Saudi Arabia: No country for Pakistani brides

Published: August 7, 2014
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Saudi men banned from marrying Pakistani, Bengali, Chadian and Burmese Women. PHOTO: AFP

The untoward behaviour from the Saudi government of reportedly laying off 30,000 illegal Pakistani workers hit yet another ebb when Saudi men were recently banned from bringing brides from four nationalities including Pakistan that is amongst the relegated list. Other countries languishing in this ill-famed category are Bangladesh, Burma and Chad.

A cursory glance at the names of aforementioned countries makes me wonder how insignificant Pakistan has become in the greater scheme of things. It reduces Information Minister Pervez Rasheed’s recent claim, during a conference held to discuss Gaza, about Pakistan being the world’s sixth largest force to reckon with to a mere farce.

Revisiting the historical context of the phenomenon of (sham) brotherhood between the two Islamic states unravels the indifference dished out by Saudis towards Pakistanis in general.

During the petro-dollar era of the 70s, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto banked on the Saudis to pave the way to a new Islamic block. His shenanigans of playing the religion card to catapult himself as the new leader of the Muslim Ummah at the second OIC conference in Lahore was hailed by many myopic observers as a game changing move by the hitherto secular leader.

In the course of four decades, Pakistan has witnessed chickens coming home to roost; starting from the Saudis backed jihad in Afghanistan that engendered militancy in the country to the current discriminatory policies on part of their government against Pakistanis.

The jaw-dropping aid of $1.5 billion must not be misconstrued as a mere generosity of the oil rich state. In fact, it is a bait to pitch Pakistan in the epicentre of the conflict zone considering the footprints of Saudi Arabia in retailing the war in Syria recently.

The new edict that bars Saudi citizen to betroth a Pakistani lassie seems like a belated Eid greeting from the Saudi monarchy to Mian Nawaz Sharif, who visited the kingdom during the last 10 days of Ramazan but did not mutter a word on bilateral relationships or confidence building measure between the two Muslim countries.

I can vouch for it with full aplomb that had the law been passed by any non-Muslim country from the Western world, the uproar against the respective nation would have been significant in terms of maligning its laws, religion and cultural norms. The possibility of severing all ties with that particular country wouldn’t have been written off either; whereas big daddy went unscathed.

Obsessed with unconditional love for the Saudis, Pakistanis fail to realise that the regressive regime in Saudi Arabia has pigeon-holed women on a number of accounts. The prohibition of women drivers in Saudi is a strong case of discrimination against women by making them dependant on the male species.

Similarly, there was an uproar in the Saudi media after a female TV anchor became the first woman ever to read the news without a veil, which was against the Islamic norms of the country. In stark contrast, the new rule imposed against women of four nationalities is a glaring denial of Islamic teachings as Islam doesn’t restrict marriages within particular regions, tribes or states.

In the light of changing political kaleidoscope, Pakistanis shouldn’t pin high hopes with the Saudi royal family – they are busy grinding their own axe and safeguarding their personal interests ever since assuming power in 1932, when they changed the name of Hejaz and associate dominions to eponymous Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Asad Mustafa Kahlon

Asad Mustafa Kahlon

A social entrepreneur and minority rights advocate, who likes to write. He blogs at asadmustafa15.wordpress.com and tweets as @asadkahlon

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • WB

    Two nation theory!

    What theory. Two nation dream, more like it.Recommend

  • Jayman

    Nice piece. Bhutto was the first to play the religion card and that was quickly picked up by Zia. Pakistan has not been the same ever since. Saudis are rich bedouins. Once their oil runs out they’ll go back to herding camels and living in tents. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. They are not hard working people and they live off the land. Oil today, camels tomorrow.Recommend

  • Humza

    Don’t you think that most Pakistani women are giving a big sigh of relief now that there is no risk of being married off to some old Arab man for money and living an oppressive life in a dessert nation! The only family member I met who married an older Saudi man decades ago went from being young and pretty to old and jaded in a short time, stuck in a compound and deprived of basic human rights to go out or drive. Maybe Saudi Arabia has its own demographic problem with Saudis ignoring their own women in favour of more attractive native Pakistani women, but I am sure most Pakistani girls would never want to marry and move to Saudi Arabia.Recommend

  • Humza

    Don’t you think that most Pakistani women are giving a big sigh of relief now that there is no risk of being married off to some old Arab man for money and living an oppressive life in a dessert nation! The only family member I met who married an older Saudi man decades ago went from being young and pretty to old and jaded in a short time, stuck in a compound and deprived of basic human rights to go out or drive. Maybe Saudi Arabia has its own demographic problem with Saudis ignoring their own women in favour of more attractive native Pakistani women, but I am sure most Pakistani girls would never want to marry and move to Saudi Arabia.Recommend

  • C M Naim

    It would be useful if the author had also explained or indicated the reasons why the ban was declared. Have there been cases in the news involving such marriages? Have there been protests in the four countries against some such marriages? Have there been any letters or reports from some families affected by this ban?
    It could be that the ban actually helps some Pakistani young women who otherwise would have been sacrificed by their poor parents to some rich Saudis.Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    This is a really racist move by Saudi Arabia.Recommend

  • sterry

    What Pakistani girl in her right mind would want to be married off to a Saudi and live like a virtual slave?This is great news for Pakistani women!Recommend

  • Talha rizvi

    @ Author: It is actually a blessing in disguise as now Pakistani girls don’t have to marry these racist people.Recommend

  • sunny

    “I can vouch for it with full aplomb that had the law been passed by any non-Muslim country from the Western world, the uproar against the respective nation would have been significant in terms of maligning its laws, religion and cultural norms. The possibility of severing all ties with that particular country wouldn’t have been written off either” — This is absolutely true..Recommend

  • http://www.mmabbasi.com/ Mohammed Abbasi

    Arabs are considered superior by many in Pakistan – so this should not be an issue for PakistanisRecommend

  • BlackJack

    Pakistan should reply that anyone who marries a Pakistani will need to become a Pakistani henceforth. That should really confuse the Saudis.Recommend

  • Waheeda Islam

    I am surprised by anti Arabs here. Arabs are our idols to emulate. After all the prophet (pbuh) was Arab, remember? Inshallah, when we all follow true Islam I am sure they will agree to marry us. It is just a test. Be patient. Inshallah, we will pass it when true sharia will rule. The they will be happy to embrace us, for sure. Believe me.
    Recommend

  • Broken heart

    Most of the pakistanis consider themselvs as of ARABIAN clone not of Asian descent.. So sad, that arabs don’t believe it… Recommend

  • Munna

    Why I smell an Indian trolls sarcasm here with a fake muslim name ? anyone ??Recommend

  • Syed Hussain

    Be patient and they will marry us ? what kind of slave mentality you have ?Recommend

  • harry

    Saudi men actually want the whole country, so give them. After all Pakistanis are all descendants of Saudis.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    hahahahahahahha……oh my Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    Somebody here said: “Arabs are our idols to emulate.”
    Yes, indeed!
    After all, are not all Pakistanis of Arab descent? What if the Arabs do not believe it and treat you all like a doormat.Recommend

  • Sridhar Kaushik

    There are many cases recorded in India of men from Saudi Arabia marrying muslim minors (or even worse, just purchasing them for a price) with the muslim society just looking on doing nothing.
    Perhaps the muslims of the subcontinent can say or do little when the thought process is that they are your masters and come from the land of your prophet.Recommend

  • Hunza wala

    This is a phony hindu troll. Under a Muslim name.
    Doubt ET, lover of hindu trolls will print this.Recommend

  • mano

    You forgot your “sarcasm” sign.Recommend

  • mano

    Such a ban is human rights violation. If there is any protest or problems in these 4 countries, those countries need to handle it. If parents are forcing daughters to marry against their choice, empower the woman. Make them strong enough to say no.Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/riaz.ali.1069020 Riaz Ali

    IS this a sarcastic comment. Islam is above race, faith and other racist biases. Remember Bilal was an African but Prophet Muhammad asked him to give the Azaan and instructed his believers to treat all equally. The very followers of Islam in Saudi are proudly making such racist laws. Recommend

  • http://www.facebook.com/riaz.ali.1069020 Riaz Ali

    There are some either cases which you forgot where dalit females are bought for cheap prices and then trafficked or where girls as young as 7 are sold off as devdasis to please your gods. nobody even bats an eyelid then.Recommend

  • virkaul

    No one ever resented the discrimination that Pakistani men were not allowed to marry Saudi women.Recommend

  • Moiz Omar

    Not sure if you are being for real or just joking.Recommend

  • Marco

    Yeah and Indians are Central Asian Aryans lolRecommend

  • unbelievable

    Spot on! BTW you have similar problem with China which openly discriminates against Muslims and treats the few Pakistani’s who visit China with no respect … but just like the Saudi’s shabby treatment of Pakistan – it’s conveniently ignored. I suppose that’s what happens to a country which is running out of friends.Recommend

  • stevenson

    Don’t be taken in by an Indian troll with a made up name. You should realise that more than half the comments on Pakistani sites are from obsessed Indians. Anyhow, most Pakistanis know that Arabs are different in culture and behavior than Pakistanis. That’s why they can’t even defend themselves and have to count on Pakistani soldiers.Recommend

  • Amir Khan

    We critcize Arabs for treating women badly? What do we do? Rampant rapes in daylight, murders, acid attacks. We complain about them being tribal? Yet we have millions upon milliions of people living in a caste system.

    We complain about them using slave labour yet we have the highest amount of slaves according to the most recent statistics.

    Recommend

  • stevenson

    Go and ask Pakistani women where they would rather live. No matter the challenges of Pakistani women in Pakistan, they are nowhere near as oppressed as Saudi women are in Saudi Arabia. I would love for you to show me your “statistics” on slave labour and your source. And you forget that the caste system is in India – it doesn’t exist in Pakistan.Recommend

  • AQ Jamil

    What is “true” Islam and “true” Sharia to all of us who are ignorant. ANd how long will it take – it has 1400 years already – for such truths to be established?Recommend

  • Mahir Khan

    “Stevenson”? Yeah, right!Recommend

  • Jyoti Tiku

    World is already on the brink of innovating an alternative to OIL and it should soon come by, pity what ARABS will doRecommend

  • Jyoti Kaul

    Caste system is not practiced in India any more
    Please stop being in the state of denial, sectarian voilence has taken enough toll in Pakistan, unless you want to declare Pakistan a selectively punjabi stateRecommend

  • IMTIYAZ

    What planet are you from it’s just a test like our prophet said and arab is not better then other muslims and vice versa, just get your facts straight and how are they better muslims then rest of muslims when they got eid wrong Recommend

  • http://www.pakistantoday.tv/ shahmmd

    i think there are more handsome man in Pakistan then in saudi arab, we do not want to send our women to marry saudi, they can send us, and hope we will keep their women happy.Recommend