An 84-year-old woman and her daughter are considering returning home to Iraq because the Australian Immigration Authority is delaying their asylum visa grant. This is after the wave of obsessive concern Australians have after Haron Monis killed two Australians in the Sydney hostage crisis on December 15. This is particularly of concern to Pakistanis. With the new Taliban offensive, the country having enough of religious extremism, the nation and all its landscape becoming a battleground, its women and children collateral, the nation is caving in and many want out. It is only obvious that Pakistanis, especially those affected by this war and crisis, will want to be pushed as far away from the conflict as possible. This, coupled with economic dispensations, and Pakistanis will want to look elsewhere.
No matter how genuine their choke, the world’s greener pastures are neither ready for them nor willing to let people from such a severe conflict zone permeate into a society that has zero tolerance for violence. There is, however, a marked difference between the ways some western countries have reacted to the threat of Islamic militancy compared to others. On the one extreme we have Australia and the likes of Peter Dutton who are vehemently perturbed by growing Muslim communities and their potential of terrorism and, on the other, we have the UK that has said those British citizens wanting to fight alongside the most rabid Islamic militants in IS should be brought back to the UK and rehabilitated back into society after their grievances are addressed.
Still, none of this compares to the magnanimity of Pakistan. Pakistan has opened its borders to Afghanistan for decades, absorbing its refugees fleeing from first the Afghan war and then the war on terror. These are over two million now and they have changed the entire ecosystem of Pakistan — crime rates have gone up, there is cultural dissonance, a stress on resources and jobs, lack of control on diseases such as polio and, most disturbingly, the crisis of health and hygiene in refugee camps.
One cannot ignore those from within Australia who are fighting the good fight to get asylum seekers more rights, such as Sarah Hanson Young. She has been vocally against the way the Australian government has dealt with the case of the Iraqi woman and her daughter, calling it a political move and one where the immigration minister cannot be expected to act in the best interest of asylum seekers.
Sadly, it is the first generation of Pakistani immigrants that are most opposed to other immigrants or asylum seekers from their country. This is the most horrid example of being self-centred. Once these first generation immigrants are securely in the saddle in western countries, enjoying secular principles and protections, they often look down on others doing the same and accuse them of not being genuine or not applying in the right category. One would see other communities with a stronger sense of national ethos actually create conducive environments for their country folk to migrate.
If we are to build a sustainable interconnected world, then it makes no sense for the first world to not bear the burden, in some cases that it has created, of the developing world’s fallout from extreme conflicts, crisis and war. In that spirit it was wonderful to see President Obama protecting millions of immigrants, who are undocumented, from deportation in a swift executive action. What was not wonderful was the vitriol that came forth after. Immigrants were called parasites and there were claims that they threaten the US way of life.
The Islamic terror threat that is now even more pronounced with Islamic State (IS) on the battlefront, makes all the first world hyper vigilant and cautious. This leads to legislation that is destructive to human values. No one could have said it better than Nicholas Kristof in his piece on immigration when he said: “What most defines the 11 million undocumented immigrants in America is not illegality but undaunted courage and ambition for a better life. What separates their families from most of ours is simply the passage of time — and the lottery of birth.”