Embracing identity

Embracing identity
Dawn Editorial
Monday, 12 Apr, 2010

Letting our roots wither at the altar of commercialisation is as dangerous as the idea of ignoring them due to their pre-Islamic origin. –Online

From DAWN:
Identity is what distinguishes heritage from history. We can ignore, if not redo and delete, portions of our history that we choose not to like but we cannot avoid our heritage. It is, after all, what makes us what we are.

Even when we are not consciously aware of the origin of our architecture, customs and traditions, at a subconscious level we follow them as a silent tribute to our forefathers who first came up with them. This justifies our urge to save our heritage from disappearing. Motivated by this urge, a citizen has moved the Lahore High Court for the protection and preservation of two major heritage sites in the Salt Range. He told the court that the Malot and Katras forts have not just suffered due to the ravages of time and the elements, they are further threatened by unceasing mining and industrial operations in the area. His petition also highlighted the apathy of the federal and the Punjab governments in taking no note of the precarious condition of the two forts built more than a thousand years ago.

That the court has taken up the petition is a welcome development. It may divert official attention to the plight of the forts that may one day collapse because of mining beneath them and corrosive industrial activities around them. It may also help the government, local residents, mining companies and factory owners realise that monuments such as the Malot and Katras forts are the roots of our culture.

Letting these roots wither at the altar of commercialisation is as dangerous as the idea of ignoring them due to their pre-Islamic origin. Taking immediate steps for their preservation will not just be a compliment to the great civilisation we have inherited from those distant times. It will also be an acknowledgement of the soul-stirring synthesis that emerged with the confluence of Islamic and sub-continental culture. Conserving Malot and Katras could become one big step towards retrieving that synthesis from under the heap of some recent and not so helpful influences.



Filed under Pakistan

102 responses to “Embracing identity

  1. Ganpat Ram

    I am astounded.

    Even a supposedly “secular” minded site like this has such great difficulty pronouncing the word “HINDU”?

    Just say it out loud: The vast majority of Paks are the descendants of HINDUS.

  2. Parvez

    Silk Router
    Who is the latest leader to submit to Arab/Iranian imperialism? None other than prime minister of India Mr. Singh.

  3. Parvez

    A sign to the wise is enough.

  4. Mustafa Shaban

    I dont know why so many people on this forum come up with this ridiculous idea that Islam is arab. Moajority of muslims are non arab. It started in arabia, but if they want that to be a criteria, then christianity and judaism started in palestine and egypt , yet they are not considered arab/palestinian or egyptian/hebrew religions. Islam like other religions has followers from many backgrounds and contributions from many different places. Just shows ignorance of some people.

  5. Mustafa Shaban

    Also why do so many people hate arabs, its racist. there is good and bad in all people…looks like the media has gotten into everyones heads, ppl cant even think for themselves anymore. Media does it for them.

  6. Ganpat Ram


    People think of Islam as Arab because the Arab aspect has such absolute importance in Islam and is being asserted ever more aggressively.

    The Koran is not even considered canonically valid except in Arabic.

    Christianity, like Islam, is a branch of Judaism, true enough.

    But the Western peoples have long reasserted their Graeco-Roman heritage and pushed Jewish Christianity away from the centre of their outlook. Christianity did impose a Judeo-centred history on the Westerners for many centuries, but beginning with the Renaissance that phenomenon has steadily been in retreat.

    The peoples converted to Islam, by contrast, have never undergone this reassertion of their native cultures as happened with the Westerners. Indeed, today they are being re-Arabised strongly. What else is Islamism, the burka, niqab, imposing sharia law, bin Ladenism etc?

  7. Ganpat Ram


    I have had a good deal to do with Arabs as a journalist working with them.

    I consistently found them a very courteous, friendly folk.

    I never got the impression they disliked Indians or Hindus. On the contrary, several times Arabs told me they found Pakistanis with their tendency to try and show they are more Arab than the Arabs painfully embarrassing. No-one respects those who have no self-respect.

    One Arab friend once told me he intended to visit North India and asked me what were the great sights to see there. I started telling him about the Taj Mahal, the Shah Jehan Mosque in Delhi, the Kutub Minar, etc. He looked dissatisfied and exclaimed, “But all these are Muslim buildings. I can see such things in Arabia. What about Hindu monuments?” I explained most Hindu monuments in North India had been destroyed, unfortunately, by Muslim rulers and you have to go to South India or even Cambodia to see really old and large Hindu temples. “Well”, he replied, “in that case it is to South India I must go !”

    I never sensed in any Arabs I knew any desire to harm India. If anything, it is the Pakistanis that intelligent Arabs view with disdain.

  8. Parvez

    So now Arab are good guys and your blood relatives in Pakistan were problem all along.

  9. Ganpat Ram


    It’s absolute balderdash to say the word “Hindu” has no religious meaning.

    Originally it was a Persian word for people from the area of the Indus, true enough.

    But eventually it came to mean the followers of the dominant religion of India. There is a native term for Hinduism -Sanatana Dharma – but in foreign languages, the terms for this religion are variants of “Hindu”.

  10. Ganpat Ram


    You seem to be a sufferer from the nominalist fallacy.

    Names don’t change the essence of anything. You won’t turn a rabidly anti-Hindu Pakistani into a Hindu lover by re-naming him a (non-religious) “Hindu”.

    You won’t turn a horse into a wolf by calling it a wolf.


    What can we poor Hindus do if our “blood relatives” in Pakistan don’t seem to recognise the kinship any more?

    The Arabs I KNEW – highly intelligent journalists – certainly looked upon Pakistan as the stuff of ironic jokes. They were embarrassed by the overzealousness in Arabism of this “convert” who seemed desperate to forget anything that was his. They saw in Pakistani behaviour a painful parody of themselves.

    I have also worked with Iranians. I got the impression Iranians don’t love Pakistan, either.

  11. Parvez

    Arabs love personal services and their favorite are Filipinos, I hope Indians are up to it. What happened to Wahabis, they still run Saudi Justice system.
    Iranians are Bazaris better than Banias.

    Who is talking about love, the real thing is lust and if you can afford to pay for it.

  12. Ganpat Ram


    The Arabs and Iranians I know are journalists. We talk politics over coffee, that’s all. Lust has nothing to do with it.

    It is not my fault if these intelligent, extremely well-informed people from the Middle East have no respect for Pakistan. The aping of Arab ways by Pakistanis earns them no kudos whatever with intelligent Arabs, indeed, it seems, the reverse.

  13. Ganpat Ram

    All in all, Pakistanis have boxed themselves into a painful predicament.

    They dare not celebrate their huge Indian heritage lest they be mistaken for Hindus.

    So they try deperately to mimic the Arabs in order to have some kind of heritage.

    But this is thoroughly frustrating as they know in their hearts this is not their real heritage, and the Arabs laugh at them anyhow.

  14. Parvez

    Indus valley, its history and heritage is what Pakistan is all about. We have dealt with people from Central Asia, Iran, Arabs and others. Every Pakistani is free to engage these people and don’t need certificate from Dilli for anything.
    Now you are trying to build relations with Saudis on the back of Indian Muslims. Good luck. In reality you are holding Indian Muslims as hostage and oppressing them to lowest level of socio-economic slavery. Don’t give me token examples of high achievers.
    I know of no Pakistani who is feeling any Hindu in them. You are showing low esteem Bhartis have of themselves and you are projecting on to Pakistanis.

  15. Parvez

    What is there to celebrate in Bharti heritage, penury, inability to defend the place for thousand years, worshiping every animal and stone, lack of humanity to each other, ten to twenty years to decide a court case. One I really like is go around complain to every Tom, Dick and Harry about Pakistan being bad. This the extent of your foreign policy and you claim to be a world power.
    Tell me what should I celebrate with you?

  16. Parvez

    We know Brahman ways from historical experience. It is on full display in Bharat every day. That is where the core of evil exits, and there no need to talk about anything else. Show us what you are selling as it is practiced in Bharat.

  17. Parvez

    The last thing I would do is to answer your questions about religion. The topic Bharat Vs Pakistan. What are you selling? If you want to change the topic to religion then you should disclose what your belief, then some religiously knowledgeable person will take up the challenge. My issue is your hate-mongering against people of Indus valley.

  18. pHaze


    Hinduism is vastly different kind of religion than you probably think. Hindus in India are generally an ignorant lot who worship everything that they come across without questioning. This is not what Hinduism teaches. IMO Hinduism has strong atheist tendencies, which people dont understand because they dont have the time or energy to get into it. Most people (Hindus, Muslims etc ) like to believe in some ready made God who can be satisfied by doing some monotonous rituals. (I think this makes people happy!). If you ask me, I think caste system is discriminatory and racist. But this has mostly to do with the large part of society being backward – economically and politically. The Indian national congress will never let caste system go unfortunately. Being a Hindu, I can confidently say that Hinduism has its flaws, and Hindu society is no where close to being called a model community. I can question everything that Hinduism stands for without any “fear” of being retaliated against – that the religions is open for everyone to criticize – which IMO is good. I can call myself a Hindu and not even care to follow any of its must-do rituals. Can Islam tolerate (forget accepting) any criticism? I don’t think so…

    For me dealing with any Muslim country is equivalent to dealing with Islam, because of Islams tendency to dominate everything. Islam as an ideology tries to put itself and its ‘interest’ ahead of any of its followers. Hence everything that a Muslim society does, has an Islamic angle to it. You may criticize Hinduism but don’t slander without any substantiation. If there is a political will in India, Hinduism can be quickly reformed without much resistance by enforcing laws. Unfortunately, Pakistanis with their anti-Hindu phobia (and now anti-Christian, anti-Jewish etc phobias) is in deep trouble. Any reforms must first ‘pass’ the test of Islam!, and this again is decided by mullahs who’s beards weigh more than their brains. Lets see what the future holds for both of us..

  19. Parvez

    Like I said, I’m not qualified to discuss religion. I’m glad that you are working on reforming Bharti religious life. Keep me posted.
    My test for Pakistani society is equality and justice and you have seen people marching for justice and there is more to come.
    Still you have not given me any inkling about hate campaign by your govt and press against Pakistan.

  20. Parvez

    “For me dealing with any Muslim country is equivalent to dealing with Islam, because of Islams tendency to dominate everything.”
    If this true then Bharat should break all relations with countries populated by Muslims for starters and then go on from there.

  21. Yesterday, when I visited the site and read the above article, there were no comments below, today when I saw 25 comments, I thought the issue is got attention and is being discussed here but unfortunately I saw nothing except some indians and Pakistani idiots are beating the same old lines….

  22. Mustafa Shaban

    @Ali Arqam: I agree with you, the argument taking place here is useless garbage. How come the moderators havent responded to it? In such an advanced age we are still discussing these kind of things, atleast should not be done in this manner. I also noticed a lot of racism and discrimination on this blog recently.

  23. Hayyer

    As a non-Muslim Indian I would request the administrators of the site to please stop Indian chauvinists, religious or otherwise from fouling up discussion on this site.

  24. Parvez

    Somebody got to answer all these Bharti bigots.

  25. aliloveall

    Indian Chauvinism, bigotry.. that i agree. But I actually went on to the extent of typing those keywords our Bharati (that’s what he likes to be called) friend asked us to. I did that in the guardian and the daily mail and I was devastated. Didn’t really care or more precisely know about it before, so it did take some time to sink in. My question to all my fellow Pakistanis is:
    Are we that fool to ignore what the world thinks about us? Image does matter. Clearly India is, by all its advertisements and media, successfully hiding its misdeeds and dirt from being seen. I know, from personal experience, even China is doing that. From discovery to BBC, we keep seeing all those incredible India stories and images. Where is Pakistan shining? Where are our IITs, Tata-Ambanis, IPLs and Commonwealth games?
    I believe we need our sugar-coat too. We have too much culture to preserve and not get an inferiority complex. The dawn editorial tells us where to start for creating the incredible Pakistan image. I for one always believed in continuation of Army-rule for a bit longer as I felt Pakistan was slowly moving forward in the Mush regime. And we can do so much more by introducing an international standard curriculum.. just by looking at what skill levels top companies look for when they look to invest in a country.

    That guy , 2 posts before me, wanted us to be angry. Why are we ignoring him? Just because we didn’t have the answers or is it that we have already given up on Pakistan?

  26. Bin Ismail

    Forts are neither Islamic nor Hindu. A fort is simply a fort. If it dates back to older times, it becomes historically important and archeologically relevant, regardless of who built it. Most certainly, it should rightfully be looked after.

  27. AZW

    Ok folks, this is enough. This discussion has degenerated to the lows from which there is no coming out.

    Ganpat Ram, pHaze (and this is especially meant for Ganpat Ram):

    For last two months, you have spouted nothing but your hatred on this forum. You have been ignored by majority of us here as a blabbering fool who has shown a remarkable inability to think outside the Hindu-Muslim boundaries. While we are happy to ignore you, unfortunately new participants do not know that engaging you is a waste of theirs and everyone else’s time. As thread after thread has been a victim of your same old repeated words, it is time now to officially say goodbye to you as well as to pHaze. Tough, but I don’t think you know anything about constructive arguments. Goodbye now, and all of your future posts will be deleted by the moderators.

    Any more nationalist-hatred driven comments on this post or PTH and it will be the same result for any other participants. PTH is all about airing our views; but these views would not come with the completely unacceptable practice of calling each other derogatory names. I hope this will be the only warning for all the hot heads out there.

  28. Hayyer

    Ganpat Ram:
    “If you silence people with arguments you dislike, all you end up with is a website with a few bland participants regurgitating acceptable ideas. Such a website will lose its interest.”
    This thread expresses concerns of some Pakistanis about their cultural heritage. What new argument have you brought to the discussion that we have not heard from you before? In fact the website begins to lose its interest if the reader is obliged to trawl through your prejudices every time he visits PTH.

    “It is inadvertently very revealing that you should identify yourself as a non-Muslim Indian before calling for silencing opponents. Are you admitting it is Muslims who go for censorship?”
    No,just quite advertently expressing my disgust at chauvinists from India particularly of the religious variety fouling up discussions with their hate spam.

    “As long as people don’t indulge in obscene abuse, no website that calls itself free has a right to shut them out. If you dislike their argument, fair enough. Ignore it.
    I am amazed at how you, Vajra, Bloody Civilian, AZW all have an instinct to silence the guy who does not agree. I often don’t agree with you. Do I ask for you to be silenced?”

    I have offered no comments on this thread other than to request termination of hate material from India; the question of arguing with you or agreeing with you does not therefore arise.

  29. Prasad

    Every country in the 21st Centurey should preserve its past heritage irrespective of the past lineage. Egypt, Cambodia (with intl aid), Srilanka have done wonderful jobs…I think India also has done reasonably well in preserving history notwithstanding ASI hardly has any funds allotted in budgets. ’embracing identity’ is good

  30. We are going to take stock of this. Some of the comments are downright offensive. Our chauvinist may wish to mind his own business and leave PTH alone. Raza

  31. silk router

    Ganpat Ram und Mustafa Shaban

    Let us not accuse each other of hate in order to create the impression: “Look, I love everyone and hence no one is as good as I am.” Criticism, howsoever strong, is not hate. There is no hate in this world – only angry misunderstandings caused by lack of common language/script and freedom of expression. Real haters are too few to be of any consequence.

    Islam in deed imposes arab hegemony through script, language, names, to-Makkah-praying, referring to god by the arab word, enforcing arabic as god’s final language, placing arab heroes above non-arab heroes etc. etc. Muslims should learn to look at themselves in a mirror of honesty. Non-arab muslims talk of self-respect and then become minions of arabs, even compete with one another publicly to show off how Arabic they are. To deny this means to lie too blatantly. E.g. Pashtuns talk of never submitting to foreign or western forces and then do not realize that islam (which itself means submission) is foreign and western in Afghanistan. The same about Iranians, Turks, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis etc. Hence islam does get identified with arab racism and hegemony. What have non-arab muslims done to preserve non-arab values, scripts, languages etc?

    I had a lot to do with arabs too and they were very very nice people (to me as a hindu, although they were often not nice to fellow arabs) as individuals. This proved to me all the more that it is their religion that is misleading and misusing them and making them objects of fear and suspicion.

    India and Pakistan must establish a joint history commission. Let me read what the other writes about me, about my religion, leaders, achievements etc. Our hatreds are a result of not knowing what the other writes – it is in this sense that the introduction of the arabic script in the indian peninsula or subcontinent has proved to be a big disaster. Indians and Pakistanis (predominantly those in north and west) will know more about each other if the script barrier can be removed. Any suggestions how to do it? I also need a good urdu-hindi plus hindi-urdu online dictionary in roman script – do you know any?

    Regarding Pakistanis continuing to hate hindus even if the pakistanis are reminded of their being hindus (the real hindus) – I do not know the outcome of this attempt to clarify historical identities. But it can be tried only if the Pakistani top brass agrees to it. If they do not agree to carry out such an attempt then it indicates that they fear that something “terrible” could really happen that exposes what they are trying hard to hide since decades (or centuries?).

    The word hindu had no religious meaning and then got one. That does not forbid us from rescuing the original meaning. Pakistanis cannot claim inheritance of the IVC (Indus Valley Civilisation) if they cannot read/understand the script/language of that time, or do not worship the same gods or heroes. Nor can today’s India.

    Less than 5% of Sindhu/Indus flows through India, 95% flows (?) through Pakistan. Yet India is called India (land of the Indus). If you call it Bhaarata then it includes even larger territories (as in the reign of king Bharata).

    Pakistanis are trying to embrace an identity (or create one) by constructing or inventing too many lies or ahistorical connections or non-facts. Such a house of cards grows a-slant and keeps crumbling by the slightest wiff of a wind of honesty or opposition or doubt or a sectarian attack. Indians do not have an identity problem because they are not trying to deny their history which contains a lot of foolishnesses, cowardices, injustices, defeats, divisiveness etc. They are not trying to give themselves a super-man look. Islam expects muslims to present themselves or their history as superior human beings meant for all the glories and thus forces muslims to self-deceive endlessly.

    Indians don’t hate pakistanis, but (some)pakistanis send supermen from Karachi to kill in Mumbai inthe name of the god of islam and then what else can indians do but fear Pakistan(is)? Don’t equate fear with hate.

  32. PMA

    Post after post a subject on PTH has been brought up by our neighbors to the east that ‘Pakistanis Muslims are descendants of the (Hindu) converts of few centuries ago but deny that fact’. Why ‘Hindus of India’ raise that subject? I do not know for sure, but there must be some reasons or compulsion behind their efforts. Please allow me to say few words on this subject.

    First of all Indian assertions on ‘conversion’ part of this subject are only partly true. Pakistanis Muslims are descendants of converts not only from Hinduism but from other faiths as well. One could quibble over the percentage of each category, but that is beside the point I am about to make. My question to the Indian Hindus raising this subject is: So what?

    Religion is a personal faith; a set of believes very ofter inherited at birth. Every Muslim is either a convert or a descendant of some converts in the past. Islam demands that its adherents after conversion must stop believing and practicing what it calls ‘Jahlia’ or ignorance or darkness. It demands its adherents to move away from the believes and practices of their forefathers. It is in compliance of this part of their belief that Muslims move away from the religious practices of their forefathers may that be Hinduism, Buddhism, Zoroastrianism, Christianity or Paganism. Please do not take it as ‘hatred or disdain’ for your religion what ever that may be.

    And second part. Do Pakistani Muslims ‘deny’ that they are descendants of non-Muslims of the past. No they do not. No Muslims deny that. To them being descendants of the non-Muslims of the past is neither a matter of shame nor of pride. In Islam no one is held responsible for his or her father’s deeds. No body’s place in life is predetermined at birth. No body is born from the head or the feet of a god. Every body is born innocent at birth. All human beings are equal in the eyes of God. So religious practices of our non-Muslim forefathers have no bearings on us; good or bad.

    For a Muslim life is a fresh slate at birth. One writes on it by one’s own deeds. To a Muslim it matters little what his or her forefathers were. What matters is his or her own conduct in this life. In this spirit I say to the ‘Hindus of India’ concerned about the ancestry of the ‘Muslims of Pakistan’ that we have moved on from the past ‘conversion’ issue. It will be good for our neighborly relations if you too did the same. Let us move beyond religion.

  33. swapnavasavdutta

    PMA, I agree with you. But when you say,
    Lets move beyond religion, why now (or after
    Pakistan was created) why not then?
    Religion mattered then but now you say move beyond.

  34. Parvez

    silk router
    You raise some interesting points regarding word “Hindu”. We know the root is name of the river in Pakistan. As a person who grew up in the soil of said river, swam and played in those waters, I can say without feeling any hesitation that if I’m called a hindu on that basis. Then the problem lies with people who have no connection with Indus and each of them should get permission from established authority to use word hindu. Words and their meaning do matter.

  35. Bin Ismail

    @silk router

    Your misunderstandings, if I may respectfully point out, deserve to be addressed:

    You’ve said:”…Islam in deed imposes arab hegemony…”

    The God of Islam is mentioned in the Quran as “Rabbul Aalameen”, which could be translated as Lord of all nations, Lord of all worlds or Cherisher of all worlds. The Prophet of Islam is called Rahmatun lil Aalameen, meaning Mercy for all nations/worlds. The very spirit of Islam is universal. Today’s fanatical and violent groups of Muslims represent Islam as much as the Ku Klux Clan represents Christianity or Shiv Sena represents Sanatan Dharm.

    You seem to have a problem with Islam originating in Arabia. I’m sure you would have had similar problems with Islam, if it originated in China and the Quran was in Chinese or if Islam originated in Greece and its scripture was in Greek.

    What is more than evident from your comment is the fact that you are far from being an admirer of either Islam or of Arabic heritage. You’ve diverted the discussion from these “forts” to “say no to Islam”. That’s quite a diversion, I must say.

    Religion, my friend, is merely a path one chooses to reach one’s Maker. You’ve chosen your path and others have chosen theirs. Some have chosen none. Tolerance and respect are the values that the Human race will have to adopt. But to drag in your dislikes for Islam, in a discussion where the agenda is a couple of historical and archeological sites, hardly depicts tolerance and respect.

    If there are some Pakistanis who hate Hindus, there are indeed some Indians, too, who hate Muslims. Well, what does that prove? Nothing beyond the fact that there is intolerance on both sides of the border.

    Your study of Islam appears to be heavily reliant on biased sources. Try a more objective study, prior to expressing what you deem as your expert opinion.

    Truly speaking, I don’t think Pakistanis, in general, have any problems in appreciating the beauty and worth of relics that are pre-Islamic. Pakistan has the Moenjodaro and Harappa sites and many beautiful Buddhist stupas. Pakistanis are enchanted by all these sites and visit them with keen interest.

    The point to be highlighted is that the worth of heritage should be recognized at the state level and historical sites should indeed be taken care of. Now, I suppose it would be appropriate to let the participants of this discussion proceed without losing focus of the original topic.

  36. silk router

    I don’t live in the Sindu river basin so I am no hindu actually. The real hindu is the pakistani – whether he likes it or not, whether he says he has got over it or not. Just as a pakistani cannot change the colour of his blood, so too he cannot change the fact that he is a hindu, the real hindu. The attempt by a pakistani to say: “oh come on, we have got over it now so why don’t you too?” “sounds” brave-smart but is a denial of reality. I don’t become 3 meters tall by saying “I have got over this idea of being only 165 cm”.

    Why does that matter? Why do all the discussions between Pakistan and India come to this?

    The answer is very very simple. Non-muslims have been de facto exterminated from the Sindhu river basin because of an ideology imported from Arabia. The non-muslim percentage there has dropped from 100% to 3% in 1200 years. And even those 3% are being squeezed and mauled. This raises fears.

    There is an idealised view of islam which every muslim has the right to believe and present, but equally well, every non-muslim MUST question because the numbers and facts tell a story far different from what these islam-idealisors believe or would like us to believe.

    BTW even non-violent muslims are de facto arabized and minions of arab culture and bringers of arab hegemony. Who can deny that? Let arab culture thrive in Arabia – is that place too small?

    Let every ideology or religion claim no more than 10% of space. This will prevent some particular ideology or religion from becoming too strong. Tolerance is not just to be quoted from some holy book but to be actually put into practice by refusing to be greedy and grabby.

    Let the indian subcontinent be free of this arab ideology and arabic god-worship, hero worship and 7th-century-finalist backwardness. I would also tell indians/hindus/nicht-muslims not to go to Arabia and try to determine any culture, politics, worship-forms, laws etc. over there.

    Tolerance means not to be greedy, not to snatch even when possible to do so. How about such an understanding of the word “tolerance”?

  37. PMA

    silk router (April 19, 2010 at 8:03 pm):

    Let me answer some of your points.

    “Islam indeed imposes Arab hegemony through script, language, names, to-Makkah-praying, referring to god by the Arab word, enforcing Arabic as god’s final language, placing Arab heroes above non-Arab heroes etc. etc.”

    This only goes to show that you know very little about Islam. Islam is not about language, geography, ethnicity, names, heroes etc. etc. It is about oneness of God and equality of mankind. A concept perhaps not to your liking.

    “Non-Arab Muslims talk of self-respect and then become minions of Arabs, even compete with one another publicly to show off how Arabic they are…..The same about Iranians, Turks, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis etc.”

    Again you are totally and equally ignorant about Arabs as well as non-Arabs. You must go out more often.

    “What have non-Arab Muslims done to preserve non-Arab values, scripts, languages etc?…..the introduction of the Arabic script in the Indian peninsula or subcontinent has proved to be a big disaster.”

    I give you a hint. There is a non-Arab Sub-continental Muslim country named after a non-Arabic language. Only three non-Arab countries use some form of Arabic script. Urdu is not an Arabic language. Neither are Persian and Turkish.

    “Pakistanis are reminded of their being Hindus (the real Hindus)….attempt to clarify historical identities……..If they do not agree to carry out such an attempt then it indicates that they fear that something ‘terrible’ could really happen that exposes what they are trying hard to hide since decades (or centuries?).”

    You are about to prove that Pakistanis are “real Hindus”. So what? What is the point?

    “Pakistanis cannot claim inheritance of the Indus Valley Civilisation if they cannot read/understand the script/language of that time, or do not worship the same gods or heroes.”

    I am a modern man of the twenty first century. Do you really expect me to worship the mythological gods and heroes of the six thousand years old Indus Valley Civilization which predates Hinduism. Does anyone even know about the religion of the original ‘Indus Man’.

    “Yet India is called India”

    India is called India or Hind because ancient Persians first did that. They are the originator of that word which initially meant ‘land of dark skin people’. In Persian ‘Hindu’ means ‘a dark skin person’ – a racial slur. To ancient Persians India or Hind meant all that land mass that lied east of the river Indus. The river gets the name from the land and not the other way around. Later when Turkic Muslims from the Central Asia arrived, they called the natives as Hindus and the land east of Indus as Hindustan.

    “Pakistanis are trying to embrace an identity (or create one) by constructing or inventing too many lies or ahistorical connections or non-facts.”

    Pakistan is a new country, a new republic, and a new nation. We are forging ahead a new and modern identity forourseves. By your argument thousand years before we used to be Hindus; then we took up a new identity and called ourselves Muslims. Now our identity is Pakistan and we love it. But what is it to you? Why are you so pissed off?

  38. PMA

    “Non-Muslims have been de facto exterminated from the Sindhu river basin because of an ideology imported from Arabia. The non-Muslim percentage there has dropped from 100% to 3% in 1200 years. And even those 3% are being squeezed and mauled. This raises fears. Let the Indian subcontinent be free of this Arab ideology and Arabic god-worship, hero worship and 7th-century-finalist backwardness. I would also tell indians/Hindus/niche-Muslims not to go to Arabia and try to determine any culture, politics, worship-forms, laws etc. over there.”

    silk router (April 20, 2010 at 12:08 am): You are an unhappy troubled man. How does PTH manage to attract so many kooks!

  39. swapnavasavdutta

    I thought, in Farsi, s become h, so sindhu became
    hindu (like sapta (seven) becomes hafta, sam (same)
    becomes ham, sahasra (thousand) become hazar),
    not sure where is concept that hindu means dark
    people’s land comes from, not that it matters.

  40. PMA

    swapnavasavdutta (April 19, 2010 at 9:55 pm):

    You are asking me to go back to our last one thousand years of history. No. Not anymore. We need to move on.

  41. PMA

    swapnavasavdutta (April 20, 2010 at 12:49 am):

    This recent ‘sindu-hindu’ concoction comes from the Hindu Nationalists of India. Sindh is the river and Hind is the vast land mass that lies east of it. This is how the ancient Persians called it. If you want to know the meanings of the Persian word ‘hindu’, consult a Persian dictionary. In Persian ‘hindu’ means a person of dark skin.

    By the way the ‘Hindu man’ the ancient Persians referred to, has nothing to do with the modern day inhabitants of India and Pakistan or the Hindus of North India today. That ‘Indus man’ was pushed out by the Aryans centuries ago. The modern day term Hindu comes from the Turkic invaders of India. They called stone worshipers of India as Hindus and the land as Hindustan.

  42. vajra

    This is a reluctant intervention, and is emphatically not intended to get an obnoxious poster off the hook that he has successfully impaled himself upon, writing tendentious and distorted accounts of sub-continental history. “Silk Router” deserves all the punishment coming to him.

    Responses to him, however, include other distortions. These need correction.

    Before proceeding further, apologies to Majumdar for breaking a rule propounded to him.

    I give you a hint. There is a non-Arab Sub-continental Muslim country named after a non-Arabic language. Only three non-Arab countries use some form of Arabic script. Urdu is not an Arabic language. Neither are Persian and Turkish.

    There is in fact no non-Arab sub-continental Muslim country named after a non-Arabic language. Presumably the reference is to Bangladesh. The language was named for the people, not the other way around. Voluminous citations are available.

    In brief, however, the people are Bangali. All that relates to a Bangali is of the grammatical form “Bangla-”; thus, Bangla Desh, land of the Bangali.

    A trivial matter, but redolent with the attitude towards Bangalis typical of some sections of the sub-continent.

    India is called India or Hind because ancient Persians first did that. They are the originator of that word which initially meant ‘land of dark skin people’. In Persian ‘Hindu’ means ‘a dark skin person’ – a racial slur. To ancient Persians India or Hind meant all that land mass that lied east of the river Indus. The river gets the name from the land and not the other way around. Later when Turkic Muslims from the Central Asia arrived, they called the natives as Hindus and the land east of Indus as Hindustan.

    This is very strange history and worse linguistics.
    The description Hapta-Hendu is to be found in Avestan, the language of the Zend Avesta, and its Rg Vedic equivalent is Sapta-Sindhu. Linguistically, Sindhu meant a river, or a stream, waters in general; to the traveling tribes of that original diaspora, the largest bodies of water that the Indo-Iranian branch had encountered were the Caspian and the Aral Sea, otherwise the great majority of ‘great waters’ encountered consisted of streams and rivers.

    The earliest meaning of Hendu or Sindhu was great water.
    It is clear from the Rg Veda that the subsidiary rivers which made up this grouping shifted as the settlers moved towards the watershed of the Indus and the Ganges river systems. However, the name Sindhu was applied to the Indus at a very early date, presumably – there is no direct proof of this transfer – soon after the settlers encountered the great river which then took up the place in popular imagination and thinking of all other great rivers in the past.

    Neither in the Avesta nor in the Rg Veda is there any question of the river getting the name from the land and not the other way around. There are Avestan references to Hapta-Hendu, and no references to the land of India or Hind.

    It is quite possible that in later centuries, in later versions of Persian, the connotation of dark skinned person may have come in – from the occupants of the land on the other side of the Hendu. Imposing this later meaning on earlier uses of the terms is anachronistic. Using this to re-define the meaning and origin of either Hapta-Hendu or Sapta-Sindhu is worse.

    You are an unhappy troubled man. How does PTH manage to attract so many kooks!

    How indeed?

  43. PMA

    vajra (April 20, 2010 at 1:52 am):

    Why should you be so reluctant to intervene sir. We could always learn from your wisdom. My knowledge of the Indian languages and people is limited. I was told by a Bengali professor that his country was named after the Bangla language as a result of the ‘language movement’ within then East Pakistan. Please forgive me for my folly.

    And about the meaning and origin of the words ‘hind’ and ‘sind’, again my sources are my reading and understanding of the ancient as well as modern Iran and Persia, its people, history and language. I have only superficial knowledge of the Hindu Scriptures if that. What predates Zoroaster, the founder of the pre-Islam religion called Zoroastrianism or the arrival of the ancient Persian tribes at the western shores of the great river – I will let you ponder upon that. And the same argument can be made about the Hindu Scriptures too. Personally I have nothing invested in this subject other than an academic and intellectual inquiry. But I have learned that for the Hindus of India there is a lot invested in this subject. Any proof or claim different than the Hindu Mythology could turn things upside down for a true believer of the Scripture. Such is the nature of the blind faith; a sea could be parted by the stroke of a staff.

  44. vajra


    There is no ‘folly’ involved in the matter of the naming of Bangladesh, only insufficient direct evidence or knowledge, and the incorrect information imparted by another.

    Regarding the matter of the naming of the rivers, it is evidence, not my personal opinion, not my interpretation, which is involved; an academic and intellectual response to an academic and intellectual query.

    As for the rest, as far as your strictures against the Hindus of India are concerned (presumably the Hindus of Nepal and Bangladesh and other parts of the world are exempt), they are perfectly appropriate, inasmuch as you have a right to your personal opinion. When it comes to the question of who has what invested in these matters, as a neutral party, it does seem quite evident that the Muslims of Pakistan have an awful lot invested in a constant struggle to purify themselves against any taint of having been anything else. The rejoinders by Pakistani friends have been no less strident and shrill than those provocations by Hindu chauvinists which all sensible commenters have deplored.

    Unfortunately, it is not possible to tarry and walk through the basics and fundamentals of history and linguistics any longer, considering that some of these issues span 5,500 years. Let us move on.

  45. sonachenab

    If u can reply to the silk router after reading the saintly words of Bin Ismail ….
    Religion, my friend, is merely a path one chooses to reach one’s Maker. You’ve chosen your path and others have chosen theirs. Some have chosen none. Tolerance and respect are the values that the Human race will have to adopt. But to drag in your dislikes for Islam, in a discussion where the agenda is a couple of historical and archeological sites, hardly depicts tolerance and respect.
    Take a bow sir (PMA).

  46. PMA

    vajra (April 20, 2010 at 6:47 am):

    “it does seem quite evident that the Muslims of Pakistan have an awful lot invested in a constant struggle to purify themselves against any taint of having been anything else.”

    I do not understand why you keep on repeating these words? Why ‘Hindus of India’ keep on insisting that ‘Muslims of Pakistan’ are the “real hindus”? What is the objective here? What is the agenda? Have you not read my previous posts? I have said umpteen times that all Muslims all over the world are either themselves converts and descendants of converts. But to a Muslim it does not matter. So what if our ancestors were Hindus or Buddhists or Zoroastrians or Christians or Pagans. So what. Why this constant taunt “oh no you were hindus before you were muslims”. Is being a Hindu such an awful thing? As a Pakistani I do not want to get into this ‘hindu-muslim’ thing. I am a Pakistani and that identity is good enough for me. Please stop taunting us. Will ya?

    And about your knowledge about Hindu Scriptures being superior to mine. I concede. You have chosen to present Hindu Scriptures as History. Well, you are not alone. Other people of other faiths have done the same. I tend to faith seperate from facts. But to each his own. As you said – lets move on.

  47. PMA

    sonachenab (April 20, 2010 at 12:12 pm):

    Unfortunately I posted my remarks without realising that Bin Ismail has already posted his. My apologies.

  48. silk router

    Everyone seems to have a different source for his idea of the “unfortunate” word “hindu”.

    From the Sanskrit that I know Sindhu (as masculinum) means large body of water, ocean. In its femininum form this word names the river to which these aryans (=east iranians?) came with their language, vedas, warrior mythologies, philosophical musings etc. Old Greek, Zend and vedic Sanskrit are very very similar. In the Zend (of the Avesta) it does however become Hind (sometime before 3rd or 4th century BC).

    The persian (as of the 17 century AD)-english dictionary gives a very denigrating meaning of the word hindu – black fellow, watchman, lazy bum, indolent fool etc. This change to a denigrating meaning was the effect (result) of islam. This affects all muslim minds deeply even today.

    The turks calling them hindus, with religious implications, is natural but not the origin of it. The religion of the greek/slavic/germanic people is called greek/slavic/germanic religion – there are no other names for them. So too the word hindu became a religion.

    This discussion will not end, so let it be.

    The really relevant question is: can islam survive in Pakistan (or Bangladesh) if the hatred towards hindus and everything hindu is stopped? Has Pakistan not got into deepest trouble because of this islamically inspired hatred against its own >root< identity? Who is the one spreading racial hatred that everything hindu is deemed evil, inferior, obnoxious, godless, fahashi-like etc. in Pakistan, and even in other muslim countries? Are the mitochondria (these are bodies in the cell nuclei and are passed on through the maternal line) of the pakistanis more arab/turk or "detested hindu"? Who is molesting little children in Pakistan by forcing into their innocent-impressionable minds stuff to hate/deny/denigrate everything hindu?

    Forget all that I wrote earlier – just answer these questions honestly.

    BTW there is nothing like "ancient persian". It was Iran (co-sylbic to Aryan), Iranian, Zend (as their language, written first in cuneiform and then in their own derived script). The word "persian" to denote Iran/Iranians is of much later date and not at all ancient. Fars is only one province in Iran and since the people from this particular province became dominant, the whole was called farsi/parsi, latinized to Persia.

    The kuran says many good things (I know that) but they cannot be translated into practice because islamic monotheism has a totalitarian-imperialist motivation and fixation. Consequently the kuran throws down its own good sentences and tramples upon them internally. The unending confusions and conflicts (with much show of angry righteousness and bursts of unimaginable violence – e.g. bombing in a hospital to kill those who had come together to mourn a dead person) within the muslim communities (even in areas where there is no non-muslim influence) prove this analysis to be right.

    Yes, Mr. PMA, I am a troubled man, because I am a human being who has his legitimate fears. Instead of understanding me you call me a kook. So who is the real kook? But I would not call you a kook – I would prefer to call you a hindu who has been taught by his present belief-system to hate/deny/denigrate/be-ashamed-of everything hindu.

    A pakistani's blood will continue to be red even if he repeats everyday that it is green. So too he will be a hindu no matter how many centuries he is told (forced) to hate/denigrate/deny/devilize the hindus. You cannot change history and geography and mitochondria.

    Also I request you (PMA) not to use such idiom like: "Why are you so pissed off?" Use of such words shows lack of will to be understanding.

  49. vajra


    It was fear of this tit-for-tat “I must have the last word” syndrome that I expressed reservations in the first place. Thank you for vindicating all these reservations. Having said that, it is really tiresome to be described as some mythical animal that one is not, and demolished as such an animal.

    Please stop attributing positions and statements to me that I have not made, and am totally opposed to, merely in order to distract attention from mistakes that have been pointed out, and in order to score easy points. This is quite unnecessary, and there is no need to resort to such ploys. And please do not assume that intimidation or brow-beating is going to work if you run out of rational arguments.

    First, there is no such collective as Hindus of India, as you keep repeating, any more than there is a collective Muslims of Pakistan. Let me make it clear, since you are determined to construe my remarks in the worst possible light: I do not believe that there is a homogeneous block of concrete which represents the thinking of the ‘Muslims of Pakistan’. I am sorry that my misplaced irony was construed as an invitation to single combat. That would be inappropriate for reasons that you will not wish to have elaborated.

    Second, the sentence that you have quoted from my mail was taken out of context, presumably inadvertently, thus conveying a wholly incorrect impression. If you care to glance through your own mail, to which this was a reply, you will find quite clearly that this particular sentence was in response to the large number of replies from Pakistani Muslims which sought to contradict our friend the Hindu chauvinist. The point is that chauvinism as a response to chauvinism is quite futile. The point remains valid. There is really no substitute for rationality.

    Third, my post has nothing to do with the windmills at which some older commenters with fixed ideas and fixed positions and immutable prejudices keep tilting.

    Please examine it carefully. There is no Hindu-Muslim controversy here to feast upon.

    Some fanciful notions, the naming of Bangladesh, and the origins and etymology of the concept ‘Hapta-Hendu’ and its cognate phrase ‘Sapta-Sindhu’, have been addressed, and concrete evidence brought to bear on the two subjects concerned.

    Neither of the two has anything to do with Hindus insisting on the Hindu past of present-day Muslims.

    Let me remind you of what you have stated, since you are obviously not in the mood to take your own advice: What is the objective here? What is the agenda? Have you not read my previous posts?

    If you do bother to read, you will find that there are two linguistic points being made.

    It is difficult to see even the slightest dependence on Hindu scriptures here, unless you think that pointing out a linguistic cliche, regarding the closeness of Avestan Iranian and Rg Vedic Sanskrit becomes a ‘Hindu’ argument by some strange alchemy. Only a wholly distorted perception would see a Hindu-Muslim argument in everything.

    Fourthly, I have no concern with your present feeling of liberation on being Muslim. To me, all organised religions are equally ridiculous, Hinduism in its various forms just as much as any other.

    Courtesy to the sensitive among the readers prevents me from adding to this list of one.

    So to attribute any desire to drag you down into the mire is quite misplaced, and ascribes energies and a missionary zeal to me which are wholly absent.

    This also is to request you not to assign positions to each and every ‘Indian’ according to your predisposition. I do not need a good conduct certificate from anyone, least of all about not being a Hindu chauvinist. My position on this is clear through more than one year of participation.

    Does that hold true of others? Are my interlocutors quite free of Muslim chauvinism?

    Fifth, over more than a year of observation, it is quite noticeable that it is seen as an imposition if anyone opposes your prejudices and off-the-cuff remarks with facts or evidence. At that point, it appears to be customary to state that you are tired of the argument, that it is time to move on, and that nothing is to be gained by labouring a point unnecessarily. By a curious coincidence – it surely cannot be intended as an evasion – these statements are to be met after you have had what you consider in your wisdom to be the last word on the subject.

    Others may not agree.

    Just as in this case, to end the conversation by putting words in my mouth, by imputing Hindu chauvinism and a wholly fabricated desire to twit you and all 165 million of your compatriots with your past, you seem to want to distract attention from two very small points on which you may have been mistaken. Is it so difficult to admit that you goofed? And is it so important to retain your aura of omniscience that you need to drag in irrelevant matters like your Pakistani identity?

    Last, it is ironic that there should be such a huge commotion over the new identity that your proposed Indus Man acquired with the coming of Islam. Perhaps it would be useful for you to read the original blog that is the subject, ultimately, of our comments.

    According to your own arguments, made many times in the past, the heritage of your nation lies equally with the east bank of the Indus and the west. Avestan Iranian is presumably as much part of your heritage as is Rg Vedic Sanskrit. You do not assume the superstitions and the grossness of the attendant beliefs and religious systems of those languages, if that is what you think, by accepting this heritage, just as you do not end up guilty of subscribing to the barbaric and brutal methods of the rulers who built the forts which are sought to be preserved in your country.

  50. AZW

    Vajara, I agree with you 100% here. Knowing you as well as PMA for the past one year, I can tell you that you are not a run of the mill nationalist Indian fellow that PMA jumps to conclude quite conveniently. We have heard the “Indian visitors”, “resident Indians on PTH” terms quite frequently from PMA and the fact he is irked as to why Indian bloggers visit a “Pak” Tea House blog.

    PMA exhibits the typical Pakistani nationalist traits of defending venom with venom, looking at problems with a paranoid Indian-centric lens, introducing Hindu Muslim identity to respond to every Ganpat, Swapnavastas and Aruns out there. I am disappointed because he is a gentleman, and has remained courteous most of the times, yet his inability to objectively analyze the problems is always clouded by us vs. them syndrome.

    He will become testy (as he has been previously when I pointed it the above points to him). For some reason a Pakistani praising a fellow Indian blogger is always a big no no, no matter what the merits are. But this “guftugu” in this thread has merely served to confirm what I (and I suspect many) know..

    I would not want to enter a two way communication between you and PMA, but the sheer amount of misreading of your comments by PMA is quite outstanding.

  51. vajra


    But why? What blood guilt lies on me or on us? On both sides, we are displaced people; most of my relatives died in transit. If I can bring myself to overlook that, and see everyone as a human being in his or her own right, in spite of that baggage of emotion and hurt, why is it so difficult for some among you to consider me a human being in turn? Why must I and every other Indian be damned with a religious label, misleading in many cases due to either lack of knowledge or to complete indifference?

    I cannot understand. Will someone tell me what brings about these reactions? Can we not talk to each other rationally even on neutral subjects? Even on history and on linguistics, without being overtaken by our religious identity?

  52. Parvez

    I went back and read all the comments as to what is common theme. The effort on part of Bharti visitors has close parallel in Zionist de-legitimization of Palestinian right self determination. Is it a winning strategy for Bhartis is still an open question. Once the Afghan war comes to an end, the consequences of this approach will hit Bhartis full force.

  53. Bin Ismail

    @ vajra

    Unfortunately, there is intolerance on both sides of the border. This has to go – and has to go on both sides of the border. Tolerance and mutual respect for each others opinions are preservatives for the Human race.

    Jinnah never envisioned Pakistan and India as rival neighbors, one representing Belief and the other Disbelief – certainly not. In November 1946, he said:

    “The two states [Pakistan and India] will be friends and will go to each other’s rescue in case of danger and will be able to say ‘hands off’ to other nations. We shall then have a Munroe Doctrine more solid than in America.”

    To begin with, courtesy and respect have to be mutual and on equal footing.


  54. Bin Ismail

    @ vajra

    May I clarify that my last comment was addressed to “vajra”- not “Vajjra”.

    @ Vajjra

    I’m just another blogger like yourself. I believe that respect for the other’s religious sensibilities goes a long way to promote healthy discussions.

  55. Akash

    If you remember, we had an interesting and somewhat caustic exchange a couple of months ago. While there are a lot of areas where we disagree, I am in full agreement with your views regarding the current posts. Of all amusing theories that I have come across recently, this “Indus man” theory has to take the prize. What a waste of intellectual energy! What about identity of millions of Muslims, derisively termed as Mohajirs, who migrated to Pakistan? Where do they fit in with this Indus man theoretical construct? Or, should they come up with some Ganga man theory and then engage in some more fatuous intellectual somersaults to reconcile the two theories.

  56. vajra


    This is completely off-topic.

    To tell you the truth, this new construct, the Indus Man, did seem very strange and alien at first. There was an article written on PTH about it by Aisha Sarwari, and it provided the impetus for some preliminary research towards a paper to demolish the concept. It was very surprising to find, increasingly, that there was in fact something to be said for the idea.

    There is nothing inconsistent between this and the general observation of a homogeneity of culture throughout the sub-continent, and a simple example will illustrate why.

    Most examinations of India tend to be attracted to and mesmerised by the dominant culture of the Ganges valley, which is not very accurate. Even a moment’s thought shows us that the Brahmaputra valley has its own distinctive culture, and so does the Cauvery (Kaveri) delta, in fact a hugely distinct one in the latter case. These two examples are in fact similar to the Indus example, as like the Indus culture, they too are border cultures; people tend to forget the vast and rich territories and further reaches outside the sub-continent which the inhabitants of the Brahmaputra delta and its outlying areas face, for example, or the heritage of a maritime empire, the only one on the sub-continent, which was born out of the restless voyaging of the Cauvery man (why these empires were the heritage of the seafarers of the south, and not of similar seafarers on the west and the east is a separate and intriguing question, only partially addressed by recent historical studies).

    Marcher people, people inhabiting the border marches of a political entity, tend to be similar in nature across the globe. They are self-reliant, used to war and raiding, used to living complete lives within these conditions, used to defending themselves without help from the settled territories that they guard, and sharing in some ways the culture of the ‘enemy’ that they constantly face. So, too, the nature of these border cultures on the Indus, the Brahmaputra and the Cauvery. Their hinterlands are very similar, and they are similar to each other in some respects.

    It does seem, therefore, that there may be some validity to the hypothesis of the Indus man, and behind the concept of a unique Indus culture, and while it has a position in a larger framework of pan-peninsular culture and civilisation, there is no gainsaying the distinctive nature of its own ways.

    It was this that made me abandon the effort to refute Sarwari’s article, and I had to climb down from a position of defiance and imminent declaration of war on that article.

    What is not defensible is the use that some chauvinists in Pakistan (yes, Vajjra, there are such people) have made of these clear distinctions to seek separation from the general cultural and civilisational patterns of the sub-continent. Here we come across an interesting point. It was tempting to write the preceding statement as “…from the general cultural and civilisational DNA of the sub-continent”. But that would have been wrong. DNA studies show, in fact, that a section of the Indus culture, the Pashtun, is genetically quite distinct from the rest of the sub-continental population.

    There is in fact no sharp break; no more than there is a sharp break between the sub-continent and the cognate population of Iran. There has been much play made about empires of the west that included the Indus culture. This gives far too much importance to political formations, whether on the sub-continent or elsewhere. Instead of boring on, for that subject deserves an historical study of its own, of a sort that is not really available at the moment, suffice it to say that these political formations come and go. Their average life is 300 to 400 years; that is how long you may expect India that is Bharat or Pakistan or Bangladesh or Nepal or Sri Lanka or Myanmar to last as nations, at the maximum. They will remain as cultural entities long beyond that, but the nature of the political entity occupying that space will change, perhaps more than once, in the next 500 years. Five hundred years is not a long period in history.

    A thought in conclusion: if these political formations are quite so important, then the rule of some significant portions of the Brahmaputra valley and the lower Ganges valley by a northern power, that simultaneously dominated the land ruled by the Turk Shahis or Hindu Shahis, should give food for thought. So, too, the possibilities behind the maritime empires of the Chozha, who also penetrated deep into the Ganges valley; let us not forget Gangaikonda Chozha, ‘He-who-brought-the-Ganga’ Chozha, the emperor who held sway over the middle and lower Ganges valley.

    For these reasons, Akash, cautious and full and judicious consideration is indicated on the Indus man and the Indus culture; it is a subject to be studied carefully before stating a point of view, and that study will take effort and time. The balance of evidence seems to be in its favour. I am not able to dismiss it out of hand.

    @Bin Ismail

    As you must have gathered by now, this is our old friend, the troll who was recently banned and now seeks to be heard under this name. The malignant tone is quite similar, the fatuity and monotonous nature of his thinking is almost identical. All that is missing is some sycophantic remark about how he actually adores Pakistan and Pakistani Muslims, particularly because they dislike Indian sycophants. Irony is not part of his mental make-up.

    I wish he would tell his lies about his journalistic experiences under his own name, instead of under a copy of mine. Presumably the intention is to irritate the moderators into banning both names.

  57. Abdullah Pannikkaran

    Mr Vajra:

    At least you are showing the Respect for Pakistan the Islam land. In Kochi (Kerala) where I am there too many Hindus not showing that Respet but only making attacks. This is very bad.

    It is a kufr society. Mussalmans in India need very badly an Islam land. We can not live like this in a kufr society.

    Thanks to you for Respect.

  58. Abdullah Pannikkaran

    Mr Vajra

    When Mussalmans wifes covaring everything with Islam clothes but the Hindu girls and women showing everything, there is not real Sharia. India is not Secular. That is for show only. Where is the full Sharia for everyone? NOT here.

    Many Hindus have only bad and very bad attack for Islam. Only attacks. This is very hurtful for the Mussalmans of India. You are so much better. You are making hot attacks on the Hindus but shoeing Respect for Islam and Pakistan. But not many Hindus like that. I hope you will teach the others.

  59. Bin Ismail

    @ vajra

    The difference between “vajra” and “Vajjra” most certainly transcends beyond separate spellings, which is actually a pleasant realization.

    Coming to the subject “Embracing Identity”, I would tend to believe that there are many facets of identity, and not a single one of them can be denied. Not only can they not be denied, they have to be respected in the same way as we respect – or at least should respect – the forces of nature.

  60. Prasad

    Hazrat, it is pouring here in Kufr land !! I may have to advance my pegs today and discuss your divine interpretation with my kufr friends…going to be a heady session hmmmm????

  61. vajra

    @Bin Ismail

    …there are many facets of identity, and not a single one of them can be denied. Not only can they not be denied, they have to be respected in the same way as we respect – or at least should respect – the forces of nature.

    Tell me all about it! We are dealing with this precise issue in agonising detail in India. Frankly, if it were not for the existential terrorist threat facing us, these clashes of identity would have been the overwhelming focus of our country, and correctly so. We need to resolve these clashes within a democratic framework, to prosper as a nation.

    Without commenting about complex issues which are beyond my capacity, I am convinced that Pakistan, too, is facing/ will face these identical issues, if not today, then within a very short time.

  62. vajra

    @Abdullah Panikkaran

    @Abdullah Panikkaran

    I shall be happy to give you the e-mail address of a superior intellect who can deliberate on these matters with you with greater calibre and capacity than I can.

    He is a highly educated person, and pursues three careers in parallel.

    He is (or has been) a journalist, and speaks fluently about Arabs he has known who despise Pakistanis for trying too hard to please Arabs.

    He is a specialist medical practitioner in the UK, who knows exactly how people in Canada feel about Islam and Muslims, without stirring from his location. That shows that he is a direct descendant of Mycroft Holmes and his London address therefore is the Diogenes Club.

    He is also in charge of information systems at the distinguished institution to which he belongs, and which made the mistake of trusting him with its IT resources, which therefore allows him to pursue his jehad without let or hindrance, or without the irksome bondage of ethics or e-mail protocol.

    You will enjoy debating with him; he has one thing to say and says it in a thousand different ways. Unfortunately, he is what my Syrian Christian friends term a ‘pattar’, and you may occasionally find his mixture of whining sycophancy and venomous hostility hard to take (think Gollum bred to Uriah Heep).

    Let me know when you want the introduction. It will be an alliance made in heaven.

  63. Abdullah Pannikkaran


    If I have offended you or anyone, peace.


  64. PMA

    vajra: I was away from my desk and thus could not respond to your detailed post of ‘April 20, 2010 at 7:31 pm’ in time. In the meantime our friendly moderator AZW (April 20, 2010 at 7:56 pm) has stepped in and dutifully singled me out and scolded me as usual. He has chosen to call me a “typical Pakistani nationalist, a paranoid Indian-centric with inability to objectively analyze the problems”. I have never contested any piece of the higher ground that AZW occupies all alone yet he has chosen to get personal for reasons only he knows best. But to soften a bit he does say that I am a “courteous gentleman” most of the times that is. I must thank him for this kindness.

    In the meanwhile I see the subject has moved on with your excellent post of ‘April 21, 2010 at 5:38 am’. I too am intrigued by this concept of ‘Indus Man’ presumably put forward by Aitzaz Ahsan and here at PTH endorsed by YLH. I have borrowed a copy of his book ‘The Indus Saga and The Making of Pakistan’ and my be in due time could further discuss the concept. The biggest question at this stage I have is the ‘unbroken continuity’ of the Indus Civilization of six thousand years ago. The anthropological and archaeological evidences at hand do not support such continuity.

    But I do tend to think that the pre-Islamic ‘Indus Culture’ due to its proximity to Persia and Central Asia was somewhat different than the other Sub-continental Cultures you have pointed out in your post. Of course another very significant change in ‘Indus Culture’ takes place with the arrival of Islam.

    I agree with you when you say that ‘There is in fact no sharp break; no more than there is a sharp break between the sub-continent and the cognate population of Iran’. It is this ‘no sharp break’ that gently separates Indus Culture and population from Persian and Central Asian to the west and Indian to the east.

    But I will like you to re-examine your thoughts on the influence or affect of a ‘political entity’ on a ‘cultural entity’. The case in point is the eight centuries of Muslim political domination and one century of British rule over Indus Culture that existed prior to that. More recently we have also witnessed a significant ‘cultural change’ since independence. The Culture of Pakistan in 2010 is considerably different than what it was in 1947.

  65. vajra


    Dear Sir, It is a pleasure to read your last post, and to ponder over the questions that you have raised. Let me admit frankly that my own thinking on this intriguing subject is very much a work-in-progress. I was shocked at being unable to refute Aisha Sarwari, and that made me look deeper, but not enough to be able to reach any other than the most preliminary conclusions.

    The ‘unbroken continuity’ argument is lamentably weak, and I am unable to endorse it at present. There is a long hiatus between archaeological records and the actual historical narrative taken up in Alexandrine times. 2,200 years or more cannot be dismissed lightly. However, the interesting parts commence after Alexander.

    It is certain that the Indus culture is distinct from any other culture on the sub-continent. What I have tentatively concluded is that there were at least two others which shared its characteristics; all three have in common a maritime outlook which is alien to the inland cultures of the Ganges Valley, say, or the Godavari or Narmada hinterland. This is subject to there being no objection to separating the territories through which the Narmada flowed from both the Indus culture and the Gangetic culture; perhaps we are looking at a sub-culture here, but this is not the place to go into that.

    Coming back to your point about the Indus culture being distinctive due to its shared heritage with Khurasan and with Balkh, this is clear and definitive. However, from a systemic point of view, may I draw your attention to the similar distinction enjoyed by the Brahmaputra valley, with its strong affinities to Tibet, and the Burmese hinterland. It is almost like looking at a mirror image. The same issues, the same problems can be seen, but side by side with these parallels and similarities, there are unique features which distinguish Indus and Brahmaputra very, very clearly.

    What was the influence of Islam? To draw these lands into the greater commonwealth of Islamic nations. It should not, however, detract from this character of the region to note in an academic context that similarly, the Brahmaputra valley, due to its influence by Tibet and Burma, was drawn into the commonwealth of Buddhist nations of south-east Asia.

    It is not possible to consider the huge impact of Islam on the central Asian and south west Asian regions in a note of this type. For that reason, it seems better to acknowledge it with a passing glance, rather than create an in-between position lacking in depth or maturity of understanding.

    At every step, it seemed valuable to recognise that each region has its absolutely different features, and, beyond a point, comparing them is fruitless.

    There are other features of interest. I would especially draw attention to the feature of ‘no sharp break’; this feature offers a gentle gradient of culture and civilisation separating the Indus valley from Persia (or Iran) on the one hand and the rest of the sub-continent (I am deliberately avoiding the provocative use of India in this connection) on the other.

    Here I am beyond my depth, and someone else needs to paint in the details of what was the transition westward. It seems to an amateur that Khurasan and Balkh were the intermediating lands; perhaps the Khwarizm state offered a similar transition for a duration; perhaps the Mongol states, followed by theTimurids, then the Uzbegs, too were of this type of intermediary.

    The idea has huge possibilities. If historiography accepted these smaller zones as more appropriate focal points for detailed study, it might lead to better history being written than is now the case. When studying Indian history, written with an all-Indian perspective, it was always very confusing following multiple tracks across centuries; by the time one gripped the politics and the developments of Magadha, the Chozhan kingdom had gone through several cycles of growth and decay, and it was necessary to clear one’s aching head of the Magadhan emperors, and deal with the sectional history of the Chozha, Chera and Pandya. Nilakantha Shastry was right, after all, in writing about a single entity, in his case, more or less the Cauvery delta (in his History of South India) and following him, and dealing with, for instance, the Indus as a single entity, might bring some order into our analysis.

    Would it be out of order to note that it was the same Nilakantha Shastry who edited the Comprehensive History of India, which was the first to present the history of the Indus culture regions in a meaningful way, and entirely captured the imagination of a young student of history 40 years ago.

    It is fair to say, therefore, that the Indus culture has distinctive features of its own, which cannot be found in other cultures, and that it was influenced from historical times by the neighbouring Iranian and Central Asian cultural complexes. It is also fair to say that this may be typical behaviour of marcher cultures, not the Indus culture alone, but others as well.

  66. Abdullah Pannikkaran


    May I make my farewell from this site by saying, an extremely erudite contribution from you. Well done !

  67. vajra


    I have noted your point about political entities and their influence over culture. It will take me a little time to think over your remark and its repercussions, and to read about it in context, therefore I would like to come back to this subject after a while.

    As it is, this new analytical angle, examining the Indus culture by itself, and again, separately, in a comparative framework, is mesmerising and seems capable of infinite returns on investment.

    Just for the sake of an example of the comparative framework, perhaps the significance of the maritime component of these ‘frontier’ cultures playing a vital role needs further reading and thinking.

  68. PMA

    vajra (April 21, 2010 at 10:57 pm):

    A very good rejoinder.

    On the subject of identity and cultural history of the Indus Region I will like to draw your attention to the unintended affects of 1947 and then of 1971. The cultural life of the Indus Region was literally butchered by the events of 1947. Firstly, the East Punjab and Kashmir region along with its Muslim as well as non-Muslim population was brutally snatched away from the main “Indus-land”. And secondly, a new and culturally alien population was thrown into the mix not clearly knowing its place in the new country. This whole experience caused a lot of cultural chaos. All of sudden a people who were always aware and conscience of its identity fell into confusion. On top of that ‘the Indus Man’ and ‘the Bengali Man’ were told that the two belonged to one nation, where both knew that it was not the case. A lot of energy was spent in search of our new identity. I describe the period between 1947 and 1971 as a period of ‘cultural confusion’. We were no longer Indian yet we were a Sub-continental nation with our other half somewhere in the middle of India. The separation of East Pakistan was a great political loss but on the cultural front for the Indus Region it provided an opportunity to regain its regional identity, hence the re-emergence of the ‘Indus Man’. Aitzaz Ahsan has literary drawn “The Gurdaspur-Kathiawar Salient” – a line physically separating Indus from India through “that indiscernible hump”. For some it may be a new concept but I have feeling that with time this redefined cultural and national identity will take hold and Pakistan will emerge as even stronger nation. At this moment it may be a hard-sell to our neighbors to the east, but with time they too will accept it. I am optimistic and hopeful for the future on both sides of ‘the hump’.

  69. Hayyer

    PMA and Vajra:
    With respect, there is no Indus Man and there is no Ganga man. I wrote something about it last year on PTH.
    Aitzaz Ahsan’s book, which I bought and put away some years ago had to be retrieved last year, but I could find nothing to change my original opinion.
    The Gurdaspur Kathiawar salient is geographically nonsense, as much as it is linguistically nonsense. There is no such salient. I wont mention the race aspects which are suspect anyway. Earlier there used to be talk of an East Punjab and a West Punjab. West Punjab was supposed to be the districts beyond the line joining Sheikupura to Montgomery; after independence it became the Indian parts of Punjab. Certainly East Bengal has differences with West Bengali but these aren’t such as to be obvious to a Punjabi.
    The arid Indus valley peters out eastwards at around the Ambala, Patiala, Karnal area. Beyond the Jumna it is more lush as rainfall increases.
    The Baloch, Sindhis, Kashmiris, Pakhtun and Punjabis are distinct peoples, but the people of East UP and West UP differ too. Identity is a trap, more so are constructed identities.
    Every human culture and language shades off into the other. There are very few clear cut demarcations. Kashmir is one as the Balti culture is, but those are exceptions caused by geography. But even here there are commonalities with the neighbours.
    So Western Pakistan has affiliation to eastern Afghanistan and Iran, and Indian affiliations are all over the subcontinental borders. But Gangaman, Indusman are like Batman and Ironman.

  70. PMA

    Hayyer (April 22, 2010 at 11:30 am):

    I have just started to read the book [The Indus Saga and The Making of Pakistan] and have not gone too far yet. It will take me some time to finish so I will hold my verdict till I do so. I have no problem accepting the Indus Region as one geographic and cultural region, including the Indian bits. Geographically “The Gurdaspur-Kathiawar Salient” makes sense. But culturally and linguistically as you have said, one “shades off into the other”. No doubt at one point the respective cultures of the East Punjab and the Ganges Valley meet.

    And your valid argument of ‘shading off’ could be applied to all ethnic groups of Pakistan as well. After all culture along both banks of the Indus at any given point is not very different. I think within the political entity of Pakistan, where one ethnic group linguistically and culturally ‘shades off’ into the next a case can be made for the overarching ‘Indus-man’, a logical follow up to the ‘Indus-land’.

  71. Bin Ismail

    @ vajra

    “….Pakistan, too, is facing/will face these identical issues, if not today, then within a very short time….”

    In my opinion, Pakistan has already faced “these identical issues” – or should I say “identity issues”. With the birth of Bangla Desh, it became evident that it takes a lot more than a common religion to bind the various segments on a nation together. I sincerely consider the “single identity” concept a fallacy. That is why I contend that “all” facets of identity, or in other words “all identities” must be respected. Summarily, these facets of identity include religion, ethnicity, racial background, geographical foreground, politics, linguistics, common aspirations and common apprehensions.

    In my humble opinion, what we generally appreciate as “clashes of identity”, as you’ve stated, are either highlighted differences or downplayed commonalities.

    Differences should be respected and commonalities highlighted.


  72. Akash

    I am still skeptical about this theory. I’ll have to stand with Hayyer on this one. It seems to be a recent invention, driven more by the events during/after Partition. It’s difficult to imagine that the united Punjab somehow had a clearly delineated cultural difference from the surrounding areas, and I think the Persian and Central Asian influence is overblown. But, of course, I can be wrong on this one. I have studied such theories mainly through music. Very few can argue that even the renowned Patiala Gharana had more in common with Persia than with the Indian heartland. Culture, as you said, is a much more fluid entity, constantly taking shape. A lot of Pathans have settled in India; Rohilkhand got its name from them. Where do they fit? I agree with you, however, that any discussion about Indian culture, north in particular, gets hijacked by Gangetic plain cultural motifs more often than not. It’s purely a function of its enormous population from time immemorial. Geographically too, it sits in the heart of India.

    I have to read that book though. It seems interesting.

    There is no need for anyone to show respect to anyone, unless it’s well earned. So, if you have a problem with Hindus not showing respect to Islam, I would request you to emigrate somewhere else. I don’t want you to be tortured in a Kufr land, or whatever nonsense you call it. Try to reason with your Hindu abusers as to why they should be loving to Islam rather than bludgeoning them.

  73. Bin Ismail

    @ Abdullah Pannikkaran

    “….May I make my farewell from this site…?”

    Please do us all this favour. Maulana! Inspite of the fact that your belated farewell will leave us all broken-hearted, for its being belated, you will, however, be remembered for your uniquely profound wisdom.

  74. PMA

    Bin Ismail (April 22, 2010 at 8:23 pm):

    Let me go along with you and ask you this question:

    Within the framework of “respecting differences and highlighting commonalities” as suggested by you, do you see a possibility of agreeing upon one overarching common “Indus Culture” for the entire Indus Region?

  75. silk router

    The hindu (i.e. Sindhu) mentality is river-bound. This hindu faith is river-based, river-oriented. Hence the hindu has no problem with this Indusman (Sindhuman) theory.

    May the Sindhu (Indus) live again, may the Sindhuman (Indusman) become a self-respecting entity no more under the boot of an arab ideology from the riverless Makkah.

    The IVC (Indus Valley Civilisation) seals show naked dancing girls, half-naked meditators in yogi position, rhenoceros and elephants, a non-arabic script and language, no date palms, no Sharea Faisals or Jinnah Avenues in the Harappa city, no madrassas, no totalitarian-fascist religion with an absolutist-finalist claim, no suicide belts and vests, no burqas – may the real IVC stuff relive in the Sindhu river valley again.

    Three cheers for the Sindhuman (Indusman)!!!

  76. silk router

    Allow me a quick postscript.

    And what about the Sindhuwoman (Induswoman)?

    When will she have a free-and-safe voice – a fearless voice free from arabic dictates imposed by a totalitarian 7th century tribal male god and his enforcers?

  77. Bin Ismail

    @ PMA

    Thank you. In my opinion, the very concept of a single-facet identity is a fallacy. Culture, indeed is one of the facets of identity. Exclusively, on the plain of this identity, and confined to “cultural identity”, yes, there can, in my opinion, be an overarching Indus Culture. This would be comparable to the term of an overarching Chinese Culture or the term Oriental Cuisine. Within China, people would tend to view a multiplicity of cultures, but when viewed from the outside, a monolithic Chinese Culture does appear to exist.

    In principle, I would agree with Hayyer’s words: “Every human culture and language shades off into the other”. So if we recognize an entity such as the “Indus Culture”, we would also have to be cognizant of the “shading off” of one cultural hue into the other. But then again, this is what would appear to someone viewing from outside.

    With respect to the “overall identity”, I retain my view that the single-facet identity concept is a fallacy – whether that facet be culture or religion.


  78. B. Civilian

    @Bin Ismail

    just to add that there is an objective analysis of identity and there also is the subjective view of one’s own identity. democracy, politics and important aspects of statecraft sometimes have to deal with the subjective view, regardless of the objective analysis. the subjective view is as important and potentially fluid as any other perception of reality.

  79. Bin Ismail

    @ B. Civilian

    Well said.

  80. PMA

    Bin Ismail (April 23, 2010 at 12:48 am):

    What Hayyer is saying about “cultures and languages shading off into the other” is universally true. So there are no two views about that. What I am asking in this open forum is this:

    a) Do we agree that there is such a geographical entity as “Indus Region” encompassing the entire Indus basin?

    b) If so then within the ground rule set by you – respecting local differences and highlighting overall commonalities – could we also agree upon an overarching “Indus Culture”? Your answer seems to be yes.

    c) And then moving one step further. Could this common “Indus Culture” be mobilized as our National Identity without loosing our subsumed local multiple identities that we seem to cherish so much?

    In my opinion such multi-layer identity system will satisfy those who wish to preserve their local ethnic identities as well those who wish to develop an overall National Identity.

  81. Parvez

    Akash say:
    There is no need for anyone to show respect to anyone, unless it’s well earned. So, if you have a problem with Hindus not showing respect to Islam, I would request you to emigrate somewhere else. I don’t want you to be tortured in a Kufr land, or whatever nonsense you call it. Try to reason with your Hindu abusers as to why they should be loving to Islam rather than bludgeoning them.”
    This very interesting as to the treatment of minorities by Secular Bharti state and they want to advise Indusman on goodness of their way of life.
    Let me tell you Bhartis, Indus is my land, I am because I exist and it is pain in your butt and it is not our problem.
    Remember, Indus land extends to Panipat.

  82. Bin Ismail


    Yes. I quite appreciate what both, you and Hayyer are saying. Let me further elucidate my point of view:

    1. With respect to the geographical identity, yes, an Indus Region could be defined.

    2. With respect to the cultural facet of identity, yes, an Indus Culture, too, could be defined.

    3. Based on “only” these 2 facets of identity, geographical and cultural, exclusive of the other equally important facets, building a “National Identity” – to me would seem premature.

    4. I think the factor of “common aspirations” is as pertinent as geography and culture, when it comes to nation-building. As for differences in religion and ethnicity, they are likely to remain, and thus deserve respect.


  83. Prasad

    Aah here goes Parvez…Looks like Parvez, Ganpat, Silk Router and Paniky are all from the same IP address…

    and Ganpat a.k.a Parvez a.k.a Paniky – why panipat, extend all upto Lothal also

  84. Hayyer

    “Geographically “The Gurdaspur-Kathiawar Salient” makes sense.”
    We can take up discussion when you have finished the book. It makes no sort of sense to me except as an argument by Aitzaz Ahsan to justify a Pakistani boundary including Gurdaspur, Amritsar, Ferozepur and Jullunder in Pakistan, as well showing that the founder of Pakistan was not a mohajir but native to Pakistan.
    The Punjab regions go under a variety of names from Potohar in the north to Malwa in the east and the Seraiki speaking areas in the south. Central Punjab or Majha lies evenly divided between India and Pakistan. AA’s notional line (his term) divides Majha and Malwa as well as the Jullunder Doab. It runs through the Dogri speaking tract separating Kathua from Pathankot creating commonalities of identity between Punjabis and Kutchies. There are some surely but not nearly as many as the laterally commonalites divided by the GKs. Is Lahore closer, culturally, linguistically and genetically to Hoshiarpur than it is to Ahmedabad?
    If I may make so bold as to answer questions directed at bin Ismail
    “a) Do we agree that there is such a geographical entity as “Indus Region” encompassing the entire Indus basin?”
    Undoubtedly so.

    “b) If so then within the ground rule set by you – respecting local differences and highlighting overall commonalities – could we also agree upon an overarching “Indus Culture”? Your answer seems to be yes.”
    Identities between the Sindhi, Punjabi, Pakhtun and Baloch cultures seem hard to grasp for me but I have no knowledge of Baloch culture and what little I know of Sindhis in India point only to some broad commonalities.

    “c) And then moving one step further. Could this common “Indus Culture” be mobilized as our National Identity without loosing our subsumed local multiple identities that we seem to cherish so much?”
    Good luck with that.

    “In my opinion such multi-layer identity system will satisfy those who wish to preserve their local ethnic identities as well those who wish to develop an overall National Identity.”
    It is a chimerical search. World wide I know of no exclusive nationality based around a river basin. No Nileman, Amazonman, Volgaman or Mekongman, let alone a Gangaman or Kaveriman.
    There was a Nile culture around the Pharaoh’s time and cultures did develop around the Indus and the Euphrates and other river systems. But did they create nations?
    Pakistan does not need a common source for its identity. India gets along with0ut one, and it is a much more variegated place. Pakistan’s beginning was in Islam but it is not correct to say that Pakistan has failed because Bangladesh broke away. You can run a perfectly decent modern state with modern political ideas alone by ignoring the basis on which Pakistan was created .

  85. Bin Ismail

    @ Hayyer

    1: “….No Nileman, Amazonman, Volgaman or Mekongman, let alone a Gangaman or Kaveriman….”

    True. Beside the fact that the term ‘so-and-so-riverman’, is uncustomary, it also does not always work. That is why I was inclined to compare it to the term ‘Chinese cuisine’. The Cantonese cuisine is not the same as Manchurian cuisine. Yet from the South Asian perspective, one could hardly tell one from the other and they would broadly be classified as Chinese. So even without relying heavily on the term ‘Indusman’, one could still broadly identify an ‘Indus Culture’. On the other hand, if someone chooses to adopt the term ‘Indusman’, I don’t see it as much of an issue.

    2: “….Pakistan’s beginning was in Islam but it is not correct to say that Pakistan has failed because Bangladesh broke away. You can run a perfectly decent modern state with modern political ideas alone by ignoring the basis on which Pakistan was created….”

    That was put eloquently. However, may I put forward my opinion on this – Pakistan’s begining was NOT in Islam – the ‘creed of Islam’ per se. It was in pursuance of a secure economic, political and social future for the Muslim-majority states of undivided India.

  86. Bin Ismail

    @ PMA

    With respect to developing a National Identity, I believe our gravest mistake, as a nation, was that while one hand we relied solely on religion, we ignored the other facets of identity such as a common history, geography, culture and common aspirations, on the other. What was worse, was the fact that the one facet of identity we relied so heavily on, was itself politicized, rendering it too, subject to dissent.

  87. silk router

    to bin ismail

    islam can never be apolitical. the moment you take islam for identity it will lead to politcal infighting. the kuran is a very ambiguous text. muslims verbally declare that kuran contains perfect guidance and then end up bickering over every possible theme without coming to any peaceful or honest conclusion. merely declaring (no matter how vociferously or violently) kuran to be free from contradictions does not make it free from contradictions. muslim majority implies islam as ruling ideology implies unending political and identity conflicts due to the many contradictions in the kuran.

    when I write that to muslims then I receive the standard conceited answer : you have not read the kuran in original arabic, you are not a scholar of islam and in kuran there are no contradictions. Muslims think that by making such boastful assertions/declaration they can solve real problems in the real world. A person can declare umpteen times he is 3 meters tall and yet he will never be so tall. Similarly contradictions do not go away by being declared as non-contradictions.

  88. Hayyer

    Silk Router:
    If you want to discuss Islam or comparative religious theologies you need to go to some site that focuses on such matters. Unless you are drawn by habit and temperament to spam about Muslims on Pakistani sites you would be better engaged elsewhere.

  89. PMA

    Bin Ismail (April 23, 2010 at 8:48 am):
    Bin Ismail (April 23, 2010 at 1:03 pm):

    You and I are converging on some points. I think. You have so far rightly identified commonality of ‘history, geography, culture and aspirations’ as some of the ingredients of a nation and its identity. This is the ‘highlighting the commonalities’ part of your point. Then you have also rightly pointed out ‘religion and ethnicity’ as realities of individual and group life. Respecting these differences is the second part of your views. I agree with you. So let me try to sum up:

    “A Pakistani Identity could or should be built on the commonalities of ‘history, geography, culture and aspirations’ of the land and the people of Pakistan and issues such as religion and ethnicity should be respected but not highlighted.”

    In my view there are some other ingredients that could be added to the list such as ‘justice and rule of law’, ‘individual rights’ etc. etc.

    This is a good ground work. So within the polity of Pakistan let us collectively promote “the commonalities of our history, geography, culture and aspirations”. Let us create a “fair and just society” and downplay our “religious and ethnic” differences. And in the process we will have a National Identity of our own; unique to ourselves. Thank you for helping us to see through this thorny issue of National Identity of Pakistan.

  90. Bin Ismail

    @ silk router

    “…..A person can declare umpteen times he is 3 meters tall and yet he will never be so tall…..”

    These words of wisdom from you, so perfectly describe your unfounded claims about Islam and the Quran.

    Now with reference to your other pearls of wisdom, may I respectfully point out that:

    1. Any law and any text can be subjected to multiple interpretations. This phenomenon occurs every day in the courts of law. The same law is interpreted by one judge in one way, by another in another.

    2. There have been literalists in every religion who have this compulsive propensity to interpret literally, remaining focused on the letter of the law and oblivious of the spirit. There are some who would believe that Krishn literally stole butter. There are others who believe that “butter” allegorically refers to the “cream of religion” or in other words the essence of revealed wisdom. Imagine how it would sound if someone took Jesus’ words “walk the extra mile” literally and walked a mile ahead of his destination each time, never being able to reach it. Imagine someone taking the Quranic injunction “hold fast to the rope of Allah” literally and setting out in search of that literal rope, failing to figure out whether the rope he seeks is made of jute or nylon.

    3. The clergy, my friend tends to pursue literalism. Worse, when this clergy develops interest in politics. Then it goes beyond even the crudest literalism. Political power at any cost, then becomes the rule. Any interpretation that maintains the clergy’s supremacy goes.

    4. It took a while before Europe learned that the clergy had to be kept out of politics. The Church and State, till then a fused couple, were separated – and the West rose.

    5. Religion has its own sphere. The dimensions of Morality and Spirituality belong to this sphere. State has its own sphere. Statecraft and good-governance belong to this sphere. In due course, Muslims too, will learn that these spheres have to be kept distinct, yet respecting both.

    6. The contradictions in the Quran, you so vehemently insist on, are little beyond perceived contradictions. In your worthy case, instead of suggesting original Arabic text, I could recommend changing your “goggles”.

    7. I would second Hayyer’s advice to you about trying another site that focuses on Comparative Religion – in your peculiar case Competitive Religion.

  91. Bin Ismail

    @ PMA (April 23, 2010 at 7:29 pm)

    I could not possibly have put it in better words. Very well said indeed. Thank you for your kind words of appreciation.


  92. PMA

    Hayyer (April 23, 2010 at 10:50 am):

    We are not establishing a ‘Pakistan National Identity’ exclusively based around a river basin. As Bin Ismail has pointed out, a common ‘Indus Culture’ is only one of the many ingredients that we possess. Please read my preceding post. But thanks for wishing us good luck in our journey “chimerical” or not.

  93. silk router

    To bin ismail

    You wrote: “In due course, Muslims too, will learn that these spheres have to be kept distinct, yet respecting both.”

    But of what of those who do not learn? They are not going to be a small number, nor are they going to take it lying down. In fact that is what is happening in Pakistan after 1200 years if islam. Unless some basic arrogances about islam and in islam are courageously given up publicly it will not become better. The promise that you give to us and yourself is very old and remains unfulfilled.

    As regards Indus culture (which is very desirable) – it is only possible if the arabic-islamic dictates are reduced to zero. You can’t look or pray to Makkah and develop Indus culture. That is analytically impossible. You have to look to Indus and pray to this mother-river of yours. Look at the terrible situation in which she is today (ecologically, ethnically, culturally, spititually, economically etc.). That is what I mean by river-based culture. You pakistanis are angry when good suggestions/examples come from 21st century India but fall on your knees when even bad ones come from 7th century Arabia. This is your religiously induced schizophrenia. I write about islam (=arabic imperialism and hegemony) because it determines your life in Pakistan excessively – I am compelled, so to speak. Then why blame me?

    The words “pray to Indus” used by me here will puzzle you. But arabic-islamic meaning of prayer is not what I mean here. Think over it meditatively.

  94. Bin Ismail

    @ silk router

    “….But of what of those who do not learn?….”

    This question somehow strikingly depicts and describes the worthy questioner himself.

  95. PMA

    silk router (April 23, 2010 at 8:40 pm):

    “As regards Indus Culture – it is only possible if the Arabic-Islamic dictates are reduced to zero. You can’t look or pray to Makkah and develop Indus Culture. You have to look to Indus and pray to this mother-river of yours. That is what I mean by river-based culture.The words “pray to Indus” used by me here will puzzle you. But Arabic-Islamic meaning of prayer is not what I mean here. Think over it meditatively.”

    Your understanding of “Indus Region” and “Indus Culture” is not the same as mine. There is no religious component to the “Indus Culture” as defined here and it is not “river-based”. May be you have no clue what we are talking about. Our “Indus Culture” comes from the land and the people of the “Indus Region”. If you accept that then you are welcome to join us.

  96. Hayyer

    No, you are a little boy who cannot be slapped and silenced.
    You are a stubborn little boy

  97. PMA

    silk router (April 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm):

    “What if the descendants of those who left or had to leave the Indus region in 1947 want to come back? Will they too be accepted with open arms and guaranteed safety and dignity and full human rights? Can they re-possess what their ancestors were forced to give up and flee for their lives? Can they re-enliven their faiths?”

    I personally wish those six million or so who left Pakistan in 1947 did not do so. But the fact is that they did. It is too late to reverse the clock. Similarly the eight million that joined us from India are now part and parcel of us. More recently we have taken in three million from our neighbor to the west. These are international events over which ordinary citizens like you and I have very little control. The best approach is try to build a ‘fair and just’ society with what you got. You are stuck in ‘Arabs, invaders, makkah, blah, blah, blah’. How about channeling your energies towards the betterment of your people. You want to worship a river. Go ahead do it. No body is stopping you. But don’t expect others to do so. Frankly, this conversation is getting so silly. I need to get off.

  98. Hayyer

    Silk Router:
    What do you want me to appreciate? Your biases against Arabs and Muslims?
    This thread was about Pakistani identity till you steered it away into a rut.
    Do you have a list of people who want to return to Pakistan from India, or vice-versa? Who wants to go back on either side?

  99. Parvez

    silk router
    Thank you for clarifying your stand. The best way to pay homage to Sindu is to let the lands of Sindu be united, mainly Punjab, Kashmir and some parts of Rajistan. Let those people be free to form their identity as they wish. I can assure you that we would maintain brotherly relations with all our neighbors. I’m willing to name Pakistan as Sindudesh and make it secular republic. What do you think?
    I make this proposal in all sincerity and all people of goodwill are sure to support it because it offers a lot to people. Only Arabs and people of colonial mindset would oppose it. I will be waiting because we can start a collaborative effort.

  100. Parvez

    PS We call everybody in the new state Sindus.

  101. Bin Ismail

    @ silk router

    Try the Silk Route – Northwards.

    Bon voyage.

  102. Hayyer

    Silk Router:
    It is not necessary to refute nonsense, especially the nonsense of religious hate.
    You want to drag every thread into a discussion of Muslims and Arabs. Here on PTH not many have interest in that, or in attacking other religions. You may have noticed that by now. You are therefore on the wrong forum and should consider taking your discourse with its well worn narrative elsewhere.