‘Foreign marriages’

Model Town, Lahore
Model Town, Lahore. © 2017 Pippa Virdee

Going through some archival footage from The Pakistan Times I come across this gem from 28 April 1960 in Letters to the editor. Written in 1960 but some of the issues highlighted in the letter still exist even today, especially in the second paragraph. What is also fascinating is how many men were really marrying ‘foreign’ girls during this period? Was it really that prevalent, enough to prompt a letter to the editor? If anyone knows more or knows of such stories please do share these with me.

May I invite your attention to a grave social problem which is becoming more and more acute day by day.

It has been observed that large number of our young men who get an opportunity to go abroad for higher education, professional studies or training come back with foreign wives. This is very frustrating for our own eligible girls. It deprives them of intelligent marriage partners. On the other hand, those who marry these foreign ladies become status conscious and become eager to raise their standards of living. Their wives feel like fish out of water in our society. They cannot freely mix with us due to a great difference in cultural, social and religious background. Naturally, they try to divert their husbands from the country’s social stream. Thus these young men – our own kith and kin – virtually become foreigners in their own milieu. This is no fault of theirs. It is a natural process.

The question is why do these young men marry abroad? The answer is very simple, in our society they have no opportunity to come in contact with girls and hence no understanding can possibly develop between them. It does not need much imagination to foresee the serious consequences of this tendency, which is the product of our defective social pattern and of the ignorance of the parents. If they give their children even a limited opportunity to mix with one another and then chose their life companions our young men will not even dream of marrying aboard, this will make for social integration and give a chance to our girls to contract suitable marriages.

Abu Saeed Ahsan Islahi, Rawalpindi

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