America Diary: The New Frontier

A lady I met said Pakistan needs the Islamic system and not democracy - it was a bit too much for me.

Our Special Correspondent April 20, 2011


I am sometimes worried about the Pakistani-American.

They are now Pakistan’s biggest senders of remittances and thus we have to take them seriously. But when a lady at an Islamic centre in Columbia, Missouri, a small town in the American mid-west, told me that what Pakistan needed was an Islamic system and not democracy, it was a bit too much.

She also said that Imran Khan was the only politician who she had any faith in. It is sad that these well-meaning but poorly-informed people have no clue about what is happening in Pakistan. And yet they insist on “loving” and “caring” about our country.

Many Pakistanis here curse our politicians, praise dictators and look for an alternate solution. These are people who live in a democratic setup and instead of working towards integrating themselves into the American society, want to change things in their previous homeland – a country where they neither vote nor pay taxes.

Even in America, they seem to be making a mess of things. Many stay out of the mainstream education system by sending their children to poorly-funded Islamic schools where teachers are usually underpaid, and insist on isolating themselves.

I have met a man who will not let his daughter drive because she will become too independent. Many here don’t let their children go on Facebook for fear of “corruption”.

I am told that the richest association of Pakistanis in America, that of physicians, sent $37,000 for earthquake victims. The association has 14,000 members. But for a musical event in Houston it spent $7 million.

Pakistanis do not spend money on their children’s education but are happy to spend on social activities, do not integrate in American society but insist on their involvement in Pakistani politics, want to be different and yet demand that they be treated equally in the US.

One hopes that the newer generation sees more sense.

Published in The Express Tribune, April 20th,  2011.


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Syed Ali | 10 years ago | Reply @Ikramuddin Akbar: Thanks for the comments. There is one more thing, which I think is relavent to current discussion. The very idea of people sending their daughters to Pakistan or middle east is out dated. The authors impression is regrettably a reflection of heresay rather than facts. It might have been a common occurence 15 or 20 years ago but not any more. At that time, we did not ahve too many mosques, islamic centers and community gatherings. Despita all the negativity projected in the media, muslims in general and Pakistani, Bangladeshi and Egyptian muslims have flourished tremendously during last 15 years. One can easy find islamic centers or mosques in small towns like bullhead city in Arizona as well as in metropolitans like new york within driving distance. Most of the places also offer sunday classes or school and are doing very good job. Moreover, with present situation in Pakistan and generally declining morality across muslim countries, I do not see families here having inclination of sending their kids to those places.
Ikramuddin Akbar | 10 years ago | Reply @Syed Ali: A very deep analysis, what you have said will satisfy the most, i think.
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