Why British Pakistanis should visit their motherland

We may not be a nation that abides by rules but there are some unwritten laws that we Pakistanis never break; such as running down our country every chance we get. Wherever you see four or more of our countrymen together you can be sure to find some Paki bashing going on.
Whether it`s politics or society, fashion shows or TV dramas, absent servants or ever-present in-laws, heck, even the person next to us, as long as he is out of earshot. And so, on as we gather to snitch and moan about how the country has gone to the dogs, let`s take a break and think of those who are no longer there to join in the bonding…I mean complaining.
Yes, those very same ex-countrymen who escaped to greener pastures….green being the colour of longing for a time when they too were Pakistani.



by Zab Mustefa


Back home, the vast majority of second generation British nationals of Pakistani origin wouldn’t dream about visiting their parent’s homeland – unless it was for shopping, or a wedding of course. 

Unfortunately, the topic of Pakistan is followed by mockery, ridicule and stereotypes, which consist of uneducated, toothless villagers driving rickshaws and eating paan.

People in Britain don’t realise that Pakistan is a country full of colour, culture and a talented young generation that is truly aiming for change. I don’t understand why so few of my young generation would like to visit the country of their parent’s origin. Of course, there is a big cultural difference, but in a way it’s refreshing to truly go back to your roots.

The majority of our parents immigrated to the UK back in the 1950’s. My father arrived as a fresh-faced teenager to Glasgow. Similarly, my mother came to London when she was 22. Unashamedly simple to this day, both are patriotic towards Pakistan and love their homeland.

Before leaving for Pakistan, I was given several perplexed looks; everybody was confused as to why I was going there with family and relatives. They were bemused at the fact that I wasn’t going shopping nor was I going to a wedding.


If I were to tell cousins in the UK that the street art along the walls of Garhi Shahu in Lahore is more impressive than that of an east London wall, I would be met with shock and awe.

If I were to describe the intellectual students coming in and out of universities here, rather than sleazy Pakistani guys with bad haircuts, it would be beyond belief.

This close-minded attitude towards ones own heritage is sort of like a love-hate relationship with Pakistan.

It’s interesting how most second generation British-Pakistanis speak Urdu and/or Punjabi fluently. They also love their curries and shalwar kameez, yet you mention Pakistan and an uncomfortable silence will linger.

Personally, hearing the sabzi walaa (vegetable seller) push his cart through the narrow side streets makes me smile. Watching flat-bread coming out of the tandoor is a million times better than waiting at the bakers section of your local Tesco supermarket to get chewy, artificial dough that is supposed to resemble “fresh” bread.

In some ways, being born and bred in a British society with Pakistani culture does equate to an identity crisis.  However you take the best from both. There is nothing wrong with embracing the western lifestyle, after all you become accustomed to the society you live in. However, problems arise when you forget your heritage and everything about your origin becomes ridiculed.

Yes, we all like to imitate our parents and joke about things our auntie jees (aunts) do. Like the time an aunt refused to pay £1 for a cup of tea, insisting that she would wait till she went home and make it herself.

However, there is a difference between humour and the ignorance that many young British Pakistanis have towards their land of origin. I can tell you that not many know who the current prime minister is or are aware that some of the most prestigious designers participated in Pakistan Fashion Week last month.

Unfortunately, for many, though not all, Pakistan is all about beards, buffaloes and extremism.

We should make more of an effort to know our history and background. Without sounding condescending to those already here, I am sure that you are already aware that Pakistan is indeed a beautiful country; there is so much to see and so much to do.

There is nothing wrong with being British and proudly admitting that you love Pakistan.

 Zab Mustefa is a British journalist who specialises in women’s rights and culture. Read more by Zab here, or follow her on Twitter @zabadabadoo

Related Posts:

1. My beautiful Pakistan: Gilgit-Baltistan, 2. The Wonders of Deosai Plains 3. My beautiful Pakistan, the land of Balochistan, 4. Traveling through Pakistan – The Katas Raj Temple, 5. Pakistan, A Treasure Trove of Wonders. But do we care! 6. Do We Understand Tourism? Asks the Industry Guru, 7. Tourism: A Vista of Opportunities for Our Ailing Economy
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A foreigner’s love for Pakistan

The first aspect of Pakistani culture I fell in love with was the food. There is nothing in this world that can come close to the comfort provided by haleem, nihari and a warm, buttery piece of naan. The spices and herbs used in Pakistani food are unique, authentic and jump-start the day refelecting Pakistan’s vibrant culture. Not to mention all sinuses are completely cleared when those green chillies hit the back of the throat.  You know what takes the cake? After hours of gruelling work I finally made my own batch of haleem and it was delicious. Moving onto the people; warm, hospitable, welcoming and dramatic in every sense. Pakistani aunties and uncles will make sure us young lads are fed, pampered and shown off like none other.


by Gordan Sumanski


My exposure to Pakistan was limited. I classified it as one of those countries that was created on religious concepts, was racist toward the rest of the world and wanted the Americans dead.

Call me ignorant, but with the way Pakistan is portrayed in the media, as a foreigner it is hard not to be deterred. (more…)

Are we wrong about Pakistan?

Visit Pakistan and experience the sheer beauty of the country. Contrary to popular opinion, much of Pakistan is perfectly safe to visit so long as elementary precautions are taken, and, where necessary, a reliable local guide secured. I have made many friends here, and they live normal, fulfilled family lives. Indeed there is no reason at all why foreigners should not holiday in some of Pakistan’s amazing holiday locations, made all the better by the almost complete absence of Western tourists.
Take Shandur, 12,000ft above sea level, which every year hosts a grand polo tournament between the Gilgit and Chitral polo teams in a windswept ground flanked by massive mountain ranges. Or travel south to Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa, cradle of the Indus Valley civilisation which generated the world’s first urban culture, parallel with Egypt and ancient Sumer, approximately 5,000 years ago.



When Peter Oborne first arrived in Pakistan, he expected a ‘savage’ back water scarred by terrorism. Years later, he describes the Pakistan that is barely documented – and that he came to fall in love with


by Peter Oborne


It was my first evening in Pakistan. My hosts, a Lahore banker and his   charming wife, wanted to show me the sights, so they took me to a restaurant   on the roof of a town house in the Old City.

My food was delicious, the conversation sparky – and from our vantage point we   enjoyed a perfect view of the Badshahi Mosque, which was commissioned by the   emperor Aurangzeb in 1671.

It was my first inkling of a problem. I had been dispatched to write a report   reflecting the common perception that Pakistan is one of the most backward   and savage countries in the world. This attitude has been hard-wired into   Western reporting for years and is best summed up by the writing of the   iconic journalist Christopher Hitchens. Shortly before he died last   December, Hitchens wrote a piece in Vanity Fair that bordered on   racism.

Pakistan, he said, was “humourless, paranoid, insecure, eager to take offence   and suffering from self-righteousness, self-pity and self-hatred”. In   summary, asserted Hitchens, Pakistan was one of the “vilest and most   dangerous regions on Earth”.

Since my first night in that Lahore restaurant I have travelled through most   of Pakistan, got to know its cities, its remote rural regions and even parts   of the lawless north. Of course there is some truth in Hitchens’s brash   assertions. Since 2006 alone, more than 14,000 Pakistani civilians have been   killed in terrorist attacks. The Pakistan political elite is corrupt,   self-serving, hypocritical and cowardly – as Pakistanis themselves are well   aware. And a cruel intolerance is entering public discourse, as the   appalling murder last year of minorities minister Shahbaz Bhatti after he   spoke out for Christians so graphically proves. Parts of the country have   become impassable except at risk of kidnap or attack.


Time – Australian takes issue over skewed article on Pakistan

There are 180 million people in Pakistan, 65% are under the age of 25. The youth of Pakistan is its strength.. it is like a sleeping giant. If you think that India is a booming nation, I suggest you stop a second and look at Pakistan. Given a little help from the western world, Pakistan can become a dominant economy. The people of Pakistan do not want our aid and they do not need our money… They just want the chance to be seen in a different light.  I believe we have a fundamental obligation to assist. The only question is, who will reach out first.



by Tony Lazaro 


Note for WoP readers: Time, the US weekly published a lengthy article on Jan 16th 2012. Its titled ‘Karachi is doomed, Karachi is indestructible’. Having put up an introductory paragraph, the magazine directs its readers to access the remaining part of the post by advancing a paid subscription. Since this article carries a good amount of what’s happening in Pakistan’s largest metropolis, I do recommend readers to read this in full by taking the following link


 Interestingly there has been a response to this piece by an Australian who was recently in Karachi and who has so aptly rebutted the many half truths about this economic hub of Pakistan..

 Then I came across an introductory letter. I do not know whether it too has been jotted down by Lazaro, or by somebody else, but in any case this piece too is more near the facts.

I reproduce here, first this brief followed by the letter from Lazaro he sent to the weekly Time. [Nayyar]  (more…)

Discovering a totally different country – Pakistan

The highest point in the Vale of Kaghan, Babusar pass is more like a meadow of bright flowers; of all colors, shades and patterns. Situated at a distance of 75 km from Naran, and an altitude of 4146 m (14,000 ft), the fabulous Pass looks more like a huge panoramic spreadsheet. On a clear day you can also see from here, the majestic Nanga Parbat (26,660 ft).
The valley itself is at its best during summer (months ranging from May to September). In May the maximum temperature is 11o C (52 F) and the minimum temperature is 3o C (37 F). From the middle of July up to the end of September the road beyond Naran is open right up to the Pass. 



by Rome Jorge


    Filipinos, we know how wrong international perception can be. The western media just doesn’t get it right. Trouble in far-off Basilan is no excuse to miss all the beauty of Mindanao, a big place with misty virgin forests, rich indigenous culture and the friendliest of people. Or to avoid the entire Philippines for that matter—7,100 islands of the most spectacular beaches with talcum powder fine white sand, breathtaking dive sites of iridescent coral gardens, cuddly dugongs, majestic humpback whales and whale sharks, not to mention hundreds of colorful fiestas in which to revel and indulge.

   There is another place in this world much like our own country with a noble people, a rich history and a diverse culture—the often-unseen paradise that is Pakistan. (more…)

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