Note to “Homeland” producers: Islamabad is NOT a Grimy Shit-Hole
I've never been to Islamabad (and I've never watched Homeland), but this article — 3 horrific inaccuracies in Homeland's depiction of Islamabad — totally nails it.
In the mid 1970s I spent some time traveling through Turkey, Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal. Before I left the U.S. I read several travel/guide books of those countries, and they all described Islamabad as Pakistan's gleaming meticulously planned modern capitol city. If I knew that from just reading a travel book (and they didn't even have the Intertubes or the google in those days), you'd think the creators of a highly-acclaimed TV drama would have discovered this simple fact.
I guess Homeland doesn't want to show a bunch of jihadists and their sympathizers sipping cappuccino in trendy coffee houses and shopping in modern stores instead of dusty back-alley bazaars. Who needs accuracy when you can just keep trotting out the same tired one-dimensional stereotypes.
Like I said, I never went to Islamabad, but I was in Peshawar, Rawalpindi (near Islamabad) and Lahore. Also Mingora — north of Peshawar — hometown of Malala and the crazed wackjobs who blinded her. Mingora and Peshawar in particular both had this intangible pull to them, a certain vibe you just can't put your finger on. Same with everywhere I went in Afghanistan. This was before any of the political/religious bloodshed flared up. Needless to say, I wouldn't go back there now.
But forty years ago, the people there were very friendly and welcoming, in a standoff-ish “don't fuck with me and nobody gets hurt” sort of way. I don't know what changed. My guess would be the 1979 Soviet invasion of Afghanistan triggered a chain reaction that ultimately led up to today's bloodbath.
Like they say, travel is broadening and enlightening. Obviously, traveling to Afghanistan or Pakistan is not in the cards any more. But research — “use the google” — and accurate portrayals are the least we could do. Enabling ignorance and prejudice by trotting out the same simple-minded stereotypes accomplishes nothing.