The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on a five-day visit to Pakistan. Kate and William are spreading some royal love here. In the words of British High Commissioner to Pakistan Thomas Drew, “the couple would like to see the breadth and depth of the country”.
This is the first royal visit to Pakistan in 13 years after Charles, the Prince of Wales, and his wife Camilla, the Duchess of Cornwall, toured the state in 2006. The most memorable visits have been late Princess Diana’s in 1991, 1996 and 1997. Queen Elizabeth II had visited twice in 1961 and 1997 during the golden jubilee independence day celebrations.
We have been told by the government that the royal visit is a good omen, it shows there is no global isolation, it will help Pakistan project itself as a soft power. The last time we were told all this was when Naya Pakistan was being installed. So, please don’t mind if we look rather unmoved by such declarations.
No one really has a problem with Kate and William’s visit, they are more than welcome to tour Pakistan every year. The real problem is the government’s mismanagement. Tuesday, for instance, traffic in Islamabad was stuck for hours. Thanks to such ‘meticulous’ planning by the authorities, the royal visit turned into a royal siyappa for the common man.
Ladies and gentlemen, presenting to you capital Islamabad’s total mess as roads blocked again to allow William and Kate free passage across the city. Ambulances stuck. People stuck. Families stuck. What a shame. What a farce. pic.twitter.com/mPXGUsVYcP
— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) October 15, 2019
Rickshaw rides to mosquitoes
The purpose of royal visits is more or less the same in every country. Spreading love. So, if you are expecting the royal couple to speak up for the blasphemy victims, enforced disappearances or human rights abuse, then your expectations are clearly misplaced. On the issue of colonial past, yeah, scratch that too.
The royal couple has been spotted doing some fun stuff, like riding a fancy auto-rickshaw in Islamabad, where rickshaws are actually banned. Being the generous hosts, we didn’t register any challans for the royal guests. After Brexit, these rickshaw rides might become a reality for the British royals.
Some even made jokes about Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan driving the couple in the rickshaw – he is known to be an uber-cool driver to his royal guests from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
— Mochi موچی (@TheHawaldar) October 12, 2019
The security situation for the royals might be up-to-the-mark but the dengue situation in Pakistan has got people worried about the couple’s health. Malka-e-Bartania, for instance, has instructed Prince William to apply anti-mosquito repellent even on his head before sleeping.
Shehzaday ko kaha hai raat ko sar par bhi Mospel laga ker soye
— Queen Elizabeth (@MalkaEBartania) October 15, 2019
The burden of expectations
As usual, many in Pakistan have pinned extraordinary hopes on the royal couple. There are those who think this is a slap on the face of everyone, everywhere. Yes, it doesn’t matter who you are or if you’re even bothered about William and Kate, but you are getting slapped nevertheless.
I’m sorry but these pictures are actually a big slap on our so called liberal society and specifically actresses. Look how she’s respecting our cultural values by wearing these dresses. This shows our perception in her mind. Thank You Her Highness. #RoyaltourPakistan pic.twitter.com/NQLAE49bo0
— R I D A ..🍂 (@__SyedaRida) October 15, 2019
Then, there are those who think this visit will help Pakistan tide over its woes at the ongoing session of the international terror financing watchdog FATF. They say, it is a “Bad day Modi and Ajit Doval Good Day Pakistan”. Although Pakistan’s grey-listing last year was proposed by the United States, backed by France, Britain and Germany, Pakistanis hoping that William and Kate can bail us out is just endearing.
As Prince William and Princess Kate arrives in Islamabad the Kensington Palace reminded the world and FATF in a statement that the British Royal Couple is showcasing Pakistan as “a dynamic, aspirational and forward-looking nation,” Bad day Modi and Ajit Doval Good Day Pakistan pic.twitter.com/UtQVGrpk9Y
— Kamran Khan (@AajKamranKhan) October 14, 2019
And, there are those men and women who are orgasming over Kate Middleton’s desi avatar. Wonder if they expect her to make perfect gol rotis next. In her dupatta, her kameez and trouser, they’ve found a reason to call out the “desi liberals” and “feminists”. She respects our culture, they say, and it’s a “big slap” on the face of Pakistani women who don’t wear a dupatta or dress up in western attire.
For these self-appointed moral custodians, Kate or Diana wearing salwar kameez in Pakistan shows they respect ‘our culture’, but actor Mahira Khan wearing a short white dress in New York is tantamount to disrespecting one’s culture. Hypocrisy much?
— zahid Jamal 💎 (@zahidjamal345) October 15, 2019
Since everything is about women’s clothes and earrings, dare we ask if the first lady of Pakistan were to visit Britain tomorrow, would she respect western culture and wear what Kate does?
— Leena (@Leena_Ghani) October 15, 2019
The handsome PM
While Kate has definitely won herself many admirers in Pakistan, followers of Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf think the Duchess of Cambridge is crushing on Imran Khan. Just a few months ago, they thought Melania Trump was going weak at the knees.
— Capt. Zavaanish Shah (@Zavaanish) October 15, 2019
— پاکستان میری جان🇵🇰 (@patrioticsoul99) October 15, 2019
For a party whose leader wants to transform Pakistan into a Medina-like welfare state, celebrating its PM’s playboy past is a bit contradictory, me thinks.
The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.