Category Archives: Society

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

Religious Liberalism – Our Greatest Hope?

A.A Khalid has sent us his exclusive post for PTH. It is quite gratifying to note that PTH is becoming a hub for many of us who want things to improve without using the violent means and indiscriminate jihadist agenda. Raza Rumi

Is religious liberalism an oxymoron, or is it something long established? More to the point is there something known as Islamic Liberalism, or Liberal Islam? Surprisingly, there is indeed something, a discourse known as Liberal Islam. And contrary to popular perception it is not a contradiction in terms. Charles Kurzman a Professor in Sociology who deals with Islamic movements asserts there is a tradition with specifically Islamic context known as Liberal Islam (pdf file) . What’s more Liberal Islam is not monolithic it has multiple schools and traditions each with a different approach and (pdf file) different methodology. Each tradition within the Liberal school faces different challenges and has differing prospects. If such a tradition exists how is it that within the Pakistani discourses it is eerily absent, with instead conservatives and political Islamists dominating the interpretive discourse of Islam. It should be noted ‘’Liberal Islam’’ is known under many rubrics from Islamic Modernism, Islamic Reformism, Reflexive Revivalism to movements professing Ijtihad, Islaha, Ihya and Tajdid.

The situation in Pakistan is a paradox. Its founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a secularist in the sense he sought an institutional division between mosque and state, the clergy and the government and to a greater extent religion did not have such an effect in his personal life. His political ideals are liberal a vision of a pluralistic society where the citizens of the State would be equal in rights and responsibilities. Towards the end of his life Jinnah attempted a synthesis, coining terms such as ‘’Islamic democracy’’, ‘’Islamic social justice’’ Jinnah tried to weld his liberal politics and ideals with religious faith. Muhammad Iqbal on the other hand was not a politician per se but a thinker and intellectual, hence his ideas are always going to attain a greater sophistication. Though Iqbal too can be seen as an Islamic humanist, a critical humanist, critical of both European ideas and traditions and the Muslim traditions, Iqbal focused on the free will of all human beings, an original and unique position among Muslim intellectuals and scholars. Iqbal’s focus on self development and his synthesis of philosophy, theology, mysticism and law which he tries to achieve in his Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam, where he puts many traditions both from Islam and Europe in critical conversation is till this day and probably for some time to come an inspiration to religious reformists and liberals. Continue reading

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Filed under Islam, Religion, secular Pakistan, secularism, Society

Hashtnagar – a land, forgotten

Ammar Aziz, is a Lahore based film-maker, writer and a left-Wing activist. His article raises extremely important issues in this narrative. We wih to revive the debates on peasantry struggles and Ammar’s exclusive post for PTH is more than welcome. We hope that there will be a robust discussion on the issues raised here. Raza Rumi

My film thesis research has recently made me visit a piece of land that, despite its significant historical importance , has been brutally ignored in the pages of history. Surrounded by Afghan border, conservative feudal culture and tribal areas that have been in media attention in the recent past due to Taliban, that area is none other then Hashtnagar which stands as its own example in the history of class struggle in Pakistan . Consisting of a cluster of eight villages, Hashtnagar is  one of the two divisions of Charsadah district in Pakhtoon Khawah (NWFP) and is one of the province’s most fertile lands known for its sugar cane production. The element of militant armed Socialist struggle differentiates Hashtnagar from the rest of the leftist movements in Pakistan.

Weaving red flags at the roof tops, Socialist symbols painted on the walls, portraits of revolutionary figures, left wing cultural activism and, above all, the daily life of the  peasants and workers reflect the liberation that can be felt in the whole ambiance of the area. This liberation is the outcome of the socialist struggle of many decades that has played an important role in shaping the lives and minds of the native people.

To understand this revolutionary change, it is important to have a brief overview of the history of peasant’s struggle in NWFP Continue reading

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Filed under Left, Marxism, movements, North-West Frontier Province, Pakistan, Politics, poverty, Society

Lahore’s now the latest target of Taliban

Raza Rumi

Once again the terrorists have hit Lahore. But this time they have chosen the favourite target of the fundamentalists – the Ahmedis who were declared as non-Muslims in 1974. Two places of worship have been attacked and innocent people have died. This is unacceptable and outrageous. It means that the state policy of exclusion has finally turned the country into a nightmare – a polity where freedom to worship, profess religious orientation and expression is not only curtailed by simply denied.

The resolve of the Government and the Army must be now strengthened after these tragedies. We condemn the state excesses and also the this heinous act of terrorism.

It is almost surreal to see what is happening in Lahore – there is no law and order, no law enforcement worth its name and hapless citizens witnessing the crumbling of a society. It is time to wake up – complacency will not do.

We have to fight terror and the enemy within and not blame the external forces time and again.

As I write these lines, I am petrified as a very dear friend’s father is trapped in the Model Town mosque. may God protect him.

Updated at: 1437 PST,  Friday, May 28, 2010
Ahmadis’ worship places attacked, five killed LAHORE: Firing incidents have been reported at religious places of Ahmadi sect in Garhi Shahu and Model Town areas of Lahore on Friday.

Five people have been reported killed and 10 injured in the attack at Model Town mosque. Seven terrorists attacked Model Town mosque and police have arrested one of them.

TTP Punjab has claimed the responsibility for the attack, Geo News reported.
Continue reading

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Filed under Al Qaeda, Islamism, Liberal Democratic Pakistan, liberal Pakistan, minorities, Pakistan, Politics, public policy, Punjab, Society, Taliban, Terrorism, violence, war, War On Terror

At least we are not Dubai

Among all the gloom about our country, we tend to forget the richness and the diversity of our cities and culture. We have a lot to achieve, but we overlook a lot more that we possess. George Fulton expresses his disdain for Dubai, a ritzy burgeoning middle eastern city that portrays itself as a coastal quasi-western city of choice for businesses and tourists. We may not fully agree with George’s assessment of Dubai as just a glamorous and materialistic cosmopolitan. Yet his comparison of Karachi or Lahore (with their rich culture, traditions, intelligentsia, linguistic pluraity and democracy) with a drab city (run by an autocratic dynasty and inhabited by empty fops looking for relatively quick riches) do ring a loud bell. (AZW)

 

 

By George Fulton, The Express Tribune

http://tribune.com.pk/story/7950/at-least-we-are-not-dubai/

We haven’t got a lot to be thankful for these days in Pakistan.

But at least we are not Dubai.

Fed up with loadshedding, bombs, and TV cynicism pervading Pakistan, I recently escaped to Dubai for a holiday. Big mistake. Huge. Ten days later I returned, gasping for Karachi’s polluted, but far sweeter, air. Dubai may have the world’s tallest building and the world’s largest shopping mall, but it also has the world’s tiniest soul. It’s a plastic city built in steel and glass.

It has imported all the worst aspects of western culture (excessive consumption, environmental defilement) without importing any of its benefits (democracy, art). This is a city designed for instant gratification a hedonistic paradise for gluttons to indulge in fast food, fast living and fast women. It’s Las Vegas in a dish dash. You want to eat a gold leaf date? Munch away.

You want to drink a Dhs 3,000 bottle of champagne? Bottoms up. You want a UN selection of hookers at your fingertips? Tres bien. Let’s start with the malls. These cathedrals of capitalism, these mosques of materialism are mausoleums of the living dead. Slack jawed zombies roam around consuming food, clothes and electronics in a desperate attempt to fill the emptiness of their existence.

Continue reading

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Filed under ancient civilisations, Architecture, culture, Democracy, Karachi, Lahore, New Writers, Pakistan, Politics, public policy, Society, UAE

Traitors and Reactionaries

Dedicated to Hameed Gul and Nadeem Farooq Paracha
 
By Raza Habib Raja

The political spectrum in our country is polarized between two extremes: patriotic conservatives and the liberals. Both these extremes are often in complete conflict and accuse the other of naivety and even fanaticism. While conspiracy theories of the rightwing are well known, I have seen that liberals are not at all far behind and churn out their own conspiracy theories in which they try to absolve the PPP government of everything under the sun. Following are the “pearls” of wisdom uttered by both sides.
 
 
The Patriotic Brigade
 
1.      We are patriots and love our motherland like hell. We are macho and believe in jingoism. Our favorite terms are: Islam; nationalism; traitors; baigharat liberals; strategic location; CIA; Mosad; RAW; corruption; and independent judiciary.    Of course those who do not agree with us are traitors or liberal fanatics.
 
2.      Liberalism is an anti patriotic philosophy and has the sole aim of westernization and thus weakening of Pakistan.
 
3.      The entire world is united against Pakistan because we have the nuclear arsenal for “peaceful” purposes.  Although critics say that it is a crude copy of Chinese technology (which itself is of low quality) but since our engineers copied it therefore it is our pride. Continue reading

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Filed under dynasties, Humour, liberal Pakistan, Pakistan, Society

Pakistan: Clear and present danger

Raza Rumi

If the parliament and judiciary want to continue exercising their newfound powers, they have no option but to act strictly within the framework of the Pakistani Constitution

Pakistan is a surreal country. Only here we have long, protracted struggles for democracy and only here we are almost always ready to scuttle democracy. Perhaps Iskander Mirza was not all too wrong while making the assessment that democracy does not suit the genius of our people. An added qualification is that it does not suit the genius of the elites, in particular the unelected institutions of the state.

There is now a clear and present danger that the judicial review of the 18th Amendment will lead to a potential clash of the key organs of the state: the legislature and the judiciary. Pundits have also predicted that if such a situation arises, then a logjam will benefit the third force — Pakistan’s well organized formal institution, which is readily available to undertake crisis management. Perhaps such fears are slightly exaggerated and misplaced. But the reality is that Pakistani history teaches us some interesting though unsavoury lessons.

Curse of history

The Constitution of 1956 was drafted, almost after a decade of the new country’s formation, as the elites were not interested in changing the colonial structure of the state and its institutions. After much negotiation and a bit of arm-twisting, parity between the Eastern and the Western wings was achieved to finalise the basic law. However, the 1956 Constitution could not be enforced let alone implemented, as new elections were a risk for the national security establishment, which took charge of the country in 1958. The second moment arrived in 1970, when a political consensus arrived through election with divisive results, was once again scuttled by the unelected institutions and the West Pakistani elites. The results were tragic. 1977 was a third moment when the Bhutto administration and PNA movement agreed on a workable package for the future course of politics in the country. Even before this accord could reach the public domain, the Islamo-fascist General took the reins of power and thwarted the political consensus. There is a clear lesson here: a political consensus — wide-ranging, legitimate and inclusive — is a threat to the post-colonial state and the inherent contradictions of the Pakistani polity come into play the moment such compacts are arrived at. Continue reading

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Filed under Constitution, human rights, Judiciary, Justice, Law, lawyers movement, Media, minorities, Pakistan, Politics, public policy, Rights, secular Pakistan, Society, state