Pakistan calling: Engaging British Pakistanis

Published: October 3, 2013
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Anwar Akhtar, director of The Samosa. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

Anwar Akhtar, director of The Samosa. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

Anwar Akhtar, director of The Samosa. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB Mathew Taylor, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the RSA. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB

Matthew Taylor, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA)and Anwar Akhtar, director of The Samosa describe the aims, ambition and thinking behind the Pakistan Calling Programme.

They discuss issues in Pakistan, such as social enterprise and international development, as well as British identity and engagement with communities, diversity and community cohesion within Britain. The Samosa is an online news and culture site that links South Asia and Britain.

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Pakistan Calling – A new way of thinking

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Anwar said that the RSA and the Samosa have been working together to “try and bring stories from Pakistan about work in Pakistan that civil and cultural organizations are doing into Britain and raise awareness in Britain about that work”

He added that time and time again, he has heard major organizations, some the largest developmental organizations on the planet, have said “We find Pakistan too difficult, we don’t even know where to begin.” This project aims to show that there are ways to engage Pakistan.

For Matthew, this project is about “contributing to a more positive and more informed, more nuanced conversation about Pakistan and Britain… away from the idea of Pakistan in terms of issues to do with extremism and terror.”

He also said that is it very important to engage British Pakistanis. Matthew said “showcasing social entrepreneurship, initiatives in Pakistan which are seeking to make society better and linking those kinds of examples… to social enterprise, social initiatives within the British Pakistani community,” is important to generate a much richer dialogue between the two communities.

Lots of British Pakistanis are involved in social work in Pakistan. Anwar feels that this work should be connected to larger scale activity that the Foreign Office is involved in. He added that attempts should be made to engage organisations like the British Council to get involved in this work.

PAKISTAN CALLING FEATURES

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Theatre group Ajoka has been part of the struggle for a democratic, humane and egalitarian Pakistan for the last 25 years.
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Pop up mobile cinema Karachi style with the Tentative Collective. Imagine if a rickshaw pulled up into your neighbourhood and started projecting videos on a boundary wall.
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Mr Ali Shah talks about his life both in Britain, where he has set up several successful businesses, and in Pakistan. It also interviews his son Cuream about his identity.
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How the Association Development Of Pakistan provided clean water in Charsadda District.
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Thess films are a part of Pakistan Calling!  www.thersa.org/pkcalling #pkcalling  The RSA and www.thesamosa.co.uk launched  Pakistan Calling  www.thersa.org/pkcalling a film project to challenge perceptions of today’s Pakistan and to promote constructive cross-cultural dialogue between Britain and Pakistan. The films depict Pakistani civil society organisations, social entrepreneurs and individuals who are attempting to tackle the country’s many pressing social problems and the many links between Britain and Pakistan

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Reader Comments (7)

  • Ali
    Oct 3, 2013 - 5:34PM

    American Pakistanis are way better than british Pakistanis…….British ones are a bunch of extremist………..

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  • S
    Oct 3, 2013 - 6:44PM

    These guys will only involve very westernised Pakistanis in this engaging. I will rather have them stay and work for Britain alone. They should focus on prosperity of Britain.

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  • TA
    Oct 3, 2013 - 7:57PM

    Yes, American Pakistanis are better than British ones simply because most who came to Britain were uneducated people from rural areas whereas the American ones come from Karachi and Lahore. Nevertheless young British Pakistanis are twice as likely to go to university than the natives in Britain so there are clearly some improvements being made.

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  • Mariam
    Oct 4, 2013 - 12:22AM

    I really love the sweeping generalisation that is in the comments section, namely that British Pakistanis are from villages and are somewhat less successful than their American Pakistani counterparts.
    Well I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but not all British Pakistanis are jahil or backwards. A great number of us, I would say about 80/85% are educated and successful in a wide range of professional fields in the UK. I’m not denying that there are some Pakistani communities that still need to let go of the backwards culture and thinking, but there are pockets like that in any community.
    British Pakistanis have been in the UK since the 1940’s, and have been working and sending money home to Pakistan ever since then! The only reason why British Pakistanis have a bad reputation in Pakistan is because of a handful of incidents.
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  • MSS
    Oct 8, 2013 - 12:30AM

    @Mariam,
    You r quite right that not all Pakistanis are ‘Jahil’. However, this figure of 80-85% is wishful thinking. For a considerable length of time, Pakistani children were right at the bottom of educational achievements in school just above West Indian or Bangladeshi children.
    Perceptions do matter. The Joe Average Brit thinks of Pakistanis as a community that: a. lives on state benefits, b. condones religious violence, c. puts religion first and the law of the land second, d. demands more from the hosts than are prepared to contribute, e. has a larger percentage of disadvantaged children than any other society thus causing NHS and other institutions to use scarce resources, f. find it hard to debate sensitive issues, g. think in derogatory terms of the host female population.
    This is not to say there are no brilliant, affluent, sensible, law abiding caring Pakistanis. Far from it. But American Pakistanis ARE perhaps better than the British ones.

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  • islooboy
    Oct 10, 2013 - 9:54PM

    @Ali:
    well americans pakistanis are mostly karachites while british pakistanis are from rural pakistan and more attached to there roots travel pakistan often and help the local economy

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  • islooboy
    Oct 10, 2013 - 9:57PM

    @MSS:
    americans pakistanis are ashamed of there heritage and religion while british pakistanis honour there country and religion us pakis are just burgers gone yankiRecommend

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