Common Stereotypes and Misconceptions regarding Pakistani-Americans

The Pakistani-American community, as all immigrant communities in America, is a vital part of US society. It is the hard work of these communities and the acceptance and tolerance of all Americans, which has made the US the best society in the world. The following are common misconceptions:

1. Pakistani-Americans are Arabs.
Pakistani-Americans are of South Asian heritage. Their culture, political systems, language, educational systems and backgrounds are not “Middle Eastern” or “Arab.”  

2. Women are subservient to men.
The improvement of women’s rights in Pakistan is an issue with many well-known and tireless advocates both inside and outside the country. Presently, in urban areas, women’s rights have greatly improved with women being a part of the formal workforce as physicians, teachers, journalists, social workers, entrepeneurs and the like. Benazir Bhutto was a global icon as a twice elected female Prime Minister. The USPAK Foundation firmly believes in the equal access of eduction for women, and in the suspension of the zina law against women in Pakistan.

3. Pakistanis-Americans are against Indian-Americans.
The freedom of the Kashmiri people in Occupied Kashmir is the source of the conflict between Pakistan and India. The USPAK Foundation supports intervention by the United States to resolve this important issue which will allow stability in the region. Here, in the United States, Pakistani Americans and Indian Americans cohabit and live as friends, allowing their common heritage, history and culture to serve as their primary connection. We aim the same for our counterparts in Pakistan and India.

4. Pakistani-Americans are against Jews.

Pakistani-Americans are highly concerned about the ongoing conflict in the Middle East and are of the view that a two-state solution is a peaceful and fair resolution. The Pakistani-American community is against the use of violence by any state or individual to justify its freedom or safety.

5. Pakistani-Americans follow Wahabi Islam.
Like every religion, Islam also has different schools of thought which are followed by many people across the world. While some religious institutions in Pakistan preach Wahabi teachings of Islam, the overwhelming majority of the people of Pakistan do not subscribe to the Wahabi school of thought. In the United States, the overwhelming majority of Pakistani-Americans do not identify themselves as Wahabis or prescribe to their beliefs, but rather are moderate practicing Muslims.

6. Pakistani-Americans are not educated
Two-thirds of American Muslims have bachelors degree or higher versus 44% for the U.S. average. One-third have masters or higher versus 9% for the U.S. average. Within the American Muslims, the Pakistani-American community is the most organized and educated. Its average income is higher than that of the average American Muslim. The community is well represented in all walks of life, from physicians to business owners to bankers and engineers.

7. Pakistan and Pakistani-Americans were involved in the September 11th attacks.

None of the 19 perpetrators involved in the 9/11 attacks were of Pakistani heritage or in anyway directly or indirectly linked to Pakistan. Pakistan has always been the United States’ primary ally in the war on terror, and in the process has suffered at the hands of terrorists. Pakistani soldiers have lost their lives fighting this war,its people have been displaced and declared refugees in their own country, and urban populations have been terrorized by repeated bomb blasts. Moreover, Pakistan has had significant loss in its economy because of the war or terror.


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