Karachi roads may be filled with young couples from local colleges enjoying joyrides. Pakistani single maybe open to dating muslims of the subcontinent. Pakistani immigrants to England maybe dating their female counterparts or even foreigners. Some non-resident Pakistanis maybe exporting young Pakistani women from their home lands in semi-arranged marriages. Pakistanis in Europe and America may also be dating other South Asian women like Indian muslims. But dating in Pakistan for the average Pakistani single is a misnomer.
This is because Pakistani social life revolves around family and kin. Family provides identity and protection to the individual and hence individuals live together with their family in an arrangement called the joint family. Descent is through patrilineage or male kinship called as Biradari. The Biradari is an important consideration for marriage and romantic attachments have litlle role to play in a marriage which is an arrangement of relationships between the Biradari.
Marriage is an important social duty to participate in society. Social ties are defined by having sons and daughters to marry away or welcome into the Biradari. Property is preserved by marital relations between families. A wife gains status and power if she bears sons who will bring dowry. Daughters are a liability, to be given away in an expensive marriage. Therefore, the odds are against women in such a society.
These gender relations and societal arrangements are heavily poised against dating in Pakistan. The women of Pakistan are faced against the draconian laws and customs like Karo Kari. In the rural areas, women live very much like the slaves subject to the males, the fathers, brothers and husbands.They do not have the right to decide about themselves. Male family members are the keepers of "family honour" and monitor the behaviour of their women. If women violate this family honour they may be put to death. Karo Kari is a form of such honour killing. In the year 2000, 286 women were murdered in the name of family honour by the male family members.
Many of the cases of Karo Kari are related to love marriage. Dating in Pakistan is frowned upon as it violates family honour. Most women in Pakistan are not allowed to marry a person of their choice. But this is a case mostly in rural areas and urban educated women are better off. In sum, dating Pakistan is a distant reality for young Pakistanis and a Pakistani single has a bumpy ride if he chooses it.
Some enlightened Clerics appalled at the violence against women and rising cases of divorces warn young woman while choosing their partners. A Pakistani single has an alternative path. Without violating Islam's prohibition about being alone with the prospective partner, the woman is encouraged to try to understand his nature, what makes him tick, his temperament, and what he might be like to live with. Enquiries must be made with his friends and relatives. She must also find out mutual expectations about marriage, and never be in a hurry or get into Muta or fixed period marriages.
Thus this form of dating in Pakistan maybe a compromise between the old rigid system and the flagrant new. The girl and the boy can interact in socially approved situations and make discrete enquiries. The families also can have their say as well as the couple. Dating Pakistan may have evolved into a successful alternative arrangement and a Pakistani single has a measure of freedom of choice today.