As a young Muslim Pakistani-Canadian woman, it often
surprises me to see the way Pakistani youth behave in this society.
They are disrespectful, irresponsible and just plain stupid at times.
Many a times I am embarrassed to call myself Pakistani because of
these particular people. For example, the Little India Bazaar on
Gerrard Street in
Toronto is a cesspool for those that I’m referring to or the
“lafungays” (hooligans) as my mom would call them. As a kid I used to
love going to Gerrard. It reminded me of the hustle and bustle and
especially the food you’d see in a bazaar back home. However, as I got
older, the groups of guys randomly standing on the street started to
make me and my family uncomfortable. Those guys obviously had nothing
better to do with their time than to holler at girls and stare them
down, regardless of whether they were with their families or not. This
is (or was supposed to be) a place for families, but when you can’t
enjoy yourself without having gangster wannabes staring at you and
making you uneasy, it is no longer a decent place to be at. I honestly
don’t quite understand what these guys get out of intimidating
families in their large (and badly dressed) groups. If they’re trying
to make some sort of impression, it’s definitely working; albeit it is
the wrong impression.
Another example of similar behaviour are
“melas” or festivals and concerts. Groups of young people tend to get
out of hand and start misbehaving and disrespecting those around them.
Even on Pakistan Day parades and shows we’re not spared. I understand
people want to have fun and celebrate, but there is an appropriate way
to do that. Many times I have seen groups get into arguments and
fights in front of all the families present. At events where there is
media presence, it is a real shame to see your people get into
pointless fights, or to have the host constantly plead with the crowd
to calm down.
Now I’m not out to “get the guys” and point
fingers solely on them, Pakistani girls also need to get their act
together. Last year, I was dragged to the aforementioned Gerrard India
Bazaar by a family friend. There was a small Pakistani concert taking
place and she insisted I come with her. Of course it was also an event
for families. As more people started coming, a young girl (most likely
a high schooler) came in wearing a mini-skirt (and it was seriously
mini). To top it off she wore “hooker heels” and a skimpy top. I was
really surprised to see her wearing such revealing clothes in a family
atmosphere, and even more shocked as to how her parents allowed her to
wear such a disgraceful outfit.
I expressed my disbelief to my friend, who in turn told me
I was overreacting because I had just recently returned from a trip to
Pakistan (apparently I had become more conservative after the trip). I
angrily told her it was just plain common sense not to come dressed
like that to an event such as this (not to mention it was during the
This anecdote reminds me of another girl in my Islamic
Traditions course this year at
York University. A Pakistani girl consistently wears inappropriate
clothes to class that exposes her body. If she’s not ashamed of
herself, I’m ashamed for her. Now I’m not saying that she should wear
shalwar kameez to class for the sake of the reputation of other
Pakistanis, but there should be some decency and self-respect.
Our people, I find are lurking between
westernization and modernization. To be “modern” is to be and to
project an image that is decent, respectful, civilized, and most
importantly educated. To be “western” is to lose your own unique
identity and adopt the ways and behaviours of the “goras”.
I hope people are not thinking that I’m trying to show
myself as highly moral or above anyone. I’ve made my share of
mistakes, but I have learned from them. I’ve read about Pakistani
youth getting high or drunk in this very newspaper, and I just want
say that it’s about time we get our act together.
In a time where our parent’s country is facing turmoil and
is consistently misrepresented in the media, I really think we, the
Pakistani youth, need to get together and show the world we’re not who
we’re made out to be. We’re not the terrorists; we’re not the
uneducated, “jahil”, or confused people; and neither are we going to
settle for the lowest of the low. We need to stop pretending to be
something we are not. We need to stop trying so hard to be “cool”.