Author Archives: bciv

Fear and silence

By Mohsin Hamid     Dawn, 27 Jun, 2010

Why are Ahmadis persecuted so ferociously in Pakistan?

 A victim of attack on Jinnah Hospital, Lahore

The reason can’t be that their large numbers pose some sort of ‘threat from within’. After all, Ahmadis are a relatively small minority in Pakistan. They make up somewhere between 0.25 per cent (according to the last census) and 2.5 per cent (according to the Economist) of our population.

Nor can the reason be that Ahmadis are non-Muslims. Pakistani Christians and Pakistani Hindus are non-Muslims, and similar in numbers to Pakistani Ahmadis. Yet Christians and Hindus, while undeniably discriminated against, face nothing like the vitriol directed towards Ahmadis in our country.

To understand what the persecution of Ahmadis achieves, we have to see how it works. Its first step is to say that Ahmadis are non-Muslims. And its second is to say that Ahmadis are not just non-Muslims, but apostates: non-Muslims who claim to be Muslims. These two steps are easy to take: any individual Pakistani citizen has the right to believe whatever they want about Ahmadis and their faith. Continue reading

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Filed under Citizens, Constitution, human rights, Islamism, minorities, Pakistan, Religion, Rights, secularism, state, Terrorism, violence

Why Pakistan is not a nation

And how it could become one.

By Pervez Hoodbhoy    Himal South Asia,  June 2010

 Pakistan has been a state since 1947, but is still not a nation. More precisely, Pakistan is the name of a land and a people inside a certain geographical boundary that is still lacking the crucial components needed for nationhood: a strong common identity, mental make-up, a shared sense of history and common goals. The failure so far to create a cohesive national entity flows from inequalities of wealth and opportunity, absence of effective democracy and a dysfunctional legal system.

While it is true that most Punjabis think of themselves as Pakistani first and Punjabi second, this is not the case with the Baloch or Sindhis. Schools in Balochistan refuse to hoist Pakistan’s flag or sing its national anthem. Sindhis, meanwhile, accuse Punjabis of stealing their water, the Muttahida Quami Movement (MQM) runs Karachi on strictly ethnic grounds, and in April the Pashtun of NWFP successfully had the province officially renamed Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (against the wishes of other residents). In getting a job, caste and sect matters more than ability, and ethnic student groups wage pitched battles against each other on campuses throughout the country. Continue reading

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Filed under Democracy, Identity, Islamism, Pakistan, Partition, secular Pakistan, Society, state

Peshawar Youth Plan Their Future Amid Violence

National Public Radio’s The GT Road Blog

In an area of Pakistan that has become synonymous with Islamist militants, a mural on a wall speaks of the other side of ethnic Pashtun culture: “Welcome to the Northwest Frontier Province, the home of hospitality.”

The mural is out of date — the province was just renamed Khyber-Pakhtoonkhwa. And while the snarl of traffic at the entrance of Peshawar gives the impression of life humming normally, this thousand-year-old city is under siege.

It is the capital of the restive province and gateway to Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt. Suicide bombers have attacked the city nearly 40 times in the past 14 months. The famous market of the Old City is a favorite target — and is considered too dangerous to visit.  Continue reading

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Filed under Islamism, Pakistan, Peshawar, psychology, Religion, Terrorism, violence, War On Terror, youth

The national narrative

Salman Tarik Kureshi         Daily Times, June 12, 2010

What happened through the 1950s was the piecemeal articulation of a national narrative for the new state. Jinnah’s liberal, inclusive vision was converted into a faux Islamic exclusivism. Conformity was imposed on political pluralism and a unitary state, belying the Quaid’s crusades for provincial autonomy, was created

Pakistan, we learn, is rated among the five most unstable countries in the Global Peace Index. Scarcely surprising, given the ongoing civil war with half-savage bands of highly organised, well-financed and heavily armed insurgents, and the accompanying terrorist bombings and violent mayhem across the land. This is not to mention the internecine not-so-civil war between major state institutions, the bizarre conspiracy theories aired over the media, the bigotry trumpeted in pulpits across the land and the genocidal sectarian frenzies that are leading us ineluctably to national and civilisational suicide. The most unstable list includes Iraq, Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan, in addition to our beloved homeland. Continue reading

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Filed under Army, civil service, Colonialism, Constitution, Democracy, History, Judiciary, Media, Pakistan, state

Owner of Hyderabad’s iconic bakery dies

… yet continues to help many live

 

[Dawn Online] HYDERABAD, June 11: Man is mortal but legend stays. It can truly be said for late Kumar of Hyderabad’s Bombay Bakery, as its cuisine left an everlasting flavour on the taste buds of those lucky, who had the opportunity to relish these.

Kumar Thandani enjoyed seventy and two winters and met his creator on Friday in a Karachi hospital. A bachelor throughout, he left behind a sister and two adopted children. He was cremated in the evening at the crematorium at Hali Road. Continue reading

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Filed under culture, Heritage, Pakistan, poverty, Sindh, Society

Pakistani College Becomes Focus of a Social Struggle

The GT Road Blog

BySteve Inskeep

In Lahore, the University of the Punjab attracts middle- and lower-income Pakistani students hoping to make better lives for themselves. But the school’s campus is also the scene of an ongoing struggle over education and Islam.

Alfred Cooper Woolner May 1878 – January 7, 1936, was a noted Sanskrit scholar and professor as well as the Vice Chancellor of Punjab University, Lahore. He died in Lahore

Many of the 35,000 students wear jeans and T-shirts. Punjab is a state school, like one of those big American universities in the Midwest. Students attend class in brick buildings, and study on lawns cut almost as short as putting greens. But life here is less peaceful than it looks.

A clash over religious traditions recently brought about the beating of a professor in his office — and forced the school to close for about three weeks. Continue reading

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Filed under Blogging, Education, Identity, Islamism, Lahore, Pakistan, Punjab, Religion, Women

From the Frying Pan into the Fire

They say in Africa that when elephants fight, it is the grass that suffers. To this Julius Nyerere had once added  that when elephants make love, the grass still suffers. Nyerere had made this witty remark at a summit of the Non-Aligned Movement in the 1970’s. The organisation had been formed to extricate as much of the world from suffering the same fate as the grass in this African proverb, during the Cold War. Yet, it failed Afghanistan as most of NAM’s members were anything but non-aligned. Unfortunately, this included its leading lights.

The US decided to give the USSR a bloody nose in Afghanistan. It seemed no one cared for the poor country caught in the crossfire. Washington found Gen Zia ul Haq’s Pakistan to be a more than willing partner. For the Pakistani dictator, this was an unbelievably lucky opportunity to gain international ‘legitimacy’, even recognition. But for Afghanistan and her people this superpower showdown meant the worst misfortune, misery, death and destruction in the country’s history. The misery continues even two decades after one of the superpowers is no more.

The following article is a short trip down memory lane by an Afghan expat, Muhammad Qayoumi, for Foreign Policy (May 27, 2010). It is one glimpse, through  a particular little window, of how three decades of war can push a country six centuries back in time. It is not claimed that Afghanistan did not have large areas which were, as it were, centuries behind parts of Kabul, Herat and Mazar e Sharif, even 30 years ago. But what is most saddening about this little window on the past is the realisation of the damage that has been done to the psyche of the Afghan people, regardless of who they were, where they lived and in which ‘century’. To regain self-confidence, and to let go of anxieties of more than one sort, would perhaps be the most difficult task faced by the Afghans in their efforts to try and rebuild their country. They will have to relearn to be Afghans, rediscover their own history and not only find hope and security, but once again get used to feeling hopeful and secure. They will have to learn to smile again. (bciv)

Once Upon a Time in Afghanistan…

Record stores, Mad Men furniture, and pencil skirts — when Kabul had rock ‘n’ roll, not rockets

On a recent trip to Afghanistan, British Defense Secretary Liam Fox drew fire for calling it “a broken 13th-century country.” The most common objection was not that he was wrong, but that he was overly blunt. He’s hardly the first Westerner to label Afghanistan as medieval. Former Blackwater CEO Erik Prince recently described the country as inhabited by “barbarians” with “a 1200 A.D. mentality.” Many assume that’s all Afghanistan has ever been — an ungovernable land where chaos is carved into the hills. Given the images people see on TV and the headlines written about Afghanistan over the past three decades of war, many conclude the country never made it out of the Middle Ages. Continue reading

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Filed under Afghanistan, Books, Citizens, History, Images, Photos, war, War On Terror