Welcome to Rumouristan.

The other day a minor girl was killed by a stray bullet fired into the air by the friends of a bridegroom who was on his way to do what most healthy men want to do all the time but can’t.

Immediately the rumours started.

“She was a teenager wearing a sleeveless dress,” said a burqa-clad woman to my wife.

“It’s the Taliban for sure,” was the opinion of a nervous shopkeeper who sells videos. “Next thing you know, they’ll burn my shop.”

An hour later, a shop caught fire in Landhi. “It was the Taliban who did it, the shop was selling DVDs, newspapers and magazines!” shrieked a caller.

After another hour had passed, the number of shops were rumoured to be ten, all supposedly damaged by heavily bearded men armed with Kalashnikovs.

Things have got so bad that I get nervous whenever I see someone who looks like he’s just come from Waziristan or Swat.

Like the hundreds of girls in Karachi who (according to rumours) have been told to cover themselves up in thick black burqas if they want to stay alive.

The fact is, most of these rumours have been concocted perhaps by the fundamentalists themselves, but after hearing them many times, people think these stories are true. Pakistan’s enemies must be laughing their heads off.

April 29, 2009