Originally published in The Express Tribune on May 9, 2011
KARACHI-Amid reports of pro-Bin Laden rallies in Quetta and Karachi and threats of retaliation from al Qeada, hundreds of thousands of ex-patriots in Pakistan are vigilantly going about their lives.
Summer Nicks, 39, is lean, blue-eyed and Australian, with the kind of skin that blushes at the mere suggestion of UV rays. After visiting Pakistan as a tourist in 2001, he moved to Azad Kashmir in October 2005 to implement an UNCIF-supported scholarship program. Two days after he arrived, a 7.6 magnitude earthquake shook the area. Instead of working in education, Nicks got involved in relief operations. He planned to be in Pakistan for a few months, but by the time his contract ended, he was smitten with the country and the culture. Currently he lives in Karachi, where he’s producing a sci-fi film.
“It’s no big drama,” he said of Osama Bin Laden’s death. “I interact with regular people everyday—shopkeepers, rickashaw drivers, restaurant workers. I haven’t even heard people talking about it. In six years, I’ve seen some radical things, but at the end of the day, people still open up their shops.”
The Australian High Commission in Islamabad never closed in the week following Bin Laden’s death. A website travel bulletin mentioned the US State Department’s advice to its citizens, to limit travel outside homes and hotels, but the Commission’s only advice to Australians was to “exercise enhanced vigilance.”
Nicks pays scant attention to the official advice, and he said he has never felt specifically targeted. “Pakistanis know what the world thinks of them. They’re happy to have foreigners here, to tell everyone how they really are.”