COMMUNITY IN CRISIS,
BY JAVED ZAHEER
TORONTO: Awareness, awakening and understanding are the strength of powerful and successful communities. The sick communities remain shattered, scattered and entangled in petty issues. Exploitation and humiliation remain their fate. Only true and charismatic leadership can pull them out of this critical situation, change their condition and prepare them for the tough challenges of today and tomorrow. Only they can put them on the path of mainstream, which ensures better quality of life, bright future and real success. Only they can help achieve real progress and prosperity.
For becoming a powerful community, careful selection of leaders is extremely important. One wrong step and the whole community suffers and pays the price. The corrupt and selfish elements never miss any opportunity, use all methods and means to fool the people, capture positions and leadership.
For their vested interests they can do anything and stoop to any lows. At the time of their need they pose as angels and even beg for support. They ruthlessly reject their people at the time of crisis and need and expect them to give votes, support and make them leaders. Such people stand exposed, can never be and should never be trusted. It is our duty and responsibility to expose such shrewd and cunning leaders, their backers and supporters in the larger interest of the community and people.
The Pakistani community is perhaps the weakest in the South Asian community and exposed to exploitation and humiliation of all kinds, unfortunately mostly by their own fellows and also due to their own deeds. We must admit, accept and face this shocking fact and find ways to build confidence and trust and win respect.
I had a chance to visit a factory owned by a Pakistani. The employees there were almost all Sikhs. I asked the owner as to why he did not employ Pakistanis. His face became grim and turned red. He stared at me and said: ďThey are lousy, trouble makers and not trustworthy. In the beginning I too wanted to employ and help them. The experiences were very bad. They hardly worked for one day and never came back again. Now I donít want to take any risk and destroy my business. The Sikhs are hardworking and trustworthy.
He said that one of his friends, who is owner of many factories, proudly employed Pakistanis in his factory, who later became headache for him. They started indulging in unionism and created all sorts of problems. Now he is fed up and wants to get rid of them. He is even ready to sell his factory and wind up his business.
I told him that due to some bad people, who are part of every community, the whole Pakistani community must not be blamed, punished and humiliated. Most of the Pakistanis, who come as immigrants, here are highly educated, professionals, cultured and belong to very good families. In their whole life they never worked as a worker in a factory but were bosses and had many workers working under them. In fact they never even imagined such work in their wildest and scariest dreams. Thatís why they get the biggest shock of their life. It takes time for them to settle down.
The struggle for survival and to feed the hungry mouths of their families compels them to knock the doors of every employer, beg them with tears for work and express readiness to do any job any time. But, unfortunately, most of them find it very tough and give up after the very first day. This is the reality.
Later they get adjusted in the system and mainstream, compromise with the situation and accept the challenges. They are found happily working anywhere and contributing tremendously. They get settled here, buy houses, cars and all luxuries of life and never want to say goodbye to Canada. They proudly call themselves Canadians.
The bachelors and singles make good savings and fast progress as they are in a position to take any risk. They mostly live in shared apartments. Those with families, particularly with small children, move very cautiously because of the heavy burden and responsibilities on their shoulders and the dreaded hire and fire culture here. Even if they want to, they cannot change jobs easily and mostly stick to one place for years and years. They wait for the kids to grow up and help them, like it happens in the South Asian society.
One of my friends is an internationally renowned press photographer and is desperately trying to adjust in the system here. Despite his poor vision and corneal operations, he is ready to do any job for survival and is doing here and there. Recently he was engaged to cover a wedding ceremony and did his job well. He was promised $500 payment. When the party dropped him home after the function they gave him two bills. Since it was dark and due to poor vision he could not see the bills. Also he trusted the persons who engaged him. After all he was in Canada where trust is everything. He was shocked when h! e saw that what he got were two $20 bills. He was cheated and could do nothing. Right now he is preparing for another eye operation. This attitude of the community people is very disappointing. This needs to be checked and changed.
So never say no to any such person. Try to understand his situation, give him opportunities to settle down and prove his worth. Such persons need encouragement and support the most. The government on its part does the best and helps them survive, struggle and settle but the community people must fulfill their duties as well. They have a greater responsibility as they understand each otherís problems and are in a better position to share and solve them. This is where the true leadership and teamwork is needed most. Every individual is a leader if he understands his role clearly and is ready to help sincerely.
Today Pakistanis are said to be on top of the welfare recipientsí list. It is the duty of the community leaders and members to find out the root causes for this situation, exploitation and humiliation and make sure that they reach the bottom of the welfare list and come on top of the list of the highest tax payers. Nothing is impossible, if the challenge is bravely accepted. Most of the professionals with families avoid welfare but they are compelled to live on it because of the crisis situation. They have no choice. On one hand no jobs and on the other rejected and humiliated by our own people.
People who face problems, are in great difficulty and badly in need of work are not interested in job tips, guidelines, etc at that moment. They need help right away for survival. Help them settle first then they would be in a position to listen to whatever you say. A hungry and starving person thinks about his stomach first and searches for food, even if he becomes a beggar in this effort. This is natural and logical.
So it is good to give tips and guidance for jobs and opportunities but we must not ignore the priority. The needy must not be neglected and considered: `Lousy, troublemakers and untrustworthyí. They need our immediate attention and sincere and practical help right here in Canada.
There are many ways and means to help them. Many organizations have been registered here by South Asians to collect funds for people back home. It is good and should be encouraged and promoted. But is it fair to neglect the community people who need help here and send help to those thousands of miles away? I donít think so. Both must be looked after equally. Make the community here strong so that it can extend better help to those back home.
Most of the Pakistani community leaders, with due respect and sorry to say, have miserably failed in serving the community. They are mostly interested in self-projection and promotion. That is why the community is suffering and out of the mainstream. They need to change their attitude and approach. They cannot fool the people for long.
The community is fortunate that people like Ghalib Iqbal, Consul General of Pakistan in Toronto, are here and trying their best to help the people. He strongly advocates the need and keeps asking the people to `JOIN THE MAINSTREAMí. He is not like the stiff neck typical bureaucrats who consider themselves Masters and the people Slaves.
When I meet him he gives me a lot of time and respect. I learn a great deal from his experience and views. There is a message on his table: `People Give Happiness. Some By Coming And Some By Going.í So I keep watching that sign and try not to waste his precious time. Sometimes the discussion is so good and informative and the tea is so tasty that it becomes hard to leave early. My apologies for any such delays.
People are expecting same response from the new Vice Consul, Shoaib Sarwar. They are closely watching him and his bureaucratic style. Letís see what he has in store for the people. I am yet to meet him and I have never been introduced to him so I canít say anything. The bridge of understanding will bring us closer sooner or later. If he acts like a typical bureaucrat then we can never be friends. This is for sure.
Unfortunately, most of our consulates worldwide are full of typical bureaucrats with feudal roots. They never act like diplomats, never allow the people to come near and try to understand their needs and problems. The result is that people are suffering and curse them badly and openly. They have lost the confidence, trust and respect of the people by neglecting and ignoring them.
Similarly, Shahid Hashmi, Chairman, Canpak Chamber of Commerce, promotes the idea of creating a bridge and bringing people closer. People have started calling him Shaheed (which means martyr and a much respected status). Many due to misunderstanding and one-sided animosity due to his God blessed popularity try to label him as anti-Pakistani, anti-Islam and so on. I keep telling him to avoid looking left and right, avoid distraction and just keep looking straight and ahead, where the objective and success lies. If you get distracted and annoyed you will make hundreds of enemies but! if you keep looking straight and ahead you will make thousands of friends and fans. This is what I believe. Till now I have found him a very good, supportive and cooperative person.
The good qualities and characteristics of these persons attracted me to them and many other community people working selflessly and silently in various fields. The result is good understanding with the sole objective of serving the people and creating awareness. The relationship is based purely on principles, mutual understanding and respect. Nothing more involved.
The South Asian media in Canada can play a better and greater role in helping the community. They must stop splashing the dirty politics of the South Asian region and instead focus on problems and needs of the community. People are fed up of the dirty politics and corrupt elements and consider those journals promoting them as garbage and tissue papers. For God sake maintain your reputation and standard and help the people here. Donít make their lives miserable by bringing the dirt to Canada! . People have come here for better quality of life and bright future and not for such nonsense. They are not fools and clearly understand the ABCD of life and politics. Donít try to teach them the wrong lessons. Donít try to snatch their peace of mind.
Our new generation has the potential, sense and the spirit to join the mainstream in a competitive way. They have the guts to do so. Their understanding of the matters, necessities and responsibilities is very good. Although the world is not perfect, but I have found them mostly perfect. They are our hope and strength. I have four loving children and I can understand that. They do make mistakes but never try to let me down. They have learnt much from the mistakes including ours.
The new generation particularly is least interested in the dirty politics. I donít understand for whom the media is promoting the dirty politics here. What great benefits they are expecting with such approach in Canada? The media can do a lot for the people through positive and objective contribution. A professional approach is needed.
Non-professionals running the journals have already badly damaged the reputation of the profession. They are business minded and only interested in increasing their bank balances. They damn care about the problems and needs of the people. Both the federal and provincial government must take a serious notice of this approach and attitude of the media in the peopleís interest. This is very important for the community.
Non-professionals and greedy elements in every professional field are doing the same and causing irreparable damage to the community. They have ruined our reputation in the society. Our fault and crime is that we watch all these silently and allow them to play with our lives and reputation. Enough is enough. Letís do something positive, good and better.
The corrupt and cruel feudal lobby, leaders and bureaucrats have always remained my prime targets. They have the same aim---Loot and crush the people. They are responsible for the massive corruption, deaths and destruction in Pakistan. About 80 percent of the countryís population lives in the rural areas, which are in control of these feudal and tribal lords. Most of them act as Gods and treat the people as slaves. No one dare raise voice against them or act against their wishes. NGOs too are mostly their tools and partners in the loot. Only through educatio! n, awareness and awakening a positive change can happen. Only this way people can be helped and freed from such slavery.