What do British people think of Pakistanis?

Mudassir Ali
Dec 25, 2019 02:55 PM 0 Answers
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What do British people think of Pakistanis?

Mudassir Ali
- Dec 25, 2019 02:55 PM

I am originally from Bradford. The original Pakistani immigrants here (who mainly came from Mirpur and Bangladesh) came just to work. They got their heads down and they worked hard – often living 6 to a room, or squashed with 2 or 3 families in one house. Initially they were met with a mixture of hostility and racism; they were working too hard to worry about that and kept rigidly within their family groups, opened a couple of mosques so they could worship, opened some fantastic curry houses so they could eat familiar food, and kept largely to themselves. Other groups of immigrants went into different businesses.

Their children grew up facing even more entrenched hostility and racism, which I think caused them to largely ‘give up’ on integration, a feeling reinforced with a constant stream of related spouses brought from ‘home’ to marry the UK born children, which served to keep this generation firmly within their family-based social network. Numbers increased while at the same time many ‘white’ families moved out of Bradford as its jobs vanished due to the collapse of the wool industry. Parts of Bradford became a self-contained Urdu speaking enclave of Pakistan.

Now we have 3rd and 4th generation children. Few have chosen to keep entirely within their familiar support network. Some have responded to the hostility and constant feeling of ‘not belonging’ by embracing their Muslim Pakistani heritage with greater enthusiasm. But most identify more strongly now as British and have moved beyond the businesses and social networks of their parents. They are usually regarded as British rather than as Pakistani.

Bradford has had several waves of immigration. Some groups integrate faster than others. There is a feeling in Bradford that the Pakistanis have as a whole integrated less than other (significantly smaller) groups. When I was young, there were 2nd and 3rd gen immigrants from Germany and from Poland who were fully integrated, and some from the Caribbean who retained much of their cultural uniqueness, but were subject to less racism than the Pakistanis, probably due to shared language and religion. At the same time, 2nd gen Pakistani children were being ‘bussed’ out of central Bradford to surrounding ‘white’ primary schools. I remember these very unhappy, non-English speaking children being dropped off at my entirely ‘white’ school, to the shock of our unprepared teachers. This crass attempt at integration was soon stopped.

The biggest influx of Pakistani immigration happened just before the massive loss of wealth and prestige in Bradford when the wool industry collapsed, and many in Bradford have conflated the two events as cause/effect, which it certainly wasn’t, but the economic downturn led to much conflict and resentment over the decreasing number and quality of jobs, between the local population and the immigrant group.

When Britons think of Pakistanis, they are thinking mainly of immigrants rather than the country itself. Their views are coloured by where they live and whether their home city has large numbers of Pakistani immigrants, and their own personal encounters with this immigrant group.

Generally, Londoners are cosmopolitan and very positive towards Pakistanis.

Attitudes in smaller cities with larger Pakistani communities tend to be mixed, with a growing number of Britons feeling very positive towards Pakistanis (helped by marriages between communities). Others adopt a typically British attitude of ‘live and let live’, while still others are bitterly opposed to them. Many of the latter group in Bradford do not consider themselves to be racist – they are generally not in conflict with black Britons – but they continue to abhor the Pakistani community within the UK. A very small number have become opposed to all Muslims (partly due to the increased ‘presence’ of terrorism in the public consciousness, associated with Islam) and therefore to the Pakistani community – making no allowance for the large numbers of Pakistani Christian, Sikhs etc.

Mudassir Ali
- Dec 25, 2019 02:55 PM

Different Brits think of Pakistanis in differing ways.

Some of my Pakistani friends in London have told me that the Whites have always been friendly with them. They used to meet regularly, ate from their homes, and their kids played with theirs. A few of my Brit friends have told me Pakistanis are in general very kind and lovable people. They liked their beauty, manners and culture. They were of the opinion that Pakistanis are hardworking and basically business-minded.

On the other hand, my some other Brit friends maintain a totally different attitude towards Pakistanis. They believe that a few Pakistanis have radical Islamist thinking so should be careful when befriending them. In my opinion they maintain this attitude just because of the Global developments in connection with religious extremism.

I am an Indian living in UK (SE England) for around 11 years and I have a few Pakistani friends here and in London City. They are from various walks including IT pros, doctors, movie producers, nurses, accountants, business entrepreneurs, drivers, financiers etc. I have a high regard for my Pak friends especially because of their openness, hospitality, and humility.

For Britons Pakistanis are an integral part of their society. Most of the learned people know the Pakistanis’ huge contribution to Britain’s economic development. They bring a lot of business to UK. Without them important cities like London, Manchester and Birmingham would be gloomy and much less attractive to trade.

Above all, the present London Mayor is a British Citizen of Pakistani origin. Saddiq Khan is the first Muslim mayor of a major western city. He is widely respected and none in UK thinks of him as a man of Pak origin or even as a Muslim. Brits look at the real merits of the immigrants and their ethnic background is irrelevant in social recognition.

But in some conservative areas of the country, Pakistanis are not able to settle and integrate themselves in their societies. This is so mostly because of their own attitude towards Brits. A few of the less educated and not so civilised Pakistanis create bad impression about the whole community in some White majority cities and towns. While most Pak women and children, in such places, are completely acceptable to the native Brits, a few men are found to be rude, non-compliant to civil rules, and unacceptable most evidently in social manners and etiquette.

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