ISLAMABAD - The South African High Commission surprised a lady activist by refusing her a visa to South Africa where she was going to attend a conference, unless she got a signed permission slip from her husband stating that he was allowing her to travel alone She had travelled to South Africa the year before for a holiday with her family and the visa had not been a problem. According to her, when she asked the South African High Commission whether they had now become a theocratic state rather than a secular one, she was told that they were observing the cultural norms of the country. According to them, they knew that in Pakistan women, including working women, had to get their father or husbands permission to travel anywhere Obviously, the new High Commission staff is not conversant with Pakistani realities today.