In Pakistan, the vast majority of so-called "educated" people are actually uneducated. They may have gone through fourteen years of school and college and obtained a bachelor's degree, but for all practical purposes, they are useless, as they are not proficient in English, having studied throughout their lives in Urdu medium schools and colleges. The degree may be able to get them a job, but their employers know that they are vastly inferior to those who have been educated in English-medium schools. They don't have the habit of reading, and the only books they've read are those which were prescribed in school or college.

I interacted with such a person (a woman) recently. She had requested me to accept her as a friend on Facebook, and though I usually reject such requests, this time I accepted because I thought she may have read a couple of my pieces in English newspapers and wanted to know more about me. I've also been told that the more people I interact with in social media, the more popular I will become, and more and more people will be able to read my articles.

Her name is Sana Ali, and a day after I accepted her request, she called me on Facebook. I have never known a duller person in my life. She spoke like one of those people who are seriously considering suicide. Whenever I meet new people, I usually want to know whether their parents spoke to them about life before partition, and how things were when they were young. Since she is only 30 (with 3 kids), and having led a cloistered life, not even having a degree (even though she studied for two years in an Urdu-medium college), I knew it was useless talking to her. After about five minutes, I made an excuse about having to answer an urgent email and disconnected. I thought that would put her off and she would never call me again.

But a day or so later, she called again, and this time she told me why she was so depressed (although she didn't use the word). It seems her sister's marriage was to be held in a week's time, and she and her family needed money to pay for the food, furniture and other things required for such occasions. I didn't waste another minute. I knew she was on the verge of asking for a loan, so I pretended that I couldn't hear her voice and disconnected. Then I blocked her so she could never call me again.

So what has this got to do with English or Urdu? Well, throughout her life she has never been outside the locality (Nazimabad) where she was born. She has never heard of the part of Karachi where I live (DHA) although both of us live in the same city. Like all illiterate people she and her husband already have 3 kids, perhaps they plan to have even more. They should have saved enough for hard times, like nowadays when the country is going through a bad recession. If she had studied in an English school and had practiced birth control, today she'd have been able to get a job and earned enough to keep body and soul together. But of course, this didn't occur to her at all. Like all good Muslims she and her husband firmly believe that Muslims will not be allowed to enter Paradise if they use condoms or pills to limit the number of their children. And Pakistan will never progress because such people are in a majority.