60 Years Later.

Excerpt from Mohsin Hamid’s op-ed Pakistan’s first three generations:

On one side are the forces of exclusion, who wish Pakistan to stand only for their kind of Pakistani. These include the political descendants of the man who stabbed my great-grandfather, the people who seek to oppress those who are clean shaven or those who toil for meager wages or those from provinces other than their own. But arrayed against them is something wholly new.

Pakistan now has private television stations that refuse to let the government set the news agenda. It has a Supreme Court that has asserted its independence for the first time, restoring a chief justice suspended by the president. And it has an army under physical attack from within and in desperate need of compromise with civil society.

A 60th birthday brings with it the obligation to shed some illusions. Pakistanis must realize that we have been our own worst enemies. My wish for our national anniversary is this: that we finally take the knife we have turned too often upon ourselves and place it firmly in its sheath.

11 comments
  1. jonolan said:

    I think the people living within the political borders of the nation that has been designated as Pakistan need to start thinking of themselves as Pakistani, as opposed to whatever their ethnic or tribal affiliations are, before there’s any real hope of lasting stability.

    Pakistan doesn’t seem to have – as yet – become a true nation; it is still a conglomeration of diffrent political and idealogical groups, each with its own hierarchy and traditional laws and customs. Come together as Pakistanis and you just might have something there!

  2. supersizeme said:

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/pakistan/Story/0,,2148308,00.html

    Guys read this article! Love it!
    But not so happy abt the Transexual TV host, given such an elevated ranking in the awareness of modern Pakistan.. call me narrow minded but Eeeewwwww…

  3. jonolan said:

    The article is a crock of shit that totally fails to reflect the American populous’ attitude towards India and Pakistan. Americans (the people not the Govt. or Big Business) don’t like India; we come close to hating them actually. We (well, must of us) know – and care – very little about Pakistan at all.

  4. Sajida said:

    ‘Scuse me, Is that like your personal opinion?
    Are your referring to the common American? If so, dont worry, we already know your a bunch of Paris Hilton-type ‘me me me me me’ nancies! Your secrets safe with US, aka. the rest of the world.. haha!
    I do actually agree with you, some of that article IS ”a crock of shit”, was actually amusing, I posted the link because I was hoping everyone would take it lightly and with a pinch of sarcasm..
    One more thing.. that article has nothing to do with America, It was from a Brit News resource and was about India and Pakistan.😉

  5. jonolan said:

    It’s not quite my personal opinion. I do have a problem with the fact that India is bolstering their economy at the expense of the American people, but the US corporations are aiding and abetting that with gusto so my rancor is more aimed at them than India. It IS however a common sentiment amoung Americans and one that is growing in both pervasiveness and vitriol.

    As far as the Article being Brit, I have been noting less and less difference between the attitudes of the British people and the Americans as time goes by.

  6. asad said:

    well, i agree that we, as pakistanis of various sorts, lack common spaces for real and open cultural/economic/political interaction. i also agree that we need such spaces to create an inclusive atmosphere.

    but it’s sort of unclear to me, and i think others as well, exactly what it means to be pakistani today. as far as i understand it, pakistanis were, in 1947, identified as muslims of the south asian sub-continent. the muslim-pakistani link has even been embedded in the constitution. but it doesn’t seem, to me at least, a convincing or viable idea.

    firstly, many muslims chose to stay in india in or after 1947. they did not identify with pakistan. didn’t that seriously undermine the concept of pakistan, when many people who were supposed to be pakistani didn’t accept it?

    secondly, most of the people who did identify with pakistan between 1947 and 1971 decided to call themselves bangladeshi in 1971. this was clearly a heavy blow.

    thirdly, there are people who live in pakistan, who have lived here for many years, who are undeniably pakistani, yet not muslim. what place for them in a political system in which the constitution requires that the heads of state and government be muslim? is this not a dictatorship of the majority clear and simple? [by the way, how is this even enforced in practice? who decides who is, and who isn’t, muslim?]

    i mean, the way politics has been practiced in the country is also, clearly, to blame for the factious nature of pakistan. but i think our failure to develop pakistani identity much beyond a very simple conception put forth in 1947 is also an important factor. there are, i think, many causes, and harmful consequences, of this failure. i’d be really interested in what others have to say about this because i’ve never come across a real discussion of it. to avoid veering even further off topic and hijacking this blog [sorry =S], it might be best to comment on the ‘blog’ i’ve linked to.

  7. supersizeme said:

    Jonolan:
    I certainly agree there are hardly any differences between US & UK culture now, I think maybe becuase theres no language barriers? I do have to say though.. correct me if im wrong, I’ve formed this opinion based on what i’ve heard/read etc, I believe americans are more patriotic than brits and that when ppl of other ethnicities, cultures arrive the U.S.A they are literally sterilised of their old culture, belief system and turned ”American”. Im not saying its good or bad, its all pending on the individual I suppose, but I’ve yet to see such stuff in England! Maybe thats the one difference that still remains between either culture.. Oh and Americans dont know what Mayonnaise is! (Pssst.. you dont even know what your missing out on!)

    About India? You’ve every right to feel that way!
    I feel americans are doing lots of things around the world with the same GUSTO nowadays.. and I dont agree with any of their decisions so far! In fact none in my vicinity has felt that anything america does is justified..
    Anyway I couldnt care less about India or America for that fact, whatever their fate, My interests lie with Pakistan and its future, and obviously England they’re both home.

  8. supersizeme said:

    Oh! and I’m Sajida aka. Supersize me.. I keep forgetting which ID im logging my comments with. DUH

  9. those people who saw the harship in attaining this country are the ones who actually love this country…the rest of us just say it like meaningless words. we need to realise that getting independence was not an easy task and was for the betterment of our and the coming generations.

  10. jonolan said:

    Malaika,

    That is true in all the nations I’ve been in, which is quite a few. Those who haven’t had to work or suffer to either gain or defend the state / culture that they live in don’t have the deep passionate love of that natin that those who did have.

    “That which we gain easily we value lightly”😦

  11. Sajida said:

    Yeah.. I agree, even watching the film, Jinnah gave me an idea about just how much of a struggle it was, and made me appreciate the country, and thats just by watching a film.

    About that above article, the opening part of it, about the ground realities, I do agree with that bit, I am happy with the fact that Pakistan, unlike India doesnt gloss over reality and pretend to be something it isnt. If there is an issue.. we say it! Ppl usually believe that India is better off, simply because you dont hear anything, but ppl who have ever visited come back with horrifying tales, so many things are hidden!
    I dont believe in countries becoming ”Superpowers”. Imprialism, yes, but thats something else.
    A real superpower would be a country that can keep things on an even keel, tackle desperate poverty, tackle culture issues, sexism, racism, inhumane social hierarchies, prejudices, religious militants..(oh yeah theres a lot of hindu and sikh activism there that we dont hear abt).. in general.. its a mess! The day they clear even 5% of that cr*p up I will believe they truly are a great nation.

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