Black Backpack – a symbol of terrorism!

War and Peace
January 18, 2010
Billboards: the Depiction of Women in Pakistan
January 25, 2010

The scanners and security guards have become standard at most important buildings including banks, even restaurants like McDonald’s – the other day, I even saw a sniper hiding on the roof with his gun trained on the entrance of my regular bank – this is not the Pakistan of my childhood… By Fareeha Qayoom

By Fareeha Qayoom

Basic black backpack from the brand Nike - retailed at PKR 1500-3000 back in year 2009. Now, it retails at 4,500 (August 2010).


ou might find this strange but apparently, I look like a terrorist. Well, not really. I could pass for a college student on my good days (or a tourist or even Dora the explorer, one of kids’ favorite cartoon character as one of my friends tells me!)  but not when I visit a bank or a department store! At least that’s the impression various security guards give me when they ask me to open up my backpack.

Nike core black backpack

My basic black designer backpack

In case you are wondering, I am one of those compulsive, obsessive types of women who like to carry the virtual kitchen sink with them, hence, my large backpack. Not that I have anything against purses but let’s face it –a dainty lady’s purse is not for me – first of all, I am not the dainty purse type, plus, it’s more comfortable carrying all that load on my back instead of on one of my shoulders plus no bag despite its designer label manages to survive beyond three months with me, even if all my stuff fits into it – believe me I’ve tried. The backpack seems to be the ideal solution for me – it doesn’t go shabby on me in a hurry nor does it break down quickly.

So after many trials and tribulations and many shoulder bags, handbags and backpacks later, (I have to break in a new bag every six months to a year– unfortunately) I have finally discovered one label that can put up with me.  I was planning to start a backpack collection but now I am having second thoughts…should I? When every dang security guard discriminates against my bag – I don’t see any other woman being asked to open up her handbag! Ever! It’s only me that has to go through this weird manual search. Apparently, it’s not enough to pass through the scanner – you have to open your backpack for visual inspection too!

Recently, one department store security guard (in DHA) asked me to leave my bag outside the store. This was the last straw! Not that, it was the security guard’s fault but I refused to go inside after his shoddy treatment. No way was I taking this guy’s stupid distrust; besides, I didn’t want him to touch my personal stuff, he was sure to do so when I was out of sight if I had left my bag with him. My sister had to go alone to shop for groceries.

By the way, my current backpack is a standard issue, a black sport backpack with a designer logo.  I know the commando terrorists that attacked the Sri Lankan team were wearing black fatigues and black backpacks – but give me a break! It was two years ago. Aren’t we carrying this paranoia too far?

But that got me thinking…poor security guards – they don’t know what a standard terrorist looks like, for that matter, even I don’t – it could be anyone.

It’s kind of sad.  The scanners and security guards have become a standard sight at most important buildings including banks, even restaurants like McDonald’s – the other day, I even saw a sniper hiding on the roof with his gun trained on the entrance of my regular bank – this is not the Pakistan of my childhood…

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Fareeha Qayoom
Fareeha Qayoom
Publisher and editor-in-chief of and former print editions of The Knit-Xtyle Fashion Review (tkfr), a trade newsletter for the textile and apparel industry of Pakistan. In short, Publisher, editor, and a blogger. In addition, she has served as Managing Editor of MIT Technology Review Pakistan, print and web editions (2015-16). Total of 7 editions were published under her leadership by ITU, Punjab's first public technology university under the license of MIT Technology Review (USA). She has also managed Value Mag in the same capacity, a real estate and lifestyle magazine for Value TV - 2008-9. Published freelancer for The News on Sunday 1994-96. Fareeha has over 21 years of solid management experience – of managing brands (like Harley Davidson, Munsingwear, Chaps, Chaps Ralph Lauren etc.,), Retailers (like Target, Mervyns, Kohl's, Marks and Spencer etc.,), customers (VPs, Product Managers, Unit Managers, and Buyers), and products (apparel - woven, knits, men's, women's, children's, Print and online publishing units), projects, teams, and processes, information, content, and data, staff, vendors, and time. Versatile and adaptable with international exposure, communication and language skills (oral and written), and a consistent track record of achieving company targets and objectives, plus a MA in Political Science from Punjab University, a MSc in Economics from La Salle University, Louisiana, USA, and a BA in Economics from Kinnaird College for Women.


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    “Can we do anything in Pakistan without it being linked in some way to either appeasing the Taliban or kicking sand in their faces?” asked blogger XYZ on, who also had a few choice words to say about my methods of journalism (which incidentally I would gladly tackle off-pitch if I know the name of the faceless cackler to whom I make my argument).

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  2. hmm. Apparently, I am not the only compulsive, obsessive type! 🙂

    Average handbag weighs same as 15-month-old toddler
    The average handbag weighs the same as a 15-month-old toddler because Britons consider so many items to be essential, according to a new survey.

    Researchers asked 5,000 people what they carried around with them and used their responses to calculate that the average bag weighs 10.5 kilograms (23lbs).

    A mobile phone was the most popular item with 85 per cent of women and 43 per cent of men saying they kept a phone in their bag.

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  3. Funny (as in strange) news report – this particular story reminds me of the recent movie, “From Paris, with love,” starring John Travolta…which came first? Was the movie inspired by this character? Strange coincidence! 🙂

    Jane pleads not guilty to terror plot
    Thursday, 18 Mar, 2010
    PHILADELPHIA: The Philadelphia-area woman who authorities say dubbed herself “Jihad Jane” online pleaded not guilty on Thursday in federal court to a four-count indictment charging her in an overseas terrorist plot.

    She was arrested in October 2009 in Philadelphia while returning to the United States.

    LaRose spent most of her life in Texas, where she dropped out of high school, married at 16 and again at 24, and racked up a few minor arrests, records show.

    Jihad Jane to the rescue
    Posted by Zeresh on 03 15th, 2010 | Comments (50)
    In 1997, Demi Moore played a rough and tough female soldier in the movie G.I Jane. Well, it’s time for G.I. Jane to make way for the real life terrorist Jihad Jane, a blonde, blue-eyed American woman from Pennsylvania. You just can’t make such stuff up.

    Boyfriend: Terror suspect never practiced religion
    By MARYCLAIRE DALE (AP) – 37 minutes ago

    PHILADELPHIA — The self-dubbed “Jihad Jane” who thought her blond, all-American profile would help mask her plan to kill a Swedish cartoonist is a rare case of a U.S. woman inciting foreign terrorism and shows the latest evolution of the global threat, authorities say.

    The suburban Philadelphia woman, Colleen R. LaRose, was accused in Tuesday’s indictment of trying to recruit jihadist fighters, and pledging to murder the artist, marry a terrorism suspect so he could move to Europe and martyr herself if necessary.

    Her boyfriend of five years said LaRose had never hinted at Muslim leanings or attended religious services of any kind. Kurt Gorman, 47, of Pennsburg, said that he met LaRose in Texas and that nothing seemed amiss until she moved out of their apartment without warning in August.

    “I came home and she was gone. It doesn’t make any sense,” he said Wednesday outside his small business in nearby Quakertown. “She was a good-hearted person.”

    “Jihad Jane” indicted in global terror plot
    Narayan Lakshman

    Colleen R. LaRose a.k.a. “Jihad Jane” a.k.a. “Fatima LaRose”, was indicted on multiple charges including conspiracy to provide material support to terrorists, conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, making false statements to a government official and attempted identity theft, according to the Department of Justice (DoJ).

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  4. Strange as it may seem, Lahore seems under siege – high security alert on the roads, snipers and additional security checks in cantonment area and GOR 1.

    I happened to visit a few schools recently (accompanying a relative), had to go through a scanner, had to take out my ID card, and had to get a gate pass issued in my name that had to be returned after the signature of the person visited. This is kind of scary…

    Will things ever return to normal?

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  5. The other day I visited a Nike store in the Mall of Lahore – guess what?

    In march 2011 – an average Nike black backpack costs around a range of prices – PKR 2500, 3200, 3800, 4500, 6900! My favorite one costs around PKR 3,200. Basic black Medium sized – the closest matching to my original backpack…hmmmm.

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