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March 30, 1958 - Image 8

Resource type:
Michigan Daily, 1958-03-30
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Sunday, March 30, 1958




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Pakistan's Younger Generation
Seeks To Bring Modernization of Cities
to Region's Back Country Vllages


even if they are replaced, it is no
good. The river still flows over."'
She stops and shrugs. The gesture
seems to indicate the Pakistanis
have resigned themselves to the
omnipotence of nature.
IN TIMES OF CALM, the farmer
pursues the same daily sched-
ule as his ancestors before him. He
is up with the sun, eats his simple-
breakfast of wheat bread and tea,
prepared by his wife, and then is,
off with his older sons to work the
fields of cotton, jute, wheat or
rice. His wife spends the better
part of the mornig attending to
house chores. Later she and some
of the children may join the men
in the fields. Babies, or those too.
young to work, are left with a
younger daughter or taken out in-
to the fields, where women erect
hammocks for them to lie in.
"The little children." Viquar
laughs and shakes her head.
"There are so many of them."'
Families average eight or nine
children. A minute later she is
serious, leaning forward to im-
press me with a point "You know,
don't you that this is one of my,
country's serious problems?" It is
more of a statement than a ques-
Before I can answer, she is ex-
plaining in a low, but emphatic
voice, "You see, we are trying hard
to introduce birth control. We set
up centers and send social workers
to the country. But it is still much
the same: one earning 'member
and so many dependents."
Viquar smiles again, an expres-
sion, I've mentally labelled as her
"crusading smile." "We will change
this . . . someday . . . soon." she
adds firmly.
IT WAS WHEN WE discussed
growing up in Pakistan, I real-
ized why Mohammed is uneasy in
my presence. From the time they
are born, until they are married,
Pakistani boys and girls are sep-
Dates are an unheard of phe-
nomena. There are no coed schools,
although boys and girls both have
equal educational opportunities.
Explains Mohammed with an
empty gesture: "It's just not the
socially acceptable thing to do. If
you should even be seen going with
a girl to a show, you are consid-
ered very low class." He leans for-
ward with a shy smile: "In college,

a boy sneaks a date now and then.
But it is never anything serious,"
Marriages are arranged. Som4-
times the girl has never seen her
husband-to-be. Vigar, who will be
married four years this August
tells me how it's done, but -only
after rve leafed through a well-
stuffed photo album of her hus-
band and two-year-old son.
Unlike many, she had met her
husband and talked with him sev-
eral times before the formal pro-
posal from his father to her father
was made and the traditional "tea
party" for the couple-to-be ar-
"MY MOTHER then proceeded
to find out all about him, his
family background (an essential
in Pakistan, where family ties are
of the -utmost importance), his
educational standing, social stand-
ing and other things." She thought
he was quite well educated-he's
a petroleum geologist--and that
he had a good future. Then she
asked -me if I was willing."
"I guess you were."
"Well, to tell you the truth,"
Viqar said self-consciously. "I
was a bit reluctant."
"Was it your first proposal?"
"Oh no." Viquar looks surprised
and a little hurt.
I hasten to say that I don't
really think it had been and add
with an attempt at restoring my
good standing, "you must have
had dozens."
"Oh yes." Viqar's warm smile
assures 'me that my slip-up is f or-
given. "Oh, I don't remember how
many. They come and go, you
know. You start having. proposals
from age 14. Most girls will get
married at 16, maybe 17. But my
parents wanted me to get my edu-
cation before they married me
off. I was 22, my husband, 30."

wife relationship is carefully re-
strained. "A wife must not show
the least bit of affection to her
husband in public," continues
Vigar. When I am with my hus-
band, we must walk yards apart.
Why,, if I was to take my hus-
band's arm, I am sure that people
would jeer at me."
"And no one wants to change
this?" I expect the familiar "cru-
sading smile" and an announce-
ment that progress is being made.
Instead Viqar replies indifferent-
ly: "Oh no. It . has always been
like this. No one pays much at-
tention. We have more important
things to do."
"'1IQAR," I say cautiously, "you
don't have to answer this
question, but you've been in the
United States for a year now and
seen our dating custom. If you
had it to do again, which method
would you prefer?"
As Viqar gives me a long, hard
look, I squirm mentally and won-
der if'I've really over-stepped my
bounds this time. She smiles.
"Yes," Viqar replies quietly, "I
would like to know the man bet-
ter, but I would not like to date
"Why not?"

Viqar leans forward. Her hands
are "talking" as fast as her lips,
"You see, I live-in this dormitory
and I see these girls going out
with these boys. This is fine. But
I also seems all the tensions that
follow and make them so unhap-
py. Emotions should be latent.
When you are encouraging emo-
tions, here will be pressures on
nerves. It is very bad."
Viqar leans back. Her face looks
tired and a little strained.
There is a moment of silence.
Then Viqar bounces up, with her
old vigor to show me pictures of
her brother and sister-in-law in
AT THE END of the school year,
Mfohammed, a graduate stu-
dent in Naval Architecture, 'and
Viqar, who is doing graduate work
in Physics will return to their na-
tive land.
I ask them how long they think
it will be before Pakistan will be
able to stand on her own feet.
Mohammed hazards an optimis-
tic 10-15 year guess. Viqar, more
conservatively shakes her head
sadly and murmurs: "It will be
a long time. We must do so much,
you know."


____ -- -

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"BUT VIQAR," I persist, "if you
don't know . your husband,
how do you know the marriage
will work out?"
'It does," she replies simply.
"Well, you know, women don't
know the difference. They have
not had contact with other men.
They look up to their husbands."
She pauses thoughtfully. "Maybe
marriages are successful because
the women can't afford to leave
their husbands. They are the
breadwinners, you know."
After she is married, the man-


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