Stories about expats

Are we a nation of Taliban apologists?

During his talk about terror and extremism in Pakistan, Mohammad Jibran Nasir declared, “I am not a cultural ambassador. I am not here to talk about bhangra.” The point was well taken since he was in the middle of a hard-hitting presentation about the terror threat in Pakistan and was not holding back his punches. Clad in a white shalwar kurta with a Pakistani flag pinned to his lapel, Nasir clearly does not equate patriotism with denial. Photo: Jibran Nasir He emphasised that while we are not all Taliban apologists, our society has become a breeding ground for terrorists. He is on an extensive tour of ...

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Once you’re Pakistani, there is no going back to India

The non-issuance of visas to India continues to irk thousands of Pakistani Americans as the former remains hell bent to grind an axe with Pakistanis, regardless of borders or their new nationalities. At the moment, there are an estimated 500,000 Pakistani Americans in the US and the rate of their continually burgeoning numbers makes them the second fastest growing group of Asian immigrants in the US. According to the Pew Research Centre, the entire population of Asian Americans, which includes Pakistanis, is among those in the highest income bracket as well as the best educated in the country. However, despite all the good check marks ...

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All that ‘Amreeki glitter’ may not be gold in Jackson Heights

George Bernard Shaw said: “Life isn’t about finding yourself, life is about creating yourself.” It is true that life can be good, it can be tough and it can, most certainly, be unpredictable. It can take a person to a whole new world. Away from his or her country, away from their loved ones. The drama Jackson Heights, named after a neighbourhood in New York, beautifully depicted the life of a group of Pakistani immigrants. Aired on Urdu1, this particular drama struck a chord with me because of its storyline. Living in the US, it was refreshing to see this angle being taken – ...

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Why are white people expats when the rest of us are immigrants?

Surely any person going to work outside their country is an expatriate? But no, the word exclusively applies to white people. In the lexicon of human migration there are still hierarchical words, created with the purpose of putting white people above everyone else. One of those remnants is the word “expat”. What is an expat? And who is an expat? According to Wikipedia, “An expatriate (often shortened to expat) is a person temporarily or permanently residing in a country other than that of the person’s upbringing. The word comes from the Latin terms ex (‘out of’) and patria (‘country, fatherland’).” Defined that way, you ...

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How can Muslims fare with the #ChapelHillShooting and #CharlieHebdo?

January 7, 2015 – Paris, France Two deranged men walk into an unsuspecting newsroom and turn the workspace into a warzone. “Allahu Akbar!” The men chant during their attack, scapegoating Islam and Allah in the process. The numbers start piling up: 50 shots fired, 11 injured, 11 dead and one religion to blame. Cherif and Said Kouachi’s act of insanity will now be added to the steadily growing list of horrific deeds committed by a select few individuals that have come to define a community of over 1.6 billion Muslims worldwide. January 7, 2015 – London, United Kingdom I’m sitting at home, reading about the Charlie Hebdo shooting online. My thoughts ...

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I’m Sunni and I went to the 10th Muharram procession in Melbourne!

Pakistan, home to 180 million people, saw another deadly Muharram this year when 57 people were killed in a suicide bombing in Lahore. Each time, short term administrative solutions are followed to bandage the plague of ideological intolerance that has infected us for years. Cities are put under curfew, statements of condemnation floated, promises of fool-proof security made and cellular services blocked for as long the government deems fit. Nothing much has changed since last year, when Raja Bazar in Rawalpindi was gripped by sectarian violence. This religious intolerance and administrative failure is in stark contrast to what I recently experienced in a foreign land. I come from a ...

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Bitter expats, you give Pakistan a bad name!

It is an interesting fact that most Pakistanis become more patriotic after leaving the country. It’s oxymoronic unto itself that they leave the country hating it in order to love it again having reached foreign shores. I have no contention with them, seeing that I, too, belong to this group.  I do however have a problem with some expats who badmouth and spread negative views about Pakistan and its inhabitants. A couple of days ago a friend of mine who’s not a Pakistani but an Australian of Greek descent was describing to me in detail the horrors inflicted on Karachiites ...

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They call her Berlin

Berlin is like that friend, who as soon as you meet, shares her deepest, darkest secrets without any shame. She’s been betrayed more harshly than Jesus, has seen more blood than a haematologist and has had her fair share of wars waged on her soil. Anyone in her position would just clam up and hide their scars; not wear them on their sleeves all the time. Yet, Berlin showcases her biggest mistakes for the entire world. Just when you think that a broken person like her has probably forgotten how to really live – she takes you to a party so ...

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Changing tides: Pakistan’s ‘brain drain’ in reverse

Pakistanis all over the world have an interest – if not an obligation – in their homeland to do what they can towards its success as a nation. Around 7 million Pakistani’s live abroad, and in 2012 sent home approximately $13 billion in remittances.  While this revenue is vital to the country’s foreign exchange reserves, it’s the expertise of these expatriates that is needed, just as much as their money. The absence of highly qualified doctors, engineers and scientists is playing havoc with the long-term economic growth of the country. A Gallup survey in 2000 confirmed the widely-held view that there has ...

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My blood runs thick and green

The problem starts as soon as I open my mouth. My ‘r’s roll out like a googlie, my ‘t’s sit heavy on the boundary and my ‘a’s are massive leg bys. I have to say two sentences and everyone’s on to me. Where is that lovely accent from? Oh, Pakistan! We wouldn’t have guessed. Where did you learn to speak English? Did you wear a burqa back in Pakistan? How many wives does your husband have? When you are trying to learn a new language, the first thing you want to know are the swear words– how to say sh–t in French, ...

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