There was a time when people would actually ask ‘what’s the name again? Where’s Pakistan?’ Those times have changed. Following the creation of Pakistan and the ending of the world wars many immigrated to Britain, to better themselves and to contribute to the economy and society.
Any person migrating to another land would find it difficult to begin life again with a new culture, language, climate, customs and traditions and a change of scenery. Many of these older generations did what they had set out to; work hard, to try and create a new home for themselves and their families.
My Nana (may Allah swt bless his soul) came in the 60′s and worked several different jobs. He worked hard to make a living for himself and to take care of my mum and her siblings. The work ethic of our grandfathers was amazing and something we can aspire to. Many came without an education or knowing how to speak English. They worked hard to gain respect, integrate into society and become a part of the community.
Life was far from rosy for the new immigrants. My mum often recollects her childhood memories of growing up in North London. In my mother’s time she really was part of a ‘minority’. There were very few Pakistanis at her school or in their home town. At one point racism was rife. My mum and her brother often heard the words ‘Paki’ or ‘dirty Paki’ hurled at them. Thankfully the part of London they grew up in wasn’t too bad in comparison to some other areas. Unfortunately however there were many cases of racism and racists acts such as ‘Paki bashing’ that took place in some areas around the country.
‘Dirty Paki’ is really an oxymoron, you see the definition of ‘Pak’ is clean. Hence you cannot be a ‘dirty Paki’ During our Grandfathers and parents generations the word was used to insult and verbally abuse people. ‘Paki’ – The word sounds as if it’s almost spat out rather than spoken. The term was used in a derogatory manner. So why use it now? Being Pakistani doesn’t give you the right to use the term. Just as one would feel the same about the use of the word ‘nigger’. So when I hear or see people using the word it really angers me. Our grandfathers and parents didn’t endure so many challenges and struggle for future generations to have no respect or understanding of their roots.
We all have different experiences and ideas of what it means to be Pakistani or even a British Pakistani. However we can all agree we want to see a unified and progressive Pakistan. For that, we all have to work together as one. Today marks 65 years of Pakistan, Happy independence day!
I may be confused most of the time but I would proudly refer to myself as a British-Pakistani.