My blue passport doesn’t make me American

Published: January 8, 2012
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Take away the passport and I'm a Pakistani. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE

There was an incredible comment I read on one of my previous posts about how it’s impossible to live on in the oblivion of being both Pakistani and American. I don’t remember who wrote that to me, but if you’re reading this, thank you. You are a small part of the motivation that inspired this topic you are reading today.

I was born in Karachi and lived the first nine years of my life moving back and forth between Karachi and Lahore before moving to the US. Though I can’t recall what the people, culture and society were like here at the time, I knew the day I left for this unknown country, America, that I’d ultimately be back in Pakistan

Fast-forward some 13 years, and here I am in the city of Lights typing this post away. I am slowly getting integrated back into Pakistani society, how life here is lived, and what the social groups thrive on. I consider myself a Pakistani-American due to my dual-nationality and my assimilation into American culture. Take away the passport and I’m a Pakistani. Sometimes I don’t understand why I put so much emphasis on a small blue booklet that contains blank pages, but I’m slowly starting to understand. Though I do miss my life and experiences in America, it’s only a matter of time before I embrace the life in Karachi. We’re humans and thus, social creatures, so it’s inevitable that it will happen sooner or later.

I honestly do owe it to America though; her liberty, individualism, and freedom towards just about everything helped me rediscover who I really was. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the red, white, and blue and I won’t ever forget it. Whenever I go out here in Karachi and observe things, it takes me back to the culture in the US. America has an extreme Western culture largely influenced by many European cultures. There is no such race or ethnicity known as “American”, it is simply a term of nationality. All the Anglo-Saxon citizens of America today are either descendants of Europeans or Native Americans, the only two groups of people who existed before the US became independent in 1776.

There’s no doubt that American pop culture has spread through every corner of the world like an epidemic, but this doesn’t mean that it can be narrowed down to just a specific culture. I was fortunate enough to preserve my Pakistani roots; the language, music, and social approaches. The national sense of pride and patriotism I felt when I landed at the Jinnah International Airport after leaving America for good was empowering. What I came to realize then is that the specificity of the American culture does not exist. I believe that the norms and customs that embody a culture are passed down from generations, preserved in a firm way, and glued down within a country. If everyone is trying to be “American” and if every American is trying to make the world like them, culture and customs are destroyed.

The US is most definitely very lucky to be one of the most diverse nations on earth, but for some citizens, our home is elsewhere. To those who are citizens of other nations and strive to become “Americanized”, my advice to you would be to stop chasing something that does not exist and appreciate your own culture. For me, I’ve made up my mind on what I’ll be calling myself. In America, I was only a minuscule ingredient in the large melting pot, but here at home, in Karachi, I can truly be who I was born to be – a Pakistani.

Anonymous

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