O’ Canada, we (immigrants) stand on guard for thee!

Published: October 29, 2014

Canada all I can say is I have faith in you. I haven't been here long, but my love for you is pure and ever-growing. PHOTO: REUTERS

If you are from Pakistan, a random suicide attack or senseless bouts of bloodshed are normal in all abnormal ways possible. Usually, a few selected cities and areas are targeted while the other parts of the country go on with life.

However innocent blood is always shed and Pakistan is made out to be a no-go-zone in international news. This is a tragic reality that Pakistan has to crawl its way through every day. As a new immigrant in Canada, I imagine a life of peace and harmony because, let’s face it, that’s a given.

Until it’s not.

Terrorists attack Montreal and Ottawa and you get served with a vaguely familiar entrée on your plate – the smells of disbelief and déjà vu jolt your nerves.

The terrorist debate is an endless one. The reasons and causes have been regurgitated and coughed up time and again because, admittedly, this issue is not as passive and conspiracy-free as global warming. I am no political analyst and I don’t sip on bubbling hot conspiracies all day long. So I can’t possibly ooze out wisdom here on the why’s and how’s of terrorism. Nor do I intend to toot Canada’s righteous horn. Canada is not perfect and history of the aboriginals and their ill-treatment is a sad fact. Canada’s history of fighting in Afghanistan and now the decision to fight in Iraq is also debatable. But from a layman’s perspective, as a new immigrant who loves her new home, I can’t help but write my concerns.

I have met an overwhelming level of warmth in Canada, not usually in the temperature but in people’s hearts. Specifically in my city where people roam around in beards and hijabs as casually as do people with western attire. The same applies to people practicing their religions. I see mosques, churches, temples. I see people speaking English, Urdu, Hindi, Chinese. I see all the colours of the world painting Canada’s skies with harmony. I never see any heads turning when a seemingly different person enters the bus. Many people will have different versions of this story but this is my experience and so far it is downright awesome.

When I hear of attacks in Canada, I feel disgusted, angry and then I feel a tinge of fear. Fear of a life that could be different and more rigid than the one I have grown to love. Nagging thoughts of how Canada might make drastic changes in their governance policies cling on. Canada already understands many important facts, I hope this mutual understanding and cooperation continues. Every Muslim is not a rabid animal out to attack humanity. Every non-Muslim who converts to Islam is not a cause for a moral and ethical dissection. The ISIS and Taliban are not an epitome of Islam; I wouldn’t even brand them as humans. Muslims in Canada need to play an integral role here, they need to come out and speak against these attacks. To let the world know of their love for Canada, a country that has given them plenty to be thankful for.

The Canadian prime minister worries me a tad bit. Stephen Harper talks about strengthening the country’s security laws and regulations. Conservatives now divulge plans to give Canada’s security Intelligence Service (CSIS) more powers to detain “would-be” terrorists. A whole new wave of paranoia promises to crush us.

Should students from Pakistan, Iran, and Afghanistan be wary of applying to Canadian universities?

Should family back home think twice before applying for the Canadian visa?

Will feelings of anger and resentment seep into those affected by changed policies?

The sick feeling in my stomach returns.

In retrospect, the Liberal Party leader, Justin Trudeau, stands firm in the belief that the attackers,

“Will not make the rules about this land we share and they will not get to change us.”

The New Democratic Party leader, Thomas Muclair, urges the ruling Conservative Party to think before rushing into a rigid security legislation that could permanently damage the inherent openness and flexibility of the Canadian way of living.

The Canada I love is all about freedom and acceptance. It would be devastating to see Canada surrender its existing stance because of the Ottawa shootings, because that is precisely the attackers’ aim- to inhibit normal life and imbue seeds of fear in common people. Even in Pakistan, there is a limit to the fear we show to the world, in fact we rarely ever show it and that’s where our greatness lies. Controlled anger and the will to fight on is always a better replacement. Attacks or no attacks, normal life carries on back home with increased vigour and determination. And so it should in Canada too.

Canada, in the end, all I can say is I have faith in you. I haven’t been here long, but my love for you is pure and ever-growing. I understand the impossible situation you find yourself in. This is why I believe you will do what is right for your people; your people, who are Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists, etcetera. Your people, who practice their faiths with abandon and live with joy and freedom. You have the right to strengthen and mould your security and intelligence capabilities according to the circumstances. But while doing so, I hope you will continue to look out for your people because they will surely stand with you all the way.

God keep our land, glorious and free.
O’ Canada, we stand on guard for thee!


Nida Shahzeb

A Canada-based writer who strives to give meaning to life and its quirks. Also suffering from delusions involving a mutant alphabet bite. She blogs at: www.inkriched.com.

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

  • Moiz Omar

    Canada is a beautiful and amazing country.Recommend

  • Supriya Arcot

    Hmmm for some reason I am reminded of that movie ( Kamiyabi ) of Nadeem and Shabnum which was shot in Canada . I know this is off the topic .Recommend

  • Sabyasachi

    Don’t engage in meaningless and idle lament but tell your kind to shape up otherwise you be as ashamed to disclose your origin in Canada as you are in US.Recommend

  • Ayesha

    Hey stop it girl … I love love love Canada !Recommend

  • Mehreen Rana

    I live in Toronto and my co-worker is Greek. Last week I had to explain to her not all Pakistanis are fanatics and suicide bombers.Recommend

  • Maximus Decimus Meridius

    you should realize that Canadian want to feel at peace. A mans home is his castle. If you cannot find peace in your home then where do you find it? If Canadians think that stricter security is required then they will elect the Conservatives.
    On a side note, I don’t think that you have anything to worry about, or any other Pakistani for that matter. Canada still remains one of the best countries to emigrate to.Recommend

  • Sabyasachi

    Mehreen I admire your optimism.What you explained to him must have been all Greek and Latin to him.Actions speak louder than words.Recommend

  • Sabyasachi

    You do?Question is have you left them in a position to reciprocate?Recommend

  • Indo_canadian

    One question, Pakistan was created for Muslims. If they themselves immigrate to places like UK, Canada who wants to live in Pakistan ?Recommend

  • punit

    trust the religion of peace to change it all,Recommend

  • punit

    absolutely. there are like 3.02 % Pakistanis
    Wwho are not.Recommend

  • Neo

    According to a PEW survey the majority of Pakistanis support death for apostates. So your Greek colleague isn’t that far off.Recommend

  • Mercenary

    Most Canadians are too politically correct or too ignorant to criticize the lifestyle/ideology of the newcomers.
    I will laugh when Canada knows the same problems as in West-European countries today. Europe is becoming aware of the suicidal immigration policy, you have 25 years of delay with Europe on this point.Recommend

  • Raj – USA

    This blog is different. Different because it talks of muslims in Canada but we do not see the usual lines like “1.6 billion muslims” or “fastest growing religion” or “more people converting to Islam every day”, etc. etc. Muslims often say that terrorists are not muslims but include them in the 1.6 billion population they claim. Also, most terrorist groups are islamic groups and it is only that their numbers are ever increasing, not the numbers of muslims who are true to their claims that Islam is a peaceful religion and does not force others to convert.

    The author says:
    “Every Muslim is not a rabid animal out to attack humanity. Every non-Muslim who converts to Islam is not a cause for a moral and ethical dissection.”

    I would say that in Pakistan, every muslim is a rabid animal out to kidnap, rape and convert all hindu and christian girls, even girls as young as 6 years old. Not one such rapist has ever been punished, let alone even charged for an offense. Muslim society there praise these and even have live conversion shows on TV. It does not end with the muslim man raping and marrying the converted hindu/christian girl. Within a few months they muslim man and his muslim family sell off these girls to others or push them to prostitution. Such a large scale selling of their muslim wives by muslim men and also continually for over 65 years has not been seen anywhere else in the world. What sort of moral or ethical values these muslims of Pakistan have? Pakistani muslims who have moved to canada and other western countries have not done anything to stop it. They do not even condemn it. Many praise it also. At best, they just sty silent which is nothing but supporting these acts. Has any Pakistani muslim who funds so many of their political parties ever demanded from their government or political parties they support that proper punishment be awarded to such rabid animals who keep on preying young hindu and christian girls?

    In the West converts to Islam are a problem because they have not converted by seeing a good muslim as an example and being inspired by him. They are usually brainwashed by their friends or mullas and are inspired to convert to Islam only to take a revenge on their perceived or imagined enemies.

    As long as muslims in Canada and other countries where they have migrated keep quiet, it promotes such acts. China has realized that most of the teachings. So they are banning teaching of religion in muslim homes in China. If muslims keep quiet on these extremely immoral and unethical practices of conversions, other countries will follow China.Recommend

  • ahsan221

    i live in Australia and i have explain to everyone pakistani are not bad.. but every second day you will find some pakistani is caught up for case of cruption..sexual behavior or frud.. i am not saying only pakistanis are bad other nationalies do the same… ok back to topic guess what good news…we pakistani are now replaced by Arabs now they are the bad guys.. pakistan is out of news now lol.. i was telling people i am lebo but not anymore they are the one getting more harted atm.. so i am south american nowRecommend

  • Ch. Allah Daad

    No harm would come to any immigrant In north America or other developed countries who abide by the laws and love countries of their choice. We should not care about those who break laws and are not loyal to countries they live in and enjoy benefits.Recommend

  • Prashant

    “Even in Pakistan, there is a limit to the fear we show to the world, in fact we rarely ever show it and that’s where our greatness lies.”

    The kind of foreign policy Pakistan has where it uses terror as an instrument of its foreign policy, it is not the Pakistanis who should be afraid of others but the others who would be afraid of Pakistan.

    “Muslims in Canada need to play an integral role here, they need to come out and speak against these attacks.”

    I have not seen Muslims fighting for themselves in their own countries like Pakistan, how would they fight for their adopted country? Arab spring was supposed to have brought a revolution, we all know what it has brought.

    “This is why I believe you will do what is right for your people; your people, who are Muslims, Christians, Hindus, Buddhists and atheists, etcetera. ”

    I wonder if the author is in a minority, many Pakistanis when at home only speak of Muslims and who qualifies to be a true Muslim among the Muslims.Recommend

  • Sabyasachi

    Leave it that way for the future generations also.Do not spoil it .At one point in time, 67 years ago, provinces of Punjab,Sindh,Baluchistan,Pakhtoonistan were also very beautiful,peaceful and virgin countrysides full of very happy and prosperous people.Look what you have reduced it to.Recommend

  • Gp65

    Well said. It is however possible that Canada could review its immigration policy, so this could impact future Pakistanis wishing to emigrate to Canada.Recommend

  • نائلہ

    Where exactly in Australia may I ask? I live in Sydney and have NEVER experienced prejudice/ racism because I am a Pakistani. Why? Cos I carry myself in such manner that when ppl know I am Pakistani, I don’t have to explain like you had to that all of us are not bad. My actions speak more than anything, and depict that we are just another group of human beings.

    And lol it’s never safe to call yourself a leb, they have an extremely bad rep cos of all the today tonight and a current affair episodes on them and of course because of their actions :L. Lebs in one sentence: “come to bankstown and say that to me!” ;D

    And why do you need to hide your identity? Be a good person, call yourself Pakistani and PROVE to those ppl who think Pakistanis are bad, that they are not, solely via your actions! Be the change you want to see ahsan! Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    The two terrorists in Canada (and one in the US – the hatchet man) this past week were not Pakistanis. However all three were recent converts to Islam. Should that worry Canada, the US, the UK and all the Western countries that allow Mullahs to their countries to convert natives and preach hate and intolerance? The policies of multiculturalism should be abandoned before Western civilization and culture is eroded. Immigration.Recommend

  • Jamshed Rustomjee

    Including hindutva Indians. The very hateful kind.Recommend

  • Yo2Da2

    According to a recent news story, Muslim Lebanese immigrants (not Pakistani ones) are responsible for 70 percent of hateful jihadi activities in Australia including those in recent weeks. Gough Whitlam, former Australian PM who died recently, opened up Australia to non-European immigration in 1971. Would jihadis help Australia undo its generous policy? (Ditto for all Western countries now beset by such problems.)Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    1 in 4 Pakistanis support one Terror group or another, say PEW survey. I’d say you are spreading lies.


  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Lahore and Karachi too were the same way, before millions of Hindus and Sikhs migrated to India, making it Muslim majority.
    What does that tell you?Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    Boundaries are overrated. An abusive parent is not worth owning up to. Be a global citizen. Good for you.Recommend

  • Haris (Canada)

    What would you say to Hindu’s leaving Hindustan and moveing to UK, Canada… Your comment is lame and pontless.Recommend

  • Haris (Canada)

    and what would be that religion Mr Punit… the religion of ur Modi and what he did in Gujarat???Recommend

  • Haris (Canada)

    Buddy don’t worry about us “Pakistani Canadians” we love our
    countries and will do anything to defend them both… we are equally proud to
    call ourselves Pakistani and Canadians…. we don’t belong to the nation of
    coward people where u re from… underestimating us will be the worst mistake for
    you and ur kind.Recommend

  • Haris (Canada)

    You are such a hater.. dude we Pakistani Canadians have nothing but love for both of our countries… If time comes we will defend Canada just like our ancestors have defended Pakistan from ur coward country.Recommend

  • Abdul

    How many ‘hindutva Indians’ involved in killing Canadians ? How many caught for planting bombs ? Just asking.


  • ak

    hindutva Indians like? I guess you donot even understand the meaning of hindutva..

    But nonetheless , any single name of such (whatever u call it) person who has been involved in terrorist activity abroad?Recommend

  • Reddy

    INDIA is a land of hindus, it’s culture and civilization…not created for hindus…where as pakistan is created for muslims….Recommend

  • TheAverageMoe

    why would it affect Pakistan and the immigration policy of Canada when the gunman was a native born Canadian and wasn’t even Pakistani?It’s hilarious how Indians are trying to connect this to Pakistan; the last major massacre in Canada was 8 years back when an Indian origin man named Kimveer Gill shot up a college in Montreal killing 2 and injuring 19.Recommend

  • TheAverageMoe

    It isn’t comparable because Canada has a selective immigration policy where only skilled and educated people migrate, it’s also protected by two shores and a superpower neighbor down south; Europe on the other hand gets mostly unskilled refugees from Africa and West Asia mainly because of it’s proximity.

    The gunman wasn’t even a “newcomer” he was a native born Caucasian Canadian man.Recommend

  • TheAverageMoe

    I hope ET moderators check the IP address of people pretending to be PakistanisRecommend

  • TheAverageMoe

    Great, a 4 year old poll -the most recent Pew survey showed a stark change in attitude Recommend

  • xyz

    That was because of the partition.
    I consider you to be balanced & reasonable..but this comment seems a bit islamophobic to me.

  • xyz

    ‘..coward..’ ?
    You certainly sound like no hater.Recommend

  • xyz

    Not abroad…but only inside India.Recommend

  • http://peddarowdy.wordpress.com/ Anoop

    The thing about Islamophobia is about the Religion of the person who is indulging in it.
    Pakistan attacks Lal Masjid and bombs it and kills and arrests the clerics and many students, its anti-Terror operation.
    But, if New York PD even sets up cameras in Mosques or coerces people to spy for it, its considered Islamophobia.
    So, for argument’s sake think of me as a Muslim and re-read my statement and tell me if you still think its Islmophobia.Recommend

  • Someone

    Same goes for Gujrat over here too. ( also the other states with anti-minority religious violence, like Karnataka,UP,Orissa etc )Recommend

  • Indian

    I disagree with your comment.Read your history. We’ve had Buddhists & buddhist culture here since before Emperor Asoka’s time in 300BC. The earliest Jews have been here since between 950 BC & 500 BC. Christians have been here since 50 AD. Jains since before 500 BC.
    Recently, we’ve had Zoroastrians since around 700-800 AD, Sikhs after 1500 AD & Baha’i’s after 1900 AD. India is hindu majority,but its culture is composite & plural (not hindu-but multicultural ). Unity in diversity.Recommend

  • ahsan221

    i am 100% agreed with you on this… but we south Asian are not behind in this champions arena..go to lekamba and you will find south asian side by side to their lebanese or arab brothers in these activities.. i went for eid prayers and the Imam was screening on his lungs abusing westerns which was not making any sense to me.. but it was making lot of sense to those Muslims who have not reached to that stage to question his craxy claims..Recommend

  • xyz

    I see your point Anoop. But there are two ways of looking at this. There is a danger of stereotyping if we start thinking of which biradri or zilla or quom a criminal is from. For arguments sake,just as an exercise-just replace the islam part of the terrorist ,randomly with,say,’dalit’ or ‘bengali’. Now,after an act of terrorism by such a person,will the entire nation turn against all its dalit citizens or bengali citizens ? The same attitude lead to the anti-sikh riots of 1984- 3000 of our innocent citizens were lynched/burnt alive just because the assassin of Mrs.Gandhi happened to share the same faith or headgear. This was a miserable event,that sounds like its from medieval times-but it occurred just 30 yrs ago. I know,that you can give me list of links of radical islamic terrorists & I’m walking a fine line,trying to talk you out of stereotyping & seeing the pain it causes.Recommend

  • Sabyasachi

    No the cases are not identical.The Canadians did not trouble you guys at all.In fact they have been too generous.In Gujarat on the other hand ,some louts under a false sense of bravado burnt women and children after locking the doors of the train compartment.That started it all for the majority to hit back..I am not even going to mention the insult ,humiliation and targeted killings of the oppressed communities in Sindh and West Punjab.So, there is a difference.You guys claim to hate the west and anything that represents west and then pretend to shed crocodile tears.If you were a majority in Canada,I dread the condition of other minorities.Recommend

  • Reddy

    i never heard so much crap in one paragraph,history is not some thing you can change,it’s only there to read ..king siddartha in his quest for knowledge and truth turned into buddha, he came up with 4 core principles on how to lead one’s life, king ashoka expanded on those 4 made it into 24,later came to known as ashoka chakra or (hinduism 2.o), Zoroastrians priests migrated to india to avoid persecution in iran, you don’t know parsi history,as far as jews are concerned …earlier jews who came to india through spice route for trade settled in kerala,and in some places of andhra ,then there are jews who came along with french settled in goa,recent jew migration happened during the world war,whom you can find in mumbai… Hinduism is plularalistic in it’s nature which gave birth to Buddhism,Sikhism,Jainism…but after ashoka some numb nuggets in our kings who sold their souls to devils thought buddhism was a threat to hinduism as opposed to the views of ashoka (who advocated that Buddhism firmly planted it’s roots in Hinduism and architected it’s core principles along with buddha) started killing innocent buddhists ,destroyed their kingdoms mercilessly and karma played it’s part in fallowing years ….that being said,Zoroastrians,jews living in india doesn’t entail them the ownership of the land sure they are as much indian as i am if not more…but india is and always will be land of vedic civilization which includes buddists,jains,sikhs who are essentially Hindus both historically or otherwiseRecommend

  • Sabyasachi

    LOL!Hey that is prize wining post.Bravo!Recommend

  • Sabyasachi

    No, I am not a hater,We are of the same blood.But I am afraid if I say that to a Pakistani he would turn around and say he is from Arabia.Recommend

  • Sabyasachi

    I am sure you would the way you defended Pakistan in ’71.Recommend

  • Someone

    Reread my comment & figure out my nationality.Recommend

  • Not really

    My parents have many Sikh family friends & I have a few Jain friends..none of them say they are Hindus or consider themselves ‘essentially Hindu’.Recommend

  • So,its justified ?

    ‘..majority to hit back..’
    The majority didn’t hit back at the same ‘..some louts..’ who burnt the karsevaks, but,rather ; murderously turned loose on disconnected innocent muslim civillians in Gujarat,who had nothing to do with the burning (exactly like the ’84 anti-sikh pogrom which slaughtered thousands of innocent Sikh citizens on delhi streets,who had nothing to do with indira gandhis assassins)


  • Yo2Da2

    Blah, blah, blah . . . . .Recommend

  • So wrong !

    Buddhism is hinduism 2.0 ?! Parsi & jewish citizens have ‘no ownership of the land’ ?!! Sikhs & Jains are hindus ?!!!
    Vedic civilization,doesnt mean 100% people on the subcontinent were followers of vedas or kamasutra..Get over yourself ! People followed other things too.
    Your cross-eyed view is not altering reality.What jaundiced history.Pathetic BS.

  • Reddy

    surprisingly people like you say land rover-jaguar under indian ownership become an indian car….it is and always will be a british car…Recommend

  • So wrong !

    Indian nationals,entitled to blue passports are not to be compared to vehicles. Retarded example. This is a multicultural,composite country. Majority religion doesn’t make the country ‘uni-cultured’ or ‘vedic-cultured’. As I said,get over your half-cooked,history-twisting, Recommend

  • ALi

    in Gujarat, the karsevaks attacked a muslim woman waiting in the station and tried to kidnap her. that is what instigated it. Dont hide facts.Recommend

  • vinsin

    What I remembered that you ancestor fought to partition the country?Recommend