SUSAN BLOCK'S JOURNAL ENTRIES
Letters. from .Pakistan
Photos from (Old) Afghanistan
following e-mails are part of my exciting new correspondence with Saqlain
Imam, an esteemed Pakistani journalist & former president of the Lahore
Press Club, who first wrote to me in response to my essay/diatribe in
Ayatollah Asscraft. I took most of the photos on these pages in Pakistan
& Afghanistan when I was traveling there just before the Soviet invasion.
The photos of me were taken by various Afghans & fellow travelers.
This is all part of my very personal effort to make sense of the madness,
to make peace out of war, pleasure out of pain, romance from terror.
I support you
Re: I support you
Subject: Re: I support
I am sorry for this belated reply. I am glad that you acknowledged my support. I am of the view that strict laws and rules to regulate a society are bound to produce a Spartan culture which cannot spin up a plural society. Perhaps this is one of the major reasons that we a growing fundamentalism here in Pakistan. I fear the same for American society in future. But see the difference, growth of fundamentalism in Pakistan produced one Ben Ladin or Taliban in Afghanistan, what will it do if American fundamentalism is not arrested?
About me: I am a journalist as I told you earlier. I happened to have attended some certificate courses on television/broadcasting journalism at the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University in the city of New York in 1996. I had got admission in the Class 2000 of the same school as a mid-career student of the Master degree programme, but could not proceed to study due to substantial financial constraints. It has been my dream to complete a degree programme from that university or any one equal to that in the USA.
Currently I am an editor of an incoming evening newspaper in English language and planning to bring it out when the proprietor would desire to launch it (to be exact, doing nothing! Ha!). This newspaper will be a part of the largest group of Jang Group of Newspapers in Pakistan. I have about 15 years experience in journalism as a reporter and Business editor. I covered almost all major beats in reporting and have been writing on all issues. I started my career as a crime reporter then investigative reporter, then political analyst, and commerce editor. I also have headed reporting section and a bureau of a newspaper as Chief Reporter and Bureau Chief, respectively. I was elected president of Lahore Press Club twice in 1998 and 1999. I also served my community as president of Punjab Union of Journalists in 1995-96.
now I occasionally write for the magazine of a sister organization,
The News, Lahore. But interested in writing frequently for any foreign
newspaper or work for a foreign broadcasting company because my views
are so different from generally accepted local views that I find myself
stranger here in Pakistan. I have been opposing the Taliban rise right
from its inception.
I am a peace activist in a way that I participated in several peace conferences held to promote peace between Pakistan and India. I believe that the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) of Pakistan has control over all political activities in Pakistan and it will never allow a pluralistic society to grow in Pakistan. Most of the crises in Pakistan are due to ISI policies, which still want to promote a fundamental society. It's a tragedy but a reality at the same time.
By the way, I won't be offended if you are a sex educator and a therapist. Because this aspect of human being is very crucial and important for his or her happiness. In fact, in Pakistan this field (sex education or therapy) has been taken over by "quacks" who sell traditional medicines/aphrodisiac food to men to "build more their sex power!" There is very little concept of sex education for women. Only men are supposed to build their "sex" which means, "enlarging their sexual organ" or " ensuring delayed ejaculation." People in general, but privately, watch porno films or pictures, and take it as sex education. Very little is know about sex from academic point of view. Well this is what I could briefly tell you about Pakistani society's sex education. I agree people in general get offended here in Pakistan if sex is discussed in public. Thatís a fine hypocrisy!
I am afraid right now that I cannot furnish you exact information on Muslims held in America after 9/11 tragedy. But Boston Globe ran a story on this issue a week or so ago. If got some facts I would definitely forward you the same. Anyhow it is really pleasing for me that I happened to have come across a person like you who is dedicated to a cause that is global and need of the hour. I highly appreciate your efforts.
Re: I support you
Now I am the one who must apologize for my delay in getting back to you. I've been rather overwhelmed by the outpouring of response to my little diatribe on the American Ayatollah and my cowardly attorney who I will see in court this Monday. I've printed some of the letters, including yours, on this page: http://www.drsusanblock.com/editorial/terror/terror4letters.htm
Unfortunately, I have not been able to respond to everyone. But this second email of yours, so personal, eloquent and coming from the heart of such tumultuous world events has touched me deeply. I'm also impressed by your professional background, as well as your work as a peace activist in such a volatile region. Having been a student at Columbia right in the center of New York, how did you feel on September 11? What are your thoughts about it? You must have written about it. Might I read an English version of what you wrote?
I feel a strong personal connection with your part of the world. I visited Pakistan over 20 years ago, when I was a student, vagabond and fearless teenager. After traveling through the mountains and temples of Nepal and India with my girlfriend, we parted company at the Golden Temple of Amritsar when she declared that she had no interest in going to Muslim countries where she couldn't wear sleeveless tops in summertime. I shrugged her off, bound for adventure, gamely covering my bare arms, legs and hair with long skirts, sleeves and scarves, and I ventured into Lahore. There I encountered an older, genial Christian Pakistani gentleman who spoke perfect English and helped me to find a nice hotel. Upon escorting me to my room, he proceeded to throw me up against the wall and rape me, until I screamed that I was a virgin, at which point he stopped suddenly, apologized, bought me dinner, paid for the hotel room and left me alone.
In between Lahore and Peshawar, I almost wound up married to a handsome Pakistani engineer. He met me on a bus and invited me to his home for a weekend. I met his entire family, including mother, grandmother and sister, all of whom wore the veil outside their house. They treated me like a queen all weekend, until they discovered that I had no intention of marrying their son (as he had told them), at which point I was immediately put on the next bus to Peshawar. From there, I traveled through Afghanistan, taking in all the hot spots--Kabul, Kandahar, the Khyber Pass, the crystal blue lakes of Bamian, the giant Buddhas of Balkh and the mosques of Mazar-I-Sharif. I rode horses through the mountains, ate nan and kabobs, smoked hash, tried wearing a burka one day (but kept tripping and bumping into things), bought beautiful embroidered vests and socks that I still have, went to a Buzshkazi game in Kandahar, and had a brief but passionate affair with my sexy young hotel manager in Kabul. I loved every minute of it.
I, too, have opposed the Taliban since I first heard about them in the mid-1990s. On my weekly Saturday night show, I've spoken many times about their enslavement of women, as well as their destruction of the giant Buddhas (which hurt me personally, since I'd spent a most delightful afternoon climbing one of them, then sitting on top its head to enjoy the view). This is not to demonize the Taliban as the "Other" that we could never be. Indeed, the Taliban serve as a stark warning to us as to where our own society might go if we allow it to be overtaken by our own fundamentalist Bible-bangers and Crusaders like "Ayatollah Asscraft" and the "Reverend Jerry ben Falwell." I haven't been back in your area in over two decades, but I do have a couple of sex therapy clients from Pakistan (I conduct therapy sessions by phone). One of them breeds Arabian horses somewhere near Karachi. And now, of course, the eyes of the world are focused on that area.
The main thing that I keep hearing about the Muslims being detained in America ("detained," of course, means imprisoned) is that authorities have found no hard evidence on any of them linking them to the 9.11 attacks. I will be talking about this outrageous suspension of due process on my show tonight, as well as talking about the Patriot Act and RAWA (Revolutionary Association of Afghan Women). In fact, if it is at all possible for you to call my show, that would be wonderful. I'm sure you would give a terrific report on the situation as you see it. The show airs tonight (Saturday night) from 10:30 PM - 1 AM (American Pacific Time). I'm not sure what time that would be in Pakistan. The call-in number is 213.239.0300. Or, if you'd like, we can call you. Just e-mail me a telephone number where we can reach you, and we will call. I'd like to talk for about 15 minutes. If it doesn't work out for tonight, I hope we can do it another time soon.
In any case, I greatly appreciate your support and your correspondence.