Sunday, December 29, 2013


The Pakistani view of the people to their east as short dark rice-eaters (and meant in a derogatory, not a descriptive sense) has a long history.  I had previously posted a mention from 1941.   This post is to record a more recent one.

Pervez Hoodbhoy, in remembering the formation of Bangladesh, confesses:
Having seen only grotesque caricatures of history, it is impossible for Pakistan’s youth to understand 1971. But how can I blame them? Those of us who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s knew in our hearts that East and West Pakistan were one country but not one nation. Young people today cannot imagine the rampant anti-Bengali racism among West Pakistanis then. With great shame, I must admit that, as a thoughtless young boy, I, too, felt embarrassed about small and dark people being among my compatriots. Victims of a delusion, we thought that good Muslims and Pakistanis were tall, fair and spoke chaste Urdu. Some schoolmates would laugh at the strange sounding Bengali news broadcasts from Radio Pakistan.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Ayesha Siddiqa on Disneyland Pakistan

In the Tribune, Ayesha Siddiqa writes of the failure to recognize complexity, let alone learn how to deal with it:

The magazine, Hello!, has just published a special edition for Pakistan highlighting a list of ‘Hot Hundred’ — profiles of 100 Pakistani icons ranging from brilliant writers, playwrights, novelists, polo players, fashion designers, actors, singers, models and many others. The message is simple: Pakistan is not only about terrorists and extremists but also about very promising people, who can compare with their counterparts in any part of the world. One is, however, intrigued by the Disneyland or Hollywood characteristic of this Pakistan — very clean and tidy, English-speaking, educated, urban and upper and upper-middle class.

This Pakistan is not complicated either because it doesn’t want to bother with the uncleanliness of poverty or the chaos of nationalisms and beliefs.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

K.K. Shahid on Jinnah, Bhutto and intolerance

From the Daily Times of Pakistan:

...Whether it was supposed to result in a federation, or in two separate states (like it eventually did), the Two Nation Theory unequivocally stated that Hindus and Muslims cannot coexist. And that basically is Exhibit A of religious intolerance. Just because Jinnah’s version of intolerance was not baked inside a theological oven, does not make it any less divisive....

....For all practical purposes, modern day Pakistan came into existence on December 16, 1971. The country that was created via an Islamo-nationalist ideology in 1947 ceased to exist after Bangladesh came into being, especially since this new state’s creation in itself was a damning verdict on the former’s raison d’être. Hence, it was time for Pakistan to learn its lessons and realise that religion should not be used to unite a state that is so ethno-linguistically diverse. With Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto — like Jinnah, another man secular and liberal in his outlook — at the helm, it was time for Pakistan to right the wrongs of 1947 and maybe adopt a secular code, which would separate religion from the state. Bhutto did the exact opposite......

....That the two torchbearers of secularism in the history of Pakistan created a separate country in the name of religion and excommunicated a religious sect respectively speaks volumes for the legacy of secularism that we have inherited. That the two torchbearers of democracy refused to work under the mandate of Congress and the Awami League respectively and needed separate states to manifest their ideals, reveals our democratic ancestry. And so it should come as no surprise that both religious coexistence and democracy are alien concepts for us.