Pakistani American

Infobox Ethnic group
group = Pakistani American

caption =
poptime = 210,415cite web |url=;ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201PR:045;ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201T:045;ACS_2005_EST_G00_S0201TPR:045&-_lang=en&-redoLog=false&-format=|coauthors=United States Census Bureau|title=US demographic census|accessdate=2006-11-19]
0.075% of the U.S population
popplace = Northeast
langs = American English
Pakistani languages most commonly Urdu and Punjabi
rels = Predominately Islam. Small number of adherents to Christianity and Hinduism.
A Pakistani American is someone who trace their roots to Pakistan. A number of Pakistani Americans came to the United States via Pakistani communities in other countries such as United Kingdom (see Pakistani British). Most Pakistani Americans are Muslims by religion, but there are also Christians, Parsis, Bahá'ís, Buddhist, Hindus and Sikhs.

Pakistani Americans are the eighth largest Asian American ethnic group after Chinese American, Filipino American, Indian Americans, Vietnamese, Koreans, Japanese and Cambodian communities. They are also the second largest South Asian American ethnic group, after Indian Americans, and have one of the largest Muslim American ethnic groups in the United States, after the African American community.

History in the United States

Muslim immigrants from areas consisting of modern day Pakistan have been migrating to America and first entered the United States as early as the eighteenth century, working in agriculture, logging, and mining in the western states of California, Oregon, and Washington. The passage of the Luce-Celler Act of 1946 allowed these men to acquire US citizenship through naturalization. Between 1947 and 1965, only 2,500 Pakistani immigrants entered the United States and most of them were Students who chose to settle in the United States after graduating from American Universities according to reports from the Immigration and Naturalization Service. This marked the beginnings of a distinct 'Pakistani' community in America. However after President Lyndon Johnson signed the INS Act of 1965 into law, eliminating per-country immigration quotas and introducing immigration on the basis of professional experience and education, the number of Pakistanis immigrating to USA increased dramatically. By 1990, the U.S. Census bureau indicated that there were about 100,000 Pakistani Americans in the United States and by 2005 their population had grown to about 210,000 +/- 18989.


The U.S. Census Bureau has indicated that there are about 210,000 +/- 18989 U.S. citizens of Pakistani descent living in the United States, including permanent residents. The Census Bureau, however, excluded the population living in institutions, college dormitories, and other group quarters from all population groups. The Pakistani embassy estimates the number of people of Pakistani origin living in United States to be much higher, closer to 500,000.

The most systematic study of the demography of Pakistanis in America is found in Prof. Adil Najam's book 'Portrait of a Giving Community' (Harvard University Press, 2006), which estimates a total of around 500,000 Pakistanis in America with the largest concentrations in New York and New Jersey states, each with around 100,000 Pakistani-Americans. [ cite book|author=Adil Najam|title="'Portrait of a Giving Community: Philanthropy by the Pakistani-American Diaspora" (Harvard University Press)|date=2006] ]

New York City hosts the largest concentration of Pakistani Americans, with a population of approximately 35,000, primarily in the boroughs of Queens and Brooklyn [ [ Census Profile: NYC's Pakistani American Population] ] . These numbers make Pakistani Americans the fifth largest Asian American group in New York City. Other concentrations of Pakistani Americans are in the Chicago, Houston, and Washington, DC metropolitan areas.

Newly arrived Pakistani immigrants mostly settle in cities such as New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, Houston, Chicago, and Detroit [ PAL-C - Pakistani American Leadership Center ] ] ; the Pakistani American population in New York settle in the New York metropolitan area and Texas is primarily in the Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex & the Greater Houston area. Pakistan is the 12th highest ranked source country for immigration into the United States. [ Pakistan Link - Nayyer Ali ] ] Compared to other heritage groups in the United States, Pakistani Americans are way better educated with 60% holding a bachelors degree or higher professional degrees. . []

States with most Pakistani-Americans

*New York: 70,000
*New Jersey: 30,000
*Illinois: 30,000
*California: 25,000
*Texas: 20,000
*Maryland: 20,000
*Virginia: 20,000
*Florida: 20,000
*Washington DC: 18,000

Cultural profile

Like the terms "Asian American" or "South Asian American", the term "Pakistani American" is also an umbrella label applying to a variety of views, values, lifestyles, and appearances. Although Pakistani Americans retain a high ethnic identity, they are known to assimilate into American culture while at the same time keeping the culture of their ancestors. Pakistani Americans are known to assimilate more easily than many other immigrant groups because they have fewer language barriers (English is widely spoken in Pakistan among professional classes), more educational credentials (immigrants are disproportionately well-educated among Pakistanis), and come from a similarly diverse, relatively tolerant, and multi-ethnic society. Pakistani Americans are well-represented in the fields of medicine, engineering, finance and information technology.

Pakistani Americans have brought Pakistani cuisine to the United States, and Pakistani cuisine has been established as one of the most popular cuisines in the country with hundreds of Pakistani restaurants in each major city and several similar eateries in smaller cities and towns. There are many Pakistani markets and stores in United States. Some of the biggest Pakistani markets are in Chicago, New York City, Washington D.C. and Houston.

Racial classification

Pakistani Americans are currently classified as Asian Americans or Other Americans by the United States Census Bureau. [ [ Data on Race (US Census) ] ] However, according to some, the term Asian American is seen as too broad to correctly define Pakistanis. In 1993, the Arab American Institute proposed that the 2000 US Census make a new Middle Eastern racial category, including Pakistani Americans within it, rather than the currently used Asian American category. Almost all academic sources and geopolitical sources (e.g. UN, WorldBank) define Pakistan as being part of South Asia. Very few sources declare Pakistanis to be Middle Eastern. [Menon, Sridevi. Duke University. "Where is West Asia in Asian America?Asia and the Politics of Space in Asian America." 2004. April 26, 2007. [] ]

Persians, Turks, Arabs, Huns, Greeks, and Mongols have all in one time or another invaded, conquered and settled on what is now the nation of Pakistan, thus giving Pakistan its great ethnic and cultural diversity.cite web| url=| title=PAKISTANI AMERICANS| accessdate=2006-04-10| first=Tinaz| last=Pavri]


Pakistani Americans often keep hold of their native tongues, whether it be Urdu, Punjabi, Sindhi, Pashto, Seraiki, Kashmiri or Balochi.


Most Pakistani Americans are Muslims. Religion figures prominently in the life of Pakistani American families, and the Quran and the teachings of Muhammad serve as the guidelines that Pakistani Muslims are supposed to follow throughout their lives.

The majority of Pakistanis belong to the Sunni sect of Islam, although a significant representation may also be found among the Shi'ite sect. In smaller towns in America where there may not be mosques within easy access, Pakistani Americans make trips to attend the nearest one on major religious holidays and occasions. Pakistani Americans worship at mosques alongside other Muslims who might trace their ancestry to all parts of the Islamic world and to India; there are generally no separate Pakistani American mosques.

Pakistani Americans also participate in and contribute to the larger Islamic community, which includes Arab Americans, African Americans and even many Indian Americans, in America. They are part of the larger community's efforts to educate the country about the ideals of Islam and the teachings of Mohammed. Pakistani Americans have played important roles in the association the Muslim Students of America (MSA), which caters to the needs of Islamic students across the United States.

Although most of Pakistani Americans are Muslims, there are also Hindus, Christians, and Zoroastrians within the community. Pakistani Christians, like Asian Indian Christians, worship at churches all over the country and share in the religious life of the dominant Christian culture in America. Pakistani Hindus mainly share in the religious life of numerous Hindus (including large number of American converts) from various nationalities. Pakistani Hindus are mostly from Karachi. In recent times, Pakistani Zoroastrians (called Parsis) have come to the United States mainly from the cities of Lahore and Karachi. Apart from fellow Pakistanis, they also congregate with Zoroastrian co-religionists from Iran.


Most of the community today lives a comfortable, middle-class and upper-middle-class existence, although there might be some incidence of poverty among newer uneducated immigrants. These immigrants tend to take low-paying jobs involving manual or unskilled labor and tend to live in big cities where such jobs are readily available. Many Pakistani Americans also own their own businesses, including restaurants, groceries, clothing and appliance stores, newspaper booths, and travel agencies. It is common to include members of the extended and immediate family in the business.

The Pakistani-American immigrant community is extremely generous and philanthropic. Research shows that in the year 2002, this community gave near US$ 1 Billion in philanthropy (including value of volunteered time).

An increasing number of Pakistani Americans work in the medical field. The Association of Physicians of Pakistani Descent of North America, called APPNA, has been meeting in various locations across the United States for the past 30 years. There are more than 15,000 doctors practicing medicine in America who are from Pakistani decent. More information can be found at []

Pakistani Americans tend to follow the residence pattern set by other Americans, in that they move to more affluent suburbs as their prosperity increases. Members of the community believe in the symbolic importance of owning homes; accordingly, Pakistani Americans tend to save and make other monetary sacrifices earlier on in order to purchase their own homes as soon as possible.

Members of the family and the larger community tend to take care of each other, and to assist in times of economic need. Hence, it would be more common to turn to a community member for economic assistance rather than to a government agency. Relatively low levels of Pakistani-Americans are on welfare and public assistance.


Muslim immigrants were actively involved, along with their Hindu Indian brethren, in the struggle for residence and citizenship rights in America. Since the second wave of immigration in 1965, the Pakistani American community has not been politically inclined, but this is now changing, with the community starting to contribute funds to their candidates of choice in both parties, and running for elected office in districts with large Pakistani American populations. In recent times, Pakistani American candidates have run for the state senate in districts of such city boroughs as Brooklyn in New York. Because the community is geographically dispersed, the formation of influential voting blocs has not generally been possible, making it difficult to for the community to make an impact on politics in this particular way. However, there are increasing efforts on the part of community leaders to ensure voter registration and involvement.

Pakistani Americans have tended to vote Republicans due to the shared ideology of conservatism and the perceived notion that Republican Presidents and leaders are more pro-Pakistani than Democrats who are seen as pro-Indian. This was evident that during the 2000 Presidential Election, as Pakistani Americans voted in overwhelming numbers for Republican candidate George W. Bush. However, that trend reversed it self in 2004, when Pakistani Americans voted for Democratic candidate John Kerry as due to the perceived policies of George W. Bush.

Khalid Ali is a very well known and well connected political and social activist pakistani American in United States. He has very close ties with all the Major political players in Washington DC.

Relations with Pakistan

Most Pakistani Americans maintain close links with relatives and friends in Pakistan. First-generation Pakistani Americans travel to their native land at least once every few years, and tens of thousands of airplane tickets are sold to Pakistani Americans every year. They often take back to Pakistan gifts of money, food, and clothing for friends and family, and donate generously to charities. Second-generation Pakistani Americans tend to travel to Pakistan less frequently as ties become attenuated. The relationship of the U.S. and Pakistani governments in the past few decades has been very close, and the Pakistani American community has benefited from this American interest in the country of their origin.

Pakistani Americans maintain a deep interest in the society and politics of Pakistan. Funds are raised by the community in America for the different political parties and groups in Pakistan. From all the Pakistani diaspora, Pakistani Americans raised the largest number of funds to help Pakistan due to the 2005 Pakistan earthquake.

Tensions among ethnic groups like the Sindhis, Punjabis, Pashtuns or Baluchis, in Pakistan is not reflected in interaction between these subgroups in America.


Incidents of deliberate overt discrimination against Pakistani Americans are few and far in-between. Any discrimination that exists is primarily in the form of being not so welcoming in social interactions, compared to the treatment received, say, by northern European immigrants who are more readily embraced. Though rare, explicit discrimination is not unknown in the Pakistani American community. Since the September 11, 2001 attacks, there have been scattered incidents of Pakistani Americans having been mistaken targets for hate crimes and Pakistani Americans have to go under more security checks in places such as airports due to their Muslim background.

Awards and Accolades

* Pakistani-American, Police Officer Muzaffar Siddiqi of the Houston Police Department was the recipient of the Top Ten Cop Award recognition in 2003. [ [ NCPA ] ]
* Pakistani-American, Dr. Attique Samdani received the Physician of the Year award in 2004. [ [ NCPA - View Details ] ]

In American popular culture

* Babu Bhatt was a Pakistani immigrant who was befriended by Jerry Seinfeld in the popular 90s sitcom "Seinfeld". He was portrayed somewhat stereotypically as a Pakistani immigrant who was unsuccessful in opening his own restaurant.

* Nadia Yassir, a character on the hit TV show, "24" portraying a fictional Pakistani American. [ [ The Day Is Just Beginning for Marisol Nichols on '24'] ]

* In fall 2007, CW aired a comedy show titled "Aliens in America". The show is about a Wisconsin family that hosts a Pakistani exchange student. [ [,,20058683,00.html TV Review Aliens In America (2007)] ]

Major gatherings

*Pakistan Independence Day parade: The event is held every year around August 14 (the date Pakistan received independence from Great Britain) in New York City.

*APPNA Conference: This event is organized every year by APPNA (Association of Pakistani Physicians in North America). The conference attracts hundreds of Pakistani American physicians and their families from all over North America.

*Pakistan Independence Day Festival of Batterey Park: This is the largest gathering of pakistani american in united states founded by a very well connected politcal and social activist Pakistani American Khalid Ali.

Notable Pakistani Americans


*Saqib Ali is a delegate-elect to the Maryland House of Delegates, having won the right to represent the 39th District in the 2006 elections.cite news|url=,001600060001.htm |title=Indo-Americans make a mark in US polls | publisher=Hindustan Times | date=November 8, 2006 Retrieved December 10, 2006]

*Saghir "Saggy" Tahir serves as a New Hampshire State Representative. He is the only elected Muslim in the Republican Party.cite news|title=US Muslims flex political muscle| author=Barnie Choudhury |publisher=BBC|date=Friday, 23 January, 2004| url= Retrieved on December 25, 2006] In the 2006 elections, he was re-elected for a fourth term to represent Ward 2, District 9 in his home town of Manchester. [cite web|title=Representative Saghir A. Tahir (r)|url=| pulbisher=New Hampshire General Court Retrieved on December 25, 2006]

Business and Finance

* Michael Chowdry (1955-2001), Forbes 400 businessman and the later founder of air cargo company Atlas Air.
* Hammad Siddiqi, Economist and Social Commentator. Received numerous awards in journalism including the Edward F. Tancready Award
* Dr. Mehmood Khan M.D., Chief Scientific Officer of Pepsi Co.
* Ghulab Khan, founder of Ghulab Khan Capital Partners (GKCP) one of the world’s leading venture capital firms based in Silicon Valley.
* Fred Hassan, CEO of Schering-Plough
* Malik Hasan, former CEO of Foundation Health Systems (now known as Health Net)
* Safi Qureshey, former CEO and co-founder of AST Research (a fortune-500 company with revenues in excess of 2.5 billion USD)
* Zia Chisti, founder of the TRG, the world fastest grwoing BPO
* Atiq Raza, Former President of AMD, following their merger with Nexgen where he was Chairman and Chief Executive Officer.


Pakistani Americans have achieved success in many fields, particularly in academia, where they hold positions of respect as faculty members in many prestigious universities. Some of them are:

* An impressive List of Aga Khan University people/ alumni many of whom are faculty at major US universities such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins etc.

*Ayesha Jalal is a MacArthur Fellow and Richardson Professor of History at Tufts University

*Mohammad Asad Khan (1940– ), a geophysicist and educator, is on the faculty of the geophysics and geodesy department at the University of Hawaii. He has also been a visiting scientist at numerous institutions, including NASA's Goddard Space Center.

*Mazhar Ali Khan Malik is a professor of economics and engineering and founder of the Pakistan League of America (PLA).

*Adnan Zaidi , a research scientist and scholar at American University, who devoted his life for science and technology. Technology Award winner.

*Samuel Iftikhar (1923-1991) was an Asian scholar and reference librarian at the Library of Congress, Washington, D.C. for more than 25 years. He worked mainly in the Southern Asian section of the library.

*Samina Quraeshi (1946– ) is the director of design arts at the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) in Washington, D.C. She holds dual Pakistani and American citizenship and is a graduate of the Yale University School of Art and Architecture. She has been a design consultant who has run her own business.

*Akbar S. Ahmed US resident Pakistani anthropologist of global repute.

*Saleem Ali (1973 -) is an accomplished environmental researcher and Associate Dean for Graduate studies at the University of Vermont's Rubenstein School of Natural Resources. He is a popular writer and contributor to publications such as the International Herald Tribune. He has dual American and Pakistani citizenship.

*Mohammad Aslam Khan Khalil is a highly cited physicist.

*Farooq Azam is a highly cited researcher in the field of marine microbiology.

*Abdul Jamil Tajik is a highly cited researcher in medicine.

*Adil Najam Professor of Geography and International Relations and Director of the Pardee Center at Boston University

*Asim Ijaz Khwaja is Associate Professor of Government at Harvard University's Kennedy School

*Atif Mian is Associate Professor of Finance at University of Chicago's Graduate School of Business

Literature and Art

* Shahzia Sikander (born 1969 in Lahore, Pakistan) is a Pakistan-born American artist who specializes in Pakistani, South Asian and Persian miniature painting. She has also created murals, installations, mixed-media works and performance art. She is a 2006 recipient of the MacArthur Fellows Program "genius grant". She currently resides in New York City.

*Kamila Shamsie is an award-winning novelist of books such as Salt and Saffron and Broken Verses

*Rob Asghar is a writer and political commentator. His essays and commentaries have appeared in more than 30 newspapers around the world, including "The Denver Post", "The Wall Street Journal", "Los Angeles Daily News", "Los Angeles Times", "The Philadelphia Inquirer" and "The Japan Times". Asghar has also been a columnist for Creators Syndicate and the "Ashland Daily Tidings".

*Bapsi Sidhwa is a Pakistani novelist and playwright of Parsi-Zoroastrian background who now resides in Texas. Her novel Cracking India (which described the Partition of British colonial India) was the basis for Deepa Mehta's film "Earth" (1998 film).

*Mohsin Hamid is a bestselling author of books such as Moth Smoke and The Reluctant Fundamentalist

Health and Medicine

* An impressive List of Aga Khan University people/ alumni many of whom are faculty at major US universities such as Harvard, Johns Hopkins etc.

* Teepu Siddique Professor of Neurology, Northwestern University

*Dr. Salam Shahidi (1933-1992) was a leading medical researcher in the department of health, New York City. He was also vice-chairman of the Pakistan League of America (PLA) and president of a cultural organization called the National Association of Pakistani Americans.

*Dr. Ahmad Shah is currently the owner and chief veterinarian of Glen Burnie Animal Hospital. He has dramatically changed the corporation's finances and relationships by bringing in more customers and patients than ever before. He is regarded as an esteemed local physician.

*Dr. Muhammad Akhtar is currently the commissioner of Public Health in Washington, D.C., a position he assumed in 1991. He was born in Lahore, Pakistan, and has held important posts in the health departments of the states of Michigan and Missouri during the 1970s and 1980s.

*Dr. Amanullah Khan (1940– ), a physician, served on the faculty of West Pakistan Medical School. He was a fellow in hematology and oncology at the Wadley Institute of Molecular Medicine in Dallas, Texas, between 1966 and 1969, and has been the chair of the department of immunology from 1970. He is the author of several books and has written several articles in scholarly journals in his field.

*Dr. Shafi Bezar, a Manhattan surgeon, is also publisher of the community newspaper Awan, and president of the Pakistan League of America (PLA).

*Dr. Mohammed Sayeed Quraishi (1924– ) holds a doctorate from the University of Massachusetts. He has served as a member of the United Nations WHO team to Bangladesh and has been an entomologist at the Malaria Institute of Pakistan. He has served at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Maryland and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. He is the author of many books and received the Recognition and Appreciation of Special Achievement Award by the National Institute of Health in 1988.

*Dr. Gholam Mujtaba, a New Yorker who served as Adviser to Sindh Chief Minister, Pakistan. He was the General Secretary Karachi University Students Union and a former Member Karachi University Senate & Syndicate. An active member of the Republican National Committee. Education: B.Pharm. (University of Karachi), M.Sc. Pharmacology (King's College, London), M.D.(Georgetown), FRSH(England), FICPS.


*Martin Bashir is the co-anchor of ABC News "Nightline" and is based in New York. Twenty-seven million American viewers tuned in to watch his 2003 documentary "Living with Michael Jackson", which featured exclusive access to the King of Pop and prompted a police investigation of the singer.

*Mansoor Ijaz is a businessman, the founder and chairman of Crescent Investment Management LLC (CIM), a New York investment partnership since 1990 that includes among others Lt Gen James Alan Abrahamson (USAF Ret), former director of President Reagan's Strategic Defense Initiative and the renowned German architect Joachim Hauser. He is also a commentator on Fox News.

*Kamran Pasha is a Hollywood screenwriter and director, most famous for writing the Showtime hit series Sleeper Cell.


There are Urdu radio stations in areas with high Pakistani population. Several cable and satellite providers offer Pakistani channels: GEO, ARY, PTV, and many more. Others have offered Pakistani content for subscription, such as when Pakistan played Australia for the Cricket World Cup in 1999. In July 2005, MTV premiered a spin-off network called MTV Desi which targets South Asian Americans in the U.S. which includes Pakistanis. [MTV DESI [] . Accessed June 8, 2006.] MTV Desi closed operations as part of the shutdown of MTV World in April 2007. [ [ Cable spinoffs feel Viacom squeeze] . Accessed January 10, 2008.]

There are also several famous Pakistanis in the American entertainment scene such as:
*Nadia Ali is a famous songstress best known as a former member of the band iiO. She has worked with many famous DJ's such as Armin Van Buuren.
*Mehreen Jabbar is a famous Director and have recently directed Ramchand Pakistani which is nominated for World Narrative Feature Competition in Tribeca Film Festival in New York
*Bohemia, is a Pakistani American Rapper from the San Francisco. His music has been widely played in the American clubbing scene and a big impact on the streets of America. He has a large underground following and is widely recognized as the pioneer of Desi Hip Hop.
*Salman Ahmad - of the most popular South Asian band Junoon has members from the United States and the founder Salman Ahmad now resides in New York and is a UN Goodwill Ambassador.
*Rubi Nicholas - was voted as America's most funniest mom []


* Commander Muhammad Muzzafar F. Khan became the first Pakistani-American to take command of an operational aviation squadron in the U.S. Navy. He commands the Sea Control "Topcats" Squadron. [ [ Pakistani-American Takes Command of U.S. Aviation Squadron] ]


* M.J Khan - Houston City Council, District F since 12/2003

ee also

* Pakistanis
* Asian Americans
* Pakistani Canadian
* Overseas Pakistani

Notes and references


External links

* [ The Asian Population: 2000 page 8]
* [ Census Profile: New York City’s Pakistani American Population]
* [ PakAlumni: The Global Pakistani-American Social Network]
* []
* [ Pakistani Americans]
* [ Pakistani American Community of Atlanta]
* [ The web home for Pakistanis in North America]
* [ Desi Community] , A Desi Community for all Pakistani Americans.

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