Wednesday, January 1, 2020

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Taking on the Founders

Umer Ali:

Ever since its inception, many efforts have been made to justify the creation of Pakistan. Based on Two-Nation Theory, one that defines both Muslims and Hindus as different nations, the said purpose of its creation was to safeguard the rights of Muslims.

The theory itself is full of glaring paradoxes and has been questioned innumerable times in the past. To counter these questions, many state-sponsored historians, most of them belonging to far-right, have tried hard to prove the authenticity of the theory by relating it to Muslims rulers from the past.
From Muhammad Bin Qasim to Mahmud Ghaznavi, we have named the foreign invaders as the founders of this theory.

One such ‘historian’, Dr Safdar Mahmud, wrote last year that Ghauri was in fact the founder of Pakistan.

Debunking this vile claim, Dr Mubarak Ali wrote, “It is customary to be proud of our invaders such as Muhammad Bin Qasim, Mahmoud of Ghazna and Muhammad Ghori and to denounce other invaders who looted our country from time to time. In fact, all these invaders were mass murderers and should be treated as criminals in history.”
Many such historians trace the spiritual link of Two-Nation Theory to the likes of Sheikh Ahmed Sirhindi and Shah Wali Ullah. In our textbooks, the foundation of the idea of two different nations has been credited to Sir Syed Ahmed Khan.
When reading through the original text from these personalities, one comes to conclusion that their ideologies were as contradictory and paradoxical as the theory itself.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Boy cuts off his own arm for blasphemy

Agence France Presse reports:

A 15-year-old Pakistani boy cut off his own hand believing he had committed blasphemy, only to be celebrated by his parents and neighbours for the act, police told AFP Friday.

Local police chief Nausher Ahmed described how an imam told a gathering at a village mosque that those who love the Prophet Mohammad always say their prayers, then asked who among the crowd had stopped praying.

Mohammad Anwar, 15, raised his hand by mistake after apparently mishearing the question.
The crowd swiftly accused him of blasphemy so he went to his house and cut off the hand he had raised, put it on a plate, and presented it to the cleric, the police chief said.

The incident took place at a village in Hujra Shah Muqeem district, some 125 kilometres (77 miles) south of Lahore, the capital of Punjab province, about four days ago, according to the policeman.
Ahmed said that he has seen a video in which the boy is greeted by villagers in the street as his parents proclaim their pride.

No complaint has been made, he said, so no police report has been filed and there will be no investigation.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Prospects for India-Pakistan trade

The India-Pakistan trade is estimated to be of the order of $2 billion per year; experts think that if trade were conducted under WTO rules, it could easily expand to $40 billion per year.   However, Pakistan has been hesitating; part of the reason is fear of being overwhelmed by India.

In my opinion, the window for opening up trade while Pakistan still has some competitive advantages over India is rapidly passing.

In 2010, Pakistan ranked 85th in the World Bank's Ease of Doing Business Index; India ranked 133rd.
In 2015, Pakistan ranked 138th, India ranked 130th -- and the report cut-off date for data was even while GOI was in the process of simplifying regulations, for e.g., start up of a business.

The best time to open up for trade for two economies is, IMO, while the smaller/weaker one still has some competitive advantages. That window has passed, I think; in particular, the current Government of India is very keen on climbing up these competitive rankings, and so Pakistan will find it hard to keep up.

Thursday, December 3, 2015

Najam Sethi on a Liberal Pakistan

Sounds too good to be true!

Now, thankfully, positive change is in the air. Nawaz Sharif was handpicked and nurtured by the military three decades ago to do its bidding. He duly became the nemesis of the PPP, in the bargain getting into bed with the religious parties, passing Islamic laws and promoting jihad against India. Now he is all for peace with India, wants to stop all jihad across borders, is waking up to action against sectarian parties and religious terrorists and is embarrassed and hampered by the Islamic laws passed on his watch. The military, no less, sees the primary and immediate national security threat as emanating from internal religious extremism and not externally from archenemy India. Unfortunately, however, Imran Khan’s PTI is still muddying the waters by continuing to resist the development of a new national narrative of state and society based on modern notions of liberal and secular democracy.

Friday, October 2, 2015

"Liberal" heartburn

Nadeem F. Paracha is a good writer, e.g., read his Storming heaven: A revolt in Makkah and is also what would count as a liberal in Pakistan.  That doesn't prevent him from having heartburn caused by progress in India.   Very much like Governor of Punjab Salman Taseer, who was liberal enough and lost his life for criticizing Pakistan's blasphemy law, but had heartburn because of India's space program.  (Taseer's Indian son, Aatish, explained this phenomenon in a Wall Street Journal article - it stems from Pakistan's existential confusion.)