Pakistan April 2004 photo journal

Travelling once again to Pakistan, we found enormous changes, and thought we might share a few pictures

A middle class Mendhi. This is a ceremony held before the wedding where the bride has her hands painted and family members feed pieces of sweetmeats to the prospective bride and groom to show that they will feed and support their prospective son-in-law and daughter-in-law regardless of what life has to throw at them. It is a bit like the English marriage vow, rich or poor, sickness or in health, except that the promise comes from the families rather the the couple. Note that bride and groom are sitting together before the wedding, which would not be the custom in more authoritarian Islamic circles in the UK

The couple shown above at their Mendhi had their wedding ceremony the next evening. At a Pakistani wedding, the Imam always asks the bride whether she really wants to get married, well away from the groom and his family. Sometimes they ask the groom as well. The main activity indulged in by everyone else present is eating

Number one concern of most parents we met is their children's education. Private schools seem to be springing up on every street corner alongside the state system. The little girl has just won her gold cup for being best in class and we were told that she is also the local inter schools debating champion. Boys in her family seem to have done quite well too

Businesses especially those based on textiles have become increasingly sophisticated. Customers are expected to bargain.(Faisalabad)

Politics seemed to be fairly alive and well

Pakistan's nuclear missile program is regarded as a symbol of the country's technical achievements. Pakistanis we spoke to however, were all strongly opposed to war. The Kashmir conflict was generally regarded as a leftover of British divide-and-rule policies in the last days of Empire and, it was said, is kept alive by those politicians and army officers who see it as a way of keeping themselves in employment

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