America Diary: The New Frontier

Published: April 20, 2011
Pakistanis do not spend money on their children’s education but are happy to spend on social activities.

Pakistanis do not spend money on their children’s education but are happy to spend on social activities.


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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Reader Comments (12)

  • muhammad ifran ahmed
    Apr 20, 2011 - 10:00AM

    it’s most unfortunate that the muslims in america instead of integrating into american society & adopting their values have isolated themselves into their own ghettos.I have relatives in america who send their daughters back to pakistan because they don’t want them to get corrupted by american society but let their sons live in america & date american girls.why the hypocrisy ,why these double standards???

    The americans with their fear of being politically incorrect are all too eager to let intolerant,extremist thought prosper in their society.
    people migrating to america or britain shouldn’t migrate to these places if they don’t approve of their culture or values,if you want to have the mentality of cavemen then please stay in your native countries.Recommend

  • Mastuj
    Apr 20, 2011 - 10:07AM

    This a gross misrepresentation of what is going on within the Pakistani community in the US.Recommend

  • farhan aziz
    Apr 20, 2011 - 11:50AM

    @muhammad ifran ahmed:

    what i hear from my friends,relatives,colleagues who’ve migrated to the west is how in 2,3 decades they’ll have enough muslims in america & britain to have the shariah law imposed & to make girls wear burkas when outside the house.

    instead of adapting to their new homeland,muslims are segregating themselves as they can’t stand the freedoms & equality that western socities offer their women.This obsession with keeping women under one’s feet should end & the new immigrants should adopt the customs & values of the country that has given them shelter.Recommend

  • sarah
    Apr 20, 2011 - 12:19PM

    This is an outrageous article. You met with one aunty and uncle and decide everyone is the same? Everyone must steer away from prejudices but I think this article only promotes this.
    Most Pakistanis living in Pakistan are not liberal thinkers and don’t want to be Americanised, so I have to assume most Pakistanis who live in America probably have same mentality. We are cut from the same cloth remember.
    I’m also not sure if being a Imran Khan supporter automatically means you don’t have any idea of the problems facing Pakistanis living in Pakistan. On the contrary I think it means you are very well informed. Some people will always support dictatorship but this can’t be perceived as a bad thing, you must understand the reason why… maybe because democracy in this country has so far meant fat cats licking their whiskers and asking for more?
    Personally I support a democratic system where the votes cast are not fraudulent and no American vested interests.Recommend

  • sarah
    Apr 20, 2011 - 12:23PM

    oh and by the way @Mr muhammad Irfan Ahmad, does your comment mean everyone living in their native countries is a caveman? too much I think! A touch melodramatic.Recommend

  • Syed Ali
    Apr 20, 2011 - 12:53PM

    I do not think this article is any way close to reality as I Have been living in US for last 9 years and have seen all sorts of Desis. People who are ultra liberal, liberal, conservative and orthodox. Yes, we are very concerned about Pakistan so are Inidans for India, Suadis for saudi arabia, russians for Russia. Its common human sentiment. I do not think, people here by and large support Musharaff or any dictator. People actually hate dictators here more than in Pakistan itself. I remember the days when restoration of Judiciary movement was going on, from common taxi drivers in queens to grocery shop owner in bronx, every biody was glued to Geo or other channels and was following events very closely. I did not see any overwhelming support for dictators. People who are away from Pakistan, they love their country and want to improve the status there. Its true that association of Pakistani Physicians did not raise good amount of money but Pakistani americans in their individial capacity sent millions collectively.

    There is no one clear definition of american life or something, into which one has to blend to become american and thats the beuty of it. I see Jewish children going to orthodox jewish schools in Brooklyn, Hidus freely worshipping in their temples and muslims getting their religious education in their sunday schools.

    There are alot of classical” gora” american, to whom, we are advised to resemble, who would not allow thier children to go on face book or other site. Also many in conservative states like Oklahama or Iowa would not allow thier daughters to drive cars unless they are 18 or 19 years old. I do not why why the author wants to see only Pakistani community as different from others?Recommend

  • AHK
    Apr 20, 2011 - 12:56PM

    @muhammad ifran ahmed: Captain America i have a question. Is anyone who doesn’t approve (in your case worship) American culture & values does it mean he is a caveman?Recommend

  • French Connection
    Apr 20, 2011 - 1:41PM

    @farhan aziz:
    what i hear from my friends,relatives,colleagues who’ve migrated to the west is how in 2,3 decades they’ll have enough muslims in america & britain to have the shariah law imposed & to make girls wear burkas when outside the house.
    pathetic……….after reading this i can assume that complete veil ban in france is completely justified….
    Some body has rightly pedicted clash of civilization and it will happen between muslims and christians………
    hopefully both faith will destroy each other !!!!!!Recommend

  • Syed Ali
    Apr 20, 2011 - 1:49PM

    @muhammad ifran ahmed:
    How do you define american values, life or culture? Listening to the immigration debates in congress, I think, the foremost thing, americans care about is english language. By this standard 80 % of chinese americans and 60 % of spanish americans , the bulk of whom are non-muslims should never had immigrated to US. What do yu say about them?
    By the way, You really got a very strange set of relatives in US. One can only pray for them so that they fully blend within America.Recommend

  • Cautious
    Apr 20, 2011 - 4:37PM

    So to sum it up – American Pakistani’s are ignorant – religiously conservative – xenophobic – and cheap? In short – they didn’t put on new stripes when they got off the plane.Recommend

  • Ikramuddin Akbar
    Apr 20, 2011 - 8:42PM

    @Syed Ali:
    A very deep analysis, what you have said will satisfy the most, i think.Recommend

  • Syed Ali
    Apr 21, 2011 - 6:27AM

    @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.Recommend

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