The term “white privilege” is a foreign concept to Pakistanis. While they are familiar with the term because of their exposure to U.S mass media, it is not a concern to many in the country. However what most people don’t know is that the privilege which benefits people who are white particularly from the U.S, Canada, Europe or Australia due to their skin color and country of origin is a practice in Pakistan as well.
When an American white travel vlogger Cynthia Ritchie cycled alone in the city of Peshawar, one of the country’s most conservative cities she was met with praise for promoting a positive image of Pakistan. Ironically, when the country’s collective feminist group Girls at Dhabas has held cycling rallies for the women in the country, they have been the subject of criticism and their initiatives have been labeled as “unIslamic” or against the country’s norms. What was even more striking was the fact that when a cycling rally for local women was to be held in Peshawar, religious conservatives criticized it and the rally was canceled.
White travel vloggers and Pakistan’s tourism industry
Vloggers like Eva Zu Beck, Mark Wiens and Drew Binsky have visited the country and have praised Pakistan for its hospitality. This is a promising sign for the country’s tourism industry which has been for years been presented as a country riddled with terrorism, corruption and poverty by the international media.
The fact that vloggers from abroad come here and visit the country does indicate a positive mark but the issue is that they have become so ingrained in the country’s society and a different set of rules or privileges as most people see it may have been set for them
A white woman riding a bike in Peshawar freely as opposed to local women doing the same thing in the country is not the only issue. Polish vlogger Eva Zu Beck was invited by Samsung Pakistan to witness their new product unveiling in San Francisco, it served as disrespect to many Pakistani bloggers and vloggers in the country.
What was even more disappointing was the fact that Atif Khan, the current Provincial Minister of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province for Tourism, Culture, Sports, Archaeology and Youth Affairs invited international vloggers to a summit promoting Pakistan’s tourism and not even a single local vlogger was considered.
Pakistan is unfortunately trapped in a colonial mindset so it would be better to support the criticism here when it is coming from a white person themselves. When U.S comedian Jeremy Mclellan came to Pakistan, he talked about how he was treated better as opposed to those around him. He even debunked the claim that Pakistanis were hospitable because his friend who was a Pakistani-American was not treated the same way.
It is unfortunate that despite gaining independence from British colonial rule, the country is still trapped in a colonial mindset. Unless and until the country releases itself from its colonial mindset and adheres the same set of rules to both the local population and its people and appreciate the local vloggers for their contributions because it was initially due to them the tourism industry is boosting, we can never progress. Until then, only a white foreign traveler can talk about the country’s double standards because it is apparent in a Post-White travel vlogger atmosphere, their opinions are held to the highest regard as opposed to the local people in the country.