The Pakistani pilot who flew me to Islamabad recently delivered a mini-khutba (sermon) on the plane. He urged passengers to pray for Pakistan and re-read the safar ki dua (prayer for travel) complete with a translation in Urdu.
"Sit back and enjoy the view. Few get to see the skies like this. This is also the best time to think about our country, its problems and make dua," the pilot began his sermon which lasted over 10 minutes.
"Pray for your loved ones. Pray for peace, prosperity and speedy justice in our country. Pray that Pakistan tides over its ‘bohrans’ (crises). Think about what role you can play to change Pakistan. Remember, change is just round the corner.
"Our children are getting 'A' grades, but are they also becoming good citizens? Teach your kids good manners. Teach them not to litter public spaces. Make sure they don't grow up and blame us for the mess they are in. Our country has everything -- its beauty is comparable to the best countries of the world. We should strive to make our country better..."
The khutba in English also lasted a good 10 minutes.
"We should stop blaming others for our problems. Traffic snarls are our doing. You cannot blame others…Keep the plane toilets clean. After using the toilet wipe the seat clean…Remember, you may want to use the toilet again...Thank you for flying with us. Do fly with us again. We are because of you. If you do not come to us, we will not be able to fly..."
I had a feeling the pilot would step out of the cockpit and take questions. But I guess he had to also make time for landing.