Pakistan and Spain so far, so close
When we hear news of Pakistani Communities abroad, we usually think about a terrorist attack, violence against women etc… However this is not fair. We must change our mind in order to be more objective with these people who left Pakistan looking for a better life. In general, Pakistani Diasporas are rather integrated in the countries where they live. Very good examples are Sweden, the United States or especially theUnited Kingdom home of the largest overseas community. In Spain, especially in Catalonia and Madrid, there is an unknown and peaceful Pakistani Community we are trying to discover it over the next few paragraphs. First Pakistani people arrived to Spain at the beginning of the 70s when the UK hardened its migration policy. Spain and other European countries -Belgium, France or Italysuddenly became an interesting destination for Pakistani people who were looking for an opportunity to improve their quality-life. At that time, the type of Pakistani migrant was a man in his 30s/40s looking for a non-qualified job in the mining industry or the agriculture sector. During the nineties, Spain started to receive Pakistani women who rejoined their husbands and relatives on the base of reunification policies. This explains why, even today, the percentage of Pakistani females in Spain is extremely low. Only25% of Pakistanis living in Spain arewomen. The Pakistani community in Spain is of over 100.000 people, not really numerous if we compare it with Moroccans or Latin Americans to mention a couple of examples. Nevertheless, this Diaspora is very significant because of its characteristics. The Pakistani community is deeply concentrated in one province: Barcelona. In other words, almost 60% of Pakistanis living in Spain have their residence in Barcelona metropolitan area, which means the highest concentration in Europe outside the UK. Apart from Barcelona we can find other significant Pakistani communities in La Rioja, Jaen, Leon and, of course, Madrid although none of them can be compared with theCatalonian chapter.In Barcelona, they are established in the district of El Raval -in the heart of the city- although can also be found in Montjuit and San Martin. Recently Pakistanis have started to expand outside Barcelona and today there are important communities in towns such as Badalona, Poble Sec and Besós. In Madrid, themost important concentration is located in Embajadores district but other places like Villaverde, Latina or Usera (Southern Madrid) count on an important Pakistani population. At the official level, the Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is located in Madrid but due to the importance of the Pakistani Community in Catalonia, the Government of Pakistan decided to open a Consulate in Barcelona. First Pakistani migrants started to work in agriculture and industrial sectors. Nevertheless, today many Pakistanis have established successful business in Spain, especially in Barcelona. Around 25% of Pakistanis living in Spain are self-employers. Among the most common business are wholesales, groceries or clothing shops. Pakistani food is getting more a more popular in Spain and is not difficult to find a place to eat shawarma or kebabs, especially in Madrid or Barcelona. The main customers of these businesses are members of the Pakistani Diaspora who want to eat halal food or save some money using local techniques like the kameti or Hawalla. Most of the Pakistanis who have taken up their residence in Spain come from the district of Gujrat and Mandi Bahauddin. These two tehsils belonging to the region of Punjab are very close to the Kashmir border and their populations have an important migrant tradition. Pakistanis in Spain are mostly Sunni Muslims who speak Urdu and Punjabi although we can find other languages. Pakistanis living in Barcelona and Madrid are basically integrated into the Spanish society although some members of these communities have been involved in serious crimes. Pakistanis, especially in Barcelona, have established important ties not only with local population but also with other migrants, especially those coming from other South Asian countries likeBangladesh, Nepal or India. In Barcelona, where the Pakistani Community is more important, more than 3000 people celebrate the independence day of Pakistan every August. Likewise, Pakistanis together with other Muslims, celebrate the Festivity of the Ramadan( Eid-ul-Fitar) as well as other religious festivities like the Festival of Sacrifice( Eid ul Bakara). The Raval Multisport Center is the core of these religious and cultural eventswhere the local population can get in contactwith Pakistan and its culture and traditions. Apart from the cricket, the Pakistani Community in Barcelona also practices other sports like football, field hockey and volleyball. All in all, the Pakistani migrants have introduced some local sports which are very popular in Pakistan but much unknown in Europe, this is the case of the Kabbadi, a South Asian sport which is a mixture of Wrestling and Rugby. Kabbadi is very popular in rural areas of Pakistan but little by little Spanish people are more and more interested in this sport. In 2011 the Spanish Kabbadi NationalTeam participated in theWorld Cup. Another important element of the Pakistani Community in Spain is the mass-media. Hamwatan is a trilingual journal (Urdu, Catalan and Spanish) created in 1999. The main objective is to keep the Pakistani people informed and facilitate their integration into the Spanish Society. Another interesting initiative is Pakcelona, a radio station that started to broadcast in 2007. Pakcelona Radio offers a set of cultural programs in different languages (Nepal, Spanish, Punjabi, and Catalan) although Urdu is the most used. Pakcelona is a fantastic opportunity to establish cultural and civic ties between the Pakistani Community and the Spanish Society. The Pakistani Community in Spain might be considered a peaceful an integrated collective although sometimes the news we find out are only focused on problems created by out-law people who cannot be considered members of this community.