Pakistanis in Australia: following the dream of freedom and better living conditions

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By Wisal Yousafzai & Riaz Ghafoor

PESHAWAR: Although Pakistan and Australia have different cultures and diversity, one common tradition among both the nations is that they are caring and loving.

Many Pakistani students study in Australia, and there are Pakistani immigrants working, contributing to the economy of both the countries.

Of these people, one is known as Sami Shah, who is currently living in Melbourne and working as comedian and serving as an active citizen in Australia.

Sami Shah hails from Karachi, the business hub of Pakistan. He started his career from advertisements industry in 2006 but later he joined Dawn News TV channel as producer and he is one of the founding members among five people who started the English news channel in Pakistan.

In 2008 when Benazir Bhutto returned to Pakistan during Musharraf’s dictatorial rule, the country was in the throws of militancy and violence was at its peak.

Sami Shah was always in the middle of the conflict, covering terrorism and violence, asking his team to cover all the bloodshed and grief.  But he wasn’t comfortable with the work routine. He wanted to change his profession after getting threats from the extremists.

He left electronic media and joined The Express Tribune, an English daily which was a sister publication of International Herald Tribune, the Global Edition of the New York Times. He joined the paper as a columnist focusing on writing on religion, and also satire.

After feeling threatened in his environment, Sami Shah decided to leave Pakistan and he started his efforts in 2009 for immigration visa to Australia and finally in 2012 he got Regional State Sponsored migration visa.

Sami Shah Picture
Sami Shah hails from Karachi, the business hub of Pakistan.

Life in Australia is very easy. Reaching here is difficult because the immigration laws are strict, but once you make it to Australia tings become very easy. Sami is doing comedy and also worked with the Australian Broadcasting Agency as social media producer. “It is a very mellow place for news. The biggest news on an average day is like ‘Peter Dutton said something stupid, again!” This is really soft as compared to Pakistan where conflict, violence and all things bad are breaking news.

Sami considers himself more of a comedian and is happy that there are professional academies for artists to nurture their art.

There is racism, but not as much as people talk about. And above all, living in Australia gave him the opportunity to meet people from around the world. “This wasn’t possible in Pakistan,” he says. Sami is happy in Australia. He thinks the visa processes will become even more difficult, but the people who arrive in Australia are definitely going to enjoy their life.

Similarly, Ghaffar Uddin who got his masters degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Peshawar and is nowadays working in an office as accountant in Australia.

Ghaffar got his masters degree in Business Administration from Holmes College Melbourne in 2016 and is living in Australia for the last five years.

Those young people who are thinking for Australia, it is not difficult to get Australian visa, Ghaffar said. What is makes it difficult is the English proficiency that can only be proved through an IELTS score. If the students ensure their English proficiency before embarking on the journey to study in Australia, they would find it much easier. Once here, they need to have the physical strength to survive a 20 hours to bear their expenses. Life is not easy, since it is costly and the job market offers mostly blue collar jobs.

Ghaffar....
Ghaffar Uddin who got his masters degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Peshawar and is nowadays working in an office as accountant in Australia.

True, this is a difference of country, with cultural differences and many things that are beyond the imagination of a common Pakistani.  The education system is very different. Life on the street needs a lot of adjustment.

You are in the danger of getting exploited in the blue collar job market. Usually, we get white collar jobs and are not very experienced in how manual/physical labor works. As a novice you are in danger of getting below minimum compensation. You might end up getting 8 to 10$ per hour, which is below minimum wages.

There is an educated Pakistani community in Australia. Pakistanis are contributing to Australian economy. They celebrate their cultural and religious festivals very well. There is racism in Australia, but I only got exposed to it twice mildly during my 5 years stay.  People in traditional Pakistani dress and women wearing hijab are more exposed to racism.

We do have similarities and differences. If one is looking for the traditional respect for elders, it might be there in the way we see it. But in times of problem and emergencies these people (Australians) will be there to help and assist.

Pakistanis are never involved in any criminal activity in Australia. Ghaffar is optimistic that despite the harsh immigration laws, Pakistanis do have great prospects to build their lives and careers.

Contributors from Australia: Zalika Rizmal, Tim Purdie & Thea Murtaza

Photo courtesy: traveltheworldfans.com, Ghaffar & Sami Shah

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