Sultani-e-Jumhoor ka aata he zamana

Jo Naqash-e-kuhan tum ku nazer aye mita do

Sindhies come out in thousands to demand freedom! The oppressed nationalities of Pakistan are now demanding their rights. The ruling elite and its allied middle classes are devoting all their energies to destroy PPP, but their acts are bringing the moment of liberation nearer—-

With thanks : Daily Times

Hundreds of Sindhis march into city from Sukkur…

Staff Report

KARACHI: Jeay Sindh Qaumi Mahaz (JSQM) chairman Bashir Khan Qureshi has appealed to the United Nations Organization support the “freedom of Sindh”, saying that it was necessary to eliminate religious extremism and terrorism from the subcontinent.

He said this while addressing a mammoth gathering outside the Karachi Press Club that was organized at the end of its “Paigham-e-Sindh March” (Message of the Sindh March). Party workers and supporters started the march in Sukkur on March 18 and entered Karachi on Wednesday evening.

The nationalist leader said that Western countries posed as moderate and liberal forces but the fact was that Sindh had been a symbol of religious harmony for a long time and had never been extremist.

He said that the mosques and temples in the province had stood wall to wall and if anyone doubted this they just needed to look at the examples in Sukkur, Rohri and other areas of the province.

He said that the West was engaged in a war against religious extremism but when the founder of the Jeay Sindh movement had talked about religious harmony some 40 years ago he was called an infidel at the time. Qureshi said that the “Paigham-e-Sindh March” could be the foundation stone of a freedom movement in Sindh.

He warned that such a march could be launched for Islamabad and the UNO also. Giving an ultimatum to the rulers, he said that the party would announce a movement against them on April 25 if the government did not release the political workers of Sindh and Balochistan, including Dr Safdar Sarki and Asif Baladi.

JSQM leaders Dr Niaz Kalani, Sajan Sindhi, Sagar Hanif Burdi, Aziz Phul, Ilahi Bux Bikak and others also spoke. Dr Kalani warned the electronic media, especially the Urdu media, to avoid ignoring pro-Sindh activities.

The Story Covered by BBC Urdu can be reached here

The Story covered by Indus Asia Online Journal

 

 

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Shaheryar Ali

Some Theoretical Considerations: Death of Pluralism

“The article is intended to be the theoretical first part of a series of article on the suppressed cultural identities[A Pakistan you never knew] in Islamic Republic of Pakistan, One on the fate of Pakistani Jews has already been published and can be reached here

A couple of years back I was reading a research report by a very intelligent Pakistani academic who works for the International Crisis Group, Dr Samina Ahmed on the rise of sectarianism in Pakistan. Being trained in the progressive tradition myself I was familiar with the theoretical framework in which Dr Ahmed operates, state and its origin, adaptation of an ideological character by the state, cold war and Jihad etc. What strike me and infact fascinated me was a passing remark by her on working ideology of all sectarian groups of Pakistan, she wrote they all operated on the “principle of exclusion

This was a remarkable observation if one wants to understand the ideology of sectarianism and a sectarian state. States are not just material institutions of economy and violence, state has an ideological aspect as well. Structures of the state create a significant influence on super structures of the society on which it is maintaining control. That means through different ideological institutions, states create culture and patterns of thoughts which help the state to keep control [Gramsci and Althusser]. It has been explained as a mental condition in which a slave thinks and takes his slavery to be a state of “freedom”. This intervention into ideology or the “ways of thinking” became the obsession of western Marxists who were trying to understand failure of revolutions in the Western Europe. A series of whole new disciplines emerged like critical theory and cultural studies which focused on the ideological and cultural aspects of state and/or capitalism

As postmodernism became more influential in universities of Europe and North America, the critique was extended to a similar analysis of “reality” [Baudrillard] and alterations in human perceptions by Capitalism and state/super state. The ideological foundations of Pakistan state [not to be confused with official “Pakistan ideology”] lie in the communal/nationalist strife [Saigol,Rubina] which presumed an “absolute difference” between Hindus and Muslims. Jinnah put forward an argument which utilized “cultural difference” as base of civilization, which differentiated Indian Muslim from Indian Hindus with whom he shared same ethnicity and language [Bengali speaking muslim became part of a different civilization and nation than Bengali speaking Hindu from whom he originated in the first place through conversion]. Hindu and Muslim emerged as grand identities which were rhetorical in entity as demonstrated by the work of great Indian historian Romila Thaper, that before British Colonialism term Hindu or Muslim were rather meaningless in the sense that they didn’t constructed a unified socio-political identity. With the professed anti-clericalism and modernism of founding fathers of Pakistan, ideological intervention became all the more important and a unified cultural umbrella needed to be constructed to legitimize the claim of “distinct civilization”. This logically meant to suppress the ethnic, national and indigenous identities to construct the “Muslim identity” only through which survival of Pakistan was envisioned.

JinnahA study of discourse emerging from ruling elite of Pakistan, the PML and colonial administration which they inherited from Colonial administration suggest an obsession with monism themes as opposed to pluralism. Jinnah’s slogan of “Unity, Faith and Discipline” itself speaks of need to “unify and control”. The slogan relates more to ideologies of totalitarian regimes of Stalinist Russia and Nazi Germany than to the Liberal tradition of Western Europe to which Jinnah is said to be trained in. Ethnic identities became the “others” of Muslim identity and as a result an existential threat the new state. The question of national rights was diverted by Jinnah’s stern warning against the “evil of provincialism”, the need to construct a “unified culture” so strong that a man as modern as Jinnah who took up the case of muslim socio-cultural rights in India, stood in Dacca and thundered “Urdu Urdu and only Urdu!” a language which was not the language of even 0.2% of Pakistanis at the time Those who demanded an equal status of Bengali along side Urdu were to called traitors and communists. After Jinnah’s death things became worse and PML which lacked any popular base in East and West Pakistan joined hands with Clerics and Islamic Fundamentalists whom Jinnah thoroughly despised. Jinnah’s handpicked Prime Minister Nawabzada Khan Liaqat Ali Khan, a member of feudal aristocracy passed the Objectives Resolution and state acquired an ideological character.

The ideological apparatuses of the state in form of media, mosques,

174_NpAdvHover

Nawab Bahadur Yar Jung

universities and colleges started molding the minds of people. Considering one to be a Bengali or Punjabi was something like treason, same was the case with being Muslim. In British India Muslim was a broader and loose cultural identity which related more to practice of circumcision and burial of dead as opposed to cremation. Different sects of muslims existed and considered their sect to be true version of Islam but due to neutrality of the state didn’t operated on the “principle of exclusion”. The party which took up the issues of muslim socio-political and cultural rights in British India, the All India Muslim League comprised of “muslims” which were distinguishable by their heterodoxy not their orthodoxy. Sir Aga Khan was the president of All India Muslim League who was the Imam of Ismilies which were engaged in a bloody struggle against Sunni and Twelver Shias for more than 1000 years and who were considered “apostates” by clerics of both mainstream sects. Muhammed Ali Jinnah also belong to the Ismaili faith but later converted to more mainstream Twelver Shia faith but was a non practicing muslim by all standards. Many important leaders like Raja Sahib of Mehmoodabad were twelver Shias. Sir Zaferullah Khan was Ahmedi or Qadiani. Dr Allama Muhammed Iqbal was a revivalist who was opposed by Sunni orthodoxy and was rumored to be a Ahmedi as well the controversy ended when he denied these claims by writing an article in Statesmen condemning Ahmedi faith. [Controversy still exist weather he was Ahemdi for some part of his life and even after condemning Qadiani faith he considered Lahori group of this faith as part of muslim community]

Nawab Bahaduryar Jang another prominent leader of All India Muslim League belonged to “Mehdivia” sect. a sect similar to Ahmedies which considered pious saint Syed Muhammed Jonpuri as the Mehdi. Due to this heterodoxy and professed modernism of All India Muslim League the muslim clerics were bitterly against it. But this was to be changed when this movement was to end in formation of the “Muslim Homeland” [Not an intention of Jinnah according to some historians, most notably Dr Ayesha Jalal]. With the formation of Muslim homeland the question “Who is Muslim?” acquired a phenomenal character. Before partition as we have said earlier this question was not very relevant because of its oppositional character to the rival identity “The Hindu”. After partition of India on 15th August 1947 all this changed. Muslim identity lost its contrasting “other”, a “moth eaten Pakistan” meant that its founding fathers were already paranoid about its chances of survival; the land which they got was hub of forces which opposed partition of India. Punjab was firmly in grip of feudal, with which Jinnah forged an alliance to make Pakistan, the Unionist Party held power in Punjab. All India Muslim League lacked support and organization in Punjab, the “salariat” class which was motivating the struggle for Pakistan was weakest in Punjab [Alavi,Hamza]. NWFP the province of overwhelming muslim majority despite best efforts of Jinnah stood with Bacha Khan and Indian National Congress. The 1946 elections which were held to decide the issue of muslim representation saw defeat of Muslim League despite support from the British in the NWFP. In Bengal muslim league held popular base but it was due to independent minded progressive leaders whom the central leadership didn’t trusted, Hussein Shaheed Soherwardi, AK Fazel-e-Haq, Molana Bhashani all were to be purged along with all mass base! Jinnah had to lean heavily on “socialism”[He went as far as declaring Islamic Socialism to be guiding ideology of Pakistan in Chittagong] to gain currency in Benagal but his negotiations with the Americans in 1946 had already decided Pakistan’s future alignment with “Anti-socialist block”. Bengali was suppressed, NWFP government dismissed, the party banned and its news paper “Pakhtoon” suppressed [start of press censorship in Pakistan, all this happened in first year of Pakistan]. The party headquarter was bulldozed and police opened fired on unarmed party workers at Barbra killing hundreds of Pushtoons, this despite Bacha Khan’s oath of loyalty to Pakistan. In Sindh , GM Syed had already left Muslim League depriving it of much popularity, the loyal faction of  Sindh League was  also disenfranchised when Jinnah dismissed Sindh government as well when CM opposed  partition of Sindh [separating Karachi from Sindh] This would be the start of never ending Sindhi-Mohajir conflict. Balochistan had to be annexed by force when upper and lower houses of Parliament of State of Qalat explicitly rejected proposals to join Pakistan. Khan of Qalat signed the document of accession but wrote himself that he didn’t have the authority to do so.

All these events which took place in first years or couple of years after birth of Pakistan unfortunately counterpoised “Muslim identity” against the local identities which also represented political opposition to Pakistan’s ruling elite. It became a rule to suppress any expression of cultural identity other than the official “Muslim” one. This was to be what I call “death of Pluralism” in Pakistan. After deciding the fate of national identities, the project of defining “muslim” came on agenda. Death of Jinnah accelerated the process and state’s alliance with fascist theorist Abul ala Maudaudi emerged. He gave a series of lectures on Radio Pakistan on Muslim Nationalism. Objectives resolution was passed, later Anti Ahmedi agitation started, the anti clerical vanguard in state tried to give a final resistance to the clerics. Justice Munir’s report tried to put clerics at their place but it was too late. A unified and oppressive muslim identity emerged which put all heretical muslim sects in a continuous state of fear of being declared “apostates”. The irony of history is that with this most of the founding fathers of this country also joined the ranks of “apostates” All alternative cultural expression vanished from the country, the Hindus, the Jews, Homosexuals, Heretics, Nationalists all had to face “cultural Holocaust” After Ahmedies Shias were targeted and now Bravelies are trying to protect their “islam” from muslims

3444889518_d5a97723e3

Sir Zafrullah Khan

Aatish Taseer. [With thanks: Prospect]

My parents met in Delhi in March 1980. My Pakistani father was in India promoting a book he had written on his political mentor, the Pakistani leader, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. My mother, a young Indian journalist, was sent to interview him. Their affair began that evening. My father took my mother’s number, they had dinner at a Chinese restaurant and for a little over a week they disappeared together. My parents met at a time when they had both become politically involved in their respective countries. The state of emergency that Mrs Gandhi declared in 1975 had come and gone—she had returned to power and the terrorism in Punjab that would take her life was about to begin. In Pakistan the year before (the same year as the Iranian revolution and the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan), Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, the great hope of Pakistani democracy, had been hanged. And now, General Zia, the military dictator, was settling into the blackest decade Pakistan would know. My father had loved Bhutto. He had heard him speak for the first time as a student in London in the 1960s and was moved to his depths. The events of 1979 then ushered in a time both of uncertainty and possibility. Bhutto’s daughter, Benazir, had entered politics; Zia had to be fought; and for this man of 36, touched by unusual idealism, his biography of Bhutto became his political entry point. My parents’ affair lasted little more than a week before my father left for Lahore, where he already had a wife and three small children. A month later, my mother discovered she was pregnant. For a young woman from an old Sikh family to become pregnant out of marriage by a visiting Pakistani was then (and now) an enormous scandal. During the week when she was considering an abortion, my father called unexpectedly from Dubai. She told him what had happened.

“What are you going to do?” he asked.

“What do you think I’m going to do?” she replied.

My father asked her what could be done to change her mind. She replied that they would at least have to pretend to be married and so they tentatively agreed to continue their relationship for as long as it was possible.

But by 1982 the relationship was over. My mother had begun work as a political journalist in Delhi and my father was fighting Zia in Pakistan. What I heard of him over the next two decades came only from my mother. We followed his progress across the border, through multiple imprisonments in the 1980s, to the restoration of democracy and Benazir Bhutto’s victory in 1988, to the failed governments of the 1990s, and his eventual switch from politics to business.fe-chaudhry-bhutto-court-11

In 2002, aged 21, I made a journey to Lahore to seek out my father, Salmaan Taseer. For a few years our relationship flourished, then fell apart. The reason for the latest distance between us was an article I wrote in these pages in 2005, after the London bombings. In response, my father wrote me a letter—the first he’d ever written—in which he accused me of prejudice, of lacking even “superficial knowledge of the Pakistani ethos,” and of blackening his name. That letter was the origin of my book Stranger to History, an account of a journey I made from Istanbul to Pakistan, in the hope of understanding the silence between us. It is a discovery of his faith, his country and the story of our shared but fractured history.

At the end of my journey I was, by chance, together with my father in Lahore on the night Benazir Bhutto was killed. I found to my surprise that the wheels of power in Pakistan had turned once more and my father, who had spent his youth fighting the military, had re-entered politics and was now a minister in General Musharraf’s government. Here was a lesson about life in Pakistan, for the compromises men had to make. But it was not ultimately in the drawing rooms of Lahore or Karachi that I came closest to understanding Pakistani society, but rather in the time I spent with a young feudal landlord, known as the Mango King, in rural Sindh.

***

Pakistan, a land of over 170m people, remains largely rural. People have often said to me, “You will never know the soul of Pakistan till you know feudal Pakistan.” Charged by the desire to see this feudal life, I asked a Pakistani newspaper publisher if he could help. He was a heavy man in a white salwar kameez, with short greying hair and moustache. My mother had put us in touch, and he did for me what I would have liked my father to have done: insist on my connection to Pakistan. By arousing my interest in the cultural bonds that exist between the two countries and in speaking to me of my paternal grandfather, an Urdu poet, the publisher gave me the other side of the romance of an undivided India on which my maternal grandfather and my mother had raised me.

We sat in his grand old Karachi house. He lay on a very high bed, smoking and making phone calls to people who might help me. Boxes and stacks of books lay on the floor. After a few hours of messages left, phone calls returned, lists made, lectures on safety and heat, the publisher looked up at me, scribbling as he spoke. “Can you leave tonight?”

“Yes,” I stammered. “I can leave tonight.”

I packed my bags in the early evening. I was to leave with Hameed Mahesari, the Mango King, and travel to his lands in the Sindh interior. It was well past midnight when a white car, with heavily tinted windows, drew up. As I approached, a passenger door opened, but no one stepped out. Instead, cold, air-conditioned air infused with a faint smell of cigarettes drifted out. I put my head into the car and saw a young man in the back seat, with a black moustache, fair skin and a handsome, slightly puffy face. He peered at me through a dense haze of smoke and gestured to me to get in.

The chauffeur drove off as soon as I shut the door. I turned to the Mango King, who lit another cigarette. He smoked continuously, slowly and deeply, looking out at the deserted streets. I could tell from his eyes and the thickness in his voice that he had been drinking.

“In the city I am a different person,” he said abruptly, “and, you’ll see, in the village I am a different person. One has to adjust. It gets pretty nasty,” he added. “People steal water. Typical vadhera.” A vadhera, or landlord, was what Hameed had become after his father died; his family were among the largest producers of mangoes in the country. “But things won’t change for another 50 years. There will still be feudalism.” I saw that he was drinking from a hip flask.

“Do you know why Sindhi society is a failure?” Hameed asked, in his abrupt way.

“No.”

“There’s no middle class. There’s us and there’s them. We had a middle class, but they took off when what happened?” I thought it was a rhetorical question and didn’t answer, but the Mango King’s gaze held me, expecting a reply.

“Partition,” I answered obediently.

“Exactly. But, you know, life goes on, one day to the next. My father trained me to be a farmer.” Hameed spoke in broken, disconnected sentences. After a long silence, he said, “Do you know why religion was invented?”

“Why?” I asked.

“A man can deal with everything but death.”

Hameed lit up again, but this time my eyes focused on a new discomfort: an AK-47 was placed between us, and the ribs of its magazine, its barrel, and bulbous sight shone in the yellow streetlight. I asked why the AK-47 was so popular.

“Three things you have to be able to trust,” Hameed answered. “Your lads, your woman and your weapon. It’ll never jam on you. Anyone can fire it and it’ll never jam.”

I don’t know when I fell asleep, but I woke a few hours later when I felt Hameed touch my hand. It was dawn, and we drove down a deserted country road, amid acres and acres of flat, empty fields.

“The estate begins here,” he said. The car swung left. “This, on both sides, is my estate.”

“How big is it?”

“Six thousand acres.” By the subcontinent’s standards, this was a large holding.

Then after a silence, he straightened his posture and, with pregnant solemnity, announced: “This is my territory.”

We passed several acres of a dense, low crop, then just before the house, like some last battalion of a great regiment or a vanishing tribe of horses, were the mango trees. Hameed stared in dull-eyed wonder at the dark green, almost black canopies, heavy with fruit and dropping low in a curtsy against an immense saffron sky.

When we got out of the car, I saw that Hameed was tall and well-built. His cream salwar kameez partially concealed a new paunch and, like the puffiness of his face, it was unattractive on a man of his looks.

Aatish Taseer and Gabrille Windsor

Aatish Taseer and Gabrille Windsor

A few men were stooped in greeting. Hameed waved, then stumbled through a doorway. We entered a walled garden of palms, ashoka trees and buoyant rubber plants. Hameed’s fluttering cream figure lurched down a narrow path that led to a low white bungalow. Darkness and a musty stench from thick, beige carpeting hit us as we entered. I couldn’t make out much in the dim light.

Hameed collapsed into a sofa, and stared vacantly at me, as if only now seeing me. I wondered what he thought I wanted with him. Among pictures of the family, and one of Hameed in a yellow tie, there were many books: a Hitler biography, copies of National Geographic, Frederick Forsyth, Jane’s aircraft almanacs, Animals in Camera and dozens on travel. I felt from the books, and the framed posters of impressionist paintings, a longing for other places.

“Did your father read a lot?” I asked.

“Yes,” Hameed replied. “He was the sort of man you could talk to about anything and he would always have the right answer.” The description suggested a nightmare person, but Hameed hadn’t intended it to sound that way. “I used to read,” he added, “but I don’t get the chance any more.” He showed me a book he’d recently bought. It was a guide to being a gentleman. “It says that a gentleman never adjusts his crotch in public.” Hameed chuckled and then we fell into silence. He sat there, looking neither at me nor at his men, but ahead into the gloom, like a man who had just lost all his money. A servant brought him some water and a new AK-47, this time with a drum magazine. He leant it against the leg of his chair, telling me it was Chinese; more than 100 countries produced them now. He asked me if I’d like to fire one.

“Yes,” I said, surprising myself.

“She wreaks havoc when she opens her mouth,” he smiled mirthlessly. He was prone to theatrical utterances and to clichés like “Different strokes for different folks” or “You can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy,” which he said as if they’d never been said before. The idea of firing the gun was forgotten for now.

My fatigue deepened just as the Mango King had a second wind. He ordered wine and offered me dinner. Wine is unusual in the subcontinent, whisky and soda are more standard, but this, like the cigars and brandy, and the guide to being a gentleman, seemed like a recent feudal affectation. I turned down the suggestion of dinner as it was already dawn.

“Yum, yum,” he said, looking at the feast that was now being laid out before us. There were several kinds of meat, rice, lentils, bread and more wine. Hameed rolled up his sleeves to eat and I saw that there were cigarette burns branded into his arm. The cutlery was Christofle, scattered stylishly among the oven-proof crockery and dinner trays.

***

When I awoke a few hours later, I was lying under a wooden fan. Next to my bed there was a copy of Time magazine and a guide to nightlife in Thailand. The room, despite the air-conditioning, was suffocating. It was about 10am and the house was quiet. I stepped into the drawing room and felt a wave of compressed heat. The room could not have been more badly designed for the fierce temperature beyond its sliding doors. It was low, like a garage, heavy with carpeting and velvety sofas, and without ventilation. I stepped out onto a white tiled courtyard but soon retreated. It was dangerous heat, the worst I’d ever experienced: sharp, unshaded, asphyxiating. It could make you sick if you went unprotected into it. Yet to be back in the room, in its stale air, was hardly better. Outside, buffaloes lay in the shade of trees; I could just make out villages of straw dotted around the Mango King’s lands; and slim, black women, in bright colours, with white bangles all the way up their arms, walked along the edges of mud paths.

After tea, breakfast and a shower, I came into the main room to find that Hameed was up and inspecting weapons. “You can’t get this on licence,” he said cheerfully, as the man brought out an Uzi. Hameed was freshly bathed, his eyes alert, his manner sprightly in a way I wouldn’t have thought possible the night before. The deadened glaze had gone from his eyes and his mind made connections easily. He seemed to sense that I might be a little surprised at the gun parade. “A lot of people in Karachi don’t like farmers,” he said. “They say they’re feudal, but my feeling is that there are good and bad people in every field.”

Still squinting through sights he said, “Can you imagine? Even I was kidnapped… I was 12 and when I came back I was 13. It was from 1984 to 1985, for six months. I was chained for the last two. My father wouldn’t pay the ransom. When they called he started abusing them so they only called once. After that, they dealt with my uncle.” The kidnappers had picked him up outside his school in Hyderabad.

His point, it seemed, was not to emphasise the violence in his life but to make clear that he had paid his dues.
Hameed drank heavily; he had suspicious cigarette burns on his arms; he played with guns; and yet what might have seemed like cause for alarm was presented instead as emblematic of the feudal life. The violence he had experienced, and perhaps inflicted, became like a rite of passage.

“Was it traumatic?”

“Yes,” he replied, “but you get used to anything.”

That evening the Mango King suggested I go with him to Mirpur Khas, a nearby town, to meet a lawyer who was working on a case he was fighting. The sun at last was loosening its grip on the day and the land, stunned and silent for many hours, came to life with the screeching of birds and the movement of animals.

Driving out of the Mango King’s gate, I noticed that under the name of the estate, it said, “Veni Vidi Vici.”

“We used to send mangoes to the Queen of England,” Hameed said proudly.

“You should start again.”

“No,” he smiled, “but we send them to Musharraf.”

In the car, the Mango King and his lieutenant discussed feudal revenge. The lieutenant was a muhajjir or immigrant from India. His family came to Pakistan from Jodhpur in Rajasthan after partition. The feudal life needed men like the lieutenant. He was dark and bald, with the aspect of a grand vizier, and after the Mango King’s father died, he served the son as an adviser. They talked about how another feudal owner had killed the Mango King’s friend in an argument over 350 acres. Hameed said that the other landlords still teased the dead man’s son for having been unable to exact revenge.

“Don’t the police ever get involved?”

“Not in these things. The people come to me with their problems and family matters. If you’re the landlord, you’re politician and policeman too. The landowner’s word is law.” Then, pausing for a moment, he said, “In the end, it’s not even about land. It’s about who gets to be head honcho.” He put it well: land at least was stabilising; this was about arbitrary power and Hameed was also vulnerable.

Salman Taseer with Friends

Salman Taseer with Friends

His lieutenant had been back to Jodhpur just once, in 1990, and from the moment he heard I was Indian, he could speak of nothing else. He craned his long neck forward and asked if I saw much difference between India and Pakistan.

“Not much,” I said, meaning to be polite. “There’s more feudalism here.”

“But between human beings, on a human level?”

“No, not really.”

“But there is!” He smiled.

“What?”

“In Pakistan, the clothes people wear are much better. There’s far less poverty. India makes its own things, its own cars, but then you don’t get Land Cruisers. In India, you get Indian needles. In Pakistan, we get Japanese needles!”

In India you now got Japanese needles too. The lieutenant had visited before economic liberalisation, but that was not the point. What struck me was how this man, who would never come close to owning a Land Cruiser, could talk of such things as core human differences. The poverty around him was as bad as anything I had ever seen, yet he spoke of expensive cars. It was as if the mere fact of difference was what he needed. It hardly mattered what the differences meant: that was taken care of by the inbuilt rejection of India. In the confusion about what Pakistan was meant to be—a secular state for Indian Muslims, a religious state, a military dictatorship, a fiefdom—the rejection of India could become more powerful than the assertion of Pakistan.

“What other differences did you see?” he asked.

“It’s hard to say as there’s so much change within India. There are more differences between the north and the south than there are between north India and Pakistan.”

The lieutenant was not to be put down. He wanted to get something off his chest. “The other difference,” he began, “was that while men here wear flat colours, the men there are fond of floral prints, ladies’ clothes.” Hindus weaker, more feminine, and Muslims stronger, manlier: this was the dull little heart of what the lieutenant wanted to say and a great satisfaction came over his face as he spoke. This was the way he reconnected with the glories of the Islamic past when the martial Muslims ruled the “devious Hindu.”

“Were you scared when they kidnapped you?” I asked Hameed, hoping to hear the rest of the story.

“The first 15 minutes were scary, but then it was all right.”

After four months he had tried to steal a kidnapper’s gun and use it on two of them, but just as he picked it up, the third returned and wrested it from his hands. That was when they chained him as punishment.

I thought he wanted to say more, but his lieutenant interrupted: “Tell me,” he said, “why do you wear a kara?” He was referring to the steel bangle on my wrist.

“My grandmother is a Sikh and wanted me to wear it.”

“Your mother’s Sikh and you’re Muslim.”

“No,” I said, not wishing to annoy him, “my mother’s Sikh and my father’s Muslim.”

“Yes, yes, so you’re Muslim.”

“I’m nothing.”

The lieutenant seemed to ask the question in the most basic sense. He could tell I wasn’t a practising Muslim, but he wanted to know if I was Muslim somehow.

“Come on, you’re Muslim. If you’re father’s Pakistani, you’re Muslim.”

“If you say so, but don’t you have to believe certain things to be a Muslim? If I don’t believe, can I still be Muslim?”

He looked at me with fatigue. It was almost as if he wanted to say yes. It was as though, once acquired, this identity based on a testament of faith could not be peeled away, like caste in India. And I felt that if I could know the sanctity of his feeling of difference in relation to non-Muslim India, and the symbolic history that went with it, I would be as Muslim as he was.

“It’s his decision,” the Mango King laughed.

The lieutenant fell into a moody silence. “It’s hotter in India than it is in Pakistan, isn’t it?” he started again.

The Mango King groaned with irritation.

“It’s the same!” I said. “You see too many differences.”

Perhaps sensing that he had created bad feeling with a guest, he said, “Sikhs have a very sweet way of speaking.”

“They speak just like we do!” Hameed snapped, and the lieutenant retreated with a sad, stung expression.

Pakistan’s economic advantage, the manliness of Muslim men, Land Cruisers and Japanese needles, even an imagined better climate: these were the small, daily manifestations that nourished a greater rejection of India, making the idea of Pakistan robust and the lieutenant’s migration worthwhile. Hameed didn’t need the lieutenant’s sense of the Other. He was where his family had always been, sure of himself and, if anything, he felt the lack of the Hindu middle class that had once completed his society.

***

On the way into town, Hameed explained the legal dispute. It was a complex story in which the laws of the country—British law with Islamic accents—came into conflict with feudal family agreements. Hameed’s aunts had inherited a parcel of land, which they wanted him to inherit, but as his cousins (with whom he’d had gun battles) contested this, a spurious sale was organised, by which the land would come indirectly to Hameed.

The section of town we entered in moonlight had old-fashioned whitewashed buildings. Outside the lawyer’s office there was an open drain from which a vast peepal tree grew, its roots threatening the foundation of both street and building. The man inside the pistachio green room was like a caricature of a small-town lawyer. He was squat and smiling, with dimples and greasy hennaed hair. His office contained a glass-topped desk, green metal filing-cabinets and shelves stacked with volumes of Pakistan Legal Decisions.

He had been briefed about the case and, after offering us tea and soft drinks, he began: “You have two options, either of speaking the truth or… I’ve heard, sir,” he said, a smarmy smile lighting his face, “that it is hard for you to tell a lie.”
Hameed looked at him. “No, there’s no such problem.”

“Another situation is that we don’t tell the truth,” the lawyer said, shaking his head mournfully, as though drawing some pleasure from the foreplay of an illegal act.

“Please leave truth and lies aside,” Hameed said. “Let’s just do what favours us.”

The lawyer, bowing from the waist, grinned. “Are both women educated?”

“Yes, a little.”

“English-speaking?”

“Yes.”

The lawyer nodded sadly, feigning gloom.

“What difference does it make?” Hameed barked.

“Because we could say the transaction was a fake,” the lawyer sputtered. “The ladies did not understand what they were doing. We could make the plea that they didn’t know what was in the documents when they signed them.”

“But then wouldn’t I end up looking like a fraud?”

“No,” the lawyer said, “you weren’t present. We can say the ladies never sold the land and received no monies.”

Hameed looked as lost as I was. “Does the judge accept bribes?” he asked. “Can’t we just bribe him?”

“He does in some cases but not others,” the lawyer said, as if delivering an official statement. “But the other party can bribe too so it doesn’t matter.”

“Can’t we give them a little danda?” Hameed said, using the word for “stick” to mean a beating.

The lawyer smiled serenely.

“Can the property be put in my mother’s name?” Hameed asked, then mentioned she was a German national, which created other problems.

“Why don’t you get married?” the lawyer suggested.

“I have to find the right girl,” Hameed laughed. “When I do I’ll get married.”

We stood up to leave and the lawyer rose too, bowing.

Outside, Hameed lit a cigarette. Turning to me, he said bitterly: “Bloody feudal family disputes.” He seemed a little depressed and lonely.

In the car his lieutenant tried to convince him to get married. He said it would strengthen his position.

“If we lose in the court, how soon can they take control of the land?” Hameed asked, thinking aloud.

“We’ll go to a higher court,” the lieutenant said.

“And if we lose there?”

“They can take control of the land, but then we’ll bring it back to the lowest court on some excuse. Whole lifetimes go by and things remain unresolved.”

Hameed fell silent.

“You just get married quickly,” the lieutenant said, trying to arrest the gloom that grew in his master, “and then you’ll have a wife and an heir and at least they won’t be able to say ‘he’s all on his own.’ Your strength will improve greatly.” Strength was the right word: it was all that could make sense of the landscape around the Mango King. In the absence of a credible state, crude power, loose and available, was all there was. “Find a good relationship and get married. Aren’t I right?” the lieutenant asked me.

“Yes,” I said.

“People are scared of my house,” Hameed replied. “Girls run away from it.”

“Why?”

“You know my pool in Karachi, right?”

“Yes,” I said, half expecting him to say it was having its water changed.

“Well, I had a party,” he said, “and a guy drowned in it. And my cousins said that I paid money to the police and to the guy’s family. Can you imagine? You have a party and a guy dies in your pool. It’s terrible. And they say it’s because I’m feudal. I think the guy was on drugs or something.”

***

That night I sat with the Mango King on his veranda drinking whisky-sodas and talking. Though occasionally I felt his pain, I didn’t understand his world; I didn’t think it was a world that could be made understandable to someone who wasn’t obliged to work by its arbitrary laws; its brutalities were its own.

It was India’s middle class, its growth and energy, more than anything else that set the two countries apart. The power of the middle class in India dismantled the old feudal structures. In Sindh, the cost of realising the purity of the Muslim state was the departure of the Hindu middle class. The muhajjir population that arrived in its place had not been able to replace its social function; the bonds that had held together the diverse society of Muslims and Hindus had not arisen among the co-religionists. And, without its middle class, Sindh was not merely unchanged from 1947, not merely feudal: it was lawless, divided within itself; town and country were divorced from each other; and even men like the Mango King knew insecurity; the society was dismembered.

The lieutenant, who had been sitting quietly on the edge of the veranda, now whispered slyly to me that he was a Rajput. This was another reference to the Hindu caste system, in this case a high caste. But the lieutenant didn’t know he spoke of caste. When I said to him that Islam, with its strong ideas of equality, forbade notions of caste, he became defensive and said that this was a matter of good and bad families.

“If you can have Rajputs, then you can have choodas,” I said, using the derogatory word for “low caste.”

“Of course you can have choodas,” the lieutenant replied.

“Would you let your daughter marry one?”

“Never.”

“Even if he was Muslim?”

“Even if he was Muslim.”

On the one hand, there was the rejection of India that made Pakistan possible, and on the other, India was overwhelmingly at play in the deepest affiliations of Pakistanis, sometimes without their knowing it. It made Pakistan a place in which everything just existed because it did, eroded haphazardly by inevitable change. The country’s roots, like some fearsome plumbing network, could never be examined to explain why something was the way it was, why the lieutenant, perhaps centuries after conversion, still thought of himself as a Rajput. And though I, with deep connections on both sides, could see the commonalities, they were not to be celebrated: we spoke instead of difference.

Before I went to bed, Hameed came to the end of the story of his kidnapping. Finally, after six months, the kidnappers gave him a bus ticket and released him in the Sindhi town of Sukkur from where he made his way back to his father’s house in Hyderabad. His hair had grown longer and when he got home, the watchman didn’t recognise him. Hameed said no ransom was ever paid.

When he was released they danced in the village. He went to get a passport photo taken, and the man in the shop had baked a cake for him. These were the details that remained with him after two decades. The whisky worked on Hameed, at once deadening his eyes and bringing up unprocessed emotion. He’d gone to get a passport picture because he was going to Germany to see his mother for the first time in 14 years. His separation from her was another secret in the life of the Mango King; I had a feeling it was related to the father who always had the right answer for everything.

The next morning I left the Mango King’s lands for Hyderabad. He was still asleep when I walked out and even at that early hour, the small, musty house was filling with heat.

“The heart which aches after an evening lost in glasses of cognac, longing for a lost lover, the acute awareness of dispossession in Multani Kafi’s of Khawaja Farid: dispossession of Lands of Saraikies , of Baluchiis of Palestinians , the Natives who have lost Love and Land to Migrant states with civilizing missions”

Shaheryar Ali

Longing is common between Love and Palestine, lover longs like I am longing for him and Palestinians long for Palestine. They are Palestinians without having Palestine. The thing which define them, gives them identity, give them a name; they are deprived of it. This is alienation and dispossession. This is the point where politics merge with Art. “Firaq” is the continuous state of existence for a lover and for a Palestinian. Loss of the lover; heart aches, eyes cry, soul rebels. Every thing else seems meaningless, the cosmos focuses on a single being “the beloved”. The evening is hovering in a cool grey mist and I remember his green eyes, his olive skin , cognac seems to burn my soul , the universe seem to rock on to the Lover’s Lament emerging from Ustad Salamat singing Kaafi of Khawaja Farid :

Sanwal Mor Moharan

Ro Ro mein waat Nihara’n

Sanwal Mor Moharan

[O my handsome [Baluch] lover turn your camel around, I am crying, my gaze is fixed on the burning desert, Return o my Handsome [Baluch] lover]

The voice of the master strikes like a dagger on my heart, every thing seems to cry “Sanwal Mor Mohara’n” “Sanwal Mor Mohara’n” Return o my lover, Return. First Sassi died in desert and now Rohi [Romantic name of Saraiki Cholistan desert] is dead. Rohi is raped everyday by the Arab sheiks that have been given the land by Islamic Republic of Pakistan to hunt our deers, our doves, our little girls and our little boys. With poisonous dagger of Islam they have cut our land into small pieces .Our land our goddess is now a form of bribe given to Mullahs, retired Army officers, Punjabi politicians. Saraiki native wander in Rohi: slaves dying of thirst and hunger, drinking water along with animals. Our lovers, our lands lost for ever— Sanwal Mor Mohara’n. . Return my lover—- Pakistanis don’t understand these things, what is loss of land, what is loss of love , they have been taught to grab the land with sword Like Muhammed Bin Kassim who robbed Sindh and took daughter of Dahir , land and love both taken with sword

Mahmoud Darwish understands this. He is one of the dispossessed, he speaks of Love or does he speak of land, its Art or Politics. I am not sure of it but I am sure of one thing, its Love and it’s longing

Her eyes and the tattoos on her hands are Palestinian

Her name, Palestinian

Her dreams and sorrow, Palestinian

Her kerchief, her feet and body, Palestinian

Her words and her silence, Palestinian

Her voice, Palestinian

Her birth and her death, Palestinian

“The Lover, Darwish”

spe4This powerful love which natives have gives them strength to resist, this land than becomes mother, goddess and beloved life giver against the colonizers, their symbols and discourse. State of Israel and State of Pakistan both have brought hegemonizing religious beliefs , YHWE of Bible and Allah of Koran Jealous deities who want lands, temples and submission. The land of Israel is given to Israelis, the natives are slaughtered, and they have to in order to grab the land. Anat the goddess of Canaanites emerges as soul of Palestine to give them strength against those who destroyed temples of natives and grabbed their land in the work of Palestinian artist Abdel Rahmen al Mozayen . Al Mozayen’s pen and ink drawings have become synonymous with Palestinian liberation struggle. Palestinian embroidery, their historical tradition and stylized figures give his work a kind of sublimity. He focuses on Palestine’s Canaanite heritage to demonstrate longevity and steadfastness of Palestinian culture and to counter the Israeli efforts to co-opt local culture and erase their historical roots in line with Bible. These four drawing [Pen n Ink] are his work in response to Jenin’s massacre when Anat emerges as soul of Palestine who rises with the city which will re assert it self.

Imagery of goddesses has emerged as an important artistic expression of resistance especially against Catholic Church, Orthodox Judaism and fundamentalist Islam. Salman Rushdie’s most original protest against colonization experience and resultant dualism of identities found the artistic expression in discourse involving Arabian Prophet’s efforts to “divinize” and “co-opt” the 3 native Meccan goddesses Al Lat , Al Manat and Al Uzza. The act of humanism later attributed to Satan by fundamentalist transformation of Islam [event recorded by earlier muslim Imams but disputed by later scholars during establishment of Arab imperialism] Satanic Verses thus “in its effects” becomes an act of resistance against censorship imposed by Islamic fundamentalism, states and other institutions of control and transformation. With imposition of wahabi Islam by Islamic Republic the dispossessed natives of this migrant state have re-discovered the “feminine goddess imagery” of this land. “Maaa’n” or mother thus becomes the point of worship in Punjabi mystic poetry instead of Allah of mullah. The “bad-women” of romantic tales are heroines of native intellectual as opposed to the state and its patriotic intellectual. For the native Sindhi Poet Sheik Ayaz , the daughter of Dahir is heroine, for Pakistani state his molester the Arab invader of Sindh Muhammed Bin Kassim is the hero. The Sindhi resistance against Kassim and later Islamic republic finds artistic expression in female heroines Sassi and Marvi which have now merged with imagery of Benazir Bhutto the daughter of Sindh murdered in Kufa of Islamabad.

When Islamic Republic poisoned the Saraiki heartland with fundamentalist Islam, Jhang the romantic town of Heer the romantic heroine of Punjab became the ground zero of sectarian violence. The late Saraiki poet Sarwar Karbali invoked the feminine imagery of Heer to resist Talibanization

Jud tuk Jhang Heer da Jhang hai

Maakhi, Makhan, Kheer da Jhang Hai

Aj kul Jhang Islam da Jhang he

Jhang de vich Islam di Jang ae

Goli te barood di dhoo’n ae

Adam boo ae Adam boo ae

[There was a time when Jhang was town of Heer , than Jhang was town of Life, of honey, butter and milk, these days Jhang is city of Islam, Jihad of Islam is going on in Jhang, every where there is smoke of TNT and bullets and smell of charred human flesh—-]

My glass is empty and my heart aches for lost love for lost time and for lost lands, the lament continues Sanwal Mor Mohara’n——–, or my lover return——

“This was not the outburst of crazed men or uncontrolled barbarians but the triumph of a belief system that defined one people as less human than another. For the men and women who comprised these mobs, as for those who remained silent and indifferent or who provided scholarly or scientific explanations, this was the highest idealism in the service of their race. One has only to view the self-satisfied expressions on their faces as they posed beneath black people hanging from a rope or next to the charred remains of a Negro who had been burned to death What is most disturbing about these scenes is the discovery that the perpetrators of the crimes were ordinary people, not so different from ourselves – merchants, farmers, laborers, machine operators, teachers, doctors, lawyers, policemen, students; they were family men and women, good churchgoing folk who came to believe that keeping black people in their place was nothing less than pest control, a way of combating an epidemic or virus that if not checked would be detrimental to the health and security of the community

Leon F Litwack , on lynching in USA

History is a unique experience, one that fully shakes you up. It can enlighten you into a revolutionary struggle by by exposing the texts, or it can cause frustration, anguish and pain when it keeps on repeating itself. you know what is happening, how it can be changed and whats going on but you are utterly powerless to stop or intervene. The pain it causes isun imaginable.

In these circumstances when nations are pushed into certain kind of manias in the name of Religion,Race,Nationalism,Honour,and other higher ideals, all the discourse become hegemonized. This does not necessarily happens through the use of brute force or censorship alone as force alone can never eliminate “dissent”. What is done is to create an idea so serene, so pure and so passionate that questioning it itself becomes treason . In 1933 Martin Heidegger in his notorious pro Hitler declaration stated “Truth is the revelation of that which makes a people certain,clear and strong in its action and knowledge”. This is the intellectual spirit of all fascism which subjugates truth to some higher idea , revival of nation etc. In simples words in order to motivate a nation any lie can be spoken and it becomes the truth. These are the moments when speaking the truth becomes most difficult because doing so means being a traitor in eyes of almost every one. but not doing so makes you a traitor in History.

In 1930s USA was in a similar situation, winds of change were threatening the old order of prejudice and bigotry. To save their skin they created a madness in the South in name of order, morality and humanity. They started lynching the blacks. Whole city gathered and watch the young black lads being beaten, hanged and burned. People posed with them for post cards. All this was believed to be for the sake of keeping the society clean, for maintaining law and order. The blacks were accused of being rapists, thief, magicians,kidnappers etc The whole society united in this great deed.

Abel Meeropol a Jewish school teacher who was member of the American Communist Party saw a picture of two black men hanging from the tree and he wrote a poem “Strange Fruit” which became the most important statement against American Racism. He published it under a pseudonym Lewis Alan. Billie Holiday sung it and it became one of the most influential songs ever sung. Holiday’s father died of pneumonia when “white hospitals” refused to treat him [doing so was against the segregation laws]. She could relate to all the injustice which formed the bases of this poem:

Strange Fruit – Lewis Allan

Southern trees bear a strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black bodies swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.

Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh!

Here is a fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop

I am listening to Billi Holiday singing Strange Fruit and in front of my eyes is the picture that became inspiration for this song, but in my mind is another south and another lynching. Lynching of 22 years of Hindu boy in a Karachi factory bymoslem mob for the crime of “Blasphemy”. The true crime was being Hindu in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The personal grudge that was settled in name of Blasphemy. The mob of Sunni Tehrik fanatics who worked in his factory killed him in the most in humane way. He was asked to stay, than the gates of the factory were closed, he was beaten to death by the mob, his eyes were gouged out using iron rods, than his body was thrown out on the road to save the name of factory owners. His body was about to being burned when police arrived. His family escaped to their ancestral village in interior Sindh where his father has locked himself in the home. Why because when he comes out he listens “Any one who commits blasphemy against Muhammed should be killed. He should be killed too”

There is no help there is no support. Pakistani society has maintained a criminal silence on these “strange fruits”. Minorities are accused of blasphemy and lynched and its “no news” in Pakistan. The lynching even take place in jails obviously under police supervision. No one accused of killing a blasphemer has ever been sentenced.

All the media in Pakistan is responsible for creating this mania of blasphemy by propagating the “caricature scandal”.All the humanist intellectuals are busy debating judiciary and human rights of Taliban [Missing Persons]. Poor Jagdeesh Kumar couldt find any Alan Lewis or Billi Holiday and the Pakistani Communists are busy restoring democracy and Justice with Jamat e Islami , General Hameed Gul and Roidad Khan. “Bol keh Lub aazad hein tere” [Speak as your lips are still free] , voice of Tina Sani is illuminating TV channels adding spark to movement to restore Judicial bureaucracy .

Speak and get lynched. Silence is criminal . In a lecture on Forgiveness in Paris, Levinas famously remarked ” One can forgive many Germans but it is very difficult to forgive some Germans, it is difficult to forgive Heidegger”

For every Pakistani to think esp Pakistani Heideggers.

“Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolias, sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh!”