Home Global Village Being a Pakistani American

Being a Pakistani American


Imran Jan |

America is a land of opportunities with some remarkable people. Many Americans I know are very good people and believe in doing the right thing. Their ethics may not always be stemming from religion but I have found them to be very helpful to others. Don’t get me wrong, good and bad exist in every society and America has its fair share.

But in our everyday life; where we drive on the roads, go to grocery shopping, visit public parks, make a queue and so forth, Americans are very cordial, gentle, decent and mannerly. Given how driving is done in Pakistan, how queues are made, how trash is thrown in public places, how cars are parked, I wonder if the concept of black sheep is inverted in Pakistani society?

All to gain exclusive access to what a 1945 State Department document called “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.”

I am a Pakistani-American and America has given me enormous opportunities. My hard work was rewarded with every success that a 33-year-old would want. Unlike an overwhelming majority of Pakistanis, I don’t have to worry about applying for a visa if I want to visit pretty much any place on the face of this earth. However, there are countries that I cannot visit specifically because of the actions of my government.

And I don’t mean the inability to get a visa, but rather the policies of Washington that has left some of those countries not fit for tourism anymore. I am re-reading the book The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright. Wright has a wonderful style of telling a story with interesting perspective and meticulous detail. There is the story about the town called Maadi where Al Zawahiri, the man who heads Al Qaeda now, was raised.

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The Victoria College, where cricketer-turned- actor Michel Dimitri Chalhoub who took up the name Omar Sharif for movies, went to studies. Palestinian scholar the late Edward Said also went to the same college with Jordan’s future king, Hussein. There was a thriving culture in Egypt and at the same time an underground culture comprising secret cells of restless young Egyptians conspiring to overthrow the government.

Given how driving is done in Pakistan, how queues are made, how trash is thrown in public places, how cars are parked, I wonder if the concept of black sheep is inverted in Pakistani society?

Ayman al Zawahiri comes from a family of doctors. The name Zawahiri was associated with the medical profession in Egypt. There are chilling facts and interesting stories of where the men lived and went to school who became renowned terrorists. How Sadat’s decision of making an agreement with the Muslim Brotherhood to release their men from jails in return for abandoning violence and gearing up their activities against the Nasserites proved to be his most fatal mistake, resulting in his assassination.

The men released from jail had been indoctrinated with the concept of Takfir by reading Sayyid Qutb. Killing the “near enemy” (Satraps) was first order of business than killing the “distant enemy” (America) for these indoctrinated Salafists. Sadat’s claims of being the “Believer President” and “The first man of Islam” weren’t enough to satisfy the bloodthirsty Qutb readers.

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It would be nice to visit places where these men were just young boys and lived a normal pious life. It would help create a better understanding over how the class divide even in a small town like Maadi paved separate paths for students like Omar Sharif and Ayman al Zawahiri. Sadly, the American quest for hegemony and oil has left places such as Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Somalia, Nigeria and so forth not fit for tourism anymore.

Encouraging Jihad, bombing, invasion, propping up dictatorships and a list of other nefarious actions have created a cesspool nobody wants to go to. All to gain exclusive access to what a 1945 State Department document called “a stupendous source of strategic power, and one of the greatest material prizes in world history.” Thanks for opening your arms wide open to accept me in the American society. I love this great country and its ideals. But sadly, the actions of Washington are devastating for everyone, including Americans.

The writer is a political analyst. He can be reached at imran.jan@gmail.com. Twitter @Imran_Jan. This article was published in Express Tribune and has been republished with author’s permission. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.