The Ostrich Syndrome: A Teacher’s Perspective

By  Nabiha Meher Shaikh

As someone constantly exposed to the so-called “youth” of this country, I do believe I have some insight and some valid criticism of the recent ban on facebook, which, ostensibly, has to do with blasphemous content.
 
Firstly, what is the “youth” of this country? And why are they lumped into a monolithic entity? Why is it assumed that they are all one and the same when their realities are different in many ways. To assume that our “youth” is living air-conditioned lives, constantly logged on to the internet, chatting away etc. is purely delusional. The truth is, the vast majority of the “youth” are very poor and cannot access websites. The “youth” is actually the majority of our population. And we are constantly trying to box them into holes on what they should be, what they should do, how they should think, how they should behave, killing off any diversity that exists… this has lead to an increase in intolerance which I have noticed in my less than three decades of existence, despite the fact that sensitivity towards women’s issues has increased as compared to my generation (I’m only talking about educated people here though. I do acknowledge that the ground realities for women have become even more horrific). Sounds contradictory? It’s not. Read on. It’s all connected to religion and wanting to desperately prove that their religion is not barbaric towards women, a criticism that has very valid roots since, let’s face it, the status of women in the Muslim world is far from decent. So even though I see an increase in gender sensitivity, I also see an increase in linear thinking, mostly intolerant, reeking of a severe persecution complex (“the world is out to get us and destabilise Islam!”), which is very, very dangerous.
 
The “youth” have grown up in a post 9/11 world so they have little or no living memory of a time when the world wasn’t obsessed with us. I remember people scratching their heads, perplexed about where this Pakistani I speak of was. India was all they knew. And now… well… we’re everywhere, one of the most recognisable countries in the world, a hub of terrorism, a country on the forefront of the oxymoronic “war on terror”, perhaps on the verge of self-destruction, “the most dangerous country in the world”. Our grief has become the world’s entertainment. The world watches as we are bombed, killed, destroyed, humiliated and demonised. And sadly, it truly feels like no one cares. We all know, for sure, that our lives are worth less than any other lives, truly worthless. These kids have always known that. What’s worse is that as more and more innocent people die in their own country, these beliefs get strengthened. As the privileged ones travel the world, and are tortured at airports thanks to the colour of their skins and passports, they face humiliation which angers them for good reason. Why wouldn’t being called a “rag-head who will pray to his sand nigger god to destroy us” enrage someone? They have grown up in a country full of unrest and at war with itself. They have grown up in a world that constantly reminds them they are the “other” in every sense. They have grown up in a world where “Muslim” has become a synonym for “terrorist.” Imagine what it does to their psyche. Imagine growing up like that. It saddens me immensely because, as a teacher who is close to her students, I see the toll it takes on them. I see their anger and I sympathise with it. I don’t agree that this is a war on Islam per se since that is just too simplistic an explanation, but I do understand why they would feel this way.
 
As a teacher of critical thinking, I have a frustrating job. I love it because it is very rewarding, but teaching critical thinking to kids who have been taught NOT to think is quite challenging. They come to me with blinkers on. And, obviously, there is much resistance to thinking about multiple perspectives at first. The majority don’t want their worldview shaken. Most don’t want to hear that there is another valid perspective at first. It’s hard to digest and I know that because I remember the IB TOK classes which I model some of my classes on. It wasn’t easy. But then again, critical thinking is never easy, nor should it be. It should be constant tool used for one’s personal growth, and it is absolutely necessary in order to evolve and become tolerant. This is why I feel the recent ban on facebook is dangerous and promotes a culture of intolerance.
 
As a teacher who often jokes that her class should be called “How to Grow a Brain” I strongly believe that banning facebook sends out a counter-productive and frightening message. And no, this is not a slippery slope. This country suffers “The Ostrich Syndrome” and this ban is proof. We like to stick our heads in the sand, like kids sticking their fingers in their ears screaming “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!” I’d like to ask all those constantly wanting to censor this that or the other what kind of message they think they are sending out. Because this is how I see it: if you don’t like it, ban it. If you don’t agree, pretend it doesn’t exist. Everyone else is wrong anyway, since they’re all out to get us. There is no need for productive dialogue, there is no need to have a healthy discourse; heck there’s no need to turn the other cheek and ignore it. This is the message: stick your head in the sand until it’s over. Oh, but it’ll never be over since the world is out to get us.
 
And I ask you: why do I HAVE to be offended? Is our faith so weak that a cartoon will destroy it? And even if I am offended, why am I not being given the option to boycott facebook voluntarily? A voluntary ban would have been much, much more effective in order to send a message out. A blanket ban has only lead to exactly what we like to cry about so much: negative publicity in the world press and many outraged Pakistanis protesting the ban such as me. How conveniently we pick and choose from religion! Lest we forget, I would like to remind the Muslims reading this of the incident of the woman who used to throw garbage at our prophet. The prophet, in whose name we claim we are protesting, was a peaceful, cooperative man who forgave people who pelted him with garbage and rocks. Responding with an intelligent dialogue, responding with patience is, in my opinion, the best way to protest one’s concern. Think about it: why is this competition going on? Why are we responding in exactly the manner the world expects us to? Why are so hell bent on proving that we are not tolerant? Responding with anger, with outrage, will only strengthen Islamophobic beliefs, which will, by the way, make these Islamophobes happy since we are playing right into their hands and giving them the reaction they expect and probably want.
 
As for me, I am going to go change my “Restore Judiciary” shirt to “Restrain the Judiciary” adding the neglected article whose absence has so peeved me since I first bought it during the lawyer’s movement. The fact that the courts are acting like tyrannical parents is something I strongly object to. The fact that they are entertaining demands by catering to the religious parties is abhorrent, especially since these religious parties are incapable of winning in democratic elections. I protest this ban on facebook and my objection to the competition doesn’t count since it’s not voluntary. Without the freedom to offend, free speech ceases to exist. And as someone who grew up in Zia’s oppressive regime, I know how dangerous it is to censor and ban things based on religious sentiments. Intolerant religious interpretations should not be immune to religion, nor should we allow religion to be used to promote intolerance. For those who have witnessed it, we do not wish to see it again.
 
I may not agree with the venom being spewed through the media, but I’d rather get multiple perspectives than just one, leaving me no choice but to think only the way I am apparently supposed to. And the fact that we let our media go ahead and spew this venom in the first place reeks of hypocrisy. While we think it’s perfectly all right to demonise the world, promoting intolerance and hatred for the West, creating Hindu-Zionism conspiracy theories, we strongly object when the world responds in kind. Again, I ask, why is it ok for us and not anyone else? Are we all meek little innocents? And again, what kind of message is this sending the “youth” we are oh so very concerned about? I’ll tell you what it leads to because I battle with it constantly. It leads to essays that are rants on how evil the world is, full of hate speech, and with absolutely no sensitivity to the other perspective. It has, like I said, lead to a persecution complex so strong that it’s very hard to break. It has lead to people like Faisal Shahzad. Now you tell me. Do we want more of him? Or more of those who are willing to debate peacefully instead of resorting to violence? Because at the rate we’re going, no one will need to bomb us into the stone ages. We’re going there ourselves.

70 Comments

Filed under Education, Islamism, Pakistan, youth

70 responses to “The Ostrich Syndrome: A Teacher’s Perspective

  1. YLH

    Your article is making me feel old Nabiha.
    Not long ago we were the youth. Heck it seems like yesterday that were in Os and As and AP classes.

  2. Me too Yasser! Can you believe I’m going to my 10 high school reunion in Wales this year? But sadly, that attitude you and I used to battle in school has reached another level of intolerant.

  3. sparklingway

    The Ostrich Syndrome covers the denial of child sexual abuse and homosexuality in Pakistan as well for a society that lacks the courage to tackle any issues that it deems controversial, denies their very existence.

  4. shiv

    Although Pakistan is not an individual with a paintbrush, in a sense, Pakistan has painted itself into a corner.

    When Islam is the greatest thing in the universe, problems and suffering cannot be because of Islam – they have to be from outside Islam. Hence all outsiders must be hated.

    After cleaning out most non Muslim minorities from Pakistan (down from 18% in 1947 to 3% now), people find that suffering still exists. It can’t be Islam, because Islam is perfection. Therefore it must be Qadianis, Shias, Barelvis or Hindus or Zionists.

    When children are taught that differences are wrong and uniformity is right and that differences can be attacked physically, they will grow up to be adults who attack each other physically when they detect differences between each other.

    Pakistan has no hope unless Pakistanis can redefine Islam and live comfortably with Islam in diversity as Indian Muslims do.

  5. @shiv

    Wonderful and definitely original thinking. Never seen anything like this before. Dazzling in its insight.

    There is a logical disconnect in your second paragraph, but that doesn’t matter, it’s a defect in the logic, not relevant in any way.

  6. Mullah Nasiruddin

    TROLL ALERT.

  7. Jman

    See I was off your opinion, until you realise that some of the pictures made in this contest were far more degrading than the turban pictures that came out.

    I dont have the words to describe what those pictures were, but there has to be a line somewhere!

    When someone says something about your mother or father you will probably end up in an argument right? So why the so passive mood when it comes our Beloved Master SAW?

    I suppose its enlightened moderation to show that your not irked by all this right!

  8. Pagan

    TROLL ALERT

  9. Zainab Ali

    An excellent article by a professional teacher; we are certainly making our way back into the stone age; because the extremism in our attitudes either being conservatives or liberals is so apparent that those who want to adopt a moderate approach are languishing in these difficult times.

  10. Arun,

    The only thing I feel I can do, right now, is to educate and empower. This is where I feel critical thinking needs to be promoted. If one can teach people to think, analyze, evaluate multiple perspectives, then we’re on the right track. Sadly, the majority of school, public or private, don’t want to teach their students how to think.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with recovery. Diversity was killed off and not tolerated within my own generation as well. We are not a pluralistic society sadly.

  11. Jim

    TROLL ALERT

  12. I love this Paki bashing fallacy: bringing our past in and then linking it to the assumption that things can’t change.

    Jim,

    Yes, now. I’m not concerned about debating the past here. I’m concerned about the fact that we are raising generation upon generation with only linear thinking. This cycle must be disrupted and the education system must be empowered to teach critical thinking. If people lack the ability to think, then they will not be able to make informed choices and can easily become prey to propaganda. Isn’t that what we’re seeing here?

    Jman,

    I grew up after the age of three and didn’t remain stuck in an infantile stage. If someone chooses to say anything about my parents they are free to do so. If they are not significant to me, it really won’t affect me at all. I know I love my parents no matter what anyone says and nothing they can do will undermine that. My love for my parents is not conditional: it will not end if someone criticizes them. I most definitely will not end up in an argument with someone who I don’t care about or do not know. And even if I do, banning them, banishing them, cussing them out, sending them death threats will not solve the problem.

    I have no idea what “I suppose its enlightened moderation to show that your not irked by all this right” means. It makes no sense in English. I’m assuming it means that you are trying to slot me, box me, like the youth, into a little pigeon hole you have just found: “the enlightened moderation” If someone doesn’t agree, bash them, say something negative until the agree. The bully them into thinking what I’m thinking syndrome. Thanks for giving me ideas for a new article.

  13. YLH

    Dear Nabiha,

    Beware old friend – Arun Gupta is a card carrying member of Hindu-fascists inc. You know the NRI types who fund all the major fascist bodies in India.
    I know because I met him. He is also an idiot- but that is a genetic issue unrelated to the issue at hand.

    Jim is probably just a sockpuppet of his. Arun and his sister are paid trolls funded by some sort of cyber-warfare division…either that or they are just a farigh bunch of scoundrels deputed to troll Pakistani websites from morning to evening.

    To suggest that Pakistani youth is increasingly made to conform to one perspective is a pipedream of Hindutva project USA.

    As for Lahore Resolution … Forget that the document is the best guarantee against majoritarian tyranny and is quoted by smaller ethnicities…forget the fact LR was the cornerstone of Mujeeb’s 6 points…. And let us also forget that the author of the Lahore Resolution was also one of the contributors of the UNHR charter. Who cares right? And direct action day… Most indians entertain such myths about DAD! Ofcourse facts show a completely different picture but Indians like our Pakistani nazaria types are brought on a diet of hate and ideology of other. Theirs is slightly more subtle but the effect is the same. Telling the truth is never a priority for them.

  14. YLH

    Shiv,

    Are you really kidding me. Indian muslims live with diversity?

    Frankly the most conservative minded backward Muslims I have come across are from India. It is true that they are not terrorists but that has to do with something quite different.

    Pray tell though ..were Indian Muslims accepting modernity when Deoband passed that fatwa about women being not allowed to work in 2010 or when Indian Muslims rallied the Congress to overturn the Shahbano case? Did you know that even the Pakistani law does not allow arbitrary talaqs and has provisions for alimony?

    Frankly stop this narrative of self congratulation Indians. You have a valid point about Islam but don’t push it my friend.

  15. shiv

    TROLL. EDITED.

  16. mayo

    EDITED. TROLL ALERT.

  17. Lol Yasser you call out the “TROLL” alert and I end up with facebook messages instantly!

  18. yasserlatifhamdani

    …. You have FACEBOOK? Kaisay? Abay yaar… email me right now. yasser.hamdani@gmail.com.

  19. Brad Goodman

    I think one of the major problem with pakistan has been the attitude of blaming every one but itself for all the problems. Be it India for not be supportive post partition and kashmir or Americans in 1965 / 1971 war. Then post 1990 afganistan. Then blame Saudis for wahabi islam ofcourse blame zionist hindus and quidanis when no one else is around. Blame corrupt leaders and military every so often so basically all the fault lies with other and not me is the attitude. The only way one can solve a problem is when one accpets there is a problem in all honesty. Denying the existence of a problem or partial acknowledgement (lip service) will only delay the inevitable.

  20. Emailing you the links. Just read this on a fb friend’s status and think it’s brilliant: “Tum kitnay IP maro gay, har ghar say proxy niklay ga!”

  21. Agreed Brad, but that’s also the direct result of being blamed for the entire world’s woes. If all else fails, it must have been Pakistan is what the kids (since I’m talking in context of this article) keep hearing, which leads to a backlash.

    However, one also cannot deny that Pakistanis are amongst the most self critical people in the world. Far more so than the other South Asian nations in my opinion. After all, if I, a college teacher, was also in denial, would I have been able to write something like this?

  22. mayo

    @Nabiha

    Your first point only corroborates Brad’s thesis (blaming others for Pakistan’s problems). World’s problems existed before 1947 as well. It is not as if people were waiting for the birth of Pakistan to start blaming it for all the woes. Land area that is now Pakistan, the geography (borders) etc. existed before 1947 as well. No one blamed the western British India for all the world’s problem. Pakistani leaders and people made a few choices in the past and are living with their repercussions.

    You say Pakistanis are self-critical. How can linear thinking and critical analysis go hand-in-hand? Can a few rational and questioning people make up for the deficiencies of the masses?

    You have done a good job at writing this article. It does come across as an honest and rational attempt. Kudos for that!

    It would make for a better discussion if you don’t omit otherwise clean posts that are critical of or differ from your assertions/positions.

  23. There are many of us devoting ourselves to the pursuit of education, especially promotion of critical thinking and international understanding. It is a slow process. We cannot educate the entire nation miraculously overnight. It is an ongoing process, and sadly, I might not even see the effects of the results in my lifetimes.

    I am not an admin, nor do I have any control over what posts gets edited or deleted. I am happy to answer any questions whatsoever and welcome criticism. However, criticism related to this article I welcome and would love to discuss, but when it comes down to it, some of the comments were blatant Pakistan bashing only. I know because I got them in my inbox and I totally respect the admins for moderation their forum.

    My comment to Brad are not meant to be a dichotomy. There are, and I’m sorry no one’s realised this, a simple analysis of why, the youth at least, may get defensive. That is not my own personal opinion. I clearly state that in this article towards the end when I ask “are we meek innocents?”

  24. Kaalket

    What is the relevance of Pakistan in this 21st centuty? Does Pakistan has any thing to teach or contribute toward human development ? Guess , i would like to know if anything original in thought, science or technology which has sprung from Pakistan or Pakistani way of living.

  25. Kaalket,

    That is a stupid comment that I can’t even be bothered to answer. I am willing to debate, but I’m not willing to watch this nonsensical Pakistani bashing. This is why the admins are putting out troll alerts!

  26. skjskjskj

    About the guy who said, if someone says something about your father/mother, you will retaliate..

    Heres an anecdote from my college life. The first day when we landed up in engineering college, seniors made us hear and say all sorts of nonsense about our maas and bhens and baaps. Some kids were offended to tears, but after a while we didnt mind it so much. At least not as much as the other stuff😀

    Now I believe there was more to it than just Jackass-ery, it was to make us realize that we could not take offense at or react to everything someone said. That was the wrong way to go about reacting to situations in life.

  27. Brad Goodman

    @Nabiha
    Thanks for response and apologies for not be clear. I understand pakistan is populated with 160 million people and there is a substantial population that is self critical. Guess this is the difference between pakistan and afghanistan from eyes of the world. When I am talking of people living in denial I am talking of two sections of people one are poor people following urdu press and others are followers of zaid hamid & Shireen mazari school. Now this population is sizeable enough for the world to be worried about. Classic case would be reaction from this class of people about Mumbai carnage. It ranged from Mossad RAW conspiracy to Kasab being Indian to there is absolutely no way this has any links to Pakistan to non state actors so story kept changing as details kept pouring but all these theories were only meant to support the final conclusion that this is a conspiracy against pakistan. It does not matter if the various statements made from time to time were contradicting each other since people were happily lapping it with no complaints. Zaid Hamid even went so far to say all this was justified if proven since this is payback to 1971.

  28. Brad Goodman

    There are hundreds of conflicts happening in the world and this will continue as long as humans populate this planet even if all these exisiting ones are resolved. Point is we either learn to live with them or least peacefully resolve them. There is a large section in pakistan that for some reason wants to take up the mythical leadership of muslim ummah now the reason I call it mythical is muslims from different nationalities are as different as chalk & cheese. Example would be bangladeshi muslim and punjabi muslims form the same country had to seperate from each other the same goes for Iran KSA Turkey all of these have big differences with each other. On the other hand a punjabi christian will have lot more in common with punjabi muslim. Same with Shia & Sunni from pakistan. So the point I am trying to make is pakistan has no real reason to get riled up about palestine iraq somalia or any other place in the world. Yes you can protest and help these people from human perspective but trying to fight their war (right or wrong) makes absolutely no sense.

  29. That’s a great example of mass hysteria based on national sentiment. Yes, our media went into overdrive and GEO, the channel that initially went into Faridkot was in a lot of trouble with the ISI.

    When I first started teaching this semester, many of my students were Zaid Hamid supporters. I never impose my opinion on any of them, but I didn’t deny that I was no fan of these conspiracy theories. All I did it teach them how to decipher reliable vs unreliable information, the different rhetoric people use, and how appeals to emotions can effectively be used to convince people. At the start of the class there were many insensitive anti-Indian remarks etc but by the end of the semester, they all knew better. Now, I can happily report that after just a few months of critical thinking, a few of the soon to be elite of this country became sensitive to other points of views. My students don’t use politically incorrect language, nor do they dismiss any valid argument. They tackle them with sensible, logical, rational arguements. It isn’t their fault they weren’t taught to think. They didn’t even know what a basic fallacy was. But they picked up fast. So it’s not impossible.

    Baby steps people, baby steps. I’m only one person.

    Oh, and before I forget, our “poor people” are not idiots. Our educated lot is often more ignorant sadly. We have a very apt term here called “parhay likhay jahil.” As someone in touch with many classes of this society, I can assure you that our poor people are far more worried about where their next meal with come from than with India or anything else. They are truly, truly disenfranchised.

  30. Brad Goodman

    I am gald to hear your experience and I am sure if people really start to use rational part of their brains rather than raw emotions then pakistan can become part of Asian economic success story and other countries will look at it as opportunity and not a problem. I guess the other thing that I strongly feel to point out is Pakistan Studies that is being fed to students from mainstream schools and friday sermons from local mullas I guess the former can be addressed easily than the later one being honest about history and respect for other faiths rather than steriotyping people as cunning evil devil worshipper will not make people tolerant or respectful towards their own minorities as well as when these young people migrate to western countries.

  31. Kaalket

    Nabiha,
    Every country has soul, sense of belonging and every nation has mission. The reason i asked about Pakistan is that how does the country direct its energy in achieving certain constructive goals pertaining to their self preception and sense of belonging in grand scheme of human civilization. Its not bashing but enquiry into the mind of Pakistani society .

  32. Jim

    Gee, we can see how much you folks entertain ‘critical thinking’ from the way you delete opinion that questions the historical b.s you have been brought up on — even when it is cogently presented, without abuse.

    You may not want to debate the past, but without understanding the past, you’ll have a tough time navigating the future. The idea of invoking the past is not undo it or point out how flawed the idea of Pakistan was (which your founding fathers pretty much acknowledged). Except for a few nutcases, no one in India wants to re-unite with Pakistan, much less absorb it or overrun it. Not out of any altruistic notion. The existence of Pakistan is important for India because it is a constant reminder that our idea of nation, the principles on which is exists, is noble and more durable…which is how it has been for millenia. Pakistan is the very antithesis of secular, pluralistic multi-ethnic, multi-religious, multi-lingual India, however imperfect and impure we may be.

    You, on the other hand, are from the “Land of the Pure.”

    The word Pakistan did not exist until it was formulated from an alphabet soup in 1930. There is no Pakistan Valley Civilization and Pakistan Ocean. It might well have been called Kapistan. Do you wonder why? Do you find that hard to digest?

    The only rationalization for Pakistan we hear is that it is a ‘homeland’ for Muslim…therefore to justify this you have to constantly propagate that muslims and minorities are treated badly in India. Of course they are. But, forget your minorities, do Muslims treat other Muslims any better in Pakistan? Sectarian violence in Pakistan is worse. You lost one half of the country and are barely hanging on to what remains.

    Having obliterated your minorities, you have difficulty explaining why the Muslim population has remained constant, if not increased in India…and why they are doing so well in many spheres of life (of course, they have suffered too…as have dalits, obcs etc).

    As for YLH’s gripe about ‘narrative of self congratulation,’ we don’t have to do that. The rest of the world takes care of of our PR which remind us occasionally how flawed and imperfect we are. We don’t have to pay PR agencies to write about India. We are self-critical to an extent you will never be (in your case, self-denial is the only thing that helps your existence). We are deeply conscious of our problems, our shortcomings, our blemishes etc even if the world showers us with encomiums.

    You want to know what the rest of the world thinks of Pakistan? Step out of your country with your green passport.

    Don’t for a moment imagine we hate you or wish you ill. Nothing would relax us more than a stable, prosperous Pakistan with whom we can live in peace as the U.S does with Canada. But your founding principles are not the same. Even in the debate and feedback that follows your article, one of the few signs of liberal thinking to come from the dark intellectual hole that is Pakistan, you show plenty of intolerance for others views. Not a good sign.

  33. Hayyer

    Jim:
    If as you say, the article is one of the few signs of liberal thinking in Pakistan why are you so critical of the ‘few’ liberal thinkers there.

  34. shiv

    Thre is a concept called “cognitive dissonance”. Cognitive dissonance is the anger you feel when you realise you have been “had”. When you are taught rubbish as history and later learn the truth you get angry and go into denial. Pakistan is full of people who are beginning to show cognitive dissonance and that is happening here too.

    Let me make it easier by adding the words

    “TROLL, EDITED”

    Go ahead and edit it maam – o teacher of young Pakistani children. Be Pakistani and edit out what is distasteful, like people who disagree or have different thoughts.

    And tehn lament that diversity is not allowed. LOL

  35. YLH

    Dear Jim,

    Something tells me that if you actually believed your own superiority you wouldn’t be wasting time trolling Pakistani websites.

    And you don’t have a point really. Ancient civilizations as nationalist symbols is an idea Europe rejected when Mussolini was thrown out. India has about as much claim if not less than Pakistan on our Indus valley civilization. But since you point out that it was not named so …do inform us where precisely is United States of America Valley civilization located. Or maybe Canada valley civilization? Indeed even the countries with ancient pasts don’t have valleys named after their nation states. But Indus is ours …not yours…make no mistake about it. Read Indus Saga by Aitzaz Ahsan.

    And if your second objection is to confessional nature of Pakistan’s creation …well we’ve already discussed partition and how it really happened. But if you insist on hackneyed narratives of confessionalism, even then frankly most nation states have come about as a result of ethnic and communal conflict. We are just another nation state.

    Learn to live with it.

    Shiv,

    Keh diya. Now be a man and don’t come back to such a website and interact with evil closed minded people like us. And don’t bother Nabiha. I am responsible for sending trolls like you packing.

  36. @YLH
    @Shiv

    Cognitive dissonance means no such thing. It refers to the individual’s wish to hold a consistent set of beliefs. Inconsistent beliefs are awkward intrusions, and sought to be removed. By linking it to Pakistani anger at being deceived, a hypothetical proposition which begs several questions, the term is being misused for polemical purposes by an apparently quarrel-seeking individual.

    If it is to be applied to present conditions of Pakistan, it is far more reasonable to apply it to the dichotomy felt by ordinary, man-in-the-street Pakistanis who are told by their religious right and Islamist apologists that Pakistan was set up for full expression of Islamist beliefs and who can see for themselves that they would probably be better off in a liberal, secular and democratic regime.

    It is precisely this dissonance that is being played out in this and other liberal forums. But what a strange reception this has received.

    These forces for progress and enlightened nation-building are moving heaven and earth to remind their nation that it was the vision of Jinnah to achieve a liberal, secular and democratic homeland for Indians who were Muslim in origin. When the distortions of the Mullahs are removed, the cognitive dissonance disappears: what Pakistan needs is what Pakistan should have been given originally.

    There should be, in fact, no conflict. The dissonance is caused by the Mullahs, and it is nothing like the completely flawed definition offered,Cognitive dissonance is the anger you feel when you realise you have been “had”. When you are taught rubbish as history and later learn the truth you get angry and go into denial. This is total rubbish, and a classic example of the damage caused by pop psychologists, who use half-digested phrases and misunderstood concepts to further their shrill and illogical arguments.

    Ironically, these liberal forces, rather than the Mullahs, are the forces which are being attacked most vehemently by a handful of Indians with no clear idea of what they are trying to achieve. Besides picking a fight, that is.

  37. YLH

    “Ironically, these liberal forces, rather than the Mullahs, are the forces which are being attacked most vehemently by a handful of Indians with no clear idea of what they are trying to achieve. Besides picking a fight, that is.”

    This is a crux of the issue. It never ceases to amaze me how people like Kashifiat – the kind who are likely to blow up in Mumbai or New York- are either ignored or at times this brave band of Indians joins up with them against Pakistanis.

    Now shiv mian invented the term Rich Anglophone Pakistani Elite (RAPE) to describe people like myself… which had me in stitches.

    As Uber-RAPE, aspiring to be UBER-UBER-RAPE,
    I can only be amused. But I am glad that there are people in India who recognize the utter futility of this kind of attack on people who – differences on history and national narratives aside- are your best hope for peace.

    Perhaps that is why the “RAPE” is attacked… the RAPE won’t go and blow up in Mumbai in retaliation. The RAPE will sometimes tolerate… at times delete … trolls.

  38. Since this conversation has turned into an ad hominem, where you are wanting to attack me personally instead of anything related to the article, I can’t be bothered. I don’t owe any of you anything. Thanks Yasser. I’m willing to debate constructively, which isn’t possible. This isn’t “diversity”- this is ganging up on Pakistan. Trolls for sure.

  39. shiv

    Bravo madam. Bravo.

    You have summed up Pakistan’s dual identity dilemma in four words “ganging up on Pakistan”

    It’s a tough life. A whole lot of people are indeed ganging up on Pakistan with glee. And they are calling Pakistanis “paranoid” to boot. Let’s not go into why that is happening.

    I am sure a Pakistani who sees his (or her) country as a sovereign nation state will be angered at all these people ganging up.

    But what of a person who sees Pakistan as more than a mere nation state? A person who sees Pakistan as an embodiment of Islam itself? A person who has been taught that Islam and Pakistan are one and the same? Surely such a person has greater reason to feel anger because ganging up on Pakistan means ganging up on Islam. And you know as well as I do the punishment for being an enemy of Islam.

    But the “Pakistan first” nationalists and the “Islam first” soldiers are allies. They are all arrayed against the people ganging up on Pakistan.

    But which of these needs priority protection? Pakistan the nation state that lives on handouts from America and fights America’s wars? Or Pakistan the nation of Islam that fights against the enemies of Islam?

    India and Indians know that both Pakistani nationalists and the Islamists are arrayed against Indians. The US is not sure, because Pakistanis have not decided which way the dice will fall. US money is good for the wealthy English speaking Pakistanis and that includes the army officer cadre, but splits them away from the “Islam first” group.

    The world is a simple place. Both Indians and the will US independently and remorselessly kill any Islamists who attack them. They are kufr right? And they behave that way. On the other hand, the US certainly, and India probably, will tolerate a Pakistan first nationalist who wants to build Pakistan into a sovereign nation state with diplomatic and economic relations with other nation states.

    It is Pakistanis who have to decide. And in making that decision Pakistanis are faced with the most distasteful and difficult of choices for them. It is the so called “moderate Pakistanis” (yes, the Rich Anglophone Pakistani Elite class) whose emotions are split between secretly supporting jihad against India while singing Kumbaya with carnation behind ear at Wagah who have to decide whether they will go with their allies the Islamists. or with their other allies the US and be forced to break bread with the hated kafirs of India. And recall that going against Islamists is going against Islam.

    But that is a happy choice (happy for Indians) that Pakistanis have to make.

  40. shiv

    “Perhaps that is why the “RAPE” is attacked… the RAPE won’t go and blow up in Mumbai in retaliation. The RAPE will sometimes tolerate… at times delete … trolls.”

    But the RAPE almost invariably tolerate the people who blow themselves up as long as the blowing up is in Mumbai.

    But when the same people start blowing themselves up in Islamabad the illusions of unity of purpose of the RAPE and their Islamist friends go “pop” and psychology of cognitive dissonance minus the pop kicks in. Those jihadis were supposed to be good. How come they are blowing up in Pakistan?

    Oh I am sure Pakistanis can figure out a solution. LOL. They have not needed Indian support all these years and they will not need (or get) Indian support in future.

  41. @shiv

    Could I have a minute of your time? It beats me why you feel that addressing Nabiha like this is useful or relevant. Her article had nothing, nothing whatsoever to do with the points that you have made, leaving them aside for a moment. It is a particularly brutal attack. Why? It has no connection with her piece or the views she has expressed. As she says, and I agree with her, you have just used the fact that she has written a piece to assault her in these columns.

    Secondly, you are factually wrong in clubbing the people who are habitues of these columns with your category of RAPE. Totally wrong in fact. So much of what you have had to say is quite pointless; you are targetting the wrong people.

    If you want to be useful, and to do something practical about the people who are common targets, the terrorists who attack Mumbai, or other parts of India, differentiate between different sets of opinion, don’t club all Pakistanis into one big bag into which you can reach at random and find a target to be attacked.

    I really don’t see the point of your attacking individuals like this.

  42. K

    Great arguments here! Dont know How many of them will be allowed because of the ‘ganging up on the Pakistan’ thingie. But surely a great read.

    Personally as an Indian I am more interested in knowing how to survive the next 30 years in my country without getting blown up by the armies pursuing the religion of peace. Though fewer people might get blown up here than in Pakistan… But all it takes is one big one right🙂 Trust me that is what is bringing the indian trolls to pakistani sites these days. Because its like… WTF is going on over there🙂

    Anyways my interest is in the endgame. All that happens in the middle is a triviality. Overall I think the showdown will be once again some kind of nuclear war of a currently unknown variety. Maybe Mossad/Raw/CIA sponsored (Happy😀 ?) And after millions of dead people across multiple countries (chiefly India/Pak) we will probably have the world (mostly US lead) taking over what is today Pakistan and basically doing a system redesign. If we and most of our families are all alive till then, the genes we carry are what you would call true survivors.

  43. shiv

    vajra – you have a point of view. I can live with that. I have a point of view. Perhaps you can live with that – but you are attempting to change my viewpoint and telling me what I should be doing. I see nothing in your posts that make me agree with you. I think you are wrong.

    You say what you want, and I will say what I think needs to be said. Does a different viewpoint worry you? Why should we all unite against an enemy you think is a common enemy? I have my own views of what’s up in Pakistan and they do not coincide with yours.

    Political systems and nations are cruel to individuals. A violent and domineering America will allow Noam Chomskys to survive merely to show that they are open to different viewpoints. Liberalism is allowed to exist in the space made by conservatism for it to exist, and will not be allowed to step beyond that space. The lady author, who is obviously well meaning and educated is one such thinker whose thoughts do not have the chance of a snowflake in hell of being heard in the real Pakistan. If I were not emotionless about Pakistanis I might have felt empathy, but I am cynical about Pakistanis who are well meaning. My support will not help them. No support will help them. Pakistan needs a person who can take Islam from the clutches of the mullahs and the Army. Another Prophet. But the last one has come and gone, I am told. Any pretenders usually die quickly. And as long as Pakistanis are paranoid of a big India next door – those mullahs and that army will chug on without interference.

    Till then “Tea House” is the right word – “Chai biskoot” it will be. Don’t worry, Have curry.

  44. A student

    i am one of miss nabiha’s students and i can tell you that when she first started teaching my class, everyone was convinced she was a raw agent because she was so pro-india as compared to any other pakistani we had come across. of course, we later realised she wasn’t anti-pakistani or pro-india: she was trying to as objective as possible in her own opinions and analysis, which is what she made us do as well. great article miss. and this is very funny. by pakistanis you are accused of being too pro-india; here the indians are accusing you of being a blind pakistani patriot. perhaps this only goes to show that it isn’t possible to be intelligent and blindly support stereotypical propaganda (no matter which nation it comes from).

  45. Bciv

    @A student

    the thing to do with trolls is to ignore them. soon you will see the troll repeating himself parrot like. it’s called spamming and is just a pathetic attempt at being noticed by those who can offer nothing worth noticing.

    several comments down and we still have not been able to have a meaningful discussion about the important points raised by your teacher and seconded by you, from your first-hand experiences, only because trolls have not been ignored like they deserve to be.

    everything these indian trolls have to say can fit on and most likely comes from a two-page pamphlet which they have digested knowingly or unknowingly, first- or second-hand. we’ve seen it regurgitated and repeated here so often that i could reproduce the two little pages myself.

  46. androidguy

    @Bciv,

    You may say that the Indian trolls regurgitate a two page pamphlet, but it just might be that many, many Indians do sincerely think like that. It is a common narrative of a lot of Indians. If you want to ridicule this Indian narrative, do not begrudge the world ridiculing the Pakistani conspiracy theory & victimhood narrative.

    PS: I personally do not agree to most of the Indian trolls, but acknowledge that many reasonable, logical and balanced Indians think exactly on the same lines. Please try to understand where they are coming from and why they think what they think.

  47. Hayyer

    Shiv:
    Of course you are entitled to your views; everybody is. But if you are emotionless why so angry at the lady whose thoughts do not have the chance of a snowflake in hell.

    “If I were not emotionless about Pakistanis I might have felt empathy, but I am cynical about Pakistanis who are well meaning. My support will not help them. No support will help them.”

    The least they deserve then is that you keep your cynicism to yourself and let them get on with it, without the help that you are unable to provide them. Not that they asked you for it.

    “Pakistan needs a person who can take Islam from the clutches of the mullahs and the Army. Another Prophet. But the last one has come and gone, I am told. Any pretenders usually die quickly.”

    I would think that the sort of Pakistanis who frequent PTH are aware of what their country needs, and it has been set down here frequently enough. Your vatic solution were never in their scanner. That snide dig was completely unnecessary.

  48. @shiv

    There is a difference, Shiv, between being wrong and holding a point of view that is wrong. In the cases given above, you are wrong, not your point of view.

    First, you were attacking a person whose essay contained none of the elements at which you took umbrage. This is not a question of a viewpoint, it is quite simply a factual error. I hope you can see the distinction.

    Second, you assumed that the entire section of Rich Anglophone Pakistani Elite was backing the terrorists. To use your phrase, the Pakistan first people were the same as the Islam first people. We can only assume that you have not flipped through any of these discussions on PTH. If you had, you would yourself have discovered that these two constituencies are at loggerheads with each other.

    So you see, shiv, you just made one more error in your last post. It was not your point of view that was being highlighted, it was errors of fact made by you. Nobody restricts you from you from presenting any point of view. You were addressed (not restricted) when you made an error of fact.

  49. shiv

    What I find fascinating is that pointing out the problems that Pakistanis normally try to hide invariably causes enough takleef to switch on the “let’s look for ways to slip out”

    I have written a fair amount on this page and as you can all see I am not put off by being called a troll, or my accusation that I am doing an ad hominem or by trying to fit me into some mould or the other.

    Even if I accept that every single accusation that has been levelled against me is true, these accusations are only ways of trying to evade the fact that Pakistan’s education system has been used since 1973 or so to give Pakistanis a particular worldview that is putting them on a collision course with a lot of people in the world, apart from ensuring that Islam, a religion that actually attracted fear, if not respect is now among the most joked about religions in the world. And Pakistanis can take the credit for that. Pakistan is, after all one of the claimants to the title “leader of the ummah”?

    The realization that Pakistan’s education system has a problem is late in coming. When the education system was skewed under Zulfi Bhutto and later Zia it seems to me that Pakistanis – smarting from a defeat in 1971 caused by a racist, rapine and incompetent army that wanted to (and succesfully did) escape blame tried to create a perfect Islamic society. That was when Pakistan’s education system was skewed.

    The real problem is that if you try to teach a single model of Islam to everyone in Pakistan, no Pakistani can ever come out and say this is wrong. Catch 22. Islam cannot be wrong. Islam has no variations. Islam is united and unifying. That may be true, but Muslims are allowed to be Islamic and yet varied in their views. Just how varied is something that has been hidden from Pakistanis, while they have been taught they they are the custodians of Islam. It’s like teaching a child who knows nothing that he knows everything.

    Pakistanis today are reaping the rich harvest of that education policy. Anyone Pakistani under 40 today is a product of that education policy.

    Personally I do not grudge Pakistanis the right to do whatever they want with their education system. It is their right to kill it, maul it or haul it over coals. But the forced dumbing down of Pakistani education needed an enemy and India is conveniently next door, always full of threatening, sniggering, gossiping, scheming Indians who are usually at each other throats so much that it is always possible to cherry pick the Muslims who are being killed and highlight that as the reason why Islam needs so much protection in Pakistan.

    If India broke up it would help Pakistan. I suspect at least some Pakistanis still hope that might happen. Oh of course it could happen, but Indians are lucky because they have a Pakistan next door to learn from and figure out the things that should not be done to avoid break up.

  50. shiv

    Arun Gupta it is hard not to be accused of blaming the one raindrop for the drought when I say that one raindrop is of little use after centuries of drought. If you look at some of the comments and reactions, you see that some of the sand dunes are standing up and claiming to be protectors of the raindrop.

    I do not use the expression cognitive dissonance lightly. Educated Pakistanis will have to face up to a lot more discomfort and anger as they are exposed to viewpoints they have been protected against.

    But they have the choice of sinking back into the comfortable shell that has been created for them in their nation – a shell that is penetrated only by war and foreign interference. Its a free world.

  51. @shiv

    What I find fascinating is that pointing out the problems that Pakistanis normally try to hide invariably causes enough takleef to switch on the “let’s look for ways to slip out”

    And what I find fascinating is that without going through earlier discussions, or even trying in a superficial way to sense the temper of the discussions or the tempers of the people discussing, you could come to such broad, sweeping generalizations with absolutely no connection to present reality.

    On this forum, you happen to be the last to ‘point out the problems that Pakistanis normally try to hide’. These problems have been raised, not once, but a hundred times, in full, excruciating detail. What may shock you is that it is loyal, patriotic Pakistanis who pointed out these problems, not Indians.

    I have written a fair amount on this page and as you can all
    see I am not put off by being called a troll, or my accusation that I am doing an ad hominem or by trying to fit me into some mould or the other.

    The intention is not to put you off by calling you a troll, pointing out, rather than accusing you, of doing an ad hominem or trying to fit you into the mould of the Ugly Indian, but to ask you to respond to the blogs in question, not use them as convenient clothes pegs to wheel in all the things you would have said if you had been here over the last few years.

    Don’t be put off, and don’t pontificate either; participate. This is a forum of Pakistanis critical of what Pakistan has become and intent on getting back to being a liberal, secular, democracy. Try to get on board what you’re reading, don’t be intent on spotting your figures of caricature among these perfectly normal, perfectly sane human beings.

    Even if I accept that every single accusation that has been levelled against me is true, these accusations are only ways of trying to evade the fact that Pakistan’s education system has been used since 1973 or so to give Pakistanis a particular worldview that is putting them on a collision course with a lot of people in the world, apart from ensuring that Islam, a religion that actually attracted fear, if not respect is now among the most joked about religions in the world. And Pakistanis can take the credit for that. Pakistan is, after all one of the claimants to the title “leader of the ummah”?

    First, there is no earthly connection between criticism of you, such as it is, and it’s been mild so far, and any effort to evade the confronting of their dysfunctional educational system.

    About you: you attract criticism by failing to see that the original blog that we are supposed to be discussing was precisely about ways to rectify the effects of the education system.

    About the education system and its distortion: This has been pointed out – by Pakistanis – ad nauseam.

    What is truly astonishing is that you turn up on the doorstep and start re-discovering the issues that have gripped the attention of this forum, and have caused death threats and mountains of personal abuse against the more vocal correspondents.

    What you are saying is what other people have been saying long before you turned up here. So what are you looking for now – the Cavendish Medal?

    One important thing that you need to realise: you are effectively doing a Gandhi. You seem to imagine that holding up a dismal picture of Islam – what was it? – a religion that actually attracted fear, if not respect is now among the most joked about religions in the world, is going to grip people’s attention; that is wrong.

    These are not people whose attention you can get either by knocking Islam or by flattering it.

    They are, some of them, observant Muslims who have no brief for its taking over the rest of the world, leave alone the lives of all those who aren’t Muslim and who don’t believe in the tenets of Islam; some of them are agnostic, and reserve further consideration of this religion thing to a more appropriate moment, after far more important things have been set right; some are atheist, and make no bones about it.

    An appeal to their religious sensibilities is exactly, precisely, beautifully designed to appeal to their worst opponents, the Islamists who weigh in with hate-filled muck, and feature PTH in their blogs, as a prime example of what to hate.

    What’s Gandhian about what you’re doing? That’s what Gandhi did, supporting the Khilafat movement under the mistaken impression that he was supporting what the Muslims of India really, truly wanted. He landed up supporting what only the most regressive Mullahs of the Muslims of India wanted, and completely losing the trust and confidence of those progressives who had been making common cause with Hindus till then. That included a well-known Bombay barrister who had warned Gandhi, got nowhere, and found himself with the constituency of the Muslim progressives who wanted out of this alliance of the holy of both sides.

    The Mullahs, the same pro-Congress anti-Muslim League ones, migrated to the Pakistan that they had opposed tooth and nail, and assumed that the whole new country was a shining new toy for them to play with, and a succession of sneaky pols and military dictators played to this gallery.

    The realization that Pakistan’s education system has a problem is late in coming. When the education system was skewed under Zulfi Bhutto and later Zia it seems to me that Pakistanis – smarting from a defeat in 1971 caused by a racist, rapine and incompetent army that wanted to (and succesfully did) escape blame tried to create a perfect Islamic society. That was when Pakistan’s education system was skewed.

    Not Pakistanis, a section of Pakistanis.

    Irony is your strong point, isn’t it?

    What did you think the corrective courses described in this blog were about? Do you imagine that your analysis is a thunderclap of truth to those who have been saying the same goddam thing day in and day out for years before you discovered this?

    The real problem is that if you try to teach a single model of Islam to everyone in Pakistan, no Pakistani can ever come out and say this is wrong. Catch 22. Islam cannot be wrong. Islam has no variations. Islam is united and unifying. That may be true, but Muslims are allowed to be Islamic and yet varied in their views. Just how varied is something that has been hidden from Pakistanis, while they have been taught they they are the custodians of Islam. It’s like teaching a child who knows nothing that he knows everything.

    Not so.

    It has come out, again and again, that an Islamist model will not fit Pakistan because of the diversity of Islamic belief. It has also been established, by blogs, re-printed articles and comments by knowledgeable correspondents, that some of the sects have the domination and suppression of other sects as their main preoccupation, even ahead of sorting out the kaffir across the border.

    The only difference is that when Pakistanis debate this internally, it is relatively easy to accept. When an Indian – you, shiv – presents the same facts, with the air of Little Jack Horner sitting in his corner and using his thumbs not to shove in his mouth and keep quiet and listen but to get some attention, it causes a drawing together, a closing of the ranks, and a wholly uncharacteristic surliness, resulting in a classic iteration of “‘Your shirt is torn.’ ’So what? Your fly is open.’”

    An aside: this has become a commonplace here, and is an accepted method of shutting up futile tu quoque arguments.

    Pakistanis today are reaping the rich harvest of that education policy. Anyone Pakistani under 40 today is a product of that education policy.

    Yes, sure. And it numbers perfectly sane people along with the wild-eyed lunatic fringe. It wasn’t successful, you see. And it includes young women who slave away at teaching critical thinking to the cripples who (generally) emerge, to balance them and enlarge their thought processes to comprehending different, particularly ‘alien’ points of view.

    And look what you do to these reformers.

    Well done, thou brave and trusty warrior. You dumb Keystone Kop.

    Personally I do not grudge Pakistanis the right to do whatever they want with their education system. It is their right to kill it, maul it or haul it over coals. But the forced dumbing down of Pakistani education needed an enemy and India is conveniently next door, always full of threatening, sniggering, gossiping, scheming Indians who are usually at each other throats so much that it is always possible to cherry pick the Muslims who are being killed and highlight that as the reason why Islam needs so much protection in Pakistan.

    This has been done. Very true. This forum has consistently pointed out the evil consequences of that. Why don’t you get off the pulpit and read the bloody sermons preached in the past?

    If India broke up it would help Pakistan. I suspect at least some Pakistanis still hope that might happen. Oh of course it could happen, but Indians are lucky because they have a Pakistan next door to learn from and figure out the things that should not be done to avoid break up.

    Wrong address.

    Lots of Pakistanis hope that still might happen. They turn up, and it isn’t the Indians who sort them out. It is the liberal, secular, democratic Pakistanis right here who do that. In the worst case, the moderators ban them or edit out their comments.

    Shiv, why don’t you do us and everyone else, including yourself, a favour? Why don’t you forget about the millennial prophesying shtick for a few days and just read, on-going as well as past discussions here?

    You might make some very surprising discoveries.

    Your interventions are always interesting; it is just that sometimes they tread beaten ground, ground beaten flat and trodden into wide and well-marked highways by dozens of Pakistanis coming before you who have said, essentially, the same damn’ things that you seem to think are your unique province.

    Please figure out that you haven’t stumbled on a nest of extremists, and that your views have been aired here before. You might find constructive ways to engage that you never imagined before. Really. Seriously.

  52. shiv

    vajra says:
    It has also been established, by blogs, re-printed articles and comments by knowledgeable correspondents, that some of the sects have the domination and suppression of other sects as their main preoccupation, even ahead of sorting out the kaffir across the border. ”

    This is what amuses me. Pakistanis in blogs are completely powerless, and ranting against me here is part of the powerlessness.

    I have yet to see serious mainline Pakistani media coming to grips with the fact that human development parameters in Pakistan, including education are gradually slipping behind the rest of South Asia. Even a census has not been conducted for decades. A self congratulating blog/internet site is characteristic of the Pakistani disease.

    Naipaul wrote of the way Indians would marvel and brag at tall buildings in their city even as they gingerly stepped over “twists, butts and squirts” of human feces on the pavement.

    The people who I describe as the Pakistani RAPE class are remarkably similar in having built up a world for themselves that manages the ignore the twists, butts and squirts of Pakistan while they allow their nation to slip away – to the unmitigated joy of a lot of people.

    You are telling me that the Pakistanis on this site are exceptions and do not fall into that stereotype? Perhaps that explains why they are not heard at all anywhere in Pakistan.

    A common rant about moderate Hindus or Indians is that they are outnumbered by the Hindutvadis – the rabid frothing at the mouth groups who at last count have killed 1 million Muslims since last night. Is it so difficult to admit that the moderate and enlightened among the Pakistanis could similarly be outnumbered and outgunned? My unconditional and uncritical support of such a group would be pointless tokenism.

    Actually I don’t have to do anything that is not forced on me. I am just representative of the obtuse hostility that Pakistanis attract – even if they are decent human beings. However, anyone who faces the possibility of meeting an exploding Pakistani also knows what it feels like to face obtuse hostility.

    India consists of a number of states. Some are sick, some are merely ailing, others are doing well. If money earned in Maharatshtra helps Bihar today it is not because the Shiv Sena loves Biharis. Maharashtrians do not have to love Biharis or even worship in the same places. But as long as everyone reaches a common agreement what is good for humans in general, a country manages to muddle through and even improve.

    Pakistan is really no more than one sick state of India for which other Indians need owe no affection or responsibility. If this statement is a demeaning insult, well, that’s tough. Pakistan has spent 63 years trying to be more than what I have just described, and doing a proper census today would reveal how badly it has failed. Pakistan has to live off handouts from the USA only to prove a point over India and Indians. And those handouts go only to a select few because Pakistanis do not even think they owe it to each other.

    What’s the point in my being supportive of a miniscule group of Pakistanis who don’t fit into Pakistan?

  53. @shiv

    You’ve done this before, elsewhere, so it isn’t surprising to see that being repeated. Not surprising, but still depressing. You complained that Pakistanis were not able to distinguish between the many shades of opinion available within seemingly-monolithic Islam; you get a response indicating that, on the contrary, lots of Pakistanis have already pointed out the variations and the actual hostility between sects. That’s a straight response to a point made, and what happens?

    Bing!

    This is what amuses me. Pakistanis in blogs are completely powerless, and ranting against me here is part of the powerlessness.

    Actually, you were complaining about the lack of knowledge and information, not about the potency of the blog or the bloggers. The moment this is disproved, the goalposts shift; we are amused, we shall bend a tolerant smile towards these powerless bloggers.

    What’s the connection?

    Coming to think of it, would you like to share with us the power that you exercise, in the various blogs and mailing lists where you participate?

    Blogging is not about an exercise of power, it is about logging one’s views and inviting comments on those. There is no ‘power’ involved; you are just as powerless as the Pakistani bloggers. So what’s that about? what is the relevance? and what, above all, is your point?

    But of course, you don’t have to answer anyone, and have made that clear😀

  54. D_a_n

    @ Shiv…

    you spake:

    ‘but I am cynical about Pakistanis who are well meaning’

    then why the F**k are you here mate? what exactly is the bloody point of this?

    Yes, yes, yes….We are in the pits and you are on the cusp of super power glory. Agreed. In toto. Well done. Really.

    can you please sod off now?

  55. D_a_n

    @K….

    ‘I am more interested in knowing how to survive the next 30 years in my country without getting blown up by the armies pursuing the religion of peace.’

    How about moving to Gujarat? Heard they’ve worked hard to make it pretty safe and all.

    you know ‘dev-lop-mant’ and all that…

    I would like to express some frustration on how every third rate imbecile is coming here, abusing their freedom of expression and this forums tolerance to make the most vile and ill thought of attacks on the Islamic faith…
    even the most idiotic and hateful commentators from our side (eg, Ummi, Kashifiat and the other working girls) do not, as per my recollection, indulge in whole sale attacks on the Hindu religion. (if they have, it has escaped my attention and apologies for the inaccuracy but I believe it would lesser in volume than this! NOT that that’s anything to crow about)
    so chew on that for a second wont you kindly? or choke on it. Whichever comes first.

    If coming off looking worse than scum that I have mentioned doesn’t give you cause for some navel gazing or contrition then you guys are in thicker shit than you know.

  56. Bciv

    @shiv

    “Pakistan’s education system has been used since 1973 or so to give Pakistanis a particular worldview…”

    had you done a bit of reading on this forum alone, you’d have seen that the education system changed for the worse as per the official policy produced in 1969, not 1973. the impetus for this had been there since 1965. all this and much more you could have found in more than one articles on PTH, and repeated many times and discussed threadbare here.

    if you must lecture, at least get your facts right. to be arrogant and cynical is your choice. you need not choose to remain ignorant as well. if you do, why should anyone care to reproduce these essays and articles and voluminous discussions and debates for you just because you are too ‘arrogant’ to stick to the topic and too lazy to find out that what you are talking about – with or without factual errors – has already been said, over and over again?

  57. shiv

    ‘had you done a bit of reading on this forum alone, you’d have seen that the education system changed for the worse as per the official policy produced in 1969, not 1973’

    Do you have a cite for this? I have references for the later date. I would certainly be interested in finding out how Pakistanis started holding a gun to their own heads in 1969 rather than at a later time.

    Let me ask if anyone can produce scans from any Pakistan studies or other textbooks that say the following things.

    http://www.sdpi.org/archive/nayyar_report.htm
    (click on the pdf)
    quote:
    “Four themes emerge most strongly as constituting the bulk of the curricula and textbooks of
    the three compulsory subjects.
    1. that Pakistan is for Muslims alone;
    2. that Islamic teachings, including a compulsory reading and memorization of Qur’an,
    are to be included in all the subjects, hence to be forcibly taught to all the students,
    whatever their faith,;
    3. that Ideology of Pakistan is to be internalized as faith, and that hate be created against
    Hindus and India; and
    4. students are to be urged to take the path of Jehad and Shahadat.
    We shall elaborate on them one by one.”

    Were any of you enlightened people taught these things about India and/or Hindus?

    Were you people taught that Pakistan is for Muslims alone?

    Is Pakistan for Muslims alone?

    From the viewpoint of coexistence with India is it possible for any Pakistani to remain calm and swallow the idea that Pakistan has problems that are in some cases worse than the problems that India has without asking someone or the other to “sod off” as they do to Packees in Vilayat?

    When the language of the colonized person takes on the characteristics of the colonizer, and that language is used with reference to another fellow colonized person – it is described as linguistic fractal recursivity. That is what “sod off” indicates to me.

  58. Bciv

    @androidguy

    “You may say that the Indian trolls regurgitate a two page pamphlet, but it just might be that many, many Indians do sincerely think like that. It is a common narrative of a lot of Indians. If you want to ridicule this Indian narrative, do not begrudge the world ridiculing the Pakistani conspiracy theory & victimhood narrative.”

    i have no need to ridicule the narrative. i’ve exposed it where it is wrong and when it is superficial. i don’t see why i must keep repeating myself, everyday, for the benefit of an endless supply of trolls. vajra and others have debunked the two-page pamphlet many more times and with much more patience and competence than i.

    what i have little time for is the behaviour, not the narrative, for it is that what makes a troll a troll. again, vajra and one or two others have exposed trolls, both succinctly and in patient detail. but i neither claim nor seek such levels of patience.

    “PS: I personally do not agree to most of the Indian trolls, but acknowledge that many reasonable, logical and balanced Indians think exactly on the same lines. Please try to understand where they are coming from and why they think what they think.”

    if you still do not get what i’m saying and where i’m coming from, read my last post addressed to shiv.

  59. Bciv

    @shiv

    look up Educational Policy of Pakistan 1969; within PTH, if you like.

    you might want to explore a bit more about SDPI itself.

    education in pakistan is not a uniform experience by any stretch of the imagination. even the national curriculum allows a choice of textbooks, some worse than others when it comes to pak studies.

    i went to a reasonably mainstream (large) school and the beginning and completion of my schooling coincided almost exactly with zia’s regime. i did NOT have pak studies as a subject, at any point. for o’levels history we used to read authors like elphinstone, majumdar and rizwan malik. (two ‘desis’ and at least one gora was the balance one tried to achieve.)

    one of the researchers for the SDPI report is someone i know. he went to a govt school in small town punjab; again right through zia’s time.

    read k k aziz’s ‘murder of history’ to see the variety of distortion – both deliberate and inadvertent (incompetence – not scholarship – is widespread) – across the approved textbook list from within which individual schools could choose. it will give you the next best thing to ‘scans’ from the books.

    also, you need to discount for the levels of skepticism and worse that dictatorship breeds within its subjects… for a variety of reasons. there is also a class that has its vested interest (mere economic interests) aligned with that of the dictatorship. but many of these alignments change with time.

  60. D_a_n

    @Shiv

    know nothing that you are; please note that ‘pakis’ is a term used to insult both pakistanis AND Indians…all brown folks for that matter. So you brought it up as a cute little come back is sad…

    And you are reading far too much into the sod off. It’s more descriptive hence my preference for it’s use.

    Don’t tie your self in a knot deciphering it and take the hint. If you have issues then i can switch to the much more fun punjabi.

  61. YLH

    Arun/Sadna,

    Don’t post here. You are not welcome.

  62. PMA

    Vajra (May 27, 2010 at 10:43 am):

    Just dropped by to see what was going on. Same old, same old. As BC says, all the talking points of our guests could be summed up in a two-page pamphlet. Why not to post that pamphlet here at PTH, perpetually. Would save repeating the same, post after post. I am not bothered by the insults hurled at my religion and my country day in and day out by some. I too can find millions of things wrong about other people, their society and religion. But how would that solve my problems. The real issue is not the daily insults posted here at PTH. It is that in this environment of noise making by our guests Pakistanis are distracted from addressing the issues that beg their attention. Imagine how much energy is being wasted in just shooing off the flies. Pakistan must be a great irritant for some of our guests.

  63. Ostrich

    Both India and Pakistan started off at the same time with more or less the same quality gene and with more or less the same amount of natural resources. Socialism destroyed India with the last two decades of only 80% Socialism and mainly the Mobile Phone (attribute +3% just to this) bringing it the surprising non Hindu 8-9% growth rate.

    What the pakistanis need to think about it is… What is the real reason for the current state of Pakistan ? Is this Ostrich Syndrome part of the reason that Pakistan is where it is today or only an outcome of a broader problem.

    What is the broader problem from where these branch problems such as the Ostrich Syndrome come about?

    By the way India’s problem currently is Gandhian Sorry Ass thinking along with over socialist philosophy in their blood. What Pakistan should hope is that some kind caste cauldron over boiling and socialist thinking in Hindu blood destroying them someday. The Muslim population reaching 25% in any country guarantees a civil war anyways. That is not too far too.

    Anyways I will tell you what is the biggest shocker of all time. Pakistan is the only reason India is united today.

    I just came to say Thank You.

  64. @PMA

    Indeed, Sir, two or three two-page pamphlets would cover 90% of the subjects and arguments used by trolls:

    one on Jinnah and his role, vis-a-vis the Indian National Congress, emphasising the actions of the two parties in July 1946;

    one on the cross-section of Muslim support for the Indian National Congress, and where these Muslim leaders landed up after Partition;

    one on Islam and Islamism in Pakistan;

    The question is, how do we persuade our friend the typical troll (not the last gentleman who strayed in by mistake but all the others) to read these – assuming, of course, that reading featured in his early education? Reading these may change their minds, and they dare not risk a change of mind.

  65. SecularIndian

    Nabiha,

    I am not here to harass you, unlike some of the other trolls🙂

    Do you think it would help if kids in general (not just in Pakistan) were given religious instruction later in life, like (say) after the age of 18 or so? I came across an article in the New York Times where Egyptian students @ the American University in Cairo have to first unlearn
    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/06/world/middleeast/06cairo.html

    Secondly, how can one teach a kid to put some distance between himself and his idea? Have you tried doing this in your classroom? It is a critical part of the growth process to separate one’s identity from the thought process?

  66. @Arun Gupta

    I’ve read Shiv’s book. I was strongly influenced by it. That was more than two years ago. That was before setting out to validate his conclusions and premises, and finding out for myself. It doesn’t seem accurate any more. The position on the ground has changed over time, and today it is clearly different.

    Today there is a segment of Pakistani opinion, within the English-speaking sections of society, that is agitated about the state of the country, and does not intend to stop at that. This segment, all less than 50 years of age, walks its talk; the article that caused the brouhaha in the first place was a prime example of the corrective action that is being taken by this young liberal, secular and democratic Pakistan. Some of them are my daughter’s age; like her, they are, politically and in matters of civics, sensitised. They organise and move; they are not coffee-house (or Tea House) motor-mouths.

    Results of these activities were of two sorts: on the political level, more and more young people have started asking themselves why they can’t have a peaceful life as liberals, secular-minded individuals and democratic citizens with basic human rights within their own country. Every week brings in new contributors to this blog, people who bring a breath of fresh air and a renewed energy to the cause that it represents. I am deliberately not referring to specific action that is taking place because that comes better from authentic Pakistani sources, and also to keep things brief; there have been complaints.

    On the personal level, at the level of personal consequences, alas, things have been what might be expected.

    The leading figures on this blog have been threatened repeatedly by the religious right. Their major battles are not with Indians coming in with the sole purpose of making stupid remarks not based on anything but pre-existing prejudices (this is emphatically not a reference to Shiv, but to a rogues’ gallery whose names are in print already, in previous correspondence), but with truly frightening forces within Pakistan’s religious right determined to retard progress. If you follow this blog over some time, you will soon see for yourself what frightening attacks they have faced, and continue to face.

    This segment deserves recognition, if not support. Perhaps Shiv is right in treating them with disdain, as not being representative of the sentiment of the population at large. Perhaps; some of us sense that they are growing in number, slowly but surely. But that is not the point, is it?

    The point is, if we disagree with the general sentiment prevalent in Pakistan, that, the disagreement, is something that nobody can do anything about except we ourselves. But where is the sense of coming and jumping up and down and ventilating our anger against that sentiment with precisely those sections of Pakistan that is fighting such sentiment tooth and nail? The very least, the absolute minimum that we can do is to recognise them and understand what they stand for.

    We needn’t support them if we are such peerless players of the game of ‘realpolitik’; but why come and complain to them about what they themselves have recognised as deep flaws and are determined to reverse? Do you get a sense that this is peculiarly perverted thinking?

    The references to trolls and to nuisances on this site are specific to a set of people who have never taken the trouble that Shiv has, of observing, recording and concluding from data; they have come and inflicted on us their prejudices and pre-determined arguments. They don’t acknowledge any contrary facts or evidence, their response being not to refute those, but to ignore those as inconvenient and not conforming to what they have to say, beyond which they do not wish to go. They refuse to acknowledge evidence that might change their minds, because they don’t wish to change their minds.

    I ask my Indian compatriots, very humbly, not to make this Himalayan blunder, not to throw out the baby with the bath-water. If you are convinced that there is no possibility of change for the better, by all means retain your conviction; there is then nothing for you here. If your sole purpose is to gloat, go do it elsewhere; nobody here has the time to spare for you.

    If you believe, as I do, that there is a different possibility, a possibility of a new, vigorous Pakistan, with its young people aspiring to peaceful democratic lives in a normal country not riven by sectarian and religious differences, by hatred leading to endemic violence, do come and contribute. Contribute, if and when you do, not as superior beings come down to Earth to teach mere mortals the evils of their ways, but as members of another third world country with its own problems (Shiv made pretty play with scatology, quoting Naipaul, which we might well bear in mind when composing wise words to our neighbours). When you do so, remember to bring along a pinch of sensitivity; this section of people on this blog are intensely introspective, intensely self-critical. Try not to jump to conclusions about them before getting to know their views.

    One last thing: none of the views above apply to cricket. We were discussing civilisation and its values (I think); not war. We have bashed Pakistan and will continue to bash them, and they can bite their (cricket) balls in half for all the good that will do. India rules, OK? It’s just such a pity that Dada isn’t the captain any more.

    I shall now retire at a dignified pace to my hermitage in the Himalayas, to avoid any unseemly turbulence.

  67. shiv

    About the term Paki. I used to live in the UK at a time when the word Paki (“Packee”)became commonplace.

    I am hearing a lot of people trying to tell me nowadays that “Paki” is a racist term for Indians and Pakistanis so I am doing myself a disfavor. This is true only to an extent – but not as far as is claimed. May I point out that this excuse is the same garbage that is trotted out by Pakistanis in the west who try and pass off as Indians. Even in those days (long before 9-11) Pakistanis were running “Indian restaurants”. In the west “we are all brothers. We all have the same problems.” If the word “Paki” referred to Indians as well, why would Pakistanis want to hide under an Indian burkha? Why not say “We are Arabs?”

    Even in those days a whole lot of Brits could tell an Indian from a Pakistani. Pakistanis in Britain back then (as now) had migrated with lesser education and worse English, and of course Pakistanis (other than the RAPE class) maintain their dress code – shalwar kameez in the UK. and gora aadmi was able to figure out the Packee from the Indian. So when I say Paki I know I am speaking of a Pakistani. I am not concerned about any mythical mistakes white man may be making in his country. Especially when even that white man is able to see the difference. Pakistanis and Indian are different aren’t they? Does any one of you feel that they are “the same”? Only Indians mistakenly assumed that Pakis were “Like us Indians”. Pakistanis never made that mistake until they were forced into becoming pretend Indians by their own countrymen’s actions. The story that Paki could mean Indian is one more example of Pakis trying to hide behind India and Indians.

    And this “We are same same only” trash is imported to the subcontinent where they say “India and Pakistan face the same problems – only India’s problems are bigger”. This is the manner in which Pakistanis hide their problems from themselves. I may be bad, but India is worse. India and Pakistan having the same problems is only true in the sense of “Indians are at risk of being killed by exploding Pakistanis. And Pakistanis too are at risk of being killed by exploding Pakistanis”. The implication that India owes Pakistan something to stop this is disingenuous. If exploding people are Pakistanis, it is up to Pakistanis to suss out the exploders from the duds. India will suspect them all – it’s too risky to try and see who might not be an exploding Pakistani. Until 9-11 only India had this policy. Now a whole lot of countries in the world have figured that out.

  68. shiv

    I believe I have been around long enough to have lived among and shared a life with more Indian Muslims than any Pakistani can claim to have met. Some of the more diffident Indian Muslims tend to be quietly ashamed and deeply angered by what Pakistan has done in the name of Islam. But the more voluble Muslims (some of them close friends of mine, as you can imagine) will state clearly that Pakistan should be nuked, or that Pakistanis are all bravado and need a kick up their collective backsides. But let me leave out the personal experience bit and move on to other thoughts and feelings on the question of India, Pakistan, Islam and Muslims.

    I have some views about the Muslims of India and the way they are treated. The way Indian Muslims in India are treated is a far cry from Pakistani mythology. I summed up my thoughts in an article and I will take the liberty of linking that article here because the topic is relevant both to education and to India-Pakistan relations, although, re reading my own article – it already seems out of date – unlike my e-book on Pakistan.

    http://www.adl.gatech.edu/research/brmsrr/2008/SRRP03010803.pdf

    If you go back in history honestly – you find that the world was full of kafir/pagan religions if they were religions at all. The coming of Christianity and later Islam wiped out all these kafir religions – usually by conquest and force over most parts of the world. Both Christianity and Islam are jealous exclusivist “with us or against us” religions. Hindus often wonder why their religion was not wiped out, weighed down as they are by propaganda that Hindus are non violent and tolerant. Hinduism survived only because Hindus were (and remain) violent enough to kill when push came/comes to shove.

    In a sense, Islam’s spread came to a grinding halt in India and further spread to the far East was peaceful. Be that as it may, Hindus and Muslims reached a kind of accommodation with each other, and Indian history became a series of stories of “chootiyapanti” by various rulers aiding or betraying someone or the other, with being Hindu or Muslim not necessarily being the main motive. Oh of course – even as recently as 1900 some Hindus would not touch a football that had been kicked by a Muslim without having a purification ritual. There is no sense in whitewashing history to indicate some great Hindu-Muslim love affair, but nevertheless India developed a strange amalgam of older practices mixed with what Islam brought in.

    My current reading tells me that it was Britain, the suave and prescient world power that saw the greatest benefit in drawing a line between the pagan Hiindus and the loyal Muslims. I do not make the “Muslim loyalty” statement lightly – I have cites, among them an issue of the Pakistan Defence journal. But I digress.

    The British need to retain a part of of India dovetailed well with Muslim exclusivist passions that were whipped up by a combination of events and personalities, with Iqbal, Maududi and Jinnah among them. The details of the game played by Britain here are well summed up in Narendra Sarila’s book “The Untold Story of India’s Partition”

    Did India benefit from partition? In my view, yes, it probably did. In one fell swoop all the Islamists/Islamic exclusivist troublemakers of India along with assorted Muslim opportunists and power grabbers were exiled to a new country to stew in their pure juices, leaving India with a population that could be handled despite widespread skepticism.

    Did the Muslims of the Indian subcontinent benefit from partition? Yes and no. I have already linked that article about Indian Muslims. But what of Pakistanis? No. Pakistanis by and large have not benefited from partition. The only people who have benefited are the RAPE class. The vast majority of Pakistanis are probably not better off and are required to be content with idiotic excuses like “At least we are free from Hindu subjugation” and “We are better off than millions of Indians”. For Chrissake who the faq would want to compare with India as a standard of development? Surely any sane nation would look towards say Singapore or South Korea as an example. But Pakistanis are not sane are they?

    Finally, did Islam benefit from partition? For years I have been saying that the creation of Pakistan was the first blow struck in favor of Islamic exclusivism and bigotry in recent history. That is certainly coming true today. But I think Islam will recover and come out better from its rub with Pakistanis whose mixed kafir genes have managed to rape Islam from the inside more thoroughly than anyone else could have done. Well done Pakis, true brothers of their Indian siblings. But I believe Islam will recover. I don’t know about Pakistan though.

    Sorry if I hurt any feelings. I will try and keep off from here if I have to keep posting stuff that might cause anger. If you people are sane I wish you well even if you are Pakis.

  69. Z

    Brilliant article. I think you hit the nail on the head. You have to understand that you have a very important position in Pakistan’s future being a teacher of something that has probably never been taught. Critical thinking is the ultimate form of the scientific method. One observes and collects data, and based on facts and tests, produces conclusions of their own. It is a practice of reasoning. We as humans have the power to reason. I do believe that if you can change one mind then you have more than done your job. You have to show them that the issue of how the porphet has woven himself into the fabric of the religion so tight that we say his name just as many times as Allah’s in a prayer. We get more pissed off when he is ridiculed. I find that absolutely absurd. We can look at other religions and see the absurdity of its core concepts but never think ours is the same. I think you should teach them one lecture on the basis of natural selection. Show them a Dawkins documentary.

  70. Hi Z,

    We do address evolution and natural selection. Didn’t have time for a documentary and the course is set in advance, but that’s great advice for recommended reading/watching.

    Thank you!