British Pakistanis Discuss

Yesterday evening the RSA hosted an event with the practical title of: British Pakistanis and Pakistan: 21st century citizenship and diasporas.  I attended with my sister and although the event was disappointingly less the promised discussion and more a lecture it was interesting and I recommend listening to the panel here.  There was an assumption that British Pakistanis should give two hoots about Pakistan, a country that some of them have never even visited and a country that doesn’t care about the diaspora unless it’s for hand-me-outs or arranged marriages.

It was fascinating to hear of the bravery and contribution made to both World Wars by Punjabi Muslims of India (now Pakistan) and to hear of the positives and negatives of Pakistan from the other panelists.  I was not given the opportunity to ask my question last night so I will ask it here: Would Pakistan benefit from a separation of state and religion like Turkey tries to maintain?

My mother told me in the car last week that she finds it hurtful when my sister and I criticise Pakistan (we are quite bad sometimes).  I reminded her that despite our criticisms we are also the ones who have to explain and answer for Pakistan and embarrassing Pakistanis, match-fixing cricketers, honour killings.., around the imaginary water-cooler with friends and colleagues and this becomes tiresome, especially when our own lives are so removed from the craziness and it is hard to believe that we have the same heritage.

There are two more events taking place in November look out for them!


2 Comments to “British Pakistanis Discuss”

  1. Even some British Muslims find it difficult to separate their daily lives from religion so I think it is impossible for Pakistan to attempt it. Loads of my British Muslim friends include god in their hello/goodbye and in the ever-ready ‘god willing’ which seems to follow any statement of intent. I’m going to London tomorrow, inshallah and so on.

    And isn’t islam touted as a way of life as well as a religion?

  2. Pakora – perhaps you miss the point somewhat? British Muslims can use all the religious terminology as they please, it is a part of their history to use such language. Islam is considered as a set of rules to live your life by and why should a person not choose to follow them? Islam also states that you must abide by the law of the state in which you live, which takes precendence over Islam. So Islam itself recognises that the state law may differ from its own rules – Bubbly therefore proposes that a lot of the problems with ALL religious states (not just Pakistan) is that when religious leaders have too much power the country is not allowed to develop and evolve as it may have done. The majority of Pakistanis live in a peaceful and liberal manner AND are religious. However, this should not be the basis upon which the country is run.

    Most of the US is religious and will lead their day to day lives in a religious manner and context – it is not a failed state as it is a secular state.

    Please do not think I am a muslim or pakistani – I am neither.

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