There weren’t as many policy tidbits on offer in Pakistan as we might have liked. Mostly what there seemed to be was an absence of government: Jamil didn’t need a permit to build his house, rickshaws regularly drove straight against the flow of traffic on a one way street. Also many of the political institutions were familiar to us, and so not very noteworthy. British colony brethren, eh. But anyway…
- Most of the people joining us on the bus between China and Pakistan were crossing without passports. There’s a passport-like document which is easier to obtain which just lets you cross between Pakistan and Xinjiang. Turns out Pakistani passports are some of the most rubbish you can get, anyway, insofar as you can only go to a collection of sub-Saharan African states (plus Vanuatu and Samoa, obviously) without getting a visa.
- On some sections of highway buses and minivans have to travel in convoy with armed police at front and back. Ostensibly that’s supposed to be about security. But from what we’ve heard it’s more likely because the police get some sweet bribery from the restaurants where they make the convoy gather. Very good corruption.
- India and Pakistan are not on good terms at all, but there’s has been coordination over responses to recent floods, which have been devastating in the Punjab. That’s very good news.
- So this isn’t technically a policy issue but it says something about the relationship between India and Pakistan. These are neighbouring countries with a combined population as large as China’s. But there is only one airline that flies directly between them (Pakistan international airlines) and even then it doesn’t go everyday. There are about four flights a week between Pakistani cities and Indian cities. Nuts.