Donald Trump’s America is awfully racist and discriminatory, but is Pakistan any different?

Published: August 27, 2017

How tolerant and fair is the Muslim majority in Pakistan towards its minorities?

Q: Mirror mirror on the wall, who’s the biggest racist of them all?

A: The human race

Recently, I came across a video which showed a young Palestinian-American Muslim mother talking about the struggle of handling her young daughters. This was in reference to race and religion in the current political climate raging in the US. Her talk made me ponder about the truth of raising my kids in the US. And for a moment, it made me second guess my decision of moving to the American shores some 20 years ago. 

Welcome to the American world of Donald Trump.

A world where race is an issue, where being a Muslim, an African-American, or belonging to the Jewish faith gives one pause, unlike before. Where being parents to school going Muslim kids puts one in a position of preparedness to answer questions, unlike before. And I would like to emphasise on the term unlike before, because it really is unlike before.

Following the wreck we call the Trump train, I had to answer social and cultural questions put forward by my kids:

“Why can’t I go for a sleepover?”

“Why can’t I wear short shorts?”

“Why is my curfew earlier than everyone else’s?”

“Why do you have to pick and drop me everywhere?”

Those were hard questions, but ones I had been preparing to answer since I became a parent. But these recent issues of race are entirely alien – especially in a country that prides itself on being ‘the land of the free and the home of the brace’ – and I find myself unprepared and on unfamiliar turf.

It takes me back to Karachi during the 80s and 90s. The rise of Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) had Karachi’s diverse population feeling uncomfortable because they were being made to answer the following question,

“Will you be leaving Karachi and moving to your province of origin?”

Karachi was all I knew. Karachi was where my school was, Karachi was where my friends were, Karachi was where my maternal grandparents moved to in 1947, Karachi was where my father moved to in the 60s to do his MBA from the Institute of Business Administration (IBA), Karachi was where I was born – Karachi was home.

Was my experience any different than that of the young mother and daughters she mentioned? Were my mother’s feelings any different from the way I feel today, when it was gently suggested to her that maybe my parents should consider leaving Karachi.

And many of our family friends actually did leave.

Therefore, however much I may try to pretend that the reality of race is something I’ve faced for the first time, it’s not entirely true. As for religion, yes. But then it’s because I belong to the majority Muslim sect in Pakistan. Everyone living in Pakistan does not hail from the same sect as I do.

Thirty years ago, when I was in school, an incident took place and I can vividly recall it even today. A biology teacher was very insensitive and mean to a 15-year-old Ahmadi girl. Hence, the truth remains that Ahmadis, Hindus, Christian, Sikhs and other minority religions face discrimination in Pakistan too.

How tolerant and fair is the Muslim majority in Pakistan towards its minorities? Not really, is it? Therefore, why expect fairness from our adopted countries when our country of birth is the same?

The real truth is that we easily succumb to racial and religious profiling in our country of origin too. The only difference may be that we were the majority there, while in the US we find ourselves on the other side of the fence.

And it’s not too much fun to be on the other side, now is it?

So how different is our children’s experience in the US when compared to the young Ahmadi girl in my school? Actually, if truth be told, it may be better. No teacher can tell them to their face or in front of a class that since they are non-Christian they need to leave the classroom. No, that does not happen in the US, that too at an expensive private school such as the one I attended in Karachi.

I set out with the intention to discuss dealing with the questions my children encounter about belonging to a different race and religion and how I answer those questions. And while that is true, I most certainly have to be truthful in saying that I come from a similar place, where minorities were and still are mistreated. Bengalis and Makranis for the colour of their skin and other minorities for their accents or religion.

Tragically, the truth remains that the human race is racist in nature; it thrives on creating differences and conflicts and it enjoys the plight of the minorities and plays the victim card while doing the same. And while I want to tackle the racist truth of the US, I want to acknowledge that I come from a place that is not much different.

There the minorities are different, but discrimination a little worse. Take that truth my fellow humans, and swallow it too.

Bisma Tirmizi

Bisma Tirmizi

The author lives for the simple pleasures and her musings over a cup of tea almost always find a way to be the written word. She also writes for Her book 'Feast With A Taste Of Amir Khusro', published by Rupa Publications, is available in stores now.

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

  • Steve-O

    Both countries are discriminatory, but that doesn’t make them the same. Americans are no saints, but the freedoms available here are enough to want people from all over the world to immigrate here, regardless of the risk of discrimination. Recommend

  • PatelPara

    started comparing USA & Pakistan now. 70 years vs 241 years.

    and almost 70 years ago african americans were not allowed to sit and eat in the same place as whites.Recommend

  • Shani

    Make sure to stay a couple of hundred years behind the world. The whole world has progressedRecommend

  • vinsin

    TNT is right. In Pakistan it is constitutional but USA it is unconstitutional.Recommend

  • Hosur

    The truth is we are ready to notice the short coming of other races, societies,cultures,regions and over looking our own gross shortcomings and discrimination.Recommend

  • Kulbhushan Yadav

    Why just Pakistan , every Muslim majority country is racist and discriminatory to the core. Look around.Recommend

  • Sentient Being

    Muslim is still not a race and the US is still one of the least racist countries on this earth. Pakistan is in fact among the least racist countries as well. Religions are discriminated against, not races.

  • Patwari

    Say about 94% of the US population can read and write.
    Which makes a huge difference. Plus mass media available.
    Compared to 60% or 70% of Pakistanis who can read/write
    And who basically, maybe, are dominated by mullahs rants and
    hate preachings. Plus the vast silent majority that simply looks the
    other way.
    There is a big difference. No comparison. A Third World country
    and the most advanced nation [superpower] in the world.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Not to mention that there are roving bands of extremist hindus
    hunting for Muslims to kill. if they are anywhere near a cow. Even a
    dead cow that’s rotting in the street for 2 days.Recommend

  • Patwari

    Since the Saffron Lord alighted on the Delhi throne, it is
    open seasons on all minorities specially repeat specially
    Muslims in Hindustan.Recommend

  • Rex Major

    Yes, and that is why we see green lines in front of Pakistan Consulates waiting for the visa to escape from the “saffron Lord”. The LoC is punctured and for a change Pakistani Army is trying to prevent infiltration. Thanks to the Pakistani constitution and the social fabric, minorities of all hews (if alive) live a life of utmost fulfilment and well being.
    And, if you happen to be an Indian Muslim, look around – what your ilk does when it is in majority – wherever in the world.
    Talk of living in glass house!Recommend

  • Rex Major

    At least one person of Pakistani origin who reflects on the state of affairs “back home” and does not think that the world is out to “get the Muslims”.Recommend

  • PatelPara

    if the world has progressed then why is USA acting like Pakistan in the above article?

    LOL libtardsRecommend

  • vinsin

    Yep then also Muslims from Pakistan come to India. India has already given Indian Muslims Pakistan and Bangladesh

  • vinsin

    Extremists Hindus have given Muslims, Pakistan to be near a cow. What else do you want them to do?Recommend

  • Parvez

    Although I agree with what you have said, the comparison was unnecessary….. I feel that you have written this more to calm the uneasiness in your stomach and to convince yourself that you or your parents had taken the right decision some years ago.Recommend

  • Patwari

    you will notice, this comment is in response to a hindu
    from Hinduland. From people who are always jawing about
    the largest pseudo democracy in the world. And they do a
    song and dance routine every time “secular” Hindia is brought
    up, including gnashing their teeth and foaming. Like you.
    There are no lines in front of the Pak consulates in Hindustan.
    Paks never claim to be a City on Shining Hill for minorities, even
    Muslims, …religious or ethnic.
    There are Hindian minority lines two miles deep, [camped out] in
    front of every Western embassy. Trying to get a visa. And they
    simply cannot trek to Europe, because Paks are in the way. With
    a border so heavily guarded even a rat can’t squeeze in, edgewise.
    Otherwise there would be Dalits, Christians, Muslims, Untouchables caravans passing thru Pakland every day,…on way to Turkey, Europe.
    Just like your countrymen the Afghans do three times a day. Things
    are not looking good in your hometown Kabul. also known as Delhi Jr.
    Be careful of the polizei in Hamburg. Otherwise it’s back to Hindia
    No visa needed for afghanis, also known as 7th. century wallas , in
    their second motherland,….. Bharat.Recommend

  • Patwari

    That could be because limited awareness.


  • Mike Pilgrim

    Trump’s adviser Kushner had him attacking Pakistan. Kushner’s advice guaranteed Pakistan will refuse requests for cooperation, the India card was a disastrous idea. 14 years of admitted failure to impose a military solution will be solved with a military solution?Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    There was NO India before partition merely a collection of princely states.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Same as IndiaRecommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Mike should tell us what he knows about Pakistani duplicity in supporting proxies to undermine peace in Afghanistan!Recommend

  • Patwari

    Well, see, er, hhmm, before anything else, we all need to know
    about Hindu Desh’s culpability in fomenting, aiding and abetting
    terrorism inside Land of the Pure. Killing innocent men, women and
    children. A blood bath. 74,000 total dead. Not counting permanantly
    maimed and disabled. These terrorists would not survive without
    Hindia’s backing. Should we talk about Hindia’s proxies? Duplicity?
    Peace in Afghanistan? Now, with which warlord? Currently there are five.
    The sixth one, Karzai’s brother was killed off some years ago.
    They are with the govt. for the moment, supposedly, but they double the govt.
    every Tuesday. With impunity.

  • gp65

    You keep saying that. Please think about which country was the ‘East India company’ set up to trade with?
    Which country did Queen of Spain want Columbus to find a sea route to when he got lost and ended up in America?Recommend

  • numbersnumbers

    Muslim TTP terrorists working for Hindu India! NOT!Recommend

  • Patwari

    You can also say India was a name given to a
    geographical location. Like Africa or even America
    How many states/countries or say tribal areas were
    in Africa in past history? “America[s]” is composed of
    US of A, Mexico, Brazil, Argentina, Peru Canada, etc.
    You can further break it down to North America and South
    America. Even Central America.
    Hindustan was composed of princely states. Who had their
    own armies, clear cut borders and rajas and maharajas ruling
    over the populations. Even their own currencies in some cases.
    After the Mughals conquests and consolidations, there were
    still numerous princely states. Perhaps then with the additions
    of Nawabs and Nizams.
    Sorry madam, India was not a full fledged country. Which brings us
    to what happened to the Nizam of Hyderabad Deccan and the princely state of Junagadh including the state of Jammu and Kashmir at the
    1947 Partition.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    Hindus massacred two million Muslims during the partition of British India, Hindu terrorism against Muslims in Pakistan is completely believable. I read on BBC Hindus were chanting “Pakistan will be Qabristan” meaning Pakistan will be a graveyard. Indians are trying to keep their barbaric word.Recommend

  • Mike Pilgrim

    The word India was used by Christopher Columbus to describe his discovery of America, hence American Indians. You really want to argue the use of the word India, derived from the Spanish word Indigenos meaning Indigents was the name of a country? You have fallen flat on your face.Recommend