Dr. Peter H. Armacost
A personal portrait collection of Rector of Forman Christian College, Lahore, Pakistan.
After Peter Armacost retired as president of St. Petersburg's Eckerd College in 2000, he and his wife, Mary-Linda, settled into safe, comfortable lives as consultants. Then one night in May 2002 he popped a question as she lay in bed in their Vinoy Place condo.
How would you like to move to Lahore?
Lahore, as in Pakistan, the huge Muslim nation at the vanguard of the war on terror. The country where Osama bin Laden was thought to be hiding. Where U.S. journalist Daniel Pearl was beheaded. A place the State Department considers so dangerous that families of American diplomats are no longer allowed to live there.
Half asleep, Mary-Linda Armacost thought of none of this.
'In all candor, my first answer was, 'It's hot in Lahore.' Then I opened my eyes and looked at him and saw in his eyes the most marvelous sparkle. I said to myself, 'Mary-Linda, you're going to Lahore.' '
For the Armacosts, living in Lahore has been a series of culture shocks.
Mary-Linda is afraid to drive. In a city of 7-million, most of whom ignore traffic rules, 'I'm horrified I'll run into a motorbike with five kids.'
Living costs are so cheap, however, that the Armacosts were able to afford a driver, along with a cook and cleaner - all for just $350 a month. The servants and their families live in tiny cottages behind the main house.
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When his appointment at Forman ends in 2012, Dr. Armacost hopes to help improve Americans? understanding of Pakistan. Pakistanis widely say that they 'love Americans but do not like America,' he notes. 'America has been regarded as a fair-weather friend. When we needed Pakistan, we put a lot of money in; when we didn?t, we pulled out. It?s also partly a response to the drone attacks and to incidents like the [September 2010] situation at Dulles Airport, where top Pakistani military officials were taken off an airplane on their way to the Pentagon and humiliated, to the notion that some Americans might want to burn the Qu?ran, the flap over the proposed mosque near Ground Zero.
'When I first came here,' he says, 'most Americans didn?t know much about Pakistan at all. Now they think they know, because it?s on the front page of the newspaper, but it?s a very unfair representation of Pakistan, and I?d like to speak to that as well.' . . . For Complete review
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