Cross Post from The New York Times
By ALI SETHI
Published: June 11, 2010
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.)
Filed under Army, Democracy, FATA, Identity, India, Islam, Islamabad, Jinnah, minorities, Pakistan, Religion, The New York Times, Writers
By Nadeem F. Paracha
1. Asif Ali Zardari is the devil incarnate.
2. The Pakistan Army is the saviour.
3. The Taliban are resisting American imperialism.
4. We hate American foreign policy unless it suits us. We are against American imperialism if it means we have to ditch the Taliban as that would be against the aspirations of our founding father, Mohammed Bin Qasim. We will no longer shop at Marks and Spencer because they are somehow connected to Israel. However, that does not mean we will switch off our computers and cell phones whose chip technology has been made possible due to major contributions from Israeli scientists. Continue reading
Filed under Al Qaeda, Army, baluchistan, Benazir Bhutto, Democracy, FATA, Humour, India, Iran, Islam, Islamabad, Kerry Lugar Bill, Pakistan, Punjab, Punjabi, Religion, Taliban, USA, War On Terror, Writers, Yusuf Raza Gillani, Zardari
Posted by Raza Rumi
At PTH, we have struggled to retain the balance between politics, history and arts and culture. However, given Pakistan’s turbulent politics and security, it has been an uphill task. We are now inviting new writers to come and express themselves at PTH. Especially since the explosion (pun intended) of Pakistani fiction at a global scale. We are printing a story by Hamza Rehman who is a an Esquire based in Islamabad. Hamza is a practising lawyer who moonlights as DJ for Pakistan Broadcasting Association’s Planet FM 94, where he hosts the Alternative Rock and 80’s shows. He freelances for The Friday Times and pens fiction as much as he can. He primarily writes about characters in Islamabad and experiments heavily with metaphor. The Solidity of Things is his debut short story.
Hope the readers would enjoy this rather bold, avante garde story.
“… but they sprawled from another country, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and the rest.
Islamabad is Pakistan’s first city.”
The billboard outside the Daewoo Bus Station introduced Islamabad as a new sentence to passengers arriving from Lahore. The other cities trailed off from another paragraph – divided India. Yes of course, Ahmed thought, Islamabad was post partition. The 1960’s. Ahmed sat in his jaundiced Suzuki FX that peeled silver rust at places. Through the tempered glass the weather shone warm with grim April yellow. Ahmed tried to make out if his maternal cousin, Haroon, had arrived.
Islamabad was roadblock central now. Blockades were a zipper formation and the ITP an ever vigil martinet on Fridays. Ahmed remembered a conversation with Usman: “Ahmed, solid terrorism, or manifest terrorism, isn’t the Islamabad Marriot burning the fuck down.” Taking a drag of his Gold Leaf, Usman had pithily said, “It’s the insecurity that follows”, in a wisp of solid smoke and truth. Continue reading
by Raza Rumi
Oxford University Press and the British Council are holding a literary festival – first of its kind.
The programme can be viewed here – Full programme of the Karachi Literary Festival
I am off to Karachi to attend this moot.
Edited and Tranlated by Rita Kothari
We are grateful to Isa Daudpota to have alerted us to an invaluable collection of Sindhi Partition narratives.
As Isa says, most people in Pakistan are unaware of the plight of Sindhi Hindus who migrated to India at the time of Partition. The two stories are a useful corrective. Copies are available from www.penguinindia.com or amazon.com. Indeed, All public libraries in Sindh should have a copy.
Unbordered Memories. Sindhi Stories of Partition. Ed and Trans Rita Kothari. Contents and Intro
Two stories from Unbordered Memories. ed Rita Kothari. Penguin
BY AZHAR ASLAM AND SHERMEEN BANO (Cross-post from Vision21)
Every Identity has a history and so does that of Pakistan. It is short but tumultuous, although some say it was born with the conversion or settlement of the first Muslim in India. In truly modern sense though India was only itself born, when British firmly established their rule from Afghanistan to Burma, by 1890s. In the process of doing this however, they sowed the seed of national consciousness in the minds of Indians. British influence moulded Indian nationalism by omissions and commissions. However it inevitably also laid the seed of communalism, as different regions and nationalities in the sub continental melting pot, woke up to the British rule and demanded their rights.
Filed under Democracy, Identity, India, Islamabad, Islamism, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Justice, Literature, Partition, Philosophy, Politics, public policy, Religion, Rights, Writers
By Gilani Kamran
The novel in Pakistan
The novel in Pakistan emerged with Qurratulain Heider’s Aag ka Darya (The River of Fire, 1957). It has been generally held that the novel is about the problem of self-identity, yet it moves in a wider orbit and traverses the curvature between self identity and the collective identity of the people who were placed in a criticasl situation on the eve of Independence in 1947. Leslie Flemming has regarded this novel as A Tale of Three Cities, where the whole phenomenon of Independence has been witnessed as a feature film’s scenario. Thematically, the novel intends to discover some equation between geography and history, though in a much wider sense the human existence is not more than mutability and transmigration of human forms. The novel had indeed opened a new mode of perception, and had given a meaningful matter and theme to fiction writing in Pakistan. Continue reading