When I got into a taxicab here in Abu Dhabi this morning, the radio was playing a BBC report about the latest NATO attack carried out by the Pakistan Taliban. The driver and i listened to this story in silence. Afterward:
Driver: Where are you from?
Me: America. Where are you from?
We both laughed. We then had a fascinating 7-minute conversation (I wasn’t going far.) Here’s a summary.
Pakistan is a mess — President Zandari is a corrupt buffoon who lost any respect he ever had by traveling to the U.K. during the beginning stages of the terrible floods that have devastated his country. My driver wondered how much money was spent so that Zandari and his entourage could travel overseas–while his countrymen died in the floods.
He said that the problem with the Pakistan Taliban is a lack of education in the country. That tribal areas feature closed societies where they teach their children that violence is an acceptable way to work out any differences. He made it clear that people should have a right to protest, but not to hurt anyone–no matter how grave the injustice.
Finally, he said that the return of former President Pervez Musharaff could be the best thing for the country. Musharaff has floated the idea of forming a new political party and running for office in 2012. My driver praised Musharaff’s ability to communicate well with the global audience and his relative lack of involvement in corruption. He said that his country is racked with corruption–including the elections–and he sees this as a major barrier to its development. Of course, neither of us could come of with a solution for this problem.
At that point, I’d arrived at my destination. I thanked him for the great conversation and left the cab appreciating living in Abu Dhabi.