Friday, 30 October 2009

Right Burqa, Wrong Lips

This is the story of pretty western female spies messing around with Pakistan's all-male 'intelligent' agency.

Direct from Germany

In 1984, Kerstin Beck, an East German student arrived in Soviet-controlled Afghanistan to study Dari language. From there, she planned to defect to West Germany via Pakistan. She may have learnt Dari but she failed to learn how to walk properly wearing a burqa. The choice of her route carried a huge price and the answer, my friend, was not a burqa blowing in the wind.

She befriended an Afghan at a Kabul restaurant that sold opium-laced Chapli kebabs. That led to a secret meeting with some freedom fighting leaders at night in front of a picture theatre. The first question she was asked was: 'What's a nice girl like you doing at a place like this'. She diplomatically negotiated the deal of getting herself parcelled across the border to Pakistan. She remained in the rear of a car (Americans will appreciate what that means) until they arrived at the border check-post.

Miss Beck, politically unaware in more than one way, had not watched our hilarious Khabarnama closely. Those were the happy Zia-days. Citizens were whip-lashed in stadiums for minor offences. The slogan in vogue was BE PAKISTANI, GET WHIPPED BY A PAKISTANI.

Somewhere along the way, she was prepared for the crossing. There was no time for plastic surgery, instead her stilettos were dirtied for special effects, and a burqa was given her. She was assured that once inside the 'tribal belt'easier said than doneshe would eventually make it to the desired spot. The term tribal belt was left undefined, and what was also not clarified at the start of the arduous journey to Peshawar was who would 'make it' with whom and how. Certain things were deliberately left to the imagination.

At the makeshift border check-post, the Litmus Test required her to walk fifty meters wearing the regressive apparel. Her deceit lasted only a few steps when shouts of “Russian spy” were heard.

This time she was handed over to spiritual leaders who, after exorcising her devils in one night, decreed she was not a spy. How she managed to convince the orthodoxy under the circumstances is anybody’s guess. Promptly labelled WAR BOOTY, she was handed over for marriage to a military commander who hoped that Russian bombs would act as wedding-night fireworks. The attempt backfired because the groom in question ate too much garlic for Miss Beck’s taste.

From there on, she remained in the protective custody of yet another Mujahideen group. When they found out she used LUX soap 'for a more beautiful skin', she was promised that once the 'leather trade' showed promise, she would be exported to West Germany. The persuasive power of her whiteness finally enabled her to reach the Promised Land; the rest is history. She now spends most of her free time globally campaigning against the sale of opium-laced Chapli kebabs.

The Mujahideen have never been fighting fools. Miss Beck was dumbfounded to discover that they 'found her out from the way she walked'. Compared with Oriental women, her gait was too springy, too athletic, and bold. How else would a Western woman walk?

And from England: Yvonne Ridley

Flash forward. On 28 September 2001 Miss Yvonne Ridley, 43, a British journalist from The Sunday Express, was apprehended by the Taliban as she danced the same tango. She entered Afghanistan, wearing a burqa, on the pretext of 'witnessing the plight of the poor refugees'.

Two local guides accompanied her. She did not have to go to such extremes of trouble. Our borders littered with homeless souls, our commerce taken over by Afghan Transit Trade, our cities patrolled by displaced persons should have sufficed. But she did it to raise the levels of her personal adrenaline and international rage.

Her husbands were poodles

Miss Ridley married five times: first when she was twenty-two to God-knows-who, then to a policeman (it lasted seven years).

Her third husband, Daoud (David) Zaaroura, the CEO of North of England Refugee Service and a former PLO head of intelligence, whom she met in Cyprus while 'working on an assignment' for the Newcastle-based Sunday Sun. They have one daughter, Daisy Ridley, who was born in 1992. During her time on the Sunday Sun newsdesk, she told colleagues she was an officer in the Territorial Army, based on Teesside, specialising in intelligence. She had also told the same to colleagues on the The Northern Echo and repeated it in interviews.

She 'found' her fourth husband and remained married until 1999. He was an Israeli businessman, Ilan Hermosh. Her fifth husband is an Algerian.

In January 2014, Ridley was nominated for the 'Muslim Woman of the Year' award at the British Muslim Awards. Given the kind of intelligence-related work she did for old England, and her connected husband, this award can fool no one.

Women-watching is a national sport 

History has the uncomfortable ability to repeat itself. Miss Ridley, about whom an Afghan admitted in broken English, 'Strangers not properly walk.' Yet another Afghan was graphic, 'We watch the stride and the quickness of females to judge their age. The wind also blows a burqa against her body. Sometimes we even try to have eye contact with her through the eye covering.'

Not the worst Hollywood film, not even cheap Punjabi or vulgar Pushto stuff can compete with the thrill Kandahar winds provide to starved eyes when they blow to reveal bodily contours under a burqa. 'A burqa is supposed to eliminate sexual temptation', they claim across the border. With men scurrying around to protect themselves from foreign bombs soon there will not be a single curious eye left to look for spies or cheap thrills. Ladies need not smile reading this because without men, temptation will be eliminated at a global scale.

It was not the donning of burqa, which got the women in trouble with the bearded men at the border; the way they walked was culturally wrong. It is indeed pitiful to note that emancipated Western women lag fourteen centuries behind Oriental ladies in the field of walking properly. Besides, Afghanistan and Pakistan are not the kind of countries through which lonely European ladies should be found taking morning walks unless they were spies, or were being oppressed at home, or both.

The orthodoxy in Afghanistan has a strong international-level case against the misuse of the burqa by Misses Beck and Ridley. One can speculate over a round of Peshawar kehwa whether the West has exhausted all its masks, camouflage, and deceptive tricks. But what stands undisputed is, when in Afghanistan do what their women do wearing a Burqa.

The average man across the border does not enjoy the luxury of eyeing women. Not many women are left there anyway. The scarcity will eventually lead men to admire men, a situation more dangerous than jihad. The eyes of those men already possess X-ray night vision, and can survey well the few hapless old ladies who inhabit the mountainsides. Considering that a female remains wrapped in a burqa from childhood until death, the average male eye must be Divinely gifted to recognise Western women in Eastern clothing.

A burqa?

Those who have returned to Pakistan after a twenty-year fishing trip, or grew up watching nothing but fashion-shows may inquire: What is a burqa? It is a contraption meant to suppress the soul and the body. It is a crime perpetuated by tradition against fellow human beings called women. Fashion designers need not run to their fancy drawing boards yet, to create a 'new revealing burqa'. And much to the dismay of top models, alas, there is no such thing.

Some will be familiar with the term: Shuttlecock Burqa. It did not help coin the name of a diplomatic manoeuvre called ‘Shuttle Diplomacy’. Arabs, Israelis, Western diplomats would not be caught dead wearing burqas negotiating global peace deals.

A Shuttlecock Burqa actually resembles the shuttlecock used in Badminton. Regrettably, so far, no burqa-clad lady has emerged as World Badminton Champion. This type of burqa, when thrown over a woman envelops her completely from head to toe. The portion over one's eyes has a netted opening that permits some air and limited vision one step short of being blind and led by a trained dog. Try a Shuttlecock Burqa at the nearest ghetto and see for yourself that the world outside appears all criss-crossed and gloomy.

Given that the overt CIA (Constantly Interfering Agency), MI-6 (Her Majesty’s Insidious Six), and the KGB (Klashnikov, Goulash and Boris) have at their collective disposal nefarious weapons, using a burqa, as an escape device, is laughable. Seen from a serious angle, this is stealthily invading us through cultural means. Because we have grown unaccustomed to using burqas, we will suffer by not being able to differentiate between old women relatives and Western spies.

Experts believe that the master spies of those agencies resorted to using the low-tech burqa when their hi-tech stealth gadgets failed. If used properly, a burqa-clad agent can sneak undetected without the use of expensive coatings that evade radar signals. Critics feel infinitely amused by the fact that even this low-tech burqa failed in the wrong hands, which proves that our low-tech burqa is actually very hi-tech. A burqa is not just a device to cover women; it is the garb of a true spy, the dreaded Ninja. I wonder what the Japanese have to say about it. Will they file for trademark registration and patents?

While Western man struggles to differentiate between his own and a neighbour’s wife, the men across the border have hawk-eyes that can tell Western spies and their grandmothers apart. Considering that most tribesmen seldom get to see women outside the family, to minutely judge the step and bodily contours revealed by Kandahar winds must be considered a giant evolutionary step forward. Charles Darwin would be happy to know in his grave that for some species, only the eyes evolve; the mind and the body may or may not follow.

One can run, but where would one hide? The sad part is the Western ladies could not even walk, leave alone run, to save their lives. The tribesmen are exceptionally good at recognising Russian spies. Shouting 'Russia spy' sounds harsher than shouting 'American spy'. As more of the American tax payer's money is wasted on destroying empty training camps, perhaps shouting, ‘American spy’ will soon catch on in Afghanistan. All naughty NATO allies, the untidy United Nations, and newly liberated countries are determined to wipe out terrorism without first mastering the art of wearing burqa. If only the foreign spy-agencies had spent more time and money training women spies to master the art of the burqa.

To imagine what coercive means the Taliban have at their disposal, will make even the most large-hearted Western spy cringe with envy. The men of the harsh mountains know ways of finding out the real identities of unwelcome intruders. It does not take more than one night in Afghanistan to have the brains of a hard-nosed British spy thoroughly dry-cleaned. The reason Tony Blair spoke better English than our Chief at the Islamabad press conference was that he came over specifically for the release of Miss Ridley—things that men do for women.

To enter war-torn Afghanistan illegally in the middle of a crisis, not to carry a valid passport or visa is like asking for a cake of fire and then eating it too. Local guides who help such probing journalists become cannon fodder and go straight to Heaven. This need not trouble any conscience. Miss Ridley ought to sue her employer who probably told her that a welcome committee would greet her at the Afghan border and take her on a guided tour to Mr. Bin Laden's underground residence.

British spies and soldiers in Afghanistan, who hated being caught and then turned into Buzkashi lambs were advised by Rudyard Kipling: "Roll on your rifle and blow out your brains."

Now here is realistic British advice from a writer who won a Nobel Prize for literature. Not many will accept his literary advice literally; it was a problem then, it remains an unsolved problem now.

Miss Ridley could have been fed to the Lion of Panjsher, Ahmad Shah Masood, but he recently died in a 'terrorist' attack. She could have been spilt up in equal portions between living men with throbbing hearts, and without nagging wives. She possibly escaped because she grew up on a staple diet of James Bond movies back in London town, and knew comforting words to say to the Taliban in Queen’s English.

For the sake of our strategic assets, what we urgently need is: burqa training camps, not terrorist camps. A whole Burqa Brigade of Western women commandos could easily be trained up on Cheerat Hills. Our colleges could offer them covert degrees such as M.B.A: Master of Burqa Administration. Forget information technology, or Alvin Tofler's 'Third Wave' weaponry; let us capitalise on stitching, then wearing, and finally walking while wearing burqas.

I can see the orthodoxy grinning already. Let hacks write method books, allow Hasina Moeen to serialise, and dish out exclusive filming rights to Lollywood. If we merchandise it right, the possibilities are as endless as our woes, the potential huge. Our strategic depth that new buzzword will suddenly improve because with a burqa revolution, future coup d'├ętat will be remain under cover, and newfound respectability will make us dance on the streets of New York.

Let us understand well that a burqa is a local gift to our collective faith. If it will not be modified for use as a weapon more potent than the Chaghai Atomic Bomb, then it must be caste aside in order to find better-fitting covers to hide bodily contours.

Because the title, 'Right burqa, Wrong Lips', was chosen purposefully, the comedy is not yet over. The right burqa stands discussed to death, let us turn to wrong lips now.

Julia Robert's lips are not sealed

In the same garlic breath, the fantastic regime across the border claimed, “We don’t like Julia Roberts. Her lips are wrong for us.” I think, subliminally they admitted: Her lips long for us.

Their insult will surely agitate Hollywood, which in turn will hurt George ‘wild’ Bush’s peptic ulcer. He adores wild Westerns and came to occupy the Whitewashed House riding a jackass straight from Texas. His election slogan WANTED DEAD OR ALIVE made all butchers and Texan cowgirls very happy.

For the information of the Cultural Wing of the Taliban, Julia is the heartthrob of millions of married men the world over. Being in such an enviable position, what possible wrong could her lips do? She refuses to be blown to smithereens like a Buddha statue. Her heavily insured Jewish lips and hips are true American assets that need not be attacked in any manner that may be labelled as ‘unacceptable’ by the allies. Her tomato-saucy roles in blockbuster movies are enough reasons for biting one’s fingers. It is, therefore, regrettable that the Taliban are biting the hand that feeds them her movies.

Even before the Taliban criticised Julia Roberts’ family-size lips, I knew they were rather too inviting, too large, and too open for a single man. Her walking about with a pout in the movies does work wonders. Men only admire pouts of actresses and cat-walking models, not of their own wives. To insinuate that her Julia’s lips are wrong is like wronging all Hollywood. If the Taliban would not elaborate upon how her lips are wrong, would they explain whose are right for them?—Spiderwoman's, perhaps Sharon Stone's?

All male actors of Hollywood know that the lips of their misleading ladies have been declared ‘safe and nourishing for general use’ by the America’s esteemed Food and Drug Administration. Besides, all seductive personalities have large lips; look at Sophia Loren, watch Jehangir Khan, or ask any African tribesman.

We have always loved spying, spies, and spy movies. The tourism department may as well start conducting inexpensive clandestine tours to sensitive sites now that certain towns will be turned into historic sites by Tomahawk missiles. What harm will a few hundred spying journalists do to our fort of a threatened faith, what possible misuse can wrong-sized lips under a burqa do to our collective consciousness?

Psychological Buzkashi continues in Afghanistan, the burqa factor remains, and broad-based coalition attacks are the name of the oily game the elephants are now playing in our rear lawn. We, the grass blades, are likely to be trampled upon. Notice that the word broad-based is a composite of 'broad' and 'based'. In American slang there is not much English language left they derogatorily refer to a woman as ‘broad’. That is the real connection between female journalists and attacks on Muslim states.

Buzkashiburqa, and broads are the jigsaw puzzle pieces of my 'Three-B Theory'; they fit together nicely too. Our list of woes may be endless but for now, it is clear: an unwarranted demand to downsize Julia Robert's lips could lead to further economic sanctions. Life must move on. We need to journey without Buzkashiburqa, or broads beyond the horizon of her lips.

©Tahir Gul Hasan, 2009

Tahir Gul Hasan holds the copyrights to his work. Written permission of the author is required for reproducing or re-printing his work on any medium.

Burqa photo by Nitin Madhav


TEEGEE17 said...

loved this's nice,informative n very LOL[ u loathe my lol n i can't resist using it]......But then everything ought to be a personal choice...even wearing a burqa. If a person is comfortable in one then y not!I wd die of cclaustrophobia of course but others wdn't. Let it be a PERSONAL CHOICE not religous or political.

TGH said...

Hey, Tina, you made it despite that Shuttle Cock over your face!
Now that I've attacked the body-trap, ladies appear to be defending the very thing. Ajeeb loag heiN aap...!

Tayyiba said...

thats very interesting!!!

teegee17 said...


TGH said...

Thanks Tayyaba. Aap aati jaati raha karein yahaaN!

TGH said...

Now which bull can lock his horns with Tina?

TEEGEE17 said...

Obviously NONE.....

Suheilah sitting on the fence said...

Read it. I get comments on my walk, my semitic nose & have been quite forwardly told not to use a lip pencil when putting make-up..because it make them too big. I DONT veil my face when I go out. I know I have a decent & respectful characte...r but it's forever questioned here. I'm friendly. Told not to be and that I draw the wrong kind of attention; That I'm "inviting". It's maddening. I used to go downtown in the US, sit at a coffee shop on Broadway with one of my children & a book & like to watch the people as they walked by. Here, when you look at what's happening around you, It's thought that you're "looking for something".
I am SO not in the right place for me.
And it angers me that it's my decency and morals that are questioned.
I enjoy looking at the world God put me in, and I'm proud of my heritage and my features. I chose to cover...whether I was wearing a hat, a hijab or a snood.
HIjab begins in the heart. I dont need a face veil to prove my modesty to the outside world & I'm perfectly immodest in the proper realm.
Ugh! I could ramble on about this. I'm better keeping my mouth shut.See More

TGH said...

Thanks for speaking up Suheliah! Do drop by more often! :))

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