John is doing his doctorate at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. He came to Lahore at a time when three major cities in the country (our nerve centres) were hit by a continuous spate of violence and heavy explosions.
At such time it was a bit surprising that a young man and that too a gora boy roaming the streets of Lahore in such a carefree manner. A very happy experience indeed for us Pakistanis to learn that Pakistan as a country has such charm that a foreign guest would not even bother about the security here and travel all the way from London to Lahore just for sight seeing. [Image above: John at the Wahga Border Crossing, Pakistan side]
HAD JOHN KNOWN PUNJABI, WOULD DEFINITELY MUSE
“MAEN LHORE AYA, OTHEY DIL CHHORJ AYA”
Interview John R. Bradley
by Nayyar Hashmey
John a doctoral student at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland came to Lahore at a time when three most important cities in the country (our nerve centres) were hit by a continuous spate of violence and heavy explosions. At such time it was for me a bit surprising to see a young man and that too a gora boy roaming the streets of Lahore in such a carefree manner.
I had many questions in mind although it was a very happy experience for me that Pakistan indeed as a country has such a charm that a foreign guest would not even bother about the security situation here and travel all the way from London to Lahore just for sight seeing.
So I asked questions which irked my mind and John who is a young smart guy, replied these questions in a pleasant manner.
Me: Tell me something about yourself?
John with a boy in Pakistan flag shirt.
John: I grew up in England, living in London and Bristol. I have a degree in theology from Oxford University and a Masters degree in politics and Arabic from the University of London. I have also spent time working in public affairs in Washington, DC.
Me: What made you to travel all the way from Edinburgh to Lahore?
John: I have some friends who grew up in Pakistan and told me that it was a very beautiful country with extremely friendly people. My PhD is about the Middle East and Islam: Pakistan has a very important place in the Islamic world, a position that enables this country have a big impact on the Middle East, so for me it was important to see the country for myself. I had to visit Lahore, because I had heard that of all the cities in Pakistan it is the most beautiful and has a rich history and culture, especially the heritage sites.
Me: Any commonality between Scotland and Pakistan?
John: Apart from the large Pakistani community in Scotland (most of whom live in Glasgow), I would say the two commonalities are: friendliness of the people and the variety of the landscapes: mountains, lakes, open spaces and great cities.
Me: Are there any places in Pakistan which the Scottish people may feel tempted to visit?
John: Scottish people are very intrepid, and I am sure they would want to visit the beautiful, rugged North of Pakistan.
Me: There is a lot of propaganda in Western media about Pakistan being a country of religious zealots who are out to destroy every thing that’s based on Western values?
John: I’m a afraid that there is a lot of negative press about Pakistan. Sadly the actions of a very few people have meant that some Westerners judge all Pakistanis to be radical. If only more people visited Pakistan themselves then they would see that Pakistanis are educated, friendly, humane, tolerant and moderate.
Me: How did u find people of Lahore?
John: The people of Lahore are very charming and helpful. They worked hard to make my stay as comfortable and interesting as possible.
Me: You are doing research at the Edinburgh University. Do you think students of your university would be wishing to visit Lahore as you did?
John: I think that if people at the University can be convinced that Pakistan is secure and stable, then many people would visit. Pakistan has much of interest to many students: for instance History, Art, Religious Studies, Architecture, Politics etc.
Me: You had a taste of Pakistani dishes while you were with us here in Lahore. How did u like them?
John: The food I had in Lahore was sublime. It reminded me of Indian food, but was more subtle and was enhanced by the meat dishes. I particularly enjoyed the lamb dishes and desserts.
Me: Do you think a site such as WOP can contribute towards promotion of tourism between Pakistan and Scotland?
John: I hope so. Perhaps the best place to promote tourism through WOP would be amongst the Pakistani community in Scotland who have never visited their motherland. Also I know several people in Edinburgh who have been to Pakistan and fallen in love with the country. So the coverage, the interesting travel reports that you put up on ‘Wonders of Pakistan’ should definitely encourage people to visit.
Me: Your message to fellow youth here in Pakistan
John: Make the most of living in such a vibrant and beautiful country. Embrace your amazing culture but also take time to learn about the rest of the world around you.
Me: Thanks John for this short but informative interview.
John: My pleasure.
Photographs provided by John R. Bradley.
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