It is always a pleasure to visit a city which is clean, free from smoke and noise pollution and in which the traffic and the general behavior of its residents is disciplined and where the rule of law is respected and observed. A far cry from the Law of the Jungle of our cities back home.
They are all very happy and well established and now there are many others in our Land of the Pak and the Pure, who wish that they too had done the same. And as our enlightened PM has frankly and eloquently stated in his interview on CNN, ‘Who is stopping them’? Well said Mr. Prime Minister.
So I caught the 11 am, 7 hour United Airlines flight from San Diego to Toronto, via Denver and reached Toronto at 9 pm. The weather this time, in this usually cold and windy city of glass and steel, was pleasant and not the usual feet stomping chill.
Once again, my reliable steed was there to whiz me through customs and immigration and in no time, I was at the exit gates, where Andy and Fatima were there to pick me up and we were soon on our way to his apartment in Thornhill.
As the children were all grown up, with Farah, a professional by nature and now married, was living in New York, while Saima, the adventures one, who likes to climb mountains and swim across rivers and oceans, has taken up a teaching assignment in Dubai.
Tariq, who I had also nick named ‘Dhuki Ram’ when he was young, because for his love for ice hockey, was in Florida, pursuing his tennis career, Anwar was good enough to give me the same 13th floor apartment, over looking the city of Toronto.
Toronto, like other big cities in the world, is also divided into ethnic residential areas, which include the Chinese, Indian, Sri Lankan and of course, Pakistanis. Each neighborhood reflected the fundamental differences between the cultures of these groups and unfortunately, the Pakistani areas were the most un-kept and poorly maintained.
It seems that old habits die-hard and no matter where we are, we cannot shake off the lack of discipline and civic responsibilities that seems to have become a part of our daily life. I was also surprised at the dress code in the area, as it was comparable to any street in the cities of Pakistan.
Men, women and children were dressed in our traditional Shalwar and Kurta, with the ladies in Hijabs and veils, which covered them from head to toe. The local stores were also completely different to the usual stores of America and Canada and stocked all the ‘Desi’ products from India and Pakistan. Even the meat was being sold in large, uncut pieces that we see hanging from the local barbecue restaurants in our noisy, dusty and polluted streets.
In some cases, in spite of the fact that some were second generation and were born, educated and brought up in Toronto, had become extremely religious and Tabliqi and have refused to assimilate to the customs of the country they had chosen to call home. Their mindset, life style and dress code was identical to any of our Tabliqi Jamat members back home and they feel that it is their duty to reform those around them and save them from the evils of western society.
This clash of ideology among the immigrants exists in many western countries also and could become a serious problem for the West and one ugly incident could result in a backlash for the moderate and liberal Muslims living in these countries.
Having lived in Canada for over thirty years and being head of the Canada-Pakistan Business Council, Anwar had contacts with many diverse business associates and friends, both Canadian and Asians and the next few days were spent meeting the ‘movers and shakers’ of Toronto.
Returning to real time, I believe that the Hon. Speaker of our National Assembly has found no grounds to refer the case of our Honorable PM (?) to Election Commission and has stated: ‘I am of the view that the charges against Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani are not relatable to the grounds mentioned in paragraph (g) or (h) of clause (1) of Article 63, therefore, no question of disqualification of Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani from being a member arises under clause (2) of Article 63 of the Constitution. Furthermore, the petition of Moulvi Iqbal Haider, Advocate being without any merit, is not maintainable and accordingly rejected’.
The entire world may think otherwise, but we in Pakistan, with our ‘Self Above All’. mindset, think there is always one law for the rich and the powerful and another law for the Awam. Such is the system of justice in our land of the Pak and the Pure.
As my friend, SS, a former senior diplomat, who served in Pakistan for eight years as a CG for Britain, has observed: ‘Pakistan is a land that is led and run by Dacoits, thieves and gangsters, who only care for themselves and accordingly protect themselves. Drastic measures are now seriously called for to redress the long suffering of the masses, whose very existence is becoming more desperate and beyond decent patience’.
These thoughts are also shared by many back home and by those Pakistanis living in America and Canada, but can the Great Khan or anybody else, given the opportunity, clean up the mess the country is in? That is the burning question on everybody’s mind.
We are off to Niagara and Rochester next week, where I hope to see my niece Ruhi after many years. Anwar has also arranged his annual function to celebrate the ‘South Asia Heritage Month’ in order to promote Pakistan’s Heritage and Culture, but more on that and Toronto’s ‘Delhi Darbar Nehari Restaurant, next week. Until then, stay safe.