In Search of Acceptance
Are Overseas Pakistanis treated well after they return to the country?
Before leaving Pakistan for the United States, I was fond of listening to Guns n Roses and Metallica. I was reading books from the Lincoln library in Peshawar primarily because I was in awe of the amazing collection of books about the American history and culture at the library that was built by the US consulate Peshawar. The night of the flight, I got into the back seat of the car and my brother before driving me to the airport asked me if I might want to look at the street and feel the place before leaving. There was a makeshift dumpster at the end of the street and it always filled the air with a distinct odor. I was too distracted by the thought of being in the land of opportunities.
That was eleven years ago. In the United States, during those first days and nights, the two things that made me cry at night were my mother being so far away from me and that very street and village where I had spent my entire life. I watched Pakistani news and listened to Pakistani music only. Guns n Roses seemed like a different life. Those who may not know should realize that when we leave our land and go to a foreign country in search of education and success, we feel our connection to our land ever more strongly. We would love to be back and be with our family and our people, but circumstances dictate otherwise.
Many of our fellow citizens in Pakistan ridicule overseas Pakistanis for sitting comfortably abroad and commenting on the political and social situation in Pakistan. The mistake they make is that they do not realize that we have no financial connection to Pakistan. Overseas Pakistanis make money abroad and send that hard earned money back home. In Pakistan, overseas Pakistanis only spend money instead of making. I want to stress that we, overseas Pakistanis pay attention to what happens in Pakistan not because we need to but because we care.
For some of us, it is a long walk toward success, filled with uncertainties, anxieties and a wait without a timeframe. The uncertainty on every step is the hardest part. Many argue that some of us are fortunate to have left the land and went abroad to make money. The truth is, we never really leave. Our heart remains where we once lived with our parents and siblings and played with friends. We are rather the unfortunate ones because we would pay any price to be able to live with our family where we once lived. Our fondest memories are not when we made our first million but rather when we laughed and played cricket with friends.