ISLAMABAD - Reuters
People dance to the beat of the house music at Centrifuge, a Pakistani rave party. REUTERS photo
Women in short skirts and men with gelled hair bump and grind on a dance floor as a disc jockey pumps up the volume. The air is thick with illicit smoke and shots of hard liquor are being passed around. Couples cuddle and kiss in a lounge.
This is not Saturday night at a club in New York or Paris. It is the secret side of Pakistan, a Muslim nation often described in the West as a land of bearded, Islamic hardmen and repressed, veiled women.
Pakistan was created out of Muslim-majority areas in colonial India
65 years ago, and for decades portrayed itself as a progressive Islamic nation. Starting in the 1980s, however, it has been drifting towards a more conservative interpretation of Islam that has reshaped the political landscape, fuelled militancy.