Amnah Khan – Pakistan Correspondent to Ireland – women in Pakistan

See, Pakistan is still a very poor country, or more appropriately put,
a poorly managed country. There still has never been a proper
representation of the people, even when the civilian governments came
to power, as most of them were either elite industrialists or feudal
lords. Right now we have a civilian government, but it has not been
selected by the people as such. The elections are always rigged.
Democracy exists in theory here and people hope to achieve it, but
only if it were not for the corrupt public officials of this land.

Poor societies still have problems of all kinds when it comes to
values. Women are not suppressed here as portrayed in the media though
and there are not honour killings taking place in this country all the
time. Women are more educated in Pakistan than men, statistically this
is a fact, but most don’t make it into the work force due to marriages
and even sometimes prejudice against them for their gender at higher
positions. Seeing less career prospects some choose not to pursue it
further. Still, you will find women in every single field that men
work in, with equal wages and facilities. The biases against women
here are the same as they are anywhere else.

Honour killings are not rampant here, but hundreds of cases do take
place yearly in a country of 187 million. Honour killing is not our
national or religious belief, but it is the tribal belief of some of
the tribes here. If you study what roots cultural and tribal values
hold, you will learn that any tribe, whether in any country, still
adheres to its traditions, no matter how senseless they are. Why?
Because it is part of their identity and who they are. There are many
tribes in Pakistan, it is culturally and racially a very diverse land.
Mostly the people in Punjab practice it and it is done more so for
political reason to blame a person from another group of dishonouring
and hence taking revenge.

I don’t belong to any tribe. I am an immigrant from the Indian Muslim
city of Jhansi which ought to have been made part of Pakistan when the
British were partitioning the subcontinent, but it was not. The maps
of Pakistan and India were drawn three days later after their
declaration of independence in August 1947, and the man who was
in-charge of the demarcation, called Sir Cyril Radcliffe, came for the
first time to the subcontinent to do so. He was not familiar with
where what people live in terms of their religious and racial
compositions. He made a bad division, and to this day both Pakistan
and India have territorial disputes. Finding out that he made a
terrible mistake of demarcating the largest lands ever divided in this
manner at the time, he refused his salary of Rs.40,000 which was
equivalent to 2000 pounds at the time. Although people no longer want
the disputes between the two countries, but the establishments on both
the sides want to keep the issue alive so that they can get away with
an excuse of spending less on developmental and research projects,
health and education, employment opportunities and better housing, and
more on defence budgets.

The story is as long as is history. But to live in the present time,
it is hard to bear its unpleasant burden. We hope to have a sweet air
of a better future, and finally to see a better future!
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