. He humiliated and weakened his country.

  • None of Imran Khan formal demands to UN, to other Muslim Leaders, or to Facebook… received any answer, either “no” or “yes”. They have been ignored.
  • None of Imran Khan demands, to France and to its president, despite a rabid harassment and open threats, was agreed.
  • None of Imran Khan plethoric tweets to Emmanuel Macron or the interntional leaders community was ever answered.
  • Imran Khan spoiled Pakistan economical, defense and national interests.
  • Imran Khan made Pakistan, again, a world pariah.
  • Imran Khan worked for India’s greatest international benefit.
  • Thanks to Imran Khan, Pakistan streets are under control of the extremist Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan which will dictate its politics, increase its pressure and create unrest.
November 27, 2020

This is not where Imran Khan promised Pakistan would be.

Under Imran Khan, Pakistan plans to boost tourism to create millions of jobs (31August 2018)
Pakistan’s tourism industry, currently estimated at $22 billion, is booming and is set to get a further boost at the…english.alarabiya.net

What is the remaining option after this nihilist race?

I respectfully think, the challenge for Pakistan upcoming generation is to transform the reality, from inside, not to work on promoting an alternative reality via foreigners. It would be the best way to help “the millions of wonderful people inside Pakistan that are kind, loving people”. For bringing them an international tourist revenue, their nation needs to get rid of the pariah and rogue state status it enforced in European opinions over last months. This an internal issue. It must be handled without foreign interferences. Simultaneously, Pakistan leaders have to avoid interfering into other countries internal affairs, including, but not only, promoting sedition on religious issues, spreading an ideology of hatred and violence, fueling terrorism.

Sincerely yours,

Bernard Grua, Nantes, France, February 19, 2021

Exhibit

My answer to Shireen Mazari, Pakistan human rights minister: “This job is not made for you”.

Shireen Mazari, Pakistan Franc, Ministers relying on garbage and hateful media. How foreigners could paint this in pink? It must be changed from inside.
Ministers relying on garbage and hateful media. — How foreigners could paint this in pink? It must be changed from inside.

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Should foreign travelers hide part of their Pakistan experience, in the interest of local populations?
Photography © Bernard Grua

Published by Bernard Grua

Graduated from Paris "Institut d'Etudes Politiques", financial auditor, photographer, founder and spokesperson of the worldwide movement which opposed to the delivery of Mitral invasion vessels to Putin's Russia, contributor to French and foreign media for culture, heritage and geopolitics.

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