They are proficient in agriculture, young and old, working in preparing Jordanians’ food throughout the year, struggling with the heat of summer and cold of winter, being born and growing up, marrying and having children in tin houses covered with cardboard and plastic, in the middle of the vegetable farms that they work in along the agricultural areas in the Kingdom.
Reverence for the argument
Pakistani families began to come to Jordan and settle there in the early sixties of the last century. Their grandparents and fathers settled in the agricultural Jordan Valley. After they spent their rituals on the pilgrimage to the Holy Land, they came to visit Jerusalem and the Al-Aqsa Mosque to complete the rituals of their pilgrimage with what is known as “sanctifying the argument.”
And reverence for the pilgrimage for Pakistanis and other Muslims means visiting the blessed Al-Aqsa Mosque, the third of the Two Holy Mosques, and praying there, with the aim of blessing and a great reward, thus achieving worship and visiting the three holy places, Makkah, Madinah and Jerusalem.
About 20 thousand Pakistanis live in Jordan, in the form of extended families with grandparents, children and grandchildren, of whom about 4 thousand workers obtained work permits in the agricultural sector through Jordanian sponsors who own agricultural lands.
Away from the motherland
Khalil Baluji was born in Jordan in 1975 after his Pakistani parents settled in Southern Shuna. He lives with his family of 28, including his sons, brothers and wives. They live in adjacent tents made of tin covered with cardboard and plastic sheets.
He visited Pakistan once in his life and for a period of 20 days, “I felt myself as if I was a stranger in Pakistan, because I had no relatives I knew, so I went back to Jordan because it represents my country and my stable.” As for his brothers and sisters, they have not visited their country before, and this is the case for the majority of Pakistani residents, as they have not set foot on the land of their motherland.
… and strangers in Jordan
Balooji tries to adhere to the Pakistani customs and traditions, but the conditions of life have separated the younger generation from those customs, so they do not adhere to the traditional Pakistani dress known as “Slur Camis” and their culture is Jordanian and they speak Arabic fluently, especially those attached to them in Jordanian schools, far from the Pakistani culture.
Despite long residency, birth and upbringing in Jordan, Pakistanis do not enjoy permanent or temporary Jordanian citizenship or long-term residency permits that allow them to live comfortably, which constitutes the most prominent difficulties they suffer from.
Sponsors and permits
The most prominent of these difficulties are the work permit fees, “We pay 520 dinars ($ 730) fees for the issuance of agricultural work permits, 85 dinars (120 dollars) for a medical examination fee, and 240 dinars ($ 340) for residence permits for my children and my wife, every year,” Baluji tells Al-Jazeera Net.
Added to it is the value of the rent of the land leased from the sponsor, the owner of the land, and the agricultural production requirements of seeds, fertilizers, pesticides, and transportation costs for the crops, and the result is successive financial losses due to the low prices of vegetables, which led to the accumulation of 12 thousand dinars (16 thousand dollars) in debts to the sponsor and agricultural companies, according to Blogi.
Farmer Abdullah Abu Saber al-Sindi adds to these difficulties, the increase in the value of treatment in government hospitals, due to the failure to provide health insurance to the Pakistanis, the stopping the renewal of driving licenses previously granted to them to transport vegetables to the central market, and preventing them from working in sectors other than the agricultural sector such as construction, restaurants, or services.
“I have spent my life and my youth in the service of Jordan and the Jordanians, and I am still treating a foreigner,” Al-Sindi told Al-Jazeera Net, calling for permanent residency for the Pakistanis and their families, because they do not know other than Jordan that they have a home. “We are strangers from Pakistan and foreigners in Jordan.”
Integration with the Jordanian clans
The Pakistanis participate in social events for the people of the regions in which they live. Abbas Al Balushi (43 years) told Al Jazeera Net that the people of the Jordan Valley are very friendly with the Pakistanis, “We share with them in the joys, sorrows and various occasions, visit holidays, and live among the tribesmen in safety and stability.”
Relations between Pakistanis and Jordanians strengthened through intermarriage and descent, after Jordanians married Pakistani women and Pakistani men married Jordanian women, in addition to commercial relations between landowners who provide the Pakistanis with land, while workers provide effort and work to produce crops, and after the season ends, the two parties share profits and expenses.
Despite the many obstacles to living for the Pakistanis in the Kingdom, they obey these difficulties and coexist with them, as they do not know their country but Jordan.