Pakhtun's status in Dubai
BY: Jehan Sher Yusufzai

Pakhtuns are famous for their tribal system and traditional culture. But this unfortunate nation has been the victim of internal and external intrigues since the British colonial period.Their land is green and fertile but without enough employment opportunities. This is because the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has never been given its due share of the developmental projects launched in Pakistan.There is no dearth of talent among the Pakhtuns, but prejudiced politicians and elite have kept the community away from development. To survive in this situation the people have spread throughout the world to earn their livelihood. The Pakhtuns have some special qualities and habits for which they are respected not only in Pakistan but throughout the entire world, but one cannot find those qualities by studying Pakhtuns working in the UAE. The complaint is not for all the Pakhtuns but is focused on those who are uneducated, hailing from the far-flung areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.I have been working in the UAE since 2005. I feel very sad to see the ever-decreasing cultural values of Pakhtuns. In the 1970s, the construction boom of the Gulf countries attracted huge manpower from the South Asian countries. To benefit from the employment opportunities a large number of jobless Pakhtuns turned to the Gulf countries especially to the UAE and Saudi Arabia.According to a rough estimate more than 500,000 Pakhtuns are currently employed in the UAE. They are engaged in different professions — about 70 per cent of them in the transport industry and the remaining 30 per cent are employed in construction companies and odd jobs.Technology has revolutionised the world and the job market demands highly qualified workforce. But the Pakhtun youth who come to the UAE do not possess the required skills. Thus they cannot compete with other expats in this much advanced job market.Another problem is that the community members have to work in a multinational environment in the UAE, but few of them know how to deal with other staff members.It has also been observed that the people working here in various companies are not into nurturing healthier relationships for their own development. As a result of their inappropriate attitude, companies do not favour Pakhtun candidates at the time of recruitment.The financial position of the community is also not good as one can see huge businesses of Indians and Arab expatriates in the UAE market, whereas Pakhtuns only know how to drive taxis.Unfortunately, a Pakhtun generally does not have a financial plan to keep a balance between his income and expenditure. He earns money but does not know how to save it. Even when he sends money to his family back home it is without any specific schedule. It has also been noted that Pakhtuns spend lavishly on unnecessary things when they go back home on leave.The economic situation in the region has made their position weak and the salary structures of the workers are not very satisfactory in today’s recessionary environment. It is said that Pakhtuns are famous for their social contacts, but when it comes to those working in the UAE, the matter is quite different. They have developed a poor social system. The famous codes of Pakhtunwali such as hospitality, respect of the elderly, helping the sick and the needy no longer exists in the community here.Their joint accommodations (called dhara in the local dialect) are ruled by jealousy and they have failed to keep the inherited community values in their life in the UAE.Those elderly members of the community who have been living here since many decades do not help those who seek jobs although they can request their bosses.The community should have welfare organisations to assist its people in time of distress like other communities have in the country.A branch of AVT Khyber TV channel exists in Dubai but unfortunately it has never concentrated on problems confronted by the community. Its anchor focuses only on showing high-rise buildings and organises music shows which attract the Pakhtun youth to Dubai but they do not know the ground realties. The anchor has never pointed out the grievances and difficulties faced by the community.It is mentioned here the purpose of my description is not to devalue Pakhtun culture, rather I want to inform the ANP Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government of the problems the Pakhtun community isfacing in various Arab countries, particularly in the UAE. It would be better if the local government of the province appoints a commission of experts in Peshawar to examine the job markets in these countries and then evolve a comprehensive strategy to train the youth according to the job requirements. Also, the commission should be set up a small institute in Peshawar where the new overseas workforce will get preliminary information about the countries they wish to go before leaving the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Only then, they can regain their lost image, preserve their jobs and revive the traditions of Pakhtunwali. Now, with the advent of two Pashto TV channels -— the AVT Khyber and Shamshad TV – both can play a pivotal role in restoring the centuries’ old Pakhtun culture. The programmes, especially the cultural ones which are run on these channels are extremely fruitful for our new generation. This is why the channels are becoming popular among the Pakhtuns by leaps and bounds. I would like to remind their distinguished anchors to initiate such programmes which could create awareness among the expatriate Pakhtuns to cope with the challenges faced by them in the Arab Gulf countries.To make a long story short, lack of modern education, English language proficiency, latest job skills, rude attitude and ineptness at social interaction and dealings are the impediments being faced by Pakhtuns not only in the UAE but throughout the Mideast.

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