Daily Archives: December 1, 2010

Why Strategic Use of Islam Failed

By Raza Habib Raja

Any state once it is in existence strives to maintain its integrity. All the state institutions are inherently geared to ensure that the state’s writ remains effective and moreover the cohesiveness is not jeopardized.

The problems of cohesiveness and effective writ become more complicated if the country is not ethnically homogeneous. Presence of various ethnicities, keeping other things constant, would require extra care and vigilance to ensure cohesiveness as there will always be tendency to secede.

That is why states which are characterized by presence of sub state ethnicities try to promote what is known as Civic Nationalism.   Civic Nationalism does not have ethnicity as its prime determinant but rather tries to subdue the ethnic identities and cultivate allegiance to the “Country” instead. Failure to do it effectively may result in the breakup of the state.

Any country which at the time of its existence is multiethnic would try to cultivate Civic Nationalism and would exert efforts to manipulate identity is such a way that people would prefer to identify themselves first as nationals and then as members of a particular ethnic group. Theoretically and for that matter even ethically, there is nothing wrong with this concept. Civic Nationalism, if CORRECTLY, cultivated would smoothen out grievances and prevent discrimination on the basis of any ethnicity from emerging.

How does that integration take place? Diverse ethnicities may associate themselves with a federation due to some common factor in the beginning but in the longer run they will associate with the federation, if they are convinced that they are getting a right mix of economic advantages and political autonomy. It has to be remembered that identity based on language and race may become dormant at times but it does not simply disappear. Whereas it is desirable that people should identify themselves with the “country” at the same time it is not possible that their ethnic identities will simply vanish.

Complications start emerging when you try to cultivate Civic Nationalism in the wrong manner. In my opinion Pakistan’s present ethnic strife lies in the way we have tried to cultivate civic nationalism. Instead of integrating diverse ethnicities in a proper manner, we have tried to whip up the only common factor, Islam and supplemented it with coercive tactics whenever any ethnicity has raised its voice.

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How To End Skepticism For Democracy In Pakistan

By D. Asghar

The burning question that most TV pseudo expert anchors ask their panel is, “Is democracy viable for Pakistan?” The answer to this question often gets obfuscated into the usual blame game and shouting matches among the participants.

It is a foregone conclusion that a true democracy and lack thereof for almost
four decades of our country’s existence can be attributed towards its poor understanding of this novel concept. Most people tend to have high expectations from the word, “democracy.” Democracy is a market place of ideas, and the means to an end, which is a system of governance by the people, for the people.

Ultimately in a true representative democracy the power resides with the people. Regretfully, in our case and in many other countries as well, the politicians tend to think otherwise. This is where the disconnect occurs and there is a lost love syndrome demonstrated by the electorate. The voters feel disenfranchised
from the system and consider it a non viable option.

The legislators are chosen by the voters, to represent them and their best interests in the assemblies. The legislators are often swayed by special and vested interests in the direction, which is entirely opposite of their constituents. Hence the gap between the public and publicly chosen officials widens.

If democracy is a participatory process, then it seems like the participation of the electorate ends at the ballot box. Subsequent to that, it seems like the public is helpless and more or less dependent on the whims of the politicians, who are indifferent to the pleas of the public. Until the next cycle of election, they absolve themselves from any public scrutiny.

It should be based on the participation of the electorate on a daily basis. First and foremost, any bill which is placed on the floor, must be based on the voters approval. In other words, there should be an electronic mechanism to record, National ID card# and voter survey. Those having no access must dial in and record their consent as well via touch tone. Once the deadline elapses, only then with public opinion well measured, the bill should be introduced on the floor and debated.

Secondly, all assembly sessions should be held with an open camera and telecasted live on a channel, which shows the representatives in action to their voters. This way the legislating aspect can be as transparent as possible and people can see and hear their voices in its truest essence.

It will make the legislators accountable to their voters on a daily basis. This will further solidify the often alienated and fragile relationship that both parties currently have. This is not the remedy to the myriad of problems that our nation faces, but a step towards attaining a true participatory system, where all voices are heard and accounted for. A step towards building trust and a process which truly returns power back to where it actually belongs in a truly representative democracy.


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Q&A – Bosnia A Painful Peace

Dil Nawaz

Aki Nawaz (born Haq Nawaz Qureshi) also known as Aki-Stani, Righteous Preacher and Propa-Gandhi, is a British-Pakistani producer and musician. He is the front man of Fun-da-mental, a group that fuses left-wing politics, Sufi Islam, anti-racism and hip hop. His works can bepurchased here.


PTH : Thank you for taking time out for the interview. Painful Peace is a timely reminder of a nearly forgotten conflict.

PTH:  Where are you based at the moment Bradistan (Bradford), London-istan (UK), Pakistan (proper) or Bosnia?

AN: I should really get a frequent flyer card, I am wherever I need to be for work and this has been the case for many years. Continue reading


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