Given the current economic conditions of my country, i.e Pakistan and the growing chaotic situation of its political system, if there is any, one wonders if their parents in old age and their toddlers in their early years of shaping personalities are safe anymore. So Pakistan isn’t like it was in my parents ‘jawani‘, with discos in Karachi, girls on bicycles or travelling by bus or foot. When I hear about those days it makes me wonder, if we went into reverse instead of going forward. Typically, we should not have taken on a conservative outlook seeing as modernity was prevalent in the past, we should not have created so many problems with women in the work force and the way they dress, we should not have become the low lives we became by judging one’s character by their lifestyle choices and/or the company they keep.
Nazia Hassan & Disco days
It saddens me how larger than life we set out to be and instead became the littlest, most shallow creatures existent. Our lives truly have no value and I don’t mean it in a political sense where we are dispensable by the hundreds of thousands. That undeniably is one reality but the other one that we deny everyday is that life is going to get better from here, when truth has it: IT WONT. Not unless each one of us, for their own sake, makes a conscious effort to live better. I will refrain from using words like “change” and “revolution” to keep from making it sound too political. I don’t want to be reminded of Obama or even Imran Khan (as much as I support him) because those discussions I have for supper everyday. We must assess the core values close to our hearts. Our own set standards of living, the simplest things we need and even those we want. In the miserable pursuit of our aspirations a seldom few lucky ones don’t get distracted, they are fortunate to keep their head straight and out of other business. I can’t say the same for most of us, including myself.
Kudos, to all those who have migrated to Canada, Australia and other such nations. These countries have their own issues, they aren’t exactly the ideal democratic states nor are they the most welcoming. But as I’m told, at least you aren’t scared for your life everyday, you can earn and put away the money in a bank and not expect for it to be worth nothing once you go back years later to retrieve it. It’s funny how, when you give a job interview, here in Pakistan, they ask you about your expected salary and when you quote the same amount you were getting elsewhere, they try to negotiate with you. For a moment there one wonders, if the ethics system of the work place is the same as that of a cloth market aka Liberty. The HR person takes on the Pathan’s role selling you the last piece of cloth, you don’t even like it that much but since you could not find the print you were looking for and it’s almost time to head home you settle for the one that caught your eye.
The salary situation, the work environments, the need for motivation, all of this and more need a careful review. Because with these issues and our economic situation I don’t think any of us can sleep well at night or keep our relations with the ones we love, satisfactory anymore.
Speaking of unwelcoming but safe places to migrate to. Canada reminds me of my mother’s fun getaway, when she was young. It reminds me of the place my brother-in-law was studying and try as my sister may, she would not get a visa to visit him. She had to be rejected twice, get frustrated more than twice and fill the forms again after getting married on paper (i.e: Nikah without Rukhsati), to be able to finally receive it. I remember when I first went to pick her up at the Lahore International Airport and the people who came off the flight blew me away and I dont mean in a romantic sense :p I saw this one man clad in red and black, from his jacket to his luggage it was all branded in Tommy Hilfiger, yes that racist. After I saw many a “dood wala“, mechanic, plumber and God knows what other kinds of strange specialized labour, I wondered how my sister travelled on a 14 hour flight (I think it was connecting to Dubai too, not sure). My mother and I saw a strange couple at the arrivals area, awaiting their passenger although even the Airport security personnel chose to not believe it. Here’s why: The man was under nourished, he could easily be mistaken for a beggar, the woman had dirt on her feet and her slippers were torn. The man’s clothes were the same as my gardener’s just dirtier and the woman’s dupatta was torn in very obvious places, for instance, the big round circle on her head clearly exposed her hair. They were pushed to one side and then the other by the airport staff for sometime, until their son (I assume) arrived. He wasnt extraordinarily dressed or had too much luggage or looked like he was going to change their circumstance. But I wondered how these people managed to send him to Canada and what grounds did he receive his visa? Alas, to add to my curiosity, my sister told me when she went for her visa interview the third time in her life, the general populace of candidates present, were all the same calibre as the ones I was witnessing at the airport.
Not so green with envy!
And here’s the most outrageous piece of information, I can assure you wont be able to digest. My friends Nimra & Kurt, both happily married for more than over a year now, wish to travel to Canada together but Nimra’s visa wont come through. Here is why: The Canadian High Commission need for Nimra to prove that her “Canadian” husband is a certified Muslim. This certificate that will prove he is, indeed a muslim, is to be signed by an authorised Maulvi. Some one ought to tell these Canadians that to be an authorised maulvi is not difficult in our country and since when did it become the Canadian husband’s problem to prove his conversion to Islam for his Muslim wife to obtain the visa? The only response that would make sense to me: is because they need for Nimra to prove that their marriage is valid. Okay, provided that is the answer they are looking for, so what exactly does the piece of paper co signed by the two and their witnesses, known as the “Nikah Nama” stand for? That piece of paper is what proves that they are indeed married and as for the question of his conversion: A maulvi carries out the process of marrying them off and for that very purpose, Kurt the Canadian, had to be converted. The Canadian High Commission is in a dire need of R&R and while at it they must reassess their policies, because all this makes them come off as not only unwelcoming but judgemental and discriminating on a very disturbing level. Who follows what religion and what belief system suits them, should not be the Canadian High Commission’s concern. What also must not be their concern is people’s value system, the Canadian High Commission needs to stop playing God, for their own sake.
So according to the Commission, the Nikah Nama is not enough to prove Kurt’s religious belief system and he must change his name to prove his conversion, in turn prove the Nikah and that in turn prove Nimra is his legitimate wife. It is disturbing on so many levels I can not comprehend.
Here is what Nimra had to say about all of this:
A certificate issued by an “authorised” moulvi that states that Kurt is indeed Muslim. The fact that you need such a thing is ridiculous, and second, atheists have managed to get such certificates, so it is in no way “proof” anyways. And how dare the state or the Canadian high commission question anyone on “proof of religion”?. None of the Persians who converted to Islam ever changed their names at the time of the Prophet (SAW). Neither is it a requirement of the Shariah to have an Arab name. How is a name Muslim or non-Muslim? There is more proof day by day that our laws are not based on Islam but on bigotry. Apparently, we’ve thrown God out of the equation and need a piece of paper to prove what we believe. If that isn’t blasphemy I don’t know what is. And why is it anyone’s business as to what anyone believes in the first place? Second, someone with an Arab name could very well be non-Muslim too. Third, they never asked us to give any such documentation when we applied. And fourthly, the Nikah documents are proof enough for Nikah cannot take place otherwise in the presence of a licensed nikah khwan. Well, they are saying that our Nikah isn’t enough, he needs to have a muslim name and a certificate issued by the state so that I can be allowed to continue applying for Canadian residency/visa as his wife. The reason they want it, is to make sure our marriage is “valid enough” as per Pakistani law, ie, the Muslim Family Ordinance 1860 which states that I can only be married to someone from a Muslim background and since the marriage took place according to Pakistani law, in Pakistan, within the shariah laws of Pakistan, they would need that all conditions fulfill those laws. I do propose a second theory though: which is of course that the HC of Canada has been sub contracted to the Taleban. 🙂
Here’s the great irony of the situation according to Nimra Amjad-Archer: The greater irony? the Muslim Family Ordinance was put in place by the damned British Raj!
So when the next person tells me migrating to another country, living there and starting over will be better than staying here. I think twice and still remain as hesitant to consider making such a move.
Dieu protège la reine God save our gracious Queen,
De sa main souveraine ! Long live our noble Queen,
Vive la reine ! God save the Queen:
Qu’un règne glorieux, Send her victorious,
Loin et victorieux Happy and glorious,
Rende son peuple heureux. Long to reign over us:
Vive la reine ! God save the Queen.
Our loved Dominion bless
With peace and happiness
From shore to shore;
And let our Empire be
Loyal, united, free
True to herself and Thee
God save the Queen.
I say: Dieu sauver le canada