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Day 25: Rawalpindi to Lahore

Rawalpindi, Pakistan 
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Heat and dust: BBC versus Rawalpindi schoolboys.
Michael Palin - HimalayaFor a military state Pakistan has a remarkably free press. Or so it seems as I read an editorial this morning addressing what it calls the Military-Mullah alliance. The writer's argument is that since General Zia's time the military and the Islamists have sought each other's support against secular democracy.

The only difference between them, it argues, is that the clerics have beards and the army have moustaches.

A front page headline warns of the heatwave that waits for us tonight in Lahore. '50 Die As Punjab Boils.'

On our way to the station in Rawalpindi, there is reassuring evidence of the hopefully inextinguishable richness of Pakistani life. Run-down streets dotted with foreign language schools and computer shops, and looming above them hand-painted billboard ads for the latest movie adventures of Shaan Shahid, Pakistan's screen heart-throb, glowering menacingly, as blood courses from a head wound, or grinning, equally menacingly, as he brandishes a Kalashnikov. He seems to be the star of every film they make.

Stopping to buy provisions in the Rajah Bazaar, I'm approached by a heavily bearded man offering to sell me a CD of Mullah Omar and Osama Bin Laden praying together at a mosque in Idris. Never seen before, he says.
Rawalpindi, Pakistan 
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Heat and dust: BBC versus Rawalpindi schoolboys.
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  • Series: Himalaya
  • Chapter: Day 25: Rawalpindi to Lahore
  • Country/sea: Pakistan
  • Place: Rawalpindi
  • Book page no: 52

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