On the Kuwait Airways flight from London to Islamabad, the unusually boorish flight crew handed us disembarkation cards that the government of Pakistan requires all international arrivals to fill. Besides our passport numbers, addresses and reasons for visiting, the form also asked if we had been to Africa or Latin America in the past week. The purpose of this question was unclear except perhaps as a means to boost national self-esteem by implying that Pakistan is healthier than those two continents. With the only pen in my row, I helped five other passengers fill their forms.

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