Expat Voices: Jehanzeb Khan on living in the Netherlands

Expat Voices: Jehanzeb Khan on living in the Netherlands

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An initial first 'good impression' quickly sours as Pakistani expat Jehanzeb Khan finds himself in a "paper land" with a growing intolerance and racism.

Name: Jehanzeb Khan
Nationality: Pakistan
City of residence: Zaanstad
Date of birth: 15 February 1961
Civil status: Married
Occupation: Administration
Reason for moving to the Netherlands: There is a proverb in my language:  “when a jackal wants to die, he goes into a village”. Being a journalist in the past, a very big problem was created by my profession with the government, and I left my country and came here.
Lived in the Netherlands for:  almost 11 years, seven of which were wasted in fighting with the legal system over here.


What was your first impression of the Netherlands?

When I came to the Netherlands, I had a very good impression of the country and the people. The people were very friendly; wherever, I went, I was helped and was welcomed. The government policies were humane and fair. The legal system was impartial and economic situation was satisfactory. I was living a modest life and 40 Dutch gulden were enough for my groceries etc. for a week. For a middle class person, it was an ideal situation.  

What do you think of the food?

Being an Asian, the non-spicy Dutch food was a bit hard to swallow in the beginning, but with the passage of time, I got used to it and it is okay now.

What do you think of the shopping in the Netherlands?

I have been in the business for a few years and due to heavy taxes on the seller, shopping in Netherlands is not a good idea. The majority of the shops are selling low grade items at higher prices. For example, I bought Nike joggers at  EUR 125, while the same joggers are available in Pakistan for EUR 2.  Mind you, both are Chinese made. The same goes for clothing, telephones, cosmetics, watches, computers, and other household items which a common man can afford. There is no price control, so one has to search from shop to shop for good bargains. Lies, advertisements and marketing fabricate reality, and facts, in the market.

What do you appreciate about living in the Netherlands?

When I came first, there were a lot of things for appreciation. But with the passage of time, and the changing political situation, they are fading away now.

What do you find most frustrating about living in the Netherlands?

The most frustrating thing in the Netherlands is that they never give you a better opportunity to grow. They will always find an excuse to keep you on the side. From language to integration, job opportunity, schooling, family reunification, housing etc, they always find an excuse to keep you away. That is the reason that highly qualified people are leaving this country day by day. People are becoming partial. Educational institutions, which should be the ground for creating a better society, become racist spring boards.  

Jehanzeb Khan


What puzzles you about the Netherlands and what do you miss since you’ve moved here?

One of the biggest puzzles is why people have become so radical in such a short time? Why people are voting for  politicians who are playing with their sentiments and not solving their problems?  Why people are not understanding that supporting political slogans and a racist agenda, which tear apart countries are not resulting in a happy end. Why people are not considering the ground realities when voting.  

How does the quality of life in the Netherlands compare to the quality of life in other countries that you’ve lived in?

I have traveled to quite a few countries. Honestly, the quality of life for common people in those countries is much better than the quality of life in the Netherlands. There are better opportunities available in those countries. Life is normal and relaxed. There is less bureaucracy and state interference in people’s life. This is a “paper land”.

If you could change anything about the Netherlands, what would it be?

Well, If I would ever be given the chance to change Netherlands, the first thing I'd do would be to remove the terms immigrants and non-immigrants. Anybody who has a Dutch nationality is Dutch, the same as in USA, Australia, and Canada. So the people would be proud of their country and everybody concentrate and work hard to make it a better country as it was. A free country for everybody.  

What advice would you give to a newcomer?
Go back as soon as possible, before it is too late.


Joining Expat Voices

To add your voice to Expat Voices in the Netherlands, simply download the Expat Voices questionnaire via this link and return it by email to editornl@expatica.com . You can choose  to take an Expat Artist, Expat Entrereneur or Expat Writer questionnaire if this is more relevant to your lifestyle.  We'd love to hear what you have to say about life in the Netherlands! 

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3 Comments To This Article

  • jan vd wal posted:

    on 16th February 2011, 18:17:49 - Reply

    I would like to add that comparing the immigrant situation in Canada, the US and Australia on the one hand, and that in Europe on the other, is rather irrelevant and beside the point. The three former countries owe their existence to immigration; regrettably, the indigenous populations, if not completely annihilated, had to pay a dear price for this, but let’s leave that discussion for another occasion. European countries and peoples have cultures, traditions and values rooted in history that go back a millennium. Dutch, English, French, even German people have every right to be proud of their ethnic origins and in that sense make a distinction between “us” and “them”. God knows Pathans and Punjabis are only too proud of their respective ethnicities! European peoples also have every right to expect newcomers to respect this cultural heritage. And they should, if they wish that their progenity in these lands will one day be considered to be as closely connected with the Dutch soil as the people whose ancestors have built this land, its society and economy over the past 2000 years. This is the case today with the descendants of the Portuguese Jews, French Huguenots and the Dutch East Indies. But it takes effort – not in the least on the immigrant’s part.
  • Khalid Ahmed Chaudry posted:

    on 16th February 2011, 14:00:27 - Reply

    Jehanzeb Khan on living in the Netherlands

    I appriciate Mr.Jehanzeb Khan's interview, very well said,brother! I had to laugh on when he answered on the question "reason for moving to Netherlands", his answer was “when a jackal wants to die, he goes into a village" (jab Geedar ki moott aati hay tto wo Gaoon ka Rukh Karta hay, translation in to Urdu).

    I love to 2nd his views,complaints,protest,findings,experiences and at the end when he says "We want our Netherland and our decent,peace loving Dutch society back". And I would add "it's our duty to fights against all sorts of populism and redicalization of our society", we will not let those win, who are trying to ignore the article 1 of our constituiton!!
  • richard posted:

    on 16th February 2011, 13:42:33 - Reply

    Sad to read this but Mr. Khan is focusing on what I would consider one of the biggest problems in Europe today, namely, the reflex to focus on ethnic and religious origins. why do people believe it is important to think that way? [Edited by moderator] it means that someone is not investing the effort to look at someone as an individual but instead as a member of a group only. that can sometimes be like classifying human beings like ants. it's unfortunate. Mr. Khan may agree that the dominant question in Australia, Canada and USA, which he mentioned, are "where are you going?" instead of "where are you from?" The former deals with individual choices, skills and motivation; the latter with factors we cannot control.