U.S. Pakistanis ‘Ashamed,’ Pose as Indians to Get Jobs

May 8, 2010

(ChattahBox)—American residents of Pakistani descent are fearing a racial backlash, after the Times Square car-bombing attempt, carried out by Faisal Shahzad, a naturalized citizen born in Pakistan. And many are now posing as Indians to not only avoid discrimination, but because they are deeply ashamed.

According to a report by Reuters, since the deadly terrorism of 9/11, in which the mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed is Pakistani, U.S. residents of Pakistani descent have paid the price for the crimes of a few of their countrymen:

“Suspected September 11 mastermind Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and convicted 1993 World Trade Center bomber Ramzi Yousef are also of Pakistani decent, and anti-American militants fighting U.S. forces in Afghanistan take refuge in Pakistan.”

Now, with attention focused on the Pakistani man responsible for the Times Square bombing attempt, some American-based Pakistanis are holding themselves out as Indian, even though Pakistan and India have never been on the best of terms:

“A lot of Pakistanis can’t get jobs after 9/11 and now it’s even worse,” said Asghar Choudhri, an accountant and chairman of Brooklyn’s Pakistani American Merchant Association. “They are now pretending they are Indian so they can get a job.”

One man of Pakistani descent identified as Farhan,who was born in the U.S., reported of a store manager refusing to sell him fertilizer for his lawn. And when he complained, the police were called.

“What kind of a country are we living in when a 22-year-old male can’t buy fertilizer?” Farhan asked. “I’m American. I’m not Pakistani.”

The area known as Coney Island was once home to a thriving neighborhood of Pakistanis working hard to achieve the American dream. But since 9/11, many residents have moved away, after repeated raids and crackdowns by law enforcement, including the FBI and INS, searching for suspected terrorists and violators of immigration laws.

Since New York City is home to one of the largest Pakistani populations in the country, Mayor Bloomberg released a public statement warning against reprisals or discrimination, after the Times Square bomb scare:

“New York is “the city where you can practice your religion and say what you want to say and be in charge of your own destiny and we’re going to keep it that way,” Bloomberg said.

Still, Pakistanis bear the everyday fear of reprisals. But worse than the fear is the shame. “We are ashamed,” said Choudhri.


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