Europe’s perplexed Pakistanis

Source: Dawn News

BY Pervez Hoodbhoy

PAKISTANI immigrants to Europe tend to get a bad press. I was, therefore, pleasantly surprised by my brief encounter in Stockholm three weeks ago with a dozen or so well-settled, ordinary working-class Pakistanis. Some had migrated from Mirpur (AJK), others from KP and Sindh. Their attitudes and lifestyles challenge the common negative stereotypes of Pakistani migrants in Europe.

Do you speak and read Swedish reasonably well? Are local laws fair and non-discriminatory? Do your children go to Swedish schools and do they have Swedish friends? Can you feel this to be your own country? Receiving positive responses, I slowly moved on to the most sensitive of questions and held my breath: Would you be okay if your daughter were to date a Swedish guy? Marry him? And, finally, is Sweden where someday you might choose to die and be buried?

Except for the very last question (where some wavered) all other answers were again affirmative. Significantly, these were not well-heeled upper-class folks who readily form a globalised community. Instead, they were bus drivers, hospital staff, and other blue-collar workers in love with their adopted country. They were trying hard to deal with the us-versus-them binary.

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