Category Archives: Identity

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

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

One Myth, Many Pakistans

Cross Post from The New York Times

 By ALI SETHI

Published: June 11, 2010

 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/06/13/opinion/13sethi.html?pagewanted=all

 

FOR many Pakistanis, the deaths of more than 80 members of the Ahmadi religious sect in mosque attacks two weeks ago raised questions of the nation’s future. For me, it recalled a command from my schoolboy past: “Write a Note on the Two-Nation Theory.”

It was a way of scoring easy points on the history exam, and of using new emotions and impressive-sounding words. I began my answer like this:

The Two-Nation Theory is the Theory that holds that the Hindus and Muslims of the Indian Subcontinent are Two Distinct and Separate Nations. It is a Theory that is supported by Numerous Facts and Figures. During the War of Independence of 1857 the Muslim rulers of India were defeated by the British. Suddenly the Hindus, who had always held a grudge against the Muslims for conquering them, began to collaborate with the new British rulers. They joined British schools, worked in British offices and began to make large amounts of money, while the Muslims, who were Discriminated Against, became poorer and poorer. It was now Undisputable that the Hindus and the Muslims were Two Distinct and Separate Nations, and it was becoming necessary for the Muslims to demand a Distinct and Separate Homeland for themselves in the Indian Subcontinent.

To that point, my “note” had only built up the atmosphere of mistrust and hostility between Hindus and Muslims. It had yet to give examples of the Distinctness and Separateness of the two communities (such as that Hindus worshipped the cow but Muslims ate it), of Hindu betrayals and conspiracies (they wanted Hindi, not Urdu, to be the national language). And it had still to name and praise the saddened Muslim clerics, reformers and poets who had first noted these “undisputable” differences.

I got points for every mini-note that I stretched into a full page, which was valid if it gave one important date and one important name, each highlighted for the benefit of the teacher. This was because the teacher couldn’t really read English, and could award points only to answers that carefully showcased their Facts and Figures.

After the exam I would go home. Here the Two-Nation Theory fell apart. I was part-Shiite (my mother’s family), part-Sunni (my father’s family) and part-nothing (neither of my parents was sectarian). There were other things: the dark-skinned man who swabbed the floors of the house was a Christian; the jovial, foul-mouthed, red-haired old woman who visited my grandmother every few months was rumored to be an Ahmadi. (It was a small group, I had been told, that considered itself Muslim but had been outlawed by the government.)

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Filed under Army, Democracy, FATA, Identity, India, Islam, Islamabad, Jinnah, minorities, Pakistan, Religion, The New York Times, Writers

From A Rooftop Restaurant In Lahore

A View ‘Across Another Century’

The GT Road Blog

By Steve Inskeep

NPR correspondents are on the Grand Trunk Road. The team has undertaken this project to hear from “young people along one of the world’s historic highways.”

Today, we get to go along with the team to a restaurant in Lahore that offers much more than just food.


From Coo Coo’s Cafe, you can look back across time. (John Poole/NPR)

There’s no need to get into what we talked about. There’s time for that later, in a few days. Let me just tell you where we talked about it.

First we drove down Mall Road, a main street in Lahore. We passed gorgeous old colonial buildings from when the British ruled this city as part of India. Looking at the buildings from bottom to top, we could see that many start out stolid and British, with foundations made of stone and built to last. Then, as they climbed, we spied frilly archways and high turrets that seemed ready to float into the sky. Continue reading

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Filed under culture, History, Identity, Lahore, Pakistan

The GT Road Blog

NPR correspondents are taking the historic Grand Trunk Road  from the Bay of Bengal in the east to the Hindu Kush mountains in the west, across the Indian subcontinent.  They talk about life along the route. This is the first post from when they arrived in Pakistan, last month. We hope to reproduce, over the next few days, here on PTH, their thoughts and impressions on the journey through Pakistan.

In Pakistan, The Grand Trunk Road Is ‘An Expression Of Hope’

By Steve Inskeep

Our colleague Philip Reeves began this journey by struggling to find the beginning of the Grand Trunk Road. We had no such problem finding where it crossed into Pakistan. Here the highway crosses one of the more heavily fortified borders on earth. Continue reading

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Filed under culture, Heritage, Identity, India, Pakistan, Travel

The Second Amendment

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Published in Daily Times, May 31 2010

The Second Amendment laid the foundations of intolerance and religious tyranny in Pakistan, which has manifested itself in other ways. Since then our state has been in a downward spiral

The violence against the Ahmediyya community underscores the bigotry that has become the hallmark of our beloved homeland. A community — already sacrificed at the altar of political expediency — has now been made to pay the ultimate price.

Amongst the dead, which included retired army officers and other contributors to Pakistani society, was reportedly the youngest brother of Chaudhry Zafarullah Khan. For those who are unaware of who Chaudhry Zafarullah was, he was the author of the Lahore Resolution, Pakistan’s first foreign minister and Pakistan’s advocate before the Boundary Commission. In other words, this community has paid for such crimes as their valiant contribution to the Pakistan Movement, their significant role in the development of Pakistan and the fact that Pakistan’s only Nobel Prize was bagged by them. Yet what happened on Friday was waiting to happen, given the neglect and at times outright bigotry that our governments, both federal and provincial, have been guilty of on this count starting with the PPP government in 1974.

Things were not always like this. It bears remembering that in 1944 when a group of Muslim divines approached Jinnah to persuade him unsuccessfully to turn all Ahmedis out of the Muslim League, Jinnah was resolute against such bigotry. He responded to them by saying, “Who am I to declare non-Muslim a person who calls himself a Muslim?” It was for this reason that many religious parties and even self-styled freedom fighters like Mirza Ali Khan (Faqir of Ipi) denounced the Muslim League as a “bastion of Qadiyanism”. Yet such was the force of character of our founding father that he not only stood against such bigotry but without any fear appointed the leading Ahmedi Muslim at the time to shoulder the most important responsibility for the Muslims of South Asia, i.e. of arguing Pakistan’s case before the Boundary Commission. So long as the Quaid’s colleagues were at the helm, there was some semblance of common sense that prevailed on this issue. When in 1953, the Majlis-e-Ahrar and the Jamaat-e-Islami, both groups that had opposed the creation of Pakistan, started a mass agitation movement to have Ahmedis like Chaudhry Zafarullah turned out from the government and excommunicated from Islam, Khawaja Nazimuddin, himself a devout Muslim, refused to bow under their pressure. His government fell a few weeks later and the establishment stepped in to sweep up the mullahs with extreme prejudice.

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Filed under Activism, Democracy, human rights, Identity, Islam, Islamism, Jinnah's Pakistan, minorities, Pak Tea House, Religion, Rights, Taliban, Terrorism, violence

Blowback in Lahore

We have posted Omar Ali`s previous post titled “The Dead Parrot” a few weeks back. Below we reproduce his comment on the Lahore massacre. Dr. Ali discusses compelling reasons why we are here and where we are heading towards from here. We did not get into this mess overnight and we will not get out of it soon enough. Too many innocent Pakistanis are losing their lives as Pakistan struggles to overcome its previous policy errors. PTH may not necessarily agree with all points raised in the following post (AZW)

 

Blowback In Lahore

By Omar Ali

http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?265617

Terrorists (Punjabi Taliban) simultaneously attacked two Ahmedi sect mosques in Lahore during Friday prayers and killed over 80 people. First thoughts on this evil attack: The choice of target is easy to understand. Ahmedis are a persecuted and vilified minority in Pakistan and “mainstream” news organizations feel no compunction about attacking them, so the ground is already prepared. e.g. GEO TV’s religion presenter (and phoney doctor) Amir Liaqat Hussain, a former minister, encouraged people to kill them if they “overstepped their bounds” and an Ahmedi doctor was promptly killed; there was some fuss in the liberal press but his programme aalim-Online is still on TV and writes a particularly vicious column in a major newspaper. 

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Filed under Al Qaeda, Army, FATA, History, Identity, India, Islam, Islamabad, Islamism, minorities, Pakistan, Religion, Rights, state, strategy, Taliban, USA, violence, war