While traveling from Frankfurt to Doha, I overheard a conversation between two young Indian girls at the airport which were appalled at the deteriorating human rights conditions in Pakistan. They were discussing the Sialkot incident and thought of us Pakistanis to be uncouth, illiterate extremists that stone women. They concluded that floods were a just punishment for our unforgivable sins. They thought the Afghan society and Pakistan were the same thing really, backward, outdated and obsolete. I was shattered by our neighbours next door having this sort of views about us. Being a Pakistani is challenging these days. On the street, Pakistanis in many countries of Europe tend to hide their identity and prefer introducing themselves as something else. Many with obvious attachment to their roots find it agonizingly difficult to defend or project a soft image of Pakistan in face of the hail of turbulent news emanating from our dear land. In the aircraft, I got into conversation with a German who told me that after the WW-II, an entire generation of Germans grew up with guilt and remorse, feeling responsible for initiating a war against humanity. It did not matter whether you agreed or disagreed with the policies of Nazis Germany but there was this fact of Germanys role in it. Today, a Pakistani faces almost similar challenges and others besides because in addition to being a Pakistani, he is a Muslim also. The irony is that in eyes of the public in Europe, a Muslim is identified with the Arabs and they also have an extreme view of Muslims that come from Pakistan or Afghanistan. If the people in Pakistan think fighting a war on terrorism has brought them good name in the international community, they would be fooling themselves. -ADNAN MUKHTAR, Lahore, September 23.