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October 14, 2019

Our idiosyncrasies, ethnic stereotypes


October 14, 2019

Unlike traditional metropolis, portion of Islamabad’s indigenous in the city’s demography is next to negligible. Hence, the city is open to internal and external migrants and harbors few ethnic stereotypes. Nevertheless, Afghans are the favoured punching pad and everybody wants to cover up their weaknesses through them.

Recently, the city has had a spree of street crimes and interesting was it to note that a complainant was told that the robbers are Afghans and they leave Islamabad after committing crimes. I remember that once I was carrying out a training programme in Fatehjang, a tehsil adjacent to Islamabad, the president of the press club told me that he and other notables of the city have launched a crackdown on Afghans in the town, who were living there illegally and were a source of crimes.

One of their biggest shanty towns was removed as if it never was from in front of Sabzi Mandi with full force of state machinery. It has also been found that Pashto speaking people of Pakistan have more complaints about Afghans than non-Pashto speakers, bringing forth the point that language and colour of skin do not matter when it comes to growing idiosyncrasies.

Once a regular visitor to Sabzi Mandi, I always failed to measure if Afghan cart pushers are more crooked than non-Afghan cart pushers. You can find more

nonsense in fruit markets of Lahore, Karachi and Faisalabad than in Islamabad, where Afghans abound.

Similarly, I have been teaching media at a university that takes much of the most Afghan students in the country. Many times, I saw that Afghan students became leaders on campus and cared immensely about discipline and order.

Similarly, the restaurants run by Afghans have always been crowd pullers because of the quality of food they serve.

Compared to 20 years ago, the federal capital has a negligible number of Afghans but the recent surge in street crimes shows that it is not an all-Afghan problem. Second, it is more than a law and order situation.

The district administration has intensified its efforts to curb street crime and people are being arrested for eve teasing too. But the problem is joblessness and inflation are skyrocketing and the youngsters who have come here from all parts of the country feel stranded. Nothing to fall back on and nowhere to move up to. It is a catch-22 situation for them.

These youth should be listened out even though they cannot be offered jobs. A thorough scientific survey of Islamabad slums and parts of settled areas will give the city managers a picture of Islamabad street code.

On the one hand, it is going to be a mega study project for social scientists and on the other it will rob incompetent law enforcers of the excuse that outsiders are to blame for our problems, unbeknown to the fact that their casual approach is whipping up xenophobia.

Once we have a broader canvass we are able to draw a near accurate picture of the city, easing up the decision-making process.

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