Pakistan Exploring Ismaili Female Youths Cultural Studies Essay


There have been numerous studies by west on integration (with the perspective of immigration), but less has found concerning the notion of integration with the cultural dimension, specifically in the area of the local and regional cultural integration considering females into the study, what happened to them when they migrated from there aboriginals? How they integrate themselves in mainstream culture? Keeping the above focus in mind, I endeavored to study with the aim to 'explore how the female youths from Gilgit-Baltistan and Chitral experiences cultural integration in Karachi and how they adapt themselves to their new social, cultural, economical and linguistic environment'? For this study, qualitative method of research was followed and data was collected from eight youths of two RECs in Karachi and few participants from Joint Honorary Waizeen Development Program (JHWDP). Semi structure interview was used as a data collection tool. The information that revealed from the data brings forth the feelings of great efforts, struggle and hardships for the majority of the migrant females-which render the process of integration difficult but can be attainable. Moreover, the findings of this study also disclose that integration is the complex process whereby adaptation into the new conditions of the mainstream culture is desirable, but with their own cultural reflections, which includes socio-cultural norms and values. Great differences exist socially and culturally, some of them serve as the challenges and some serve as the opportunities to the females migrants that includes; language, living style, food and dressing, and festivals/occasions celebrations. Religious diversity is also observed as the result of integration which contributes to the experiences of adaptation into new the culture. An analysis of these finding shows the juxtaposes in seeing and adopting values and norms, each on the basis of their own experiences and perceptions to looking at things-which reflects a clash between what ought to be and what actually is. The analysis of the interviews also reflect the influence of modernity on local people whereby the global values of higher education, family migration and availing opportunities to have better life standards are now in requirement. Integration also provide chance to celebrate diversity in traditions and cultures within the mainstream culture which in turn contributes in the process of settlement for female migrants.

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Furthermore, this study contributes in planning and organizing programs by institutions in order to orient youths with the diversity of traditions and cultures.





In past, a person could easily get what he desired in the place where he lived because their desires were very limited. He could meet his requirements easily but now with the advancement of science and technology the world has turned into a global village and movement from one place to another place has become need of the time. Unlike the people in the past, now a person has become familiar with what happens in any corner of the world. The expansion of population and the growing needs of education and economics have compelled the people to migrate to places of better opportunities especially from rural areas to urban areas. In the old days it was quite inconceivable to be detached from the aboriginal locality and family. Moving away from family was undesirable. However, today, young people, in order to have a better life, are in run of moving to the areas, especially to cities where they can fulfill their desires and can elevate their life standards.

Youth-by definition a certain age group of adolescences which exists between childhood and adulthood (maturity) - where an individual's conceptual understanding, a temper of will power, quality of expression and imagination develops [1] . United Nation defines youth: "as those persons between the ages of 15 and 24 years" [2] . It is a lifetime where an individual could develop him/herself to meet with the growing standards of life for both, him/herself and for their families as well. For this purpose they possibly avail different opportunities that exists in present day.

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Number of people specifically youths in today's world left their own hometowns/native country and moved to another city/country for many reasons which includes; job and education opportunities, better life standards, economic purposes and other availing facilities. In this case/ process one has to shifts or changes not only their physical but also their socio-cultural and environmental settings and move to the very different environment-where they encounter with different cultures and societal norms of the host society/country/city. They try to accept and adapt different cultural aspects and societal dilemmas of that particular migrated society without any preparations. These functions of adaptations, adjustments, and adoptions into new conditions called cultural integration where one has to find his self-confidence and a sense of integral into society.

Traditionally, in Pakistani society it was considered that only a male could go out to earn and a woman could look after her family and household work. Men have always had a final say and women lives what have been told to them they could not live their life as they want. But, today, with the changing world women are beginning to demand their own rights as independent beings. Now as male, females also strive for better opportunities to make themselves well equipped. They move to the place of better prospects where they can achieve their status and move with the growing world.

Numerous studies have been done on gender and migration which includes both the males and females but this study particularly focuses on female youths. Nevertheless, this study explores the experiences of Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral female youths towards cultural integration in the context of Karachi-who move from their hometowns. This study describes the process of integration and it also endowed me with an opportunity to explore the issues and challenges faced by them in the integration process.

This study explores Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral female youth's experiences towards cultural integration in the context of Karachi in order to know their place and their existence within the larger cultural paradigm.


Shia Ismaili Muslims are spread and living worldwide approximately in twenty five Muslim countries. Pakistan is one of the Muslim countries where Ismailis are living in minorities but exists widely in northern and southern Pakistan. Karachi is one of the largest as well as productive cities of Pakistan with the population of over 20 million people. This city is the official center of the Ismailis of Pakistan with the National ITREB-P and the National Council beside this, the AKDN institutions also exists here. It is one of the crowded cities of Pakistan where, people including students, youngsters, adults and whole families even, come to develop themselves educationally, economically and socially from different parts of the country. In this historical city different ethnic groups as well as various religions like Christianity, Hinduism as well as Islam are exists.

The Shia Ismailis is the second largest Sh'i community, after Twelvers or ithna ashr'is have had a huge history. In the course of its long and complex history the Ismailis had been subdivided into a number of sects and groups dating to the 2nd /8th century. Despites of these divisions, persecution, and suppression by powers of dynasties, Ismailis survived and exist in many parts of the Muslim world in present day and have made significant and wonderful contributions in Muslim thoughts and culture. Nizari Ismaili states were destroyed by Mongols in 654AH/1256 CE due to which Ismaili Imams went into hiding for about two centuries and communities were also adopted different disguise of Sunni and Sufis. By 15th CE the Nizari Imams initiated revival mission and literary activities in Anjundan but due to some political uncertainty Nizari Imams moved toward Southern Asia where many people were being converted into Ismailis. Different pirs and da'is (missionaries) were sent to different part of Central Asia and Indian subcontinent to propagated Ismaili mission and convert people in Ismaili under the guidance of Imam of that time. The Ismailis who belong to Central Asian traditions are known as the followers of Pir Nasir Khusraw tradition and Ismaili who belong to Sub continent traditions are known as the followers of Pir Shams and Pir Sadarddin tradition. Nizari Ismailis are being considered as progressive Muslim minorities that have emerged and spread around the world [3] .

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Nevertheless, this study has been carried out with the platform of the Shai Imami Ismaili Tariqah and Religious Education Board (ITREB) which is a religio-academic institution which has a mandate of educating and preaching Ismaili Jamat [4] under the subsequent Mission Statement [5] given by the His Highness Shah Karim al-Hussaini-the 49th hereditary Imam/spiritual leader of Shai Imami Ismaili Muslims across the globe. It is an institute who works and endures with the process of change under the guidance of Hazir Imam according to the time and circumstances.


Beside the background of the thesis, there are some arguments. First, most of the studies have been done on integration internationally, but less possibility has found of seeing integration with cultural dimension especially how local-regional cultures integrated in main stream culture. Secondly, when people live in a society with the differences in cultures, they exhibit a wide range of variations-individually and collectively. They become active performers of their own cultural practices in terms of behaviors, norms and their identities and due to this dilution of their own local cultures veils difficult experiences. Therefore, reduction in cultural differences is arguable in the process of cultural integration. Thirdly, with the contrast to the reduction of cultural differences, cultural contacts among people in a society (mostly due to migration), gives wide chance to share cultural differences under the umbrella of the main culture, where again active members can reinforce their own identities and behaviors. In this regard, the role and nature of cultural integration have been understood nar


Since 2011, being a course participant of Human Resource Development Program II at ITREB-P, I observed that, when people move from their hometowns due to some reasons which includes education, better job opportunities, and family migration, then they adapt themselves in the host society/city. Despite the fact that they have grown into another context- which is much different from where they have come, they adjust and integrate themselves in mainstream culture in order to achieve the purposes for which they have migrated. I also observed that, socially, religiously, economically, and culturally females/women have to strive more than males. Therefore, the main purpose of this study is to highlight female perceptions, their understandings, and experiences regarding cultural dynamics in which they tend to live.

Furthermore, this study contributes to the area of female studies within the context of cultural studies which includes values, customs, and norms because they possess individual identity as a whole and also posses equal position in society. This study also intends to explore the issue of, what happens to them, when they attempt to live in a new culture other than their own cultural context. Therefore, this study describes the female's position in the integration process, how they find themselves as a part of mainstream culture and how they deal with the cultural differences and what hindrance they feel which cause difficulty to them.


The findings of this research will benefit youths to know their place and existence in this [Karachi] culturally diverse society via their experiences and perceptions. The study will benefit my institution (ITREB) because so far this type of study has not been conducted. Its findings will help the institutions in designing new policies, strategies, and organizing the relevant programs keeping the issues and challenges of female youths' views.


Exploring Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral Ismaili female youths' experiences of cultural integration in Karachi


How Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral Ismaili female youths' do experiences cultural integration in Karachi?


What are the possible reasons for the female youth for moving from their hometowns to Karachi?"

What kind of issues/challenges do they face when they encounter with another cultural context?

How do they feel about their religious identity in the context of Karachi?

What kinds of opportunities females exposed during the integration process?



Going back to my thesis topic "Gilgit Balistan and Chitral female youth experiences of cultural integration in Karachi," this particular part proceeds mainly with three things. Firstly, delineation of the notions of integration and culture, which then helps me to understand what cultural integration, is. I then proceed with some general sociological theories of integration which present the insights of different sociologists. Thirdly, I discuss different issues and challenges confronted the females during the integration process.

Writing about culture is quite difficult task while contributing to the study of integration. Firstly, because the term integration is most often used in western context and dealt with international immigrants and secondly, because the meanings of the term 'culture' and 'integration' are remain unclear or one could find multiplicity in their meanings. The aim of writing this chapter is to provide insights about the process of cultural integration from a socio-cultural perspective which require many things to take into the account. Romana Samson quoted in her PhD thesis that; "cultural integration is the process of reorganization caused by social agents who seek to reconstruct an existing societal order on the basis of their specific understandings." [6] 


The notion of 'integration' is not a new one in sociology; it is mostly known as the concept of 1950s and 1960s used in the Cold War period. Paul Hoffmann, who was the director of the Marshall Plan, used this term for the first time as a process whereby states transfer their sovereignties to a supranational center. So, this term used politically to organize the orders and structures of governance [7] .

According to Oxford, learner's dictionary integration means tha

"The act or process of combining two or more things so that they work together" [8] 

Combine (parts) into whole; complete by adding parts; brings or come into equal membership of society.

Four other meanings of integration below refer integration as a process;

The process of relating single elements to one another and out of these, forming a new structure,

Adding single elements or partial structures to an existing structure, to form an interconnected whole

Maintaining or improving relations within a system or structure,

The stability of relations among parts within a system-like whole, the borders of which clearly separate it from its environment [9] 

The above mention definitions could apply to any area of study. Therefore, integration as a concept may be defined as, the constancy in relations among various parts within a system or by specifying elements which made any system or any structure more concrete.

From a sociological perspective, Integration can be seen as a definite social system with stable relations and can be viewed as a process- which strengthens relationships within a social system, and introduce new actors and groups into the system and its institutions [10] . However, scholars have arranged some definitions to the term 'integration'.

It is also understood as, "the process of inclusion of immigrants in the institutions and relation of the host society" [11] .

Bosswick W. And Heckmann F, (2006) refers integration; as the procedure of linking single elements to one another and, out of these, forming a new association; adding single elements or part of the structure to the existing structure, to form an interrelated whole; improving relations within a system or structure.

William Wallace defines integration as "the creation and maintenance of intense and diversified patterns of interaction among previously autonomous units" (Wallace, 1999:9).

In addition, the Heckmann and Schnapper referred integration, as the insertion of new inhabitants into existing societal structures of the immigration nation. [12] 

Henceforth, I sum up to say that; integration may be defined as the process whereby the new patterns and elements incorporated into the existing system which undergo by the condition of strengthening relationships among the new and old patterns and make it as whole. Alternatively, it means to bring people from different ethnic and racial backgrounds into an equal relationship in a society or organization which said to be integrated.

Regardless of above mentioned definitions, there is no one specific and accepted definition of the term integration, because it means many different things to different people and there is a doubt found by authors in defining integration whether as a condition, or as a process or combination of both. However, some sociologists have tried to come up with some explanations of what is integration. These include Emile Durkheim (1951), Lockwood (1964), and Talcott Parsons (1951).


Integration in view of Durkheim (1951) is, "the coordination or interconnection of various parts, including the individuals and groups of the social system in an effective manner." He focuses on principles in the explanation of integration with the onset of modernity. He believes morality help in the determination of social integration. In addition, that socialization has seen as a tool for societal integration.

Following with Lockwood, he says; Social integration refers to the inclusion of individuals in a system, the creation of relationships among individuals and their attitudes towards the society. It is the result of the conscious and motivated interaction and cooperation of individuals and groups. Whereas, Parsons (1951) believes that only the social system can maintain its balance, if its basic functions works in order; that is social goals have to be set up prior through the AGIL (adaption goal, attainment, integration and latency) scheme.

He was more interested in a social order where Rizter referred it as "a complex set of activities directed towards meeting a need or the need of the system" (Rizter 2000:33). Further, he says; that integration is the mode of relation among the units of a system whereby on the one hand they act collectively in order to avoid disruption and on the other hand promotes unity in its functioning. [13] 

However, while examining different views about the term integration, it is then realized that, it is a process in which all the social groups share their social, economical, and cultural life in order to develop a society or a system and perform the function of integration. When people migrated from different places; nationally or internationally, it do not only change the size and composition of a nation but it also affected the people it selves. They react in adopting and adapting the socio-cultural aspects of the host society. This form of behaviors has been termed as 'cultural integration' by sociologists. Without defining the term culture, we will unable to understand what cultural integration is that's why let's explored what culture is.


The term culture is very diffuse one because it is very much broader in its concept. Therefore, it is difficult to present one precise definition. However, different authors have tried to define it and come up with definitions what they consider as culture is. Culture is defined in Oxford dictionary as "the ideas, customs, and social behavior of a particular person or society", "the attitudes and behavior characteristic of a particular social group" [14] .

According to Tylor; "Culture has taken, in its wide ethnographic sense is that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, morals, law, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of society" (Tylor, 1871),

According to the Clyde Kluckhomn culture is defined as, "the total way of life of a person." "The social legacy an individual acquires from his group", "a way of thinking, feeling, and believing", "An abstraction from behavior" or "learned behavior"; "a mechanism for the normative regulation of behavior"; "a set of techniques for adjusting both to the external environment and with other men"; "a precipitate of history" (Cited in Geertz, 1973)

Geertz saw culture as "an acted document" Geertz (1973:10), he further explains that 'culture is public' which means there is something which explains specific meanings or system of meanings. For example; colors in paintings, phonetic in speech or romance in music.

Furthermore, he says, Culture is something which exists outside us; it is not something which exists into the heads by birth. It makes its ways into us through our senses-as we grow up, we learn different things from our home environment and from our society outside like; what particular kind of dress to wear or which particular actions are good or bad or what word or attitude is appropriate in what situation.

As Giddens, referred culture, to be "the way of life of the members of the society" or "of groups within a society" (Giddens, 2002:22). It includes; all learned behaviors and patterns of life. Therefore, according to Giddens, culture is inherited which comprises of tangible and intangible aspects of life which includes symbols, technology, ideas, beliefs and values.

However, in my views culture may be defined as 'way of life' or 'patterns to live life' which constructs socially whereby an individual or a group of people/community/society tends to look at many different things collectively which gives meanings to them to live.

Thus, the term culture is much diffused one- in a way that there is no specific meaning or description that one could found to define it. However, in a very general sense it could be defined as 'way of life'. Moreover, it can be described as the elements of human existence which passes through one generation to another with the product of intellect and memories.

Nevertheless, when people move from one place to another, they carry their own cultural insights along with themselves. In this process of movement and change to another place a person has to accept and adapt different socio-cultural aspects (of where he moves) and make him integrated into new conditions. This function of adaptation, adjustment and adoption into new conditions where a person finds a sense of integral into the society is called cultural integration.


Likewise, integration, it is difficult to define cultural integration through one specific definition. Because it is an open-ended process by which social agents/actors reconstructs societal orders/norms based on their own specific understandings to react to situations. [15] 

Many authors have tried to define cultural integration in their own domain of study. Like Zwingie, E (1999) Of the National Geography of global interactions; defines cultural integration as; "the process where the issues of class, gender, race, and ethnicity are denoted simply by what brand of clothing we wear, by what we live, by what music we listen to and what cultural events we attend".

Heckmann and Schnapper (2003:10) defined cultural integration as "a precondition of participation and refers to social processes of cognitive, cultural, behavioral and attitudinal changes of persons". He further says; it is an interactive and mutual process that brings changes to the receiving society as well.

In addition, bailey (2009) says, the interrelationship among the various components of culture which include its elements and sub systems of a cultural system is said to be cultural integration.

Therefore, it could be said that various parts of culture is mutally interdependent and consistent which is a precondition to participate where an individual can reconstruct social order based on their own understandings and experiences.


Michel Page (1992) illustrates three types of (primarily cultural) integration: the Multiple-cultural areas, the common-cultural areas and the private-public areas. He says that; in the first instance, various ethnic groups "occupy a suitable portion of the cultural area left vacant by the majority ethnic culture." In the second case of "common-cultural areas," minority ethnic groups do not occupy separate areas; rather, the minority and majority groups occupy the entire space and in the third case of "private-public areas," Page argues that no particular ethnic group can enjoy protection or autonomy.

Henceforth, after examining various views, in my opinion cultural integration may regard as a situation whereby migrants from one culture are willing to learn about the dominant or host culture and adapt their own selves accordingly but have had their own cultural reflections. It can be understood as a process of change through which change in certain elements brings the change in others which can perceive over time which has the influence of positions, locations, and wishes of individuals from different ethnic backgrounds. Therefore, in this respect, an individual's cognitive, behavioral, social, and attitudinal change can also occur.

Nevertheless, sociologists have been studying cultural integration and its patterns since the 19th century. Numerous studies have been done in the context of the west and in the subjects of Economics and Politics, Therefore, stating one single definition of integration is quiet difficult. In sociology, the authors have used two different other terms synonymous to integration that are; assimilation and acculturation. Let explore these terms.


Assimilation as the first term before the term integration came into existence and has dominant in sociology for most of the 20th century. Assimilation is defined as "a process in which formerly distinct and separate groups come to share a common culture and merge together socially. As a society undergoes assimilation, differences among groups decrease. [16] 

Park and Burgess (1924:735) define it as "a process of interpenetration and fusion in which persons and groups acquire the memories, sentiments, and attitude of other persons or groups; and, by sharing their experience and history, are incorporated with them in a common cultural life." It is to say that assimilation refers to a process whereby an individual or group belonging from one cultural context are intend to adopt the elements of another cultural context.

In this regard Algan, Bisin, and Verdier (2012:2-3) presented three features of assimilation approach; they say; Firstly, through natural process when diverse groups come to share a common culture through they have the same access to socioeconomic opportunities as natives of the host country. Secondly, when an original cultural and behavioral pattern disappears into new one and thirdly, when this process moves inevitably and irreversibly towards assimilation.

Hence, I sum up to say that, assimilation is a complete process where immigrants are expected to fuse into the mainstream culture through socio-cultural and economic integration.


Sociologically the term acculturation is also used synonymously to integration. However, it is a phenomena of first hand contact among different individuals coming from different cultural backgrounds which in turns bring subsequent changes in the original culture of either or both (Amer, 2005: 5-6).

Similarly, Gillin and Raimy (1940:371) refer to acculturation as; "those processes whereby culture of a society is modified as the result of contact with the culture of action."

According to Culhane, (2004) when an individual or group undergo through the process of acculturation it experience one or all of the four dimensions of acculturation such as integration, assimilation, separation, and marginalization. Separation is when individuals become alienated toward the host culture and separate themselves from the main society. They mainly prefer to socialize with persons from their own culture. Marginalization is when individuals become alienated toward both; their own and the host cultures. Integration and assimilation have already been discussed above.

Hence, it is to say that acculturation is a process whereby an individual or group of individual intent to adapt the new conditions/patterns in order to live.


Besides the above mentioned theoretical framework of cultural integration, this particular part focuses on the challenges which confronted to the people during the integration process.

Integration is understood as a 'complex' process which could not only occur internationally. It is a multifaceted process which may occur nationally. People from different backgrounds when moves or migrate whether nationally or internationally they undergo with the process of settlement and change which followed by integration. Few challenges are being discussed below:

The first challenge which many of people have confronted is culture. Because they have grown up in different cultural context and they have to make themselves adjust to the dominant culture of the host society with keeping the sensitivities of their own cultural values in view. In this case, they find themselves with double or cultural disaffiliation; that is of their culture of origin and dominant culture.

Language and education are key driving forces of integration. People with less educational background and poor command on language face difficulties in moving forward with time.

Migrants' social, traditional, and cultural background differ significantly with the situations occur in the host society. They have to negotiate with their own restricted traditional and cultural norms and then they have to come with divergent patterns of the host society. This causes the feelings of isolation and social exclusion.

Communication is another driving element of the integration. Due to the excessive use of native language, migrants often face difficulty in communicating with others in the host society. Communication skills determine once ability to interact. Therefore, emphasis should be given to learn the skills in order to integrate selves into the host society.

Thus, in my opinion, cultural integration may be considered as a situation or process of temporary and permanent shift, whereby a group of individuals from different cultural backgrounds migrated to another place/city/country are willing to learn and adapt the cultural aspects, ideas, behaviors, and social dilemmas of the host society and have had their own cultural reflections.

Keeping my thesis topic in mind, I came across with three types of problems while studying integration: first, there is no clear distinction or clear definition propose to the term culture with its relationship to the term integration. This is the underpinning relationship with the explanation of the notion of culture and integration both.

Second culture integration is almost never discussed from local-regional perspective within the context of internal migration of any nation.

Third, going back to my topic of the thesis, few works have been done on women's integration into the new society/city/country but all of them have been done in the context of western immigrations.



This chapter presents the methodology used for this study and also describes the process through which the study was conducted. The rationale for choosing this research design for this study is discussed in the beginning. Moreover, brief description of research site, sampling, participants' profile, data generation tools, data analysis procedures, prior negotiations, the ethical considerations and challenges/limitations of the study are discussed.


Qualitative research methodology was chosen for this study in order to have in-depth understanding and knowledge about the research topic. It allows me to explore the experiences and perceptions of female youths about cultural integration in Karachi. It helps me to identify the non-verbal clues of respondents and it is best suited methodology to inquire this kind of study. As Mertens (1998) says: "Qualitative methods are used in research that is designed to provide an in-depth description of a specific program, practice, or setting" (p. 59).

This present study significantly dealt with 'Wh' questions in order to know people's perceptions and views too. The focus of the study was on the exploration of female's experiences and perceptions that is why this qualitative research paradigm was appropriate in order to understand and interpret respondents' views which was explained differently from one another. Moreover, this study aimed in generating an amount of knowledge. It is said by Mason (2002), that in qualitative research, knowledge is constructed by exploring and interpreting the experiences, feelings, words, concepts of people in a social context, by asking and observing them.

In addition, qualitative method of inquiry was well suited for this study because it allows in-depth investigation through interaction with the respondents, listening to them, that what they are saying and then do probing to extract what actually they mean. Its main purpose is to provide an in-depth understanding and investigations of the social phenomenon, the feelings and perceptions of people and of a human experience (Lodico, Spaulding, and Voegtle,Litchman, 2006). Therefore, this methodology helps in understanding the process of inquiry in the broadest possible terms.



This research study is focused on one case of particular phenomenon in order to get and view the experiences, events and process from particular instance. As Patton (2002) says, Cases can be individuals, groups, neighborhoods, programs, organizations, cultures, regions, or national states. The case study approach provided me a chance to deal with complexities and will give sufficient information. In this research migrants form Gilgit Balistan and Chitral was in case, especially the migrant female youths rather than whole youths. This approach helped me to unravel the non-verbal part of the inquiries which was inquired in the study. Therefore, it was intended to have a better understanding of one particular case rather than generalization of other aspects (Stake, 2005).


There is a huge diversity among the jamats of Karachi with multi living profile, therefore, samples were undertaken keeping the diversity and living profile in views. This study was focused on Ismaili female youths who came from the Northern areas and Chitral to Karachi for certain purposes. They were in the required age group i.e. from 18-29 and the sample of responding figured about 8-10 from the RECs of the two respective Jama't Khanas that is, Metrovil and Garden Jama't and few of the sample participants were from Joint Honorary Waizeen Development Program (JHWDP).


Participants in the sampling met with the criteria of the study. All were in the age range of youth which is from 18-29. All were selected on the basis of their demographic and cultural characteristics. All of them belong to the Gilgit Balistan and Chitral regions of Pakistan with different cultural backgrounds. All of them were educated in their own specific fields. Five out of eight participants were students-studying in colleges and universities. Two out of eight were married and taking care of their families. One out of eight was a working woman and worked as a quality assurance officer.

Furthermore, five out of eight participants have been living in Karachi for 3-5 years. One out eight has been living in Karachi since 12 years and one out eight born in Karachi.


The data received from participants is a foundation for any research study. As Creswell (1998) says, "the backbone of qualitative research is extensive collection of data from multiple sources of information" (p.19). Therefore, the technique on which the study was based is primarily associated with qualitative method which includes interviews (semi-structure interviews) and field notes during interviews.


This research study was conducted through interviews from youths which were based on semi-structured pattern because interviews are one of the important tools to know and understand people's view, behaviors, their attitude, and perceptions. According to Gray (2004), an interview is the best method for collection of data for explorative studies.

In addition, semi structure interviews provide a systematic approach to gather detailed information about the specific topic (Creswell, 1998). For this study semi structure interviews proved to be a better data collection tool which allowed me to ask different open-ended questions with in-depth probing which provides the elaborations, clarifications, experiences and perceptions from interviewees (Hitchcock and Huges, 1993; May, 1993). Interviews and discussions with respondents were recorded for further validation of data as it is the main source of data. Nevertheless, the recordings were done with the permissions of research participants.


All collected data either interviews, discussions or notes were transcribe, codify, review, and interpret accordingly. Merriam (1998) says, "Data analysis is a process of making sense out of the data" (p.192). The conducted interviews were then transcribed and revised on daily basis and it was quite helpful activity because it gives chance to arrange them in a proper and systematic way. As data analysis process begins from the first day of data collection process (Silverman, 2005).

In addition, coding helped me to chalk out the key identified themes which can further interpret and discussed in detailed.


Data transcription was the time consuming process which requires extra efforts ensure proper validation of data. An Interviews transcription process begins from the very day of recording. The interviews were recorded through Mp3 and later transcribed word to word on computer with the addition of field notes. This procedure took almost 10-12 hours mean to transcribe one interview- it takes almost one to two hours. This whole procedure found to be exhausting sometimes but timely transcription save time and avoid inconveniences in conducting further steps. Language proves to be a challenge for me because all interviews were in Urdu and transcribing them into English was one of the challenging tasks.


In order to get the clear picture of collected data, coding is another affecting tool. Coding includes whole process of reading, re-reading and then sorting out the related themes. Coding means sorting of data so that material bearing on the given topic can be physically separated from other data (Bogdan and Biklen, 1998). Different letters were used to identify the key themes. To make up the major themes for thesis similar patterns were merged and brought together. I used acronyms to highlight the findings from interviews transcriptions which helped me to identify possible themes. All identified themes were rechecked again for further validation.


Prior permissions and consensus were taken into the consideration in order to ensure the confidentiality of the collected data and its findings. For this purpose, consent form was designed. As Fraenkel (2006) has clearly said; "Ensuring that no one else has an access to the data other than perhaps a researcher, research participant and supervisor of the study (p.58)". Therefore, ethical consideration is very necessary in order to carry out the research study.

Participants were selected on the basis of their voluntary informed consent. Prior to investigation consensus were taken from them which covers that; participants should be informed about the topic, its purpose, nature and their participation in the study would be voluntary and they can leave anytime if they find risk for themselves.

I selected my participants by seeking their voluntary informed consent. Informed consent covers two aspects; firstly the research participants should be fully informed about the topic,

Furthermore, permissions were also taken from my immediate institution that is Tariqah and Religious Education Board for Pakistan and also from Regional Board and Local Boards of Karachi.


During the whole process, I faced some challenges or I can say some limitations were there in order to carry out the study. Firstly, much time was spent on negotiations because there is a proper system and a network of institutions which require proper negotiations and formalities from National to Local.

Secondly, time constrains was another challenge. Inadequate time left with the data collection which affected on the numbers of samples. Thirdly, the political circumstances were also one of the crucial challenges. Due to unstable law and order situations in Karachi, targeted days for particular site was greatly affected.



This chapter presents findings and analysis of data taken through semi-structured interviews from eight respondents Following themes emerge from the available data:


While exploring about the cultural integration in the context of Karachi the following reasons/factors found due to which the female youth migrate from their home towns to Karachi.


Respondents expressed their intense conviction towards higher education. They think that a good education is the key source of success in life and this is the foremost reason to migrate towards urban areas particularly in Karachi. The majority of the respondents expressed their views that they have migrated because they wanted to continue their studies or wanted to study further in order to have better life standards. One of the respondents said:

It is very much necessary to have good education. Till today, in some families in our areas/context females are asked to marry after their intermediate or graduation which I think is not appropriate. We should have been given the chance for higher education.

The majority of the female respondents thinks education is an opportunity for them but getting education in urban setting found as a challenge by some of them, because urban setting have trends of co-education especially in higher/degree education-by which the Gligit Baltistan and Chitral females have exposed less. It was also found that females faced discrimination and biases due to the different ethnic and cultural backgrounds which is one of the major challenges. One of the respondents said that: "I was the only female in my class which leads to frustrations; because my classmates often thought that I am weaker than them".


Intermarriage is another factor of migration. Generally marrying with a man of the same culture is more preferable and appropriate in all traditions. Two of the respondents, who belonged to Gilgit Baltistan got married in Khoja Ismaili community in Karachi, despite the fact that their ethnic, cultural, contextual backgrounds are totally different. Upon exploration, one of the respondents argued that,

I never think to marry outside of my ethnic/traditional setting because I grown up into a very different culture. My living style which includes; my eating habits, my way of dressing, were entirely different from here [Karachi].

In this manner respondents expressed differences between ethnic/traditional settings through social adjustments of their lives.


It is generally said that males are the basic source of income for the family. When a family does not have minimum source of earning, the male member of the family move to places of maximum source of earning (with or without his family) so he can give better standard of living to the whole family. The non availability of opportunities in rural setting is the major factor of family migration. These opportunities include; education, better living standards, health facilities and better earning/job opportunities. One of the respondents said: "owning a piece of land is not enough to live along with growing standards of the world, my father moves so he can upgrade his and his family life. In the contrast, to the general thought of male are the source of earning, it was found that some of the female youths migrates to Karachi because their relatives or family members already live in Karachi for long time, and they migrated to support their family in terms of looking after kids, and for other domestic matters. One of the respondents said:

One of my sisters have had heart surgery here and she lived with my other sister, which had her wedding in village that's why I had been called to take care of my sister.


Integration is the 'complex' process which undergoes with the process of settlement and change and whereby migrants expect to adapt themselves into the mainstream culture through socio cultural and economic integration which hinder different challenges. This is discussed below through respondents' perspectives;


When people move from one place to another place they adjust themselves in the culture where they tend to live. The majority of participants' shared their feelings of joy being a part of the diverse Ismaili Jamat present in Karachi. They feel good, comfortable, and easy. One of the participants says that, "it feels good, in terms of learning about a new culture. It does not seem that we are different people from others. Yet we have some cultural differences but still it is good". In spite of the positive feelings of the respondents, few of them express disparity, who lives in hostels- face difficulties due the cultural differences. One of the respondents said that; "I sit alone for having my meal instead of joint meal because in my hostel girls used to live individually although we lived in one room." This is contrast to joint meal in respondent's own culture. Differences do exists which, some of the respondents took as a challenge and some of the respondents took as an opportunity, which are discussed below. Like learning about a new culture is an opportunity.

Language differences:

The first difficulty which females come across in the urban life of Karachi is language. Language is the major tool of communication in everyday life. It determines individual's capacity and ability to interact. Females face difficulties in interactions with others because they are used to speaking their own local/native languages and not much familiar with Urdu or English. In addition, body language and physical interactions (body language) also sometimes cause misunderstandings among people of different cultures. Majority of the respondents expressed their views that language serve as the challenge for them, while two of the respondents said that; "learning language is the opportunity for us because it helps in interactions with others and in expressing our thoughts and ideas clearly." In respondents' views learning a language helps to communicate well, they can convey different messages, and easily helps in co-ordination with others. So language plays a significant role in the adaptation or adjustment into a new culture.

Living style and Food:

This is the universal and natural fact that living styles vary from place to place. Urban living style is different from rural living styles. Some people tend to lives in joint families while other prefers to live with immediate family. Usually here [Karachi] has colony system- comprising of numbers of homes, where mix sects or somewhere, people belong from one sect lives. Upon exploration, respondents said, that they face difficulties in terms of housing, food, and security. The majority of respondents said that; "while integrating into this culture, initially we face difficulty with our eating habits. We cannot easily eat fast food items, but we got adjust as time passes." One of the respondents said; "Initially, I could not eat spicy foods here but now I can eat all foods like pani puri, chat, and gol ghappy". Another respondent said; "When we migrate here [Karachi] initially we face difficulty in housing. We could not easily found a house of our needs and in our set budget."


Like, language, dressing also conveys certain attitude and behaviors which reflects cultural backgrounds. It has great impact on people around us. People often pass comments and make views based on appearance and clothes. Proper and appropriate dressing has a great relation with socio-cultural norms and values in the views of respondents. According to respondents' own contexts (both in Gligit Baltistan and Chitral), they are used to as well as forced to put dupatta on their heads but when they move to urban setting they find diversity in clothing style and they see many females even, not covering their heads, there, sometimes they face difficulty and find this change as a challage for them. One of the respondents said;

As a village-girl we used to cover our heads or have our dupatta along with. But while integrating here [Karachi] if I always cover head my colleagues/fellows comments "kia dadi amma bani phirti ho" and if I do not cover then I have to listen our local people talks that I forget my cultural values and norms here.

Majority of the respondents expresses this as dilemma of being in between tradition and modernity. In addition dressing style also reflects the culture of a particular place. Like old people (including males and females) of Chitral usually wear their traditional caps. But here [Karachi] trends of clothing are very much mutable with time that is why, the females face difficulty in adapting trends of clothing here.

Festival/occasion celebration:

A part from religious festivals and occasions, there is a great variation in celebrating festivals and occasions between southern and northern areas of Pakistan. Greetz (1993) refers, festivals as "historically transmitted" patterns which embodied with different meanings and presented through symbols (p. 89) and are one of the expressions of culture.

People of Gilgit Blatistan celebrate their local festivals and occasions which they do not celebrate here in south while integrating themselves here [Karachi] because they are confine with resources and space. Festivals/occasion like; on 23rd dec of every year they celebrate "thomshelling" which has a long history behind that, on 1st november of every year they celebrate "independence day of Giligit". In puniyal region of Gilgit people celebrate agricultural festival on the cutting of wheat which called "shishogaod." Another festival is celebrated in start of winter in November called "dumankhai." Traditional foods are being prepared at home and shared among relatives and friends. However, here in south especially among Ismaili Jama'ts, do not have such local festivals to celebrate. The majority of the respondents expressed the feeling of isolation and separation while integrating into mainstream culture because living in totally different culture/context cannot allow them to celebrate their own local festivals as they celebrated in their own cultural context.


Cultural integration cannot seek without social adjustments. Social adjustment is very broad and complex phenomena. These also require homogeneity in social relations which promote harmonious interactions among people. Social adjustments found as a challenge for regional migrants because it requires a lot of changes.

2.2.1 Difference in Social norms and values

Value system and norms varies from culture to culture, and from people to people. Great differences were found upon exploration; what differences respondents saw between two cultures i.e. of south and north. Majority of the respondents gave apologetic remarks. They said:

we are very hospitable we would be happy if we received guests at our home, we greet everyone, it is not the matter of concern whether we know them or not, we live with simplicity, joint family systems/bonds and harmony in families are very appreciable.

However, here [in Karachi even among Ismailis] this is not the same case. Contrast remarks were received upon inquiry, that why do you think is not the same case here? They said people are very much secularized and social here-they are busy in their lives. They do not find much time for themselves to share their feelings amongst themselves.

Hence, these different types of expressions and experiences were found upon exploration and almost all of the female respondents expressed these distinctions of sharing and concerns, somewhere as a challenge for them and somewhere as a change to adapt. As Zwingie, E (1999) defines cultural integration as; "the process where the issues of class, gender, race, and ethnicity are denoted simply by what brand of clothing we wear, by what we live, by what music we listen to and what cultural events we attend". These all factors have a great impact in the integration process.


Two main religious traditions exist among the Ismaili community of Pakistan i.e. Central Asian Tradition (based on the teachings of Nasir Khusraw) and Southern Tradition (based on the teachings of Pir Sadraddin & Pir Shams). Although there is a great diversity found in the religious traditions within the Ismaili communities and Ismailis living all around the world are different from each other, yet, they practice their faith under the guidance of living Imam and institutions. One of the respondents said,

We do not have any ideas of their [Khoja Ismailis] religious ceremonies like, there Majalis, because in Gilgit Baltistan, we just go to jama't khana to offer prayers. I do not understand and even do not have enough knowledge about it-whether to attend Majalis or not? Because in our tradition, we had not been given these Majalis.

In contrast, they [GB and Chitral] do have mehfils of zikar and dawatei in which people gather and do zikar (remembrance of God) - but this mehfils are not Jama't Khana based, they organize these sort of mehfils at home. Like one of the respondents said:

Since I have grown, I saw my ancestors practicing these dawats and mehfils of zikar. In which we often do shab bedari collectively means we recite tasbihat and qaseeda whole night and even do fast which proclaims dedication towards God.

In addition, Khoja Ismailis have tradition of reciting ginans [17] and people from [GB and Chitral] have tradition of reciting qaseeda [18] . These ginans present mostly, in Gujrati language which [GB and Chitral] females are unable to understand and some of the respondents take this difference as a challenge. Two of the participants said that, "they do not understand when ginans are being recited in Jam'at Khana." Hence, this ponder expression of feelings came due to the religious traditional differences between the southern and northern Ismailis.

Inspite of these differences, alternative and amazed expression of comfort, was conveyed by the majority of respondents towards practicing religion (their faith) here among Ismailis when it was asked that how they feel while practicing their faith here? They said that; 'they feel good, comfort and easy in practicing faith here, while some express the feelings of confusion when the concept and tradition of Majalis and Ginans comes in.'

Rites and ceremonial difference:

With respect to religious practices which are performed within the Jamat Khana premises, participants were enough comfortable. One of the respondents said that, "There are no such differences in practices found in both traditions. Chitral and Karachi are having same practices of Dua, Farameen, Ab-e-Shifa and Qaseeda/ginans." Yet, with regard to some ceremonies which are celebrated outside of the Jama't Khana premises some of the respondents highlighted differences in ceremonies and its way of performing. Like one of the respondents said that;

There is a difference exists between practicing death ceremonies here [Karachi] among Ismailis and there [GB and Chitral]. We practice chirag-roshan after 2nd or 3rd day of one's death and here death ceremony followed by Ziyarat and Dua which has enough difference in their ways of performing.

Another factor, which defines difference between the practices, is the recitation of ginans and qasaeed. One of the respondents said; "I like very much when qasaeed are being encouraged here interms; that people learn and recite although this is not their part of tradition." In the contrast, one of the respondents expressed this as a problem, she said; "There is no such regular practice of qaseeda recitation in Jama't Khana, I hear it once in a month.", and when it was asked that what she think why this difference exist? She replied contritely, 'that may be due to the minority of local people.' Hence, it is to say that, rites and ceremonies are the ways and expressions of practicing religion which differs from traditions to traditions.


Women/female is the central figure of this study. In eastern culture, still it is a general mindset that women could only made to do household work, taking care of her kids and man goes out to work. Likewise, the formulations of social, religious, and cultural traditions are also men made which affected their lives. Role of women in rural and urban setting is quite different from each other. In urban areas women have more participation and contribution in social, religious, political and economic activities as compared to rural areas. Moreover, women of Ismaili community especially in Karachi are pretty active in social, religious and other field of lives. They expressed that, this factor cause frustrations among females from [GB and Chitral] and it also reflect on their role in their context. One of the respondents said;

Women are much empowered here; especially in performing ceremonies either social or religious. Like in Chitral, women are not so empowered. Here gathering and functions are being organized for both males and females but there in Chitral mostly males organize and enjoy these gatherings and functions.

Hence, these were the some socio-cultural and religious challenges which female youths from Gilgit Baltistan and Chitral faced while integrating themselves in mainstream culture in Karachi.



Patterns of Integration:

The experiences shared by respondents' exhibits two different patterns of integration which reflected through the process of migration namely; temporary and permanent migration. Temporary migration can be regarded as timely migration in which people move from their hometowns to attain certain goals or upgrade their living standard. In this case, they integrated themselves well but they also retain with their own cultures. In contrast, permanent migration can be regarded as permanent shifts of either family or individual in order to have better life standards, to walk with growing standards of world, to make their own selves well equipped socially, educationally, and economically. This shift requires integration as whole and people are willing to learn and adapt new culture.

Juncture of Socio-Cultural values:

The experiences and perceptions from females about integration process leads to the reflection of the socio-cultural values which again depend upon the extent of integration. I found two comparative discourses. It is juxtaposes of seeing and adopting values and norms, each on the basis of their own experiences and perceptions of looking at the things-which reflects a disagreement between what ought to be and what actually is. It also reflects conflict between of being modern or traditional which impact on soci