Zaigham Sana Warraich
A prevalent aspiration that deeply resonates with numerous young Pakistani men is the longing for enhanced prospects in foreign countries. This migration trend, which gained momentum during the 1970s, is fuelled by the aspiration for a brighter future and greater economic prosperity. The prospect of improved financial well-being, increased social mobility, and access to world-class education frequently lures them toward the Western world, particularly Europe, America, Canada, and Australia. However, the journey to secure citizenship in these coveted destinations is no longer the straightforward path it once was.
The evolving landscape of immigration policies has made the process more complex and challenging. Each country has its own unique set of rules and laws governing citizenship acquisition, leaving Pakistani nationals facing an uphill battle. Marrying a national of the desired country may appear to some as a means to get citizenship. Marriages between Pakistani nationals and individuals from other countries can be harmonious when founded on genuine intentions and devoid of any ulterior motives, such as only acquiring citizenship. A darker side emerges when these unions take the form of forced marriages, orchestrated by parents to facilitate their relatives’ settlement in foreign lands. These coerced unions, frequently unwelcome and morally questionable, give rise to substantial ethical and human rights concerns, as they undermine the autonomy and well-being of those ensnared in such situations.
Another regrettable practice is the “marriage of convenience.” These unions, intended solely to exploit legal loopholes for immigration purposes, are not only unethical but also illegal in most countries. A third, and more genuine, approach involves building relationships based on love and trust. Some Pakistani men try to persuade foreign women to marry them, ultimately leading to citizenship. In the early years when Pakistani nationals moved to foreign countries, it was relatively easier for them to marry foreign women. Consequently, many such marriages took place during that period. However, the outcomes of many of these marriages were marked by divorce or separation, though a few remained very successful. Regrettably, there were also instances where a Pakistani national shifted his children, especially girls, secretly from his wife to rear them in Pakistan. These occurrences contributed to a significant trust deficit.
In a not-uncommon scenario that still unfolds today, a young or older woman from Europe or another foreign country finds herself deeply enamoured by the affection and love of a Pakistani national. Despite receiving cautionary advice from her family and friends, she remains steadfast in her feelings, a testament to love’s remarkable ability to obscure even the most discerning judgments. Amidst the hushed whispers and concerns that her suitor’s affections might be motivated by a desire to secure foreign citizenship, she pays little attention. She places her unwavering faith in the authenticity of their love, brushing aside any insinuations of opportunism. Eventually, they marry. However, once the Pakistani national attains citizenship, he initiates their separation and subsequently files for divorce. The foreign wife finds herself grappling with a whirlwind of emotions as the truth slowly comes to light. Profound shock and deep-seated resentment overwhelm her, marking the painful outcome of her misplaced trust, the shattering of her dreams, and the heartbreak of their parting ways.
In the face of confrontation regarding his actions and the question of why he left the lady who had sacrificed everything for him, the Pakistani national provides several justifications. Firstly, he explains that it was the wish and aspiration of his parents for him to marry within his homeland. Secondly, he expresses his desire to have children with a Pakistani woman, believing that such an upbringing would instill strong Islamic values in his offspring. He also holds concerns about the potential challenges of raising children with a European or foreign mother.
These explanations, however, raise questions of consistency and integrity. His actions suggest a willingness to deceive someone to achieve personal goals, while his subsequent declarations seem to emphasise high-minded self-declared values. This dichotomy highlights a certain level of hypocrisy. His actions have not only tarnished his own image but have also damaged the reputation of his fellow Pakistani nationals. The perceptions other nations hold about Pakistani individuals are influenced by such instances of deception, which have unfortunately become part of the collective perception.
To my fellow Pakistani citizens, both young and old, who choose to marry individuals from other countries, I humbly extend a heartfelt request. We are known for being devoted and loyal husbands in Pakistan, often living our lives with a single spouse until the end, without betraying their trust. It is my belief that when we reside abroad, we should uphold, follow, and embrace these qualities even more fervently. This will not only reinforce the perception of us as trustworthy individuals but also demonstrate our commitment to these cherished values. Pakistani nationals must remember and adhere to the clear injunctions of Islam regarding the importance of upholding commitments and promises. Our Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (Peace be upon him) is renowned as a man of unwavering integrity who always stood by his commitments. He earned the title of ‘Al-Amin,’ the trustworthy, a testament to his character.
Furthermore, it’s imperative to underscore that we are not the kind of people who would deceive those who have shown us kindness. In these scenarios, the ladies we choose to marry abroad deserve our unwavering loyalty and love. Let us exemplify the true essence of integrity and dedication, so that people from different nations may regard us as upstanding and honourable individuals. Together, we can shape a positive image of our character and uphold the values that define us as individuals and as a nation.”
The writer is a freelance columnist.