Hooray for the Pakistanis! – VG
Hooray for the Pakistanis!
Today it is Oslo that celebrates the Pakistanis. Once it was the Pakistanis who cheered when they came to Oslo. A 50-year-long, stormy journey is over.
This is a comment. The commentary expresses the writer’s position
I do not know where to start. Should I start with Dad, or should I start with Mom? That’s why I’m sitting here today.
And I’m not alone. Children of Pakistanis have succeeded. That is, for a class journey from one generation to the next.
You might want to protest, I can understand that. But how do you know if it went well or badly if you are not in the beginning? So where did the race start? Whether it has run an 800 meter or a marathon?
The Pakistanis have run a marathon. And I’m so proud of them. I’m so proud of what our parents can handle. So proud of Norway and the welfare state.
Have some Pakistanis brought with them culture like forced marriage and honor killings and extreme social control, patriarchy and the taxi-cheating scandal and other Norwegians had taken a settlement with for a long time?
Yes, some of them have. Does it bother me? Yes, more than can be expressed in words.
Does this mean that we can never celebrate the courage, drive and steadfastness of Pakistani Norwegians? It obviously does not.
For today, Oslo Municipality and Raymond Johansen have participated a handful into the store at Oslo City Hall, to thank for the effort. And wish them luck for the next half century.
Father and Oslo
It is almost exactly 50 years since my dad came to Norway via train from Copenhagen 28 years old.
It is that thing that beats me from the time that I have studied and written book about. It does not matter how thick my dad’s curls were – and it does matter how crazy it is to meet Norway.
For my dad was one of those “foreign workers” who immediately corrected Karl Johan and did not know where to turn.
And then he appeared in a NRK report in November 1971, where he sat on the floor and cooked and smiled at the camera, similar to the gang of Pakistani men who were crammed together in the “demolition-ready, rat-infested guard barracks in Kirkeveien 23 on Majorstua in Oslo ».
Then come the wives
And on February 25, 1973, my mother landed at Fornebu. And although the journey from Pakistan to Oslo was far more pleasant than Dad’s through Europe – it was upsetting for the slender 22-year-old.
Who did not take off at the airport and be sent straight out of work at the Oslo travel power factory. Without knowing the language. Without knowing the codes.
And since then, they both worked at the assembly line in factories and washed floors in office buildings and kindergartens. For decades, they had the least to work each.
Of course I’m proud.
Especially by my mom and women like her. I hope there are many of them at the party today. For no one has acknowledged their contribution in this story.
The “wives” have lived behind the scenes. Almost completely isolated, without knowing Norwegian, without the community of women they grew up with, at the mercy of her husband. Sometimes delayed by their own children for broken Norwegian, or that they «do not understand anything».
Until 2019, when my book came out, no one had bothered to tell how many they were in 1971 and ’72 and ’73. It was not until 1977 that they were given a separate column in a table in Statistics Norway’s yearbook.
The first Pakistani migrant workers: – The plan was not to stay in Norway
I carry it like a stone on my chest. That they were not even counted. But was put on as a «pendant» to «foreign workers».
My mom does not care about that. It is a luxury to care about such. She has never had that luxury.
Mom does not care about the racism that was. She does not hold grudges against those of employers who exploited, or homeowners who robbed them.
One thing still hurts is that she was standing at the assembly line the day I came into the world. Six weeks early. For mum lifted 25 kilos of packages from the assembly line to the pallet at Fellesmeieriene.
Still, Mom is grateful. For everything Norway has given. And everything Norway has endured. They are all grateful.
Look at us now!
Today we can be retrospective. And it’s easy to point the finger. Why was it like this and like that.
But now we are her. And it’s been 50 years.
And look at us now!
Look at Hadia Tajik as Minister of Labor and Inclusion. Look at Abid Raja as Minister of Culture.
Look at Zeshan Shakar, Gulraiz Sharif, Mahmona Khan and Khalid Hussein as writers. Look at Hina Zaidi and Ayaz Hussein who contribute to Norway brings two awards home from Cannes. Iram Haq and Deeyah Khan and Ulrik Rolfsen who attach stories to films and win for Norway.
Kiran Aziz som is responsible for monitoring KLP’s pension fund of NOK 900 billion. Ghayas Zahid has scored for Vålerenga.
Fakhra Salimi, the bastion which leads the women’s struggle. Nasim Karim who will be the first to talk about forced marriage, Shabana Rehman who will take over the baton and Khalid Mehmood and Aslam Ahsan who will become passionate. Where the latter for years organizes Christmas party for lonely.
Today we are going to celebrate
Listening is so much longer than I have room for. I hardly need to say more.
But I do it anyway.
This road we have walked together. Norway and Pakistani Norwegians. We have tried, we have learned, failed, fallen, risen again – and with that we have paved the way for new immigrants.
It has been incredible triumphs – and it has been blood, sweat and tears. It has been rage, rebellion and fighting. There has been public laundry, lawsuits, gangs and cheating.
Not everyone has taken the class trip. Not everyone has succeeded. Norwegians with a Pakistani background continue to figure in the statistics on forced marriage.
Despite all this. Then it has gone bra for most. We stand upright. It says a little about the people who came and the country that received them.
So, today we celebrate.
Tomorrow we will resume the fight against everything that has given Pakistani Norwegians a bad reputation.