I recall accompanying my father on a stroll on Bhuleji Beach in Karachi in 1959, as we hosted four Portuguese Naval Officers whose warship got dry-docked at Karachi Shipyard for routine maintenance ( Portugalīs 'Provincias Ultramarinas', Damão, Diu and Goa in India, Macão in China and Timor in indonesia were visited by the Portuguese Navy on a regular basis)

The shipīs captain was seconded to us by my maternal uncle, who qualified as a doctor in Lisbon in the 1930īs, where he subsequently settled down following marriage to a Portuguese lady.

My fatherīs spoken Portuguese was as good (or bad!) as one can expect from a person whose mother-tongue was Portuguese and Konkani, and whose language of instruction was English; but both of us were well above par in comprehending spoken Portuguese, in comparison to said officersīproficiency in English, as French was their second language !

So the old boy popped the question : Are you enjoying your stay in Karachi ? Couldnīt be much fun on board a ship in dry-dock ?

Meeting us made their day, they said, as they found it difficult to connect with other people, aside from the traffic being quite chaotic and a general lack of cleanliness in most public places !

So they heard : Gosh, I thought you would not find it that strange....... what is Pakistan today was the first country to experience Islam before it spread its wings....to even your part of the world !

Which was greeted with a brief silence, followed by a healthy chuckle !

Now enter Robert Fisk on Portugal and the Arab nations :