Mr. Gong Ben Xiang’s “Pakistan Diary” By Adeeb Akmal

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“Words are not enough to describe the friendship between Pakistani and Chinese people.” says Mr. Gong; a Chinese Businessman who is currently in Islamabad for near-future expansion of his business from Switzerland, Russia and China to Pakistan. Being an interpreter I have the opportunity to accompany him to visit numerous places including tourist sites in Islamabad.

The other day, we swerved our way to Marriot Hotel and asked directions from nearby Police patrol. Mr. Gong was amazed by the response of Islamabad Police when they lead us to the destination and said “China is our brother; we will do anything for our brother.” He was also extremely moved to see how public treats him. “They smile, wave hands and ask about my health. I have never experienced such a wonderful conduct in any other country”, he mentioned. Just like any other Chinese national, he is amazed to see how Pakistani people respect and love China.

Despite all the good-happenings in his visit to Pakistan, there is something which disheartened him and simultaneously me, as a host. The entry tickets required for visiting tourist sites including Pakistan Monument and Heritage Museum in Islamabad do a great injustice to foreigners, especially Chinese nationals. For locals it costs Rs.20 to enter Pakistan Monument while for foreigners, it is Rs.250. Generally the ticket prices are doubled but the difference between 20 and 250 is a little too much. According to Mr. Gong, it is not a matter of money but this distinction between foreigners and locals negatively impacts the minds of visitors. “In reality, both foreigners and locals have the same eyes, with which everyone sees the same site”, he added. To be honest, I have seen locals throwing trash while foreigners picking them up to dispose properly. Another linguistic reason for why it negatively impacts the Chinese community is that the numeral “250” refers to an odd meaning in Chinese language. It is extremely unethical to refer it to a person, in this case, our own Iron brother ‘China’.

Almost all the foreigners whom I took to the sites in Islamabad consider double pricing of tickets as disrespect to global unity and brotherhood. Double pricing of tickets for foreigners is considered racism and thus illegal in other countries. “On behalf of foreigners and especially the Chinese community, I request CDA to look into this matter to avoid future misunderstandings. This gesture may attract more foreigners and keep them inspired by the hospitality provided by Pakistani Government and people” said Mr. Gong.

People like Mr. Gong are our honorable guests. In just one week he has numerous contributions to Pakistan. On their own request such contributions are not mentioned in digital and print media.

Land of beauty and hospitality will never be in loss if double-pricing is abandoned. Double-pricing of tickets for foreigners ruins our image in international community especially in Chinese community whom we call our ‘Iron Brother’. Capital Development Authority is a prestigious organization and so are the people of Pakistan. CDA is requested to regulate laws without the distinction of country, creed and color.

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