Pak­istan and Spain so far, so close

The Diplomatic Insight - - National Day of the Kingdom of Spain -

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.

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