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Fashion will continue to progress in Pakistan, come hell or high water. At this point in time, we are experiencing an abundance of both. Hell and high water, that is.

I’m not trying to make light of the situation we’re living in. We’ve been there for decades and it weighs down too heavily on us to be taken lightly. But as fashion retail’s most lucrative season – Ramazan –approaches and the industry shakes out its welcome mat for events like the Carnival de Couture, the Lux Style Awards and the PSFD Sunsilk Fashion Week (all scheduled over the next three months), I can sense the disapproval and general disdain that will inevitably precede and follow every little whimper fashion makes.

“Oh, how insensitive of you to be reporting a fashion show when half the country is suffering. So many lives lost, homes destroyed!” It’s one of the most frequently made remarks I have to put up with.

Yes, lives have been lost and homes have been destroyed. Just as they were lost during the earthquake, the bomb blasts, the violence and every shred of insecurity we suffer. We dredge ourselves through this thick bog of depression every single day. We fear for our children as they set out for school; we’re engulfed in constant terror of who will be kidnapped, held at gunpoint or traumatised next. We, as a nation, are in fire-fighter mode. And we need to find ways to stay sane through it all.

Just as soldiers are sent comedians and have other means of entertainment when they are at, we too need diversions from the misery of life. I wouldn’t call fashion comic relief – some of it is rather tragic – but it is relief nevertheless. As a fashion journalist with a decade of experience, my profession has brought me that diversion and given me a financial cushion, which has made me capable of aiding those in need.

The fact that our essential diversion is incidentally glamorous should not be held against us. People spend millions on weddings and foreign tours. No one is denied the happy notes of music, the bright shots of cinema or the overall joys of daily life. Why begrudge us a fixation with hemlines? These joys are tiny compared to the miseries we incur. Surely we should not be made to feel guilty for them.

Yes, I am defensive of my lifestyle. Because I am Pakistani. I am the friend lost in the air crash, the relative lost in the Muharram procession. I am the colleague lost in the bomb blast and the father lost in the earthquake. I am everyone and I will remain so because I choose not to have an exit strategy. I do not plan to escape and I will live my life as Pakistani, come hell or high water.

Published in The Express Tribune, August 12th, 2010.

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