Monthly Archives: September 2008

Understanding Turkish Nationalism

by Yasser Latif Hamdani

Further to the Part 2 of Shaheryar Ali’s “Historiography” series, in particular the tangential reference to Turkish Nationalism contained therein, I am sharing a few thoughts for the readers of the Pak Tea House.

Given the importance of the said discussion, it is important to set the record on straight.  Ali’s main thrust is that since Kemal Ataturk’s Turkish Nationalism took an increasingly European character, it was not a kind of Muslim nationalism but an ethnic one or linguistic one.  All of the arguments thus presented have not done anything to reveal the true nature of Turkish nationalism but rather rely on subsequent modernist endeavors of Ataturk and the Kemalist Turkish state to move away from an overtly Islamic identity to whitewash the history and context of Ataturk’s tremendous achievement i.e. leading a multitude of hapless and disoriented Muslim masses to modern nationhood and a republican national state. Continue reading


Filed under History, Identity, Islam, Islamism

History and Interpretations: Communalism and Problems of Indian Historiography 2

by Shaheryar Ali

We have analyzed, the origins of “communal historiography”, the “socio-political construction” of communal-identities, the conversion of “communal politics into Religious Nationalism.

Here we have given a critique of Colonial Historiography, by the secular-nationalist historians of India. What becomes clear is that colonialism in  India  resulted in formation of 3 types of Nationalism, which Romila Thapar characterizes as Anti-colonial Indian Nationalism, Hindu and Muslim Nationalism, both of whom were not anti-colonial but relied on colonialism for their historical legitimacy, we have demonstrated that looking into history and culture of India in terms of “Muslim” and “Hindu” was essentially British. Continue reading


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‘The Making of Mr. Hai’s Daughter’ A Memoir

Soniah Kamal

Usually one hears of desi immigrant parents preferring, or forcing if you will, their kids to adhere to the traditions and customs of backhome and, usually, these parents are referred to as ‘backwards’. What of those immigrant-parents who are ‘forwards’? Those who actively seek to assimilate into other lands and other ways so that they themselves do not become the ‘other’? Can it go too far forwards too? Yasmin Hai’s father was one such forward and Yasmin writes about her upbringing in her memoir ‘The Making of Mr. Hai’s Daughter: Becoming British’. Sounds absolutely delightful.

Here’s an excerpt from the memoir.

Here’s a review in the Spectator.

Mr Hai’s idea of Britishness was very different from the British version. Not once did he mention the importance of going down the boozer and watching the footy. Instead, he instructed his children to read Milton and Shakespeare and to behave with quiet decorum. This was probably looked upon by the locals as a strange Indian custom…Yasmin’s new job as a journalist for Newsnight enabled her to interview old acquaintances about their new-found brand of Islam. To her dismay, she found herself being frequently scolded by ex- Bhajis for not being a proper Muslim. Her television producers, meawhile, were delighted to have a ‘genuine Muslim’ as a colleague and frequently yelled at her to locate ‘mad mullahs’ to titillate their audiences. ‘Find Muslim women to defend the line in the Koran about wife beating,’ was another urgent request. Yasmin felt bemused. What had happened to her late father’s ideas of assimilation? A wider gulf than ever was being formed, not between the English and Asians, but between Muslims and everyone else.Had Mr Hai succeeded in turning his daughter into an Englishwoman? I’m not sure it really matters any more, but his kindly influence obviously enabled his little Yasmin to write this unbelievably funny, passionate autobiography.

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The new “Nokiaa” gadget for Pakistan

Courtesy Hillpark – this is by no means an authentic picture but a reflection of the sardonic black humour prevalent in these troubled times. RR


Filed under Humour, Images

History and Interpretation:Communalism and Problems of Historiography

Shaheryar Ali

There has been an interesting debate going on in the pages of PakTea House e-zine regarding Indian history. This debate is also at the heart of the “history wars” which are  going on in India and Pakistan. In Pakistan it has acquired a specific character because , a version of  communal historiography had to be adopted to built “Pakistani Nationalism”.

When a nation state was to be built on Muslim identity and Muslim separatism, it had to rely on a version of history which starts with Muslim invaders, all the debates in such form of history revolve around a particular community, in this case “Muslims”. It is supposed that somehow that community was always “separate”, “distinct” and somewhat independent of other people this community was living with. This type of history is just self-serving; it lives and thrives on a particular kind of politics. This communal or as thesedays its fashionable to call it “nationalist” politics, Hindu nationalist and Muslim nationalist politics. For this type of politics, history is just a tool to justify the contemporary politics with ancient events.

It therefore becomes important to demolish a historical structure, like Babri Mosque, as a symbol of “national revival”, correcting the “historical wrongs”, avenging the so called  Muslim colonialism. No one bothers , how many temples in India were demolished by Hindu rulers and how many mosques were demolished by Mujahid rulers. [Aurangzeb for example closed down the Shia Mosques in Hyderabad, and converted the main Imam bargahinto a horse stable, or Mahmood of Ghazni’s loot of mosques in Multan, which belonged to different sects]. Here Turkish invasion and Arab invasion of India becomes “Muslim Invasion”. The fact again finds no audience that Arabs fought along with locals against Turks in many towns. Continue reading


Filed under History, India

DTN view on the ‘suspicious’ Marriot Hotel Bombing – And Not the Taliban.

Divining the News (DTN), Not Mainstream News says:

One report says: “Why haven’t the Taliban claimed responsibility for the Marriot”.

Another report points out Islamabad is the most closely surveilled place in Pakistan.

How could a Tribal possibly drive a truck all the way to the Marriot, and not be stopped?

Read more here

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Islamabad, the miserable

by Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri

Mujhey koi achee khabar sona, meray khush nazar, meray khush bayan,
Meree kashtian hain bhanwar bhanwar, meree bastian hain dhuan dhuan…..

(Amjad Islam Amjad)

The Islamabad Marriott Hotel is no more. Islamabad – the beautiful, has turned into Islamabad – the miserable.

The Islamabad incident while highlighted monumental security lapses and loopholes in the country, it also raised questions about efficiency and professionalism of country’s disaster management infrastructure. Usman Manzoor reported in The News:

“The Capital Development Authority (CDA), like Nero of Rome, was playing the flute when its icon of security, The Marriott, was burning in the heart of the capital”.

“Saturday’s blast not only exposed the fire-fighting unit of the civic authority but also raised fingers at the high officials of the CDA and the cabinet division whose negligence left Marriott burned down completely. According to well-placed sources, the civic body had spent Rs 600 million on fire-fighting equipment but due to the contractor, who was to supply the fire-fighting equipment to the CDA, did not do so in three years and the hotel was reduced to ashes on Saturday night”, he added. Continue reading

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