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Pakistan Press (16 Aug 2017 NewAgeIslam.Com)

The Pakistan Experiment by Ammar Ali Jan: New Age Islam's Selection, 16 August 2017

By New Age Islam Edit Bureau

16 August 2017

The Pakistan Experiment

By Ammar Ali Jan

Beyond These Seventy Years

By Dr Murad Ali

Hillary Clinton and Le Pen Are Victims of Sexism and Gender Discrimination

By Muhammad Ali Baig

PML-N’s New Clothes and Pakistani Politics

By Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

Deconstructing Hope

By Khayyam Mushir

A Study in Contrasts

By Atta-Ur-Rahman

The Dead Weight of History

By Asad Khan Gandapur

Charlottesville Is America

By Erika Wilson and Khaled A Beydoun

Compiled By New Age Islam Edit Bureau


The Pakistan Experiment

By Ammar Ali Jan

August 16, 2017

Yet, rituals also possess the power to remove us from the dizzying pace of contemporary events and apply a critical gaze over our past to in order to learn from it. In Pakistan, however, this opportunity is almost always missed, with media houses, academics and even ordinary citizens competing to outdo each other in showering praise on the nation. Even when discussions do take place, they continue to operate within old binaries, showing the shackles placed on political imagination in the country.

Consider, for example, the endless (but stale) debate over what kind of a vision Jinnah proposed for Pakistan. Those who are concerned about locating Pakistan’s essence in religious difference emphasise a rigid version of the Two-Nation Theory, where Hindus and Muslims represent two exclusive communities, with little or nothing in common. The more enthusiastic proponents of this theory argue that Pakistan’s genesis can be traced from the early Muslim conquests in the Subcontinent. In other words, conquerors such as Mohammad Bin Qasim and Mahmud of Ghazni were Pakistanis well before there was a state that could issue them a national passport, and history is a mere excuse for revealing this essential truth.

On the other hand, the more liberally-inclined commentators often repeat Jinnah’s 11th August speech (as well as invoking his liberal lifestyle) in which he called not only for religious freedom, but also proclaimed the state’s neutrality in terms of religion. This is taken as proof of the decidedly ‘secular’ future envisioned Jinnah before the country was hijacked by Islamists.

The problem arises from the fact, however, that both these points of view can justify themselves using the writings, speeches and actions of Jinnah. This is not to suggest that Jinnah was purposely trying to mislead the population. Instead, it simply draws attention to the complex political terrain of the 1940s in colonial India, both in terms of immediate political concerns and the long-term prospects of establishing nation-states in the Subcontinent.

We know how Jinnah’s political views were influenced by Western legal reasoning, something that can be discerned from his efforts during the Lucknow Pact of 1916, or the 14 points he delivered as a possible resolution of Hindu-Muslim tensions. However, to be accepted as a legitimate leader of the Muslims by the National Congress and the British, he needed to demonstrate his popularity among Muslims voters. There is dissonance between the arguments used by Jinnah in his speeches during protests and electoral meetings, in which he would often emphasise the absolute differences between Hindus and Muslims, and his strictly constitutional language during correspondence with the colonial state.

Again, such apparent contradictions cannot be dismissed in simplistic terms such as ‘hypocrisy’ but point to the contradictory terrain navigated by political leaders in Colonial India, particularly with regards to the exigencies of mass politics and constitutional legitimacy. This tension was especially heightened with regards to the political direction of the new nation-state, since its geographical and ideological contours remained uncertain, not least because of the hasty way in which Partition was finalised by the British.

Add to that the problem of the physical distance between West Pakistan and East Pakistan, not to mention the different ethnic groups in the former who were anxious about their own place in the polity, and one can grasp the challenges faced by the new nation-state. It is for this reason that contemporary scholars privilege the element of novelty over tradition in the formation of Pakistan, since it was based not on the traditional national elements such as race or language, but was centred around religious identity of a geographically and linguistically disparate people. Notwithstanding claims to make Pakistan conform with some pristine ‘Islamic’ past, the fact that no nation-state had ever been created solely for Muslims, let alone for ‘Islam’, explains the possibilities (and anxieties) attached to the fate of this country.

That is why Jinnah would often describe Pakistan as a “laboratory” (he used it more than just in the context of an “Islamic laboratory”) and compared nation-building to an experiment. And as with all experiments, it requires massive debate, internal criticism, a challenge to each premise, and in its most radical form, even the possibility of abandonment. No matter what side of the political divide one occupies, it is difficult to deny the open-ended nature of Pakistan at its inception, contingent upon political developments and the collective wisdom of the people. This is why despite accepting the convenient term of “Pakistan ideology” as self-evident, we are always unable to come to any consensus on its meaning. The fact is that there was never such a consensus, not even inside the Muslim League led by Jinnah.

This leads us to ponder what purpose is served by an obsession with a fixed origin for the Pakistani nation, one that is so overwhelming that it seems to have determined our future as well. The obvious result of this framing has been to set a rigid boundary on political imagination in the country, with critical voices demonised for betraying the supposed ‘national ideology’. Since the early 1950s, the charge of lacking patriotism, or worse still, of being Indian agents, has been liberally deployed by those in power to attack activists and intellectuals demanding a more inclusive country. The result is that the much-needed debate about the country’s future has given way to loud but clichéd expressions of loyalty to the state.

The combination of ignorance of history with an arrogance of imposing a particular viewpoint on the entire population has had disastrous consequences. Already, our inability to listen and debate played a major part the dismemberment of the country in 1971. The class, ethnic and gender faultlines continue to grow, yet we keep viewing them as ‘deviations’ from a historically determined past, rather than provocations for rethinking the future of our polity.

We must now shun the fiction that there is (or ever was) a fixed ideology for Pakistan, and embrace the true challenge of being independent – ie that we are agents in an open-ended experiment, whose future will be decided through the force of reason and our collective wisdom. Those who stifle free speech in the name of nationalism not only indulge in tyrannical behaviour, but also betray this responsibility that freedom bestows upon us all.

Today, with the rapidly changing geopolitical realities amidst the increasing fragility of nation-states around the world, we must encourage dissent and debate on the future of the state-citizen relationship in Pakistan. Otherwise, we shall continue repeating the tragedy of sacrificing our brightest minds at the altar of an imagined and reified view of history.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/223821-The-Pakistan-experiment


Beyond These Seventy Years

By Dr Murad Ali

August 16, 2017

As India and Pakistan – two of the largest countries in South Asia – complete 70 years of independence, there is much to contemplate and less to celebrate. Although both countries deserve to celebrate their independence from the British Raj – a common goal of our ancestors which they had made innumerable sacrifices to achieve – it is a pity that both nations have been unable to resolve their bilateral issues and come to terms with their historical baggage.

Owing to their unresolved bilateral issues, much of South Asia has been held hostage to a regressive trend. The region remains static and has not progressed towards becoming a fully integrated entity even though Saarc was established more than three decades ago to achieve this aim. Various other forums and initiatives have also been launched from time to time as well. But they have not had the desired effect.

Representing the southern region of Asia, the total area of South Asia is about 5.2 million square kilometres and its population is 1.7 billion, which is about one-fourth of the world’s population. It is one of the most dynamic regions in the world. But it is also one of the least economically integrated regions. While inter-regional trade is about 25 percent in the Asean countries, in South Asia, “intraregional trade accounts for just five percent of total trade”.

Meanwhile, intra-regional trade accounts for 69 percent of the total international trade of European countries, 50 percent in North America, 27 percent in South and Central America and 13 percent in Africa. It is worth noting that South Asia’s intra-subregional trade share has only inched forward from 2.7 percent in 1990 to five per cent in recent years. This means that we are prepared to export commodities and import material to Europe, America and Africa. However, there is negligible trade among neighbours despite the enormous potential and need.

On account of the shared history and culture of many of the region’s countries – including Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Sri Lanka – there is significant potential for economic integration. However, it has been dwarfed by the decades-old interstate rivalries and distrust. Unlike other civilised nations across the globe, India and Pakistan have been the hostages of history, with no focus and policy to resolve differences and enable our future generations to live peacefully.

Unfortunately, the animosity between the two countries has affected much of South Asia and there is hardly any mention of potential cooperation on comprehensive sustainable development policies and plans for future integrations.

While South Asia is the most populous and perhaps the most densely populated region in the world, it is also the region with the highest number of people suffering from acute poverty. According to the Millennium Development Goals Report 2015, “the overwhelming majority of people living on less than $1.25 a day reside in two regions – Southern Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa”. The report further adds that in terms of overall poverty, about 80 percent of the global poor people live in these two regions.

According to a World Bank report, “about 399 million people – 40 percent of the world’s poor – live on less than $1.25 a day” in South Asia. The region has “the greatest hunger burden, with about 281 million undernourished people”. Similarly, “an estimated 57 percent of out-of-school children never go to school”. Over 200 million people live in slums and about half a billion people have no access to electricity. Similarly, a number of countries in the region suffer from extreme forms of social exclusion and huge infrastructural gaps. To sum it up, South Asia’s score on the Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.607 and life expectancy at birth is 68.4 years. It is only better than Sub-Saharan Africa as its HDI score is 0.518 and life expectancy at birth is 58.5.

Of the 884 million people that lack access to clean drinking water globally, 468 million people live in Asia. With population growth and an increased demand for freshwater for agricultural, industrial, commercial and domestic use, there will be an additional burden on countries to provide an adequate supply of water.

In terms of access to clear drinking water, India has the highest “number of people living in rural areas without access to clean water – 63 million”. This is almost as large as the population of the UK and, according to a report issued by WaterAid in 2017, constitutes enough people to form a line from New York to Sydney and back again. Similarly, 13.6 million people in Bangladesh and 12.4 million people in Afghanistan have no access to clean drinking water. In this regard, Bangladesh and Afghanistan rank at the ninth and tenth positions, respectively. Like the rest of South Asia, Pakistan has similar development issues. These include problems of illiteracy, a host of socio-economic and environmental challenges and concerns about peace and stability.

In order to overcome the challenges of acute poverty, South Asia needs sustained development cooperation in various forms and from various sources. In 2014, the World Bank provided $7.9 billion for the region for 38 projects. The primary sectors that were financed by the World Bank included water, sanitation and flood protection ($1.4 billion), transportation ($1.3 billion) and public administration, law and justice ($1.2 billion).

Similarly, the region received a total of over $15 billion from OECD donors during 2014. The data further reveals that the largest aid recipients were Afghanistan ($4.8 billion), Pakistan ($3.6 billion), India ($2.9 billion) and Bangladesh ($2.4 billion). Other smaller countries – including the Maldives, Nepal, Bhutan and Sri Lanka – also received significant development aid.

In view of the number of people who are poor, live in slums and have little or no access to education, health, energy, clean drinking water, job opportunities, food security and adequate infrastructure, the implementation of the 2030 agenda and the accomplishment of the Sustainable Developed Goals (SDGs) in South Asia seems to be a distant dream. To accomplish sustainable development outcomes, mindsets must change and the security-dominated paradigm must be accommodated. This will ensure that space is given to policy debates, dialogues and open discussions on how India and Pakistan can play a constructive role, not only for their own prosperity but also for the shared prosperity of the larger South Asian region.

As India and Pakistan complete their 70th year as independent states, the leadership of both countries must decide what kind of future they want for the coming generations: whether they want to remain mired in perpetual distrust, hatred and poverty or set the course towards mutual and peaceful coexistence and shared prosperity.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/223822-Beyond-these-seventy-years


Hillary Clinton and Le Pen Are Victims of Sexism and Gender Discrimination

By Muhammad Ali Baig


It is a fact that Hillary Clinton and Marine Le Pen lost their respective elections not because of Putin or Merkel, but the only reason behind their defeat was the ignorance regarding the status of women WHAT made most favourite Hillary Clinton to lose 2016 US Presidential Elections and why Marine Le Pen was defeated in 2017 French Presidential Elections? American people elected a rightist - Donald Trump, in relation with a centrist woman - Hillary Clinton, and French people elected a centrist - Emmanuel Macron, instead of a rightist woman - Marine Le Pen. In this equation, women are common and are being rejected by both American and French nations in the favour of men. Hillary Clinton may put all the blame of her defeat on Putin and FBI chief, but in reality the she was rejected due to the gender biasness existing in the hearts and minds of the American people. She was a victim of the narrow mindedness prevailing in America for a woman being the President of the America.

People may think that the defeat of Marine Le Pen is the demise or perhaps a dent to the populism in France but three things make us think differently, i) It is the second time in roughly fifteen years that the National Front managed to reach the second round of French Presidential Elections, ii) Marine secured almost 35% of the popular vote, and iii) It was not Marine vs. Macron, but it was Marine vs. The Rest. Marine Le Pen stood at number three in the 2012 Presidential Elections and now in 2017 she was at number two. Her popularity is growing steadily and the centre - left is perhaps increasingly fearful of her. Marine's defeat signals that the French Revolution of 1789 and the subsequent 'Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen' is still dominating the democratic French Fifth Republic. 'The Women's March on Versailles' in October of that year reflected the insensitive behaviour of French men towards French women. Perhaps, France needs another 'March on Paris' to secure equal status and rights for women. Not just Marine, but French people elected Nicolas Sarkozy instead of a female candidate Segolene Royal in French Presidential Elections in 2007 as well.

French and American nations have a lot in common and both helped each other in their respective Wars of Independence or Revolutions. French Major General Marquis de Lafayette helped American General George Washington throughout the American War of Independence from 1775 till 1783.

Similarly, American writers especially Thomas Paine paved the way and encouraged the French nation to rise up against an unjust monarchy. Perhaps, the similarities prevailing in both countries have greatly shaped their bias against women as well. The French people have denied the services of Madame de Pompadour and Olympe de Gouges in the French Revolution by favouring a man instead of a woman.

On the other hand, Margaret Thatcher somehow managed to become Prime Minister of the United Kingdom in 1979. Her policies and firm stance during the Falklands War against Argentina made her known as 'The Iron Lady'. Similarly, France's neighbour Germany elected its first female Chancellor Angela Merkel in 2005 and for the past twelve years she has been ruling Germany outstandingly while steering it to the heights of glory. Merkel's staunch resolve to uphold liberal values changed the lives of millions of refugees and made it possible for the European Union from breaking apart. Merkel is seeking a fourth-time as a chancellor in the upcoming elections in September 2017. Apart from Europe, an under developed country like Pakistan, ostensibly with honour killings a common problem - elected its first ever female Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto back in the year 1988. Bhutto being a female served twice as Prime Minister of Pakistan and sacrificed her life along with men at the hands of some Afghanistan-based terrorists on December 27, 2007. It can be deduced that the people of Pakistan have a much more broad vision with utmost respect in relation to American and French people - especially when it comes to women.

Macron in France and Trump in America, made one thing significantly clear, that the West in general, and America - France in particular; needs to do a lot more to realise that women can also run the matters of the state equally as men can. It is a fact that Hillary Clinton and Marine Le Pen lost their respective elections not because of Putin or Merkel, but the only reason behind their defeat was the ignorance regarding the status of women. The only sin or perhaps crime both ladies ever committed that ultimately became a stumbling block in their respective presidential elections - was them being a woman. The defeat of Hillary Clinton in America and Marine Le Pen losing in France is an attack on the feminism as well.

Source: dailytimes.com.pk/opinion/16-Aug-17/hillary-clinton-and-le-pen-are-victims-of-sexism-and-gender-discrimination


PML-N’s New Clothes and Pakistani Politics

By Dr Hasan Askari Rizvi

August 15, 2017

Nawaz Sharif accepted the judgment of the Supreme Court bench disqualifying him from holding any elected office. However, he advised the PML-N loyalists to reject the judgment and wait for his directions for taking steps to reverse the post-judgment political situation that has blocked his return to the office of prime minister.

Sharif’s advice to his supporters to contest the court ruling at an appropriate time conflicts with his advice to former prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani when he faced contempt of court proceedings in the Supreme Court in 2012. At that time Sharif wanted Gilani to quit his office even before the verdict against him was delivered. Once Gilani was convicted and removed from office, Sharif and the PML-N were supportive of the Supreme Court action against the prime minister of that time.

Now, in 2017, when Sharif himself is hit by a judgment of the Supreme Court, it is being described as a conspiracy involving the military and the Supreme Court to oust him. He told his supporters that his removal was a grave injustice done to those who elected him as the prime minister.

Nawaz Sharif’s four-day car rally from Islamabad to Lahore witnessed the bitter attacks mainly on the Supreme Court and secondarily on the military by him and some of his hard-line supporters for ousting him from power. He repeatedly argued how could five non-elected judged remove an elected prime minister and that his removal was the rejection of the elected National Assembly that represented the collective will of the people.

His strident tone in the car rally aimed at achieving three major objectives. First, he wants to reassure his party people that despite the ban he is around, actively pursuing the party affairs. They should not move out of party or look towards an alternate leadership in the party to pursue their political career.

Second, he wants to convey the message to the Supreme Court and the military that they would have to deal with a tough and assertive Sharif who will continue to command politics.

Third, he wants to show his political clout at the popular level to deter the Accountability Court from proceeding with references against him and his family at a fast pace. He would like these references to be put on hold or their proceedings take place at a very slow pace, giving him enough time to consolidate his position in the post-Panama judgment period.

These goals are not likely to be fully achieved because only a section of his party has responded actively to the car rally. He was unable to mobilise new support from outside the party. Even within the PML-N, a section of the leadership was unenthusiastic about the exercise and they were known to have advised him to avoid this rally.

The rally has created internal strains in the PML-N which are likely to increase with the passage of time on the question of how to deal with the superior judiciary and the military? Not all the senior PML-N leaders share Sharif’s strident political style demonstrated during the car rally.

Another type of strain is expected to emerge in the PML-N due to the incipient differences in the Sharif family on the question of succession to the “throne” of power. Whether the office of prime minister stays with the Nawaz Sharif family or it could go to Shahbaz Sharif? The decision of the PML-N to keep Shahbaz Sharif in Punjab in the name of protecting the party interests in the biggest province and putting forward the wife of Nawaz Sharif as a candidate in the Lahore by-election are being watched with much interest by the political observers. Some people are asking the question if she is elected, will she be made the prime minister to enable Nawaz Sharif to manage the “throne” from the background?

In such an uncertain and depressing situation, the only positive development from the point of view of the PML-N and Nawaz Sharif is that the opposition parties continue to be divided and there are little chances of these coming together to oppose the PML-N. The PTI leader, Imran Khan, appears to lack the capacity to work with other political parties on a shared political agenda. The PPP has lost most of its political clout except in the interior Sindh. Bilawal Bhutto is currently critical of both the PTI and the PMLN. However, Zardari and Khursheed Shah give off conflicting signals. At times, they are critical of Nawaz Sharif. At other time, they engage in soft paddling towards him. The Jamaat-e-Islami plays its trumpet all by itself. Dr Tahir ul Qadri will have to stay in Pakistan for an extended period if he wants to convert his religious appeal into a credible political asset.

The divided house of the opposition and their internal contradictions give some hope to the PML-N to cope with the current political challenges. However, the PML-N needs to put its house in order and avoid unnecessary confrontation with the superior judiciary and the military. When the PML-N is in power at the federal level and in Punjab, Balochistan, Azad Jammu and Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan, is it advisable to pursue confrontation with the two important state institutions and the major opposition parties for servicing the personal power ambition of its leader?

If the PML-N and the opposition parties cannot overcome their peculiar deficiencies and evolve a long-term and coherent approach to advance their own agendas, the current incoherence in Pakistani politics will persist. No matter which party is in power, the issues of poor governance, socio-economic inequities and ambiguous policies on some critical domestic and foreign policy issues would continue to haunt the political leaders. The judiciary and the military would watch the situation from the sidelines. They will also find it difficult to offer a better solution to the troubled Pakistani politics.

Source: tribune.com.pk/story/1481417/pml-ns-new-clothes-pakistani-politics/


Deconstructing Hope

By Khayyam Mushir

August 16, 2017

My father’s generation was one of optimists. His life story is similar to that of the countless others who grew up in Pakistan in the post-Partition era. He arrived on a train from Moradabad in India in 1947, a young boy of 10, clutching my grandfather’s arm as waves of dread lanced into the general confusion and excitement he had felt ever since his family embarked on this adventure: their journey to a new home called Pakistan.

There was a reason for the pall of gloom that enveloped the packed railway carriage as it chugged through partitioned India. Why did they had to leave in the first place and why did the creation of Pakistan – which his father had greeted with jubilation only months ago – have to be baptised with Muslim, Hindu and Sikh blood? These were questions his young mind grappled with, but whose answers he only understood many years later.

His family survived the bloodbath of Partition, the abandonment of their belongings and property and a penniless start in Pakistan and survived it with good cheer. He grew up receiving a general education, the obligatory Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees of the time – in the arts as opposed to the sciences as his understanding of the latter never could progress beyond the rudimentary. He started a career in journalism, earned a meagre salary and cycled daily to the Pakistan Time’s office in Islamabad from Rawalpindi. Through all this, he witnessed the wars of 1965 and 1971, recounting often the panic that seized his family every time the air raid sirens bellowed the arrival of enemy planes, fearing not only the loss of life but also being uprooted yet again.

Through a decade of economic uncertainty in the 1970s, my parents’ families eventually achieved a modicum of economic stability that relied on secure employment. Work was a boon and the Latin adage ‘sine labore, nihil!’ – without work, nothing! – formed the bedrock of that generation’s belief in a better tomorrow. Politically, my father championed the views of the left as a corollary eschewed the religious right and in the 1970s was gripped with the socialist fever spearheaded by the political awakening ushered in by Zulfikar Ali Bhutto.

The coup of 1979, Bhutto’s hanging and Zia’s rise to power came as a crushing blow – and the promise of the post-war years appeared to have been prematurely snuffed out. Nevertheless, I recall that my father’s ilk entered the 1980s with hope that the war against dictatorship would be won. While many were jailed, abducted, beaten and proscribed, their struggles were unrelenting, their belief in victory unshakeable.

Despite the failures of democratic politics and the oft-repeated army interventions, this unshakeable optimism continued to create the mirage of a silver lining on the political and economic horizon of Pakistan in the 1980s and the 1990s. In times of stress, my father would never fail to remind me, reciting the lines from Tennyson’s ‘The Lotos-Eaters’ –“Courage!’ he said, and pointed toward the land, “This mounting wave will roll us shoreward soon” – of the power of positive thinking and the sublime nature of hope.

If I were asked to identify the moment when the candle of hope within him was doused, I would say it was the day he learned of Benazir’s murder. Overwhelmed with emotion, that was the day I first saw him weep. This was not out of any messianic devotion to the Bhutto family – whose politics he had come to regard with increasing scepticism – but perhaps because, after observing years of political, economic, social and civic decline, a weariness had set in that could now only be assuaged through a positive and dramatic turn of events. Both Benazir and Nawaz Sharif’s return had signalled just that for him.

From there on, the youthful optimism in him flagged and was replaced instead by a silent resignation with the state of affairs in Pakistan. A vociferous critic of migration to foreign shores for a better life, he now advocated this privately as he witnessed incidents of terrorism increase across the country and the smug indifference of the establishment as it obdurately pursued it ham-fisted domestic and foreign policies. In the closing year of his life, he was certain that his grandson’s futures lay outside Pakistan, a country whose twisted timbre, he concluded, no event – whether great or small – could possibly straighten and whose decline was perhaps irreversible.

Now, 70 years on, hope and optimism for Pakistan’s future hold a different meaning for my generation that grew up in the 1980s. Or perhaps like that of the generation before us, it has been deconstructed, lost in the ether. There are neither illusions of a glittering future and a dream of fast-paced development nor expectations of a significant reduction in poverty, a radical improvement in law and order and a complete end to religious extremism.

Hope simply takes the form of a prayer that life return to its semblance in the heydays of our youth when you could roam the streets of your city without the fear of being mugged, shot or abducted. When your opinions or style of life could be disagreed with but would be tolerated. When religion was a private matter and not in constant threat, requiring hollow affirmations and a bogus display. When the inequalities of wealth were not so great as to induce a constant sense of guilt in living a comfortable life.

When children could go to school or play in the streets without any fear of terrorists or terrorism. When the desire to identify an enemy from within us was not so great as to make a mockery of religion and politics. And when decency, respect and honour were virtues to be aspired towards that defined civic duty in Pakistan and informed the character of its civil society – virtues that no difference of religion, ethnicity, sect, class, colour or political belief was great enough to destroy.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/223823-Deconstructing-hope


A Study in Contrasts

By Atta-ur-Rahman

August 16, 2017

The Two-Nation Theory emanated from the frustrations of the Muslim community in India under the British Raj owing to the highly-biased attitude of the British rulers towards them.

It was first proposed by Sir Syed Ahmad Khan in his letter to the governor of Banaras in 1868. It was then widely promoted by our national poet Allama Iqbal in his writings. In his presidential address to the Muslim League on December 29, 1930, Muhammed Ali Jinnah forcefully stated that Muslims and Hindus could not live as one nation. In his presidential address on March 22, 1940 to the All India Muslim League, Jinnah called for a separate homeland for the Muslims of India. As a result of the Independence Movement and the sacrifices of thousands of Muslims, we were finally blessed with Pakistan on August 14, 1947.

After 70 years of our existence, when we look back at where the Muslims in India stand today, we find that the Muslims in Pakistan are far more economically strong. The per capita income of Muslims in Pakistan is about $1,460 while the per capita income of Muslims in India is only about $400 – less than one-fourth of the country’s national Indian GDP. About 52.3 percent of Muslims in India live below the poverty line, with an average monthly income of $5 or less. Muslims constitute about 14.5 percent of the total Indian population. However, only between two percent and three percent of them pass the civil services examinations.

The percentage of the Muslim population that is posted in the Indian Administrative Service (IAS) is miniscule – between 0.5 percent and 0.7 percent of the total number of people employed each year. Around 99.4 percent of the IAS postings are for Hindus, Sikhs and Christians. According to the data provided by IndiaTomorrow.net, only about 23.7 percent of the three percent (0.71 percent) of Muslims who pass the IAS exams obtain IAS postings between 2009 and 2013.

The literacy level of Muslims in India is also much lower than the national average. Only about four percent (one in 25) of Indians who receive education up to the high school level are Muslims, while only 1.7 percent (one in 60) of college graduates in India are Muslims. When we consider that one in seven people in India is a Muslim, these figures bring out the stark disparities that exist in India between Hindus and Muslims. In his book, ‘India’s Muslim Problem’, V T Rajshekar states that Muslims “are in many ways worse than untouchables and in recent years they are facing dangers of mass annihilation”.

The mass killings of Muslims in Indian towns and cities also add strength to the Two-Nation Theory. About 630 Muslims lost their lives during the 1969 Gujarat riots. This was followed by anti-Muslim violence in the Indian towns of Bhiwandi, Jalgaon and Mahad in 1970 when a large number of properties of Muslims were burnt and many Muslims killed. During anti-Muslim violence in Moradabad in 1980, about 2,500 Muslims were killed by extremist Hindu elements. Another 1,800 Muslims were slaughtered in the state of Assam in 1983 in a village called Nellie. The official 600-page Tiwari Commission Report on the Nellie massacre has remained a closely guarded secret since 1984.

The destruction of Babri Masjid in December 1992 by Hindu nationalists led to the Bombay Riots. BBC correspondent Toral Varia concluded that the riots were “a pre-planned pogrom” that had been in the making since 1990. According to many independent scholars, extremist Hindu rioters had been given access to information about the locations of Muslim homes and businesses through confidential government sources. This violence was planned and executed by Shiv Sena, a Hindu nationalist group led by Bal Thackeray.

The anti-Muslim riots that occurred in Bombay in January 1993 following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December 1992, were reported in the following manner by international and Indian newspapers:

“Bombay: Day after day after day, for nine days and nights beginning on January 6, mobs of Hindus rampaged through this city, killing and burning people only because they were Muslims. No Muslim was safe – not in the slums, not in high-rise apartments, not in the city’s bustling offices – in an orgy of violence that left 600 people dead and 2,000 injured...Interviews have suggested, moreover, that the killing, arson and looting were far from random. In fact, they were organized by Hindu gangs, abetted by the Bombay police, and directed at Muslim families and businesses. The extent of police cooperation with the Hindu mobs appears to have spread through the entire police force, excluding only the most senior officers...neither the Maharashtra authorities nor the central government in New Delhi made any effort to stanch the flow of blood.” (The New York Times, February 4, 1993)

“Tragedy has struck Surat (Muslim) women… for them, it was hell let loose... While men were thrown into bonfires, torched alive or had burning tyres put around their necks, women were stripped of all their clothes and ordered to ‘run till they can’t… run”. (The Times of India, December 22, 1992)

Gujarat has been a constant venue of repeated anti-Muslim riots since 1947. About 2,000 Muslims lost their lives in 2002. The then chief minister, Narendra Modi, was accused of initiating and condoning the violence in connivance with the local police and government officials, who participated in the mass killings and conveyed information about Muslim-owned properties to the extremists. According to independent observers, the evidence available pointed to a methodical massacre which was carried out with “exceptional brutality and was highly coordinated”.

However, the most brutal of all these acts has been the massacres of Muslims in Kashmir where about 100,000 men, women and children have been killed. In a 1993 report, Human Rights Watch stated that the Indian security forces “assaulted civilians during search operations, tortured and summarily executed detainees in custody and murdered civilians in reprisal attacks”. A US State Department report issued in 2010 stated that the Indian Army in Jammu and Kashmir had carried out the extrajudicial killing of civilians.

The plight of Muslims in India, their abject poverty and illiteracy as well as the systematic slaughter by extremist right-wing parties – who have been aided and abetted by the Indian government – prove beyond a shade of doubt that the Two-Nation theory was correct. The Muslims of Pakistan should be grateful for having a country that they can call their own.

We should cherish this country that was acquired after thousands of people lost their lives and work devotedly to protect it and take it to great heights.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/223824-A-study-in-contrasts


The Dead Weight of History

By Asad Khan Gandapur

August 16, 2017

There is a lot that one can’t talk about until half a century later. The subject of Partition, despite many years of vivid reflections and contemplation by generations of scholars, politicians, retired generals, celebrities and ordinary folk on both sides of the border, remains as contentious as it probably was 70 years ago.

From an ideological standpoint, some historians attribute the inevitability of the event to the context of a volatile post-war world order where identities (whether religious, social or economic) required a strong territorial footing to survive and assert themselves politically under the ambit of the nation-state. A more utopic view, however, vehemently advocated for and believed in the possibility of a united India whose ‘unity in diversity’ had stood the test of time before the British came and drew divisions along communal lines. It contends that the tragedy of Partition could have been avoided and that it was, over and above all else, a gigantic leadership failure both on the part of Congress and the Muslim League in negotiating a constitutional arrangement representative of Indian diversity.

One way or another, what may have appeared to be no more than an arbitrary territorial fracture at the time has now cemented into an entrenched, state protected, institutionalised division thoroughly internalised by the people of the two countries and indeed accepted by the rest of the world. There is no turning back the clock now. The dynamics of decolonisation, marred by a perpetual state of conflict over Kashmir, seem to have totally consumed the imagination of policymakers on both sides of the border who for the last three quarters of a century have done nothing but add to the bundle of problems inherited after Partition.

Any conversation involving India and Pakistan on any forum anywhere in the world, be it political, academic or an informal exchange on social media , quickly degenerates into an uninspired, mudslinging exercise, busting all hope and expectation of a meaningful dialogue. A recent debate aired on Aljazeera featuring a prominent Indian member of parliament, Shashi Tharoor and former Pakistani foreign minister Hina Rabbani Khar was quite illustrative of that mechanical state-sponsored narrative that typifies the mode of engagement between the two nations. Not only does it seem to lack imagination and foresight but, more worryingly, it begs authenticity – which perhaps is one of the root causes of why the impasse in relations has persisted for so long. To put it bluntly, both sides lack the courage to come clean and admit what is otherwise so clear to the whole world.

For the Pakistani state, of course, the challenge is to convince the international community of its wholeheartedness in combating all forms of terrorism, especially after the mystery surrounding the death of OBL severely dented the credibility of its military operations across the country. On the other side of the border, however, the hysteria that forms the belligerent outlook of the ruling party should tone down the whole war-mongering rhetoric that has been its hallmark in dealing with Pakistan. It must realise that for Pakistan to build focus and employ its absolute force in eliminating terror from its soil (which is apparently what India demands on paper), frequent distractions in the form of ceasefire violations on its eastern front are only going to frustrate such efforts. But again, here’s the problem: how can a neutral observer, a mediator if you will, be sure of the real side of the story because any claim made by one party is unequivocally refuted by the other. For instance, Indian media feeds a totally opposite perspective on the ceasefire violations by laying blame firmly at the door of Pakistan which, a reasonable mind would argue, has already too much on its plate to mess with India unless provoked . In the same fashion, Pakistan has always denied involvement in acts of terror that have taken place in India post-26/11.

As far as the stalled relationship between two contentious neighbours is concerned, the diagnostics of the deadlock appear to be structural in terms of what constitutes political power, where it has been traditionally concentrated and how it is exercised in forming foreign policy. The stakeholders who run the ‘business’ of the state are always a privileged minority. Their calculations are based on hardcore game-theoretic ‘strategic logic’ that has no space for the euphoric musings of a common man. As long as a given line of action (or inaction for that matter) sustains that authoritative privilege, there is no incentive to switch to an alternative policy. An endogenous solution to the problem seems rather far-fetched at the moment given the governing dynamics of the model.

Given their volatile trajectory and a gaping trust deficit, the conclusion always poses a predictable, rather tedious question: will Indo-Pak relations ever retain any semblance of normality? Or will the angry ghost of Partition forever haunt the collective consciousness of the future generations by condemning them to a life of ignorance, squalor and spiteful jingoism. Our seventy years of history offers little optimism in response to that question. But surely, history cannot be an eternal constraint on one’s thought and actions; for if that was the case, ‘history’ as we know it would not be possible anywhere in the world.

At the end of the day, if Einstein’s short and crisp definition of insanity fails to inspire any reflection on the part of two nations and their respective leaders, op-eds such as these will only add to the noise that has been made for the last seventy years.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/223825-The-dead-weight-of-history


Charlottesville is America

By Erika Wilson and Khaled A Beydoun

August 16, 2017

On Friday evening in Charlottesville, a coordinated group of white supremacists marched through the University of Virginia campus holding torches, shouting “white lives matter”, and setting the stage for the Unite the Right rally on Saturday. The rally, which protested against the removal of Confederate monuments and sculptures within the city, galvanised white supremacists from various groups, most notably Ku Klux Klan sympathisers, Neo-Nazis, and leaders of the so-called “alt-right” movement. 

With their faces unmasked and identities uncloaked, the protesters raised their arms and chanted “blood and soil”, in the Nazi tradition, not fearing their association with the hate group and its ideology. The rally highlighted not only the growing normalisation of the white supremacist movement in the United States, but also its intimate synergy with the administrative and institutional leadership in Washington, DC. 

US President Donald Trump, his rise and subsequent regime, have emboldened white supremacists of every stripe in America. Of course, championing such an ideology in modern times is neither new nor unprecedented. In fact, both an Ivy League law school professor and a member of congress have done so recently.

The expected crowd of 6,000 joining them on Saturday extinguished fears of stigma or punitive action. Even more forceful was the tacit endorsement from within the Trump Administration. White supremacy is well-represented in Washington, DC, today and well-embedded in the structures that precede the current administration.

After all, the white supremacists marching in Charlottesville are the conspicuous face of a broader and stratified movement, which includes statesmen, CEOs, and other prominent faces hidden from our gaze but well-positioned in mainstream society.

Therefore, white supremacists are hardly ideological deviants or fringe segments of society nostalgic for American apartheid. While mainstream political discourse has framed them as such for decades, the movement in Charlottesville showed that the visible foot soldiers on the ground are intimately connected to state power and policies seeking to abolish affirmative action, suppress the vote of communities of colour, enforce Muslim bans, and limit immigration to English speakers.

Unfortunately, our historic and present-day treatment of white supremacy gives individuals like the protesters in Charlottesville little reason to be ashamed or fear stigmatisation.  As a country, the US has not gone far enough to disrupt or dismember white supremacy as a prominent ideology.  Instead, support for white supremacist ideology within the US has historically been permitted to fester nearly unabated.

A concrete example of this is the Confederate flag - a symbol proudly displayed by white supremacists during the Charlottesville protests.   The historic significance of the Confederate flag is that it symbolises a faction of defectors who left the Union and went to war to preserve a way of life that included white supremacy, Black subordination and chattel slavery.  

A great American myth holds that racism erodes as time passes. However, reality consistently reveals that racism fluidly adapts to prevailing political norms, demystifying the idea that it is perpetually diminishing and declining. Events in Charlottesville, and the swelling movement of explicit and unabashed white supremacy that it represents, illustrate that modern racism is mutating back to its original out-in-the-open form.

Source: thenews.com.pk/print/223826-Charlottesville-is-America


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