In 1973, my paternal grandparents visited Makkah to perform the first of their two Hajj pilgrimages.

With them were two of my grandmother’s sisters and their respective husbands.

Upon reaching Jeddah, they hailed a taxi from the airport and headed for their designated hotel.

The driver of the taxi was a Sudanese man. As my grandparents and one of my grandmother’s sisters settled themselves in the taxi, the driver leisurely began driving towards the hotel and on the way inserted a cassette of Arabic songs into the car’s Japanese cassette-player.

My grandfather who was seated in the front seat beside the driver noticed that the man kept glancing at the rear view mirror, and every time he did that, one of his eyebrows would rise.

Curious, my grandfather turned his head to see exactly what was it about the women seated in the back seat that the taxi driver found so amusing.

This was what he discovered: As my grandmother was trying to take a quick nap, her sister too had her eyes closed, but her head was gently swinging from left to right to the beat of the music and she kept whispering (as if in quiet spiritual ecstasy) the Arabic expression Subhanallah, subhanallah …’

My grandfather knew enough Arabic to realise that the song to which my grandmother’s sister was swinging and praising the Almighty for was about an (Egyptian) Romeo who was lamenting his past as a heart-breaking flirt.

After giving a sideways glance to the driver to make sure he didn’t understand Punjabi, my grandfather politely asked my grandmother’s sister: ‘I didn’t know you were so much into music.’

‘Allah be praised, brother,’ she replied. ‘Isn’t it wonderful?’

The chatter woke my grandmother up: ‘What is so wonderful?’ She asked. ‘This,’ said her sister, pointing at one of the stereo speakers behind her. ‘So peaceful and spiritual …’

My grandfather let off a sudden burst of an albeit shy and muffled laughter. ‘Sister,’ he said, ‘the singer is not singing holy verses. He is singing about his romantic past.’

My grandmother started to laugh as well. Her sister’s spiritual smile was at once replaced by an utterly confused look: ‘What …?’

‘Sister,’ my grandfather explained, ‘Arabs don’t go around chanting spiritual and holy verses. Do you think they quote a verse from the holy book when, for example, they go to a fruit shop to buy fruit or want toothpaste?’

I’m sure my grandmother’s sister got the point. Not everything Arabic is holy.

Even though I was only a small child then I clearly remember my grandfather relating the episode with great relish. Though he was an extremely conservative and religious man and twice performed the Hajj, he refused to sport a beard, and wasn’t much of a fan of the Arabs (especially the monarchical kind).

He was proud of the fact that he was born in a small town in north Punjab that before 1947 was part of India.

In the early 1980s when Saudi money and influence truly began to take hold on the culture and politics of Pakistan, there were many families (especially from the Punjab) that actually began to rewrite their histories.

For example, families and clans that had emerged from within the South Asian region began to claim that their ancestors actually came from Arabia.

Something like this happened within the Paracha clan as well. In 1982 a book (authored by one of my grandfather’s many cousins) claimed that the Paracha clan originally appeared in Yemen and was converted to Islam during the time of the Holy Prophet (Pbuh).

The truth, however, was that like a majority of Pakistanis, Parachas too were once either Hindus or Buddhists who were converted to Islam by Sufi saints between the 11th and 15th centuries.

When the cousin gifted his book to my grandfather, he rubbished the claim and told him that he might attract Saudi Riyals with the book but zero historical credibility.

But historical accuracy and credibility does not pan well in an insecure country like Pakistan whose state and people, even after six decades of existence, are yet to clearly define exactly what constitutes their nationalistic and cultural identity.

After the complete fall of the Mughal Empire in the 19th century till about the late 1960s, Pakistanis (post-1947), attempted to separate themselves from other religious communities of the region by identifying with those Persian cultural aspects that had reigned supreme in Muslim royal courts in India, especially during the Mughal era.

However, after the 1971 East Pakistan debacle, the state with the help of conservative historians and ulema made a conscious effort to divorce Pakistan’s history from its Hindu and Persian past and enact a project to bond this history with a largely mythical and superficial link with Arabia.

The project began to evolve at a much more rapid pace from the 1980s onwards. The streaming in of the ‘Petro Dollars’ from oil-rich monarchies and the Pakistanis’ increasing interaction with their Arab employers in these countries, turned Pakistan’s historical identity on its head.

In other words, instead of investing intellectual resources to develop a nationalism that was grounded and rooted in the more historically accurate sociology and politics of the Muslims of the region, a reactive attempt was made to dislodge one form of ‘cultural imperialism’ and import by adopting another.

For example, attempts were made to dislodge ‘Hindu and Western cultural influences’ in the Pakistani society by adopting Arabic cultural hegemony that came as a pre-requisite and condition with the Arabian Petro Dollar.

The point is, instead of assimilating the finer points of the diverse religious and ethnic cultures that our history is made of and synthesise them to form a more convincing and grounded nationalism and cultural identity, we have decided to reject our diverse and pluralistic past and instead adopt cultural dimensions of a people who, ironically, still consider non-Arabs like Pakistanis as second-class Muslims.


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Comments (185) (Closed)


Nameoftgegame
Jul 28, 2013 11:26am

Subtly done again, NFP. Great read.

Caz
Jul 28, 2013 11:45am

The vast majority of muslims in the subcontinent are converts to islam. The pakistanis in particular subscribe to the delusion of a world islamic empire headquartered in saudi arabia.

Ali
Jul 28, 2013 12:05pm

The point of the article is well-taken, and I don't disagree. However, a few points:

  1. A lot of Arab (or Arabic) influence on Pakistani culture is an ongoing organic process due to so many expat Pakistanis residing in the Gulf. Just as the region of what is now Pakistan was influenced over the years by Turkic, Persian, Hindu, Arab and British people and culture, this neo-pseudo-Arabization is part of globalization processes at work.

  2. Why do those who get all worked up about creeping Arab influence into Pakistani culture not have the same reaction when Pakistanis prefer speaking in English over Urdu (or another local tongue), or when Pakistanis adopt Western (usually) cultural habits - clothing, food, entertainment etc. - at the expense of local ones. If we want to preserve and develop a "Pakistani" culture and identity, we should be equally chagrined at these other encroachments.

  3. Finally, the way to deal with all of this is to be comfortable in our own skin and develop a robust cultural and national identity that doesn't feel threatened when someone says "Ramadan" instead of "Ramzan" or whatever.

nasr (@bakhat_nasr)
Jul 28, 2013 12:15pm

Loved reading it. Yeah we even like to kiss the piece of tissue paper if it has the priniting in Arabic...sth Like Altishu Alpaper... It s shameful as we forgot our origin. We forgot the sacrifices of our Hindu forefathers who embraced Islam. Even a great campanion of the Prophet PBUM,Suleman Farsi R.A ...used to like to call himself as a Suleman Farsi (Suleman from Persia) & That s why he was prefered by the Prophet to dug the trenches at the battle of Khandaq(Trenches) ... as it used to be dug in Persia...spreading his cluture into the land of Arabs..

Nameoftgegame
Jul 28, 2013 12:16pm

@Ali: Regarding your point 2, you seem to have missed the gist of the article. When you ask why some Pakistanis take on Western attire and language instead of the "local ones", you forget to mention what are these? Whatever that is supposedly Arabic we are told is local. So I come back to the gist of the article: We have failed to identify or respect what is local because we are trying to replace one set of borrowed culture (Hindu, Western) with another set (Arabic). We have no culture to call our own.

Ali
Jul 28, 2013 12:35pm

@Nameoftgegame: See my point no. 3. (And I disagree that we don't have local culture(s) - that much should be obvious to anyone. What's lacking is a strong enough common thread to tie us all together as one nation.)

naseer
Jul 28, 2013 01:07pm

The national language of our religion is Arabic.Our all Ibadaat in Arabic.Then its not strange that there is an Arabic influence in Pakistani culture.

NK Ali
Jul 28, 2013 01:29pm

Interesting and informative. Our diverse cultures and traditions are a plus point in synthesizing a new Pakistan. We only have introspect and adopt gradually. Sadly, we have taken a path to eliminate our unity of citizenship and prefer violence, petro-dollars, and instructions over our common sense. Beautiful article like the earlier one on "Political Islam." Please keep on writing....it helps. Salams (Both articles are saved).

Mr Singh
Jul 28, 2013 01:30pm

many of Muslims were converted by force and Sufism. as its clear it's very difficult to live in Islamic rule for non Muslims ( even in today's Pakistan). so many people started converting for safety and dignity of their families and especial females. very few of Sufis were true sufis. rest had goal to spread Islam by showing music loving and soft face of it. but after conversion same people were told to leave this soft type of Islam and adopt strict way. because this soft face has just motive to convert people. and this way was useless after conversion. in India especially Hindu people always search for people who can solve their problems. if a person claims he has divine power to solve problems. people starts worshipping him without any question. and make false stories about power of that divine saint. same thing was used by Sufis. to convert people. in India many astrologers are fooling people. Nirmal baba is latest example. if a baba says you will win case in court and 50 percent people will win automatically. that 50 percent wil start following that baba. other 50 percent will think it's their own fault not of baba. people go to babas for problems like infertility. and starts following them. in our area followers of a famous peer always sing songs of peer about how he gifted a son to an old lady about 900 years ago. that was main reason behind spread of Islam in India.

Krish Chennai
Jul 28, 2013 02:01pm

@Nameoftgegame: It was Goebbels, the top ranking General in Hitler's force who said "Whenever I hear the word culture, I like to reach for my gun". Pakistani culture, just like that of other countries today, should represent an amalgam of various factors, that includes cuisine, music, literature, heritage sites,and of course religion too - and the average Pakistani should be at ease with this, if not actually be proud of the same. As someone said " Culture is nothing but a sense of order in the midst of chaos "

Krish Chennai
Jul 28, 2013 02:01pm

@Nameoftgegame: It was Goebbels, the top ranking General in Hitler's force who said "Whenever I hear the word culture, I like to reach for my gun". Pakistani culture, just like that of other countries today, should represent an amalgam of various factors, that includes cuisine, music, literature, heritage sites,and of course religion too - and the average Pakistani should be at ease with this, if not actually be proud of the same. As someone said " Culture is nothing but a sense of order in the midst of chaos "

AbbasToronto
Jul 28, 2013 02:02pm

In 1960s searching for BBC on shortwave when dial perchance hit Arabic (e.g. Cairo), elder women would cover heads.

The awe of Turks, Persians, or Arabs was profound. Maybe for they escaped direct colonialism and we came under English heels for 2 centuries.

Yet it was East India Company and then Raj that ushered modernism 200 years before these 3 from bottom up, from the street. To them it was pushed top down, by Mohammed Ali Pasha in Egypt, Ataturk in Turkey, and Reza Shah in Iran. It has not taken root.

In 1968 in Canada coming in direct contact with these 3 noticed how backward they were. Pants and skirts does not make modern. On visiting Cairo, or Riyadh, or Istanbul you realize the paucity of their English (thus exposure to the world).

In 1985 working in Riyadh for 6 months deepened the knowledge. My then Russian wife who had fully integrated with family and taken to shalwar kameez suddenly developed a dislike to anything Islamic. Visiting Iran in 1986 for a month dawned their ingrained racism, and lately the Turkish mother of my son brought this regressed thinking home.

Pakistanis, you do not know how blessed you are. The present necessary, timely, but temporary civil war aside, fundamentals of Pakistan are solid than any other Muslim or South Asian country.

sherie
Jul 28, 2013 02:03pm

I am so happy to see a discussion on these things. being slaves of another culture or identity comes naturally to us i think. english or american or saudi. i hope that the saudization of our country stops and we accept ourselves as we are: pakistanis first and muslims of varying intensities within it next. because no matter what i believe, the passport is pakistani. the my arab friends consider themselves arab first and then muslim or christian, but foster a muslim brotherhood ideology across the world. about time we start liking our own selves, with our dhotis and pagris and rotis... and the ancestors being buddhists or hindus or pagans. once accepted, we will be able to move on in a secure way.

raw is war
Jul 28, 2013 02:09pm

honest article.

Nasiroski
Jul 28, 2013 02:15pm

This is also due to the fact that we have been through our text books and general politico-religious material made to think that hindu's are enemy, they are basicall\y worst people ever walked on the face of the earth. With this mind-set how could you relate your past with them?? naturally we want to think we can't be carrying the same terrible genes. I experienced the same growing up in a heavy JI influenced household, where every ill in society was conveniently blamed upon "Hindu culture".

Nasiroski
Jul 28, 2013 02:22pm

I am familiar with Punjabi culture, Gujrati, Bengali, Tamil, Marathi.... based upon my interations with Indian here in the West. What is this demon we call Hindu culture??

AbbasToronto
Jul 28, 2013 03:03pm

@Mr Singh

" .. many of Muslims were converted by force and Sufism .."

LOL

Sufism yes, but force?

Indian Muslims have been free from "Muslim" rule for 200 years now. Do you see many converting back to Hinduism lately?

In 700 years of Muslim rule they never became a majority. But in 100 years 1947-2047 Islam will be the largest religion in south Asia combined.

The sword of Islam never reached Indonesia, yet it is at present the largest Islamic country.

The reasons why most people convert is because it is good for their pocket. Prof. Jean Ensminger of San Diego Univ has demonstrated that Tribes in Kenya are converting to Islam to reduce their transaction costs (theory that explains Multinationals rise). In today

sajjad
Jul 28, 2013 03:05pm

@Nasiroski: I believe he has put hindu and western culture in quotes is that's what indian subcontinent culture is termed as by those muslims in pakistan who oppose it. By calling it so, there's an automatic shift away from it by those who consider themselves 'pious' muslims

nisarchowdhari
Jul 28, 2013 03:07pm

@Nasiroski Every religion has its own culture which becomes its Core for the followers to follow, so like Islamic Culture Hindu Culture is also something which is its Core, that only a Hindu can guide you, but being a Muslim I know for sure that all the Big Religions started with:one main factor and that was the Identity of the Creator, according to the Human Intellect at that point of time But one thing is for sure that No Religion can propagate for intolerance on another Human Being.

V. C. Bhutani
Jul 28, 2013 03:13pm

story reminds me of a parable that I read as a child and which I now only imperfectly remember. Mammals were having their gathering and the birds were having theirs. The bats (chamgaadarh) chose to describe themselves differently. To the mammals they said they were not animals. To the birds they said they were not birds. In the bargain, they were disowned by both. With a slight variation, Pakistani Muslims who Arabized themselves in the 1960s were acting like the bats. The difference was that Pakistani Muslims said they were not descended from Hindus or Buddhists of South Asia, while the Arabs refused to own them up as descended from the Arabs. Well! V. C. Bhutani, Edinburgh, 28 July 2013, 1110 GMT

nisarchowdhari
Jul 28, 2013 03:18pm

@Nasiroski: We are a peace loving people who untill we followed our God given intellect,and discussed all the problems in open among our elders we were on the path to find the Right path but it changed when people started exploiting our nature to their nefarious designs and we lost not only our way but instead of finding the Right path we started insisting that our path is the only path and as such we were deceived into following something which it seems is Number 2 Islam.

Paki Mafia
Jul 28, 2013 03:20pm

@naseer: all Pakistani muslims may be able to read Arabic but unfortunately they all do NOT understand it.

Dearborn Iffy
Jul 28, 2013 03:21pm

@AbbasToronto: "Pakistanis, you do not know how blessed you are. The present necessary, timely, but temporary civil war aside, fundamentals of Pakistan are solid than any other Muslim or South Asian country."

Oh Uncle, how miserable you must be at being shackled, imprisoned and not given an opportunity to escape to the solid Pakistan. Instead you have to bear out the misery of being well looked after by the infidel country of your abode and that horrible sound of the postman bringing in that dreaded welfare check every month - and on time.

And thanks for sharing your personal history with us - in such a graphical manner. I am curious to know more.

So sad.

nisarchowdhari
Jul 28, 2013 03:22pm

@sherieWhen you are a living person it means that you have a reason to be alive and as such someone must have created you for that purpose, First find out that then find out where you are living and live accordingly.:

nfhassan
Jul 28, 2013 03:31pm

Writer and most of the secular minded commentators have forgotten that if they are so much allure of Islam then must have a name of Hindus and leave Muslim names. You must keep in mind that if we accepted Islam then its from Arabs, we have Arabic names then why not Arabic culture. Muslims prefer to name their children on the name of Muslim heroes and will remain do so. NFP please dont waste your time on these topics and look forward to contribute something good. In my whole life, I saw seculars more fascist than any others.

Lucman Ghauri
Jul 28, 2013 03:38pm

@nfhassan: What a typical reactionary knee-jerk comment. Just because you disagree with someone you call him a fascist? Look at people like yourself and what you have continued to tolerate in the name of faith. You refuse to wake up. I'm sure the allure of the Petro Dollars is great and I'm sure you look good in your Arab attire, but kindly come up with a more concrete counter argument.

Darbullah
Jul 28, 2013 04:05pm

@AbbasToronto:

Looks like you are a closet fanatic residing in and enjoying the benefits of a secular Western government, but it didn't change your madrasa world view.

What you couldn't do during 1000 years of Islamic rule, how can you dream of doing it now? The western countries allow conversion, so people convert. The Islamic governments are scared of allowing that freedom, as they are scared their people will convert in droves.

It might become largest religion due to avoiding family planning , but its quality that counts and not quantity.

Romulus
Jul 28, 2013 04:06pm

It's tragic that 60 years later, Pakistan is still searching for a cultural and national identity. All of us, Hindus and Muslims, Indians and Pakistanis, can take legitimate pride in the lofty accomplishments of our common ancestors who lives in the Indus Valley three thousan tears ago. They built a civilization and a philosophical system like nothing the world had seen before. Even the much-maligned caste system originally started with a clean logic - the separation of powers with Brahmins having religious power, Kshatriyas with polical and military power, and Vaishyas with economic power. True it degenerated over the years into a rigid orthodoxy, but our original ancestors need to be applauded for conceiving this system. They were the most profound people. Even the Muslim Egyptian are proud of their past civilization, so why not Pakistanis?

Kashan
Jul 28, 2013 04:08pm

Great piece of writing NFP but you can not refuse the fact that Pakistani society is the most diversified ethnic mix.There are hundreds of thousand of syeds,sheikhs ,quresh and hashmis who by blood can be arab similarly khans and bukharis,sherazis qazalbash from central asian origion.You can't deny the fact that pakistan itself does not have its own culture yet influenced by arabic,persian,indian and now western culture.You prefer to say khudahafiz instead of Fiamanillah upto you yet khudahafiz is persian phrase not of ours itself.

GB
Jul 28, 2013 04:12pm

@Kashan: That's exactly what NFP is suggesting. Read the last para again.

Karachi Wala
Jul 28, 2013 04:13pm

"Something like this happened within the Paracha clan as well. In 1982 a book (authored by one of my grandfather

K G Surendran
Jul 28, 2013 04:18pm

The Parachas were converted to Islam by Sufi saints, the writer may be a bit economical with the truth to appear to be politically correct. Islam's entry into the Northern parts of this region, present day Pakistan and India, was always accompanied by untold and unnecessary violence in the name of religion and many a early Muslim conqueror indulged in fanatic iconoclasm and forceful conversions where faith was an excuse for the larger goal of plain loot. One name that comes to mind is of Sikander Sultan who conquered Kashmir in 1389 and in his reign of 22 years he earned the sobriquet of Sikander Butshikan (Butshikan means idol breaker). His reign was particularly brutal and he was just one of the many Muslims conquerors, the list is quite long, who used/misused a faith, because as they interpreted their religion demanded it, and large scale violence and destruction in all cases was the common denominator. NFP is right in concluding that it is better to stick to your roots than aping others though in today's world cultures across the globe are evolving at a furious and at times, disconcerting pace but it still does not distort or rewrite history.

Parvez
Jul 28, 2013 04:30pm

You couln't be closer to the truth..............well said.

Karachi Wala
Jul 28, 2013 04:44pm

@Mr Singh:

"many of Muslims were converted by force and Sufism".

Mr. Singh, I beg to disagree with you respectfully. If force was the main reason of conversion to Islam in India, the equation of population would have been other way around. In other words, in sub-continent there would have been more Muslims than Hindus today.

Sibte Hasan
Jul 28, 2013 04:47pm

@nfhassan: Rubbish. Accepting Arab nationalism, or imperialism, is not a pre-requisite to Islam. In fact we should all petition god for making Jannat a multi-lingual place with many official languages, not just Arabic

A. Khan
Jul 28, 2013 05:00pm

Well said, NFP. I have always known this even if no one told me about it. Its logical and anyone thinking otherwise is lying to himself and his ancestors.

But how do we get your message through to ordinary people when there is, as you say, a concerted effort to paper over our cultural history with an artificial one ? Its almost comical specially when the others treat you as miskeen or worse as "janissaries". Look up this word if you don't know its meaning.

AHA
Jul 28, 2013 05:26pm

Another masterpiece.

afroze fatemah
Jul 28, 2013 05:27pm

Who wants to link his ancestry with camel grazers of Arabia ? I mean SERIOUSLY

nfhassan
Jul 28, 2013 05:49pm

@Romulus: I think you dont know the history of Sub-continents. Arabs invaded it, Afghans invaded it so would have their own culture then why only Hindus culture. People who accpeted Islam left everything which is not acceptable in Islam. Muslims would have their own culture and we are proud to be of Muslim culture.

nfhassan
Jul 28, 2013 05:51pm

@Lucman Ghauri: Pity is that you still want counter argument. If you are so annoying of Arabs and Islamic values then why your parents loved to name you on Arabic heroes. I hope you also named your children on Muslim heroes and not on the local Maharajs :)

nfhassan
Jul 28, 2013 05:52pm

@Kashan: Brother, even Persian is not Pakistan's local culture. you must say "raam raam".

ethicalman
Jul 28, 2013 06:09pm

"The truth, however, was that like a majority of Pakistanis, Parachas too were once either Hindus or Buddhists who were converted to Islam by Sufi saints between the 11th and 15th centuries."

When muslims won the wars POW were given 2 options..convert to islam or die..the sufi islam came in very late..after 15 th century..coinciding with bhakti movement in India..the so called sufi's r product of Bhakti + some islamic myths..that's why songs r still sung, otherwise in Islam music is forbidden..

So this story of sufi converstion is not entirely true..In Kashmir most of the muslims r sufi muslims..but they slaughtred Hindus indiscrimnatly..Sufi's today r disliked by wahabi islam of pakistan and India..

Advocate Hameedullah
Jul 28, 2013 06:22pm

I am also pakistan and not arab . But there are many who want me to be converted in arab muslim . They want to dominate on our indigenous culture in the name of faith . Arab colonialism in south asia has also its history and effects .

Razzaq
Jul 28, 2013 06:23pm

Very true facts for me who have seen the partition of 1947 and also the division of Quaid's country. All I like to end up with is this, that these so called Arabs would do anything to lick their back side and would not mind to receive a kick on own back side. Harsh but a reality.

ethicalman
Jul 28, 2013 06:23pm

@AbbasToronto: that's the problem with muslims they don't even know basics of the so called Hindusim.. It's not a religion, it does not convert, it does not follow a book, even the word Hindu is not coined by us..the foreigners called us Hindus..

Islam and Christianity are in rise because they convert..now Islam and wahbism is on rise cause of Saudi money..In Hinduism there is no CONVERSTION..even if someone leaves Islam he /she is hounded and later killed

What happened to the 22% of Hindus of Pakistan? they got converted to save there life..to In India Muslim population is up from 8% to 18 % ..

just remember there is NO converstion in Hindusim

Nadeem Ahmed
Jul 28, 2013 06:25pm

NFP has no problems in making Pakistani's as comrades. Irony!

Khalid
Jul 28, 2013 06:25pm

@nfhassan: I am amazed at the rudeness and lack of logic in your message. I am hoping that you are not a Pakistani but if you are, let me apologise to everyone reading that we are really not a rude lot as this person.

ravi k
Jul 28, 2013 06:32pm

Nice article. The only less than credible sentence that majority of today's pakistanis converted to islam due to influence of sufism. Fact is , majority converted under duress.

pathanoo
Jul 28, 2013 06:38pm

An excellent article again from NFP full of truth and factual analysis backed by historical data. Pakistanis are NOT Arabs. That's for sure. I used to go to Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries and I have seen how Arabs treated any Non-Arab Muslim.......like DIRT. And, the Pakistanis in Saudi Arabia hated the Saudis for it and told me repeatedly how stupid and venal these Saudi bastards were. Outwardly, holier-then-thou but so deviant when no one was watching. Isn't it the height of hypocricy that the same Pakistanis who hate the Saudis while in Saudi Arabia come back home and then try to act like them. It is a common characterstic of people suffering from inferiority complex......it is a worldwide disease. Pakistanis just have a very advanced case of it.

Khalid Awan
Jul 28, 2013 06:51pm

Distorted facts

Anoop
Jul 28, 2013 06:56pm

@AbbasToronto:

Tipu Sultan of Mysore region in India converted many thousands by force. They were given 2 choices - convert or perish. In the fear driven, pre-media times of the last millennia, its easy to see this happening more often. Today, due to the media, such events like Taliban giving ultimatums are recorded and produced in front of the whole world to gasp! There was no such force in the last millennium.

b) Then you say the people didn't convert back when the Mughals fell, but you forget they had been Muslim for generations by then.

a) The way anyone converting back to his original Religion of his/her grandparents invites death in Pakistan, it also invites death in India, especially in pre-Independence India.

b) The all imbibing culture of Hindus has also a lot to do with it. Hinduism doesn't ask for conversions, there is no concept of it. Its primary aim is not to increase its numbers. Most Muslims of India listened to Indian music, Indian literature, spoke the Indian language, wore the Indian dresses, adopted the Indian cultural norms(Henna, music during weddings, dancing,etc). That force is so strong that even today Pakistanis watch Bollywood, rather than the Iranian movies, which have won greater laurels at International events.

If you talk like an Indian, you walk like an Indian, you are an Indian. Whats the need of conversion?

Sadly, now, many Muslims in India, like in Pakistan, adopting their Arabic heritage and hence you see a spike in Militant activities towards their own country!

Tariq
Jul 28, 2013 07:06pm

The main reason why we are nation without identity 65 years on is because we have placed our religion before our country. The day, we as a nation start to think "Pakistani's" first and all else second. Islam is Great, but misinterpreted, and misunderstood by the mas populous as it is read in Arabic mostly and it's translation dispensed by the mullah brigade to control the masses.

Anoop
Jul 28, 2013 07:07pm

I think this is an inevitability.

Pakistan didn't become Pakistan in just one day on Aug 14 1947, it was a gradual process. Due to its History and leaders like Jinnah, who believed in the TNT, many people knew Pakistan would be formed as a nation which will begin to cleanse everything that is India from it was common sense. And, thats what has been happening and will happen forever.

But, the Indian culture's pulls are also pretty great. Pakistanis fast during the Arabic origin Ramzan, yet watch Bollywood movies and its music after breaking their fasts everyday.

The cultural hold of India is pulling Pakistan back towards it and away from Arabia. The force 2 forces are opposite to each other and it'll lead to utter confusion and chaos, which we see today.

Some of the cultural aspects like Basant are done away with already, as its too closely related to India. Nobody practices Yoga in Pakistan, because its Hindu origins are too strong to dismiss, even though it was originated in Pakistan. There are many such instances.

Basically Pakistan is a country under going evolution, from being India, towards Arabia. I think this process is irreversible, as the sword and the Religion will always win.

BISWAJIT ROY
Jul 28, 2013 07:07pm

"instead adopt cultural dimensions of a people who (Arabs), ironically, still consider non-Arabs like Pakistanis as second-class Muslims" ---Interestingly we indians consider Arabs as illiterate, loud speaking third class citizens of the world.

Raj Patel
Jul 28, 2013 07:13pm

@AbbasToronto: Uncle please get nationality of any middle east country,then talk about Arab originality. So called your Arab country won't give you their nationality whatever your stay in their country./so be faithful to your adopted country and their culture that allows you to practice your religion freely.

BISWAJIT ROY
Jul 28, 2013 07:14pm

@AbbasToronto: "Even in India today the much poorer Muslims have a lifespan 2 years larger than the richer hindus and Sikhs" ---this is not a fact. this is whimsical.

Waleed Memon
Jul 28, 2013 07:26pm

NFP is a Zionist agent who is bent on diluting our historical connection with Great Pious Arabs and trying to confuse us on our ideology. US, Zionist and Hindu axis is using people like NFP to strip us of our great history, ideology and superiority over Hindus in India. Bengali too were weak Muslims and by their cessation we have become more purer. Long live Zaid Hamid and his red cap, Hamid Gull and his moustache, Amir Liaqut and his fake doctorate.

Kamran Paracha
Jul 28, 2013 07:34pm

Very well written and to the point. I've always debated the same issue with my family, especially when they say Parachas are from Yemen. We are from the Sub Continent and our blood too is from this soil. Religion comes secondary.

Abbastoronto
Jul 28, 2013 07:35pm

@Romulus I as a Muslim and a Pakistani am not comfortable with your assertion about

MIckey
Jul 28, 2013 08:02pm

NFP,

Brilliant article as always !!

Following your logic, in a few years you may have to write another one to dispel the myth that Pakistanis have Chinese origins.

Capt C M Khan
Jul 28, 2013 08:11pm

DIVERSITY IS STRENGTH; Slogan of Nelson Mandella after 28 years of his release from Prison. If Mandella was following the doctrine of Pakistan ( Only Wahabee sect is correct rest all Kafirs and deserve death) not a single white would have survived in SA. Pakistan is not the Pakistan of 1947. It has been enslaved by Petro dollars of Saudis. All Politicians and Religious leaders are in the pockets of Saudis. Add to this the vast population of illiterates or semi-literates ( the ones who buy degree or cheat etc) and you have modern era slaves. Pakistanis have to be LIBERATED once again, sorry but that is what is required. we will survive so is Somalia and Afghanistan.

Muhammad Rizwan
Jul 28, 2013 08:14pm

@nfhassan: Why dont you take your own advice and stop waisting time reading these columns. because one has to be open minded to read the opposing views.

Kamran Choudhry
Jul 28, 2013 08:17pm

There is an African proverb " if you don't know where you came from, you don't know where you are going". We Pakistanis have abandoned our heritage along with it we lost our pride as people and now we are unashamedly clinging to everything Arab and lately Chinese for national salvation.

sdas
Jul 28, 2013 08:27pm

@Dearborn Iffy:

Wow !!

Akhtar Ali Khan
Jul 28, 2013 08:47pm

@Kashan: That there are hundreds of syeds, sheikhs and others who purportedly may have Arab ancestry, could have a smidgen of truth. However, a study carried out in 2004 found that Arab and Afghan genes counted for only 1.02% --- out of which only 0.00009% accounted for Arab or Iranian ancestry. This implies that even the original genes are so diluted by the Indian genes that it is difficult to find them among the experimental gene pool. Furthermore, It is should be remembered that caste system is a part of our Indian heritage (it is seldom found in other cultures). When we were converted, we invented new castes based upon our "invented ancestry" or profession. Thus, any one coming from Afghanistan became Khan, some assumed syed-ship (as being of the highest caste) and Aryians of Punjab assumed themselves to be of Arab ancestry. Partition of the continent also created many new Khans, Syeds, Shiekhs and others, while the singers (mostly temple priests) became to be known as Meerasi (most now call themselves Quraishi). So, basically we are 99.99% Hindus.

peacefulperson
Jul 28, 2013 09:16pm

I don't care about my culture because in the end, its our faith in God that really matters. So stop arguing about pointless problems. Whether our ancestors were hindhu,persian, or arab does not change who we are in the present. forget the past and live in the present!

Nasiroski
Jul 28, 2013 09:21pm

@AbbasToronto: "Arabism", seriously!!! can you define it?? Rise of Pakistan is a distant dream the way things are going and the way us Pakistani's are, and that if and only if we keep religion out of state business and appreciate the cultures we have, keeping religion as individual's personal matter. None of the things you mentioned has anything to do with the rise of a nation or even making of a nation.

Malik
Jul 28, 2013 09:31pm

Okay let's reinvent the wheel.

nfhassan
Jul 28, 2013 10:01pm

@Muhammad Rizwan: Brother, reading is a good habit whether you like or not and you seculars dont like other opinion. Have a generous heart otherwise we "arabs" dont mind :)

nfhassan
Jul 28, 2013 10:06pm

@BISWAJIT ROY: Lollllls ... but still most of the Indians love to go even to Saudi for work .... hahahaha

snk
Jul 28, 2013 10:44pm

didn't what u want to say in your article...!!

Tariq K Sami
Jul 28, 2013 10:48pm

Islamisation vs Arabisation. Egypt and the Mesopotomia is an example of both Islamisation and Arabisation. Somalia and Nigeria and Sudan are good examples of partial Islamisation and partial Arabisation. Samarkand the magnificent city was Islamised under Persian culture. Iran is an example of Islamisation. It has resisted Arabisation. Turkey is also an example of Islamisation without Arabisation. Pakistan is too an example of Islamisation without Arabisation even if we have moved far away from the cultural center of India. I think most Pakistanis are contended with Jinnah's concept of Pakistan and Islam. This is what I believe is the template.

Tariq K Sami
Jul 28, 2013 10:48pm

Islamisation vs Arabisation. Egypt and the Mesopotomia is an example of both Islamisation and Arabisation. Somalia and Nigeria and Sudan are good examples of partial Islamisation and partial Arabisation. Samarkand the magnificent city was Islamised under Persian culture. Iran is an example of Islamisation. It has resisted Arabisation. Turkey is also an example of Islamisation without Arabisation. Pakistan is too an example of Islamisation without Arabisation even if we have moved far away from the cultural center of India. I think most Pakistanis are contended with Jinnah's concept of Pakistan and Islam. This is what I believe is the template.

Tariq K Sami
Jul 28, 2013 10:48pm

Islamisation vs Arabisation. Egypt and the Mesopotomia is an example of both Islamisation and Arabisation. Somalia and Nigeria and Sudan are good examples of partial Islamisation and partial Arabisation. Samarkand the magnificent city was Islamised under Persian culture. Iran is an example of Islamisation. It has resisted Arabisation. Turkey is also an example of Islamisation without Arabisation. Pakistan is too an example of Islamisation without Arabisation even if we have moved far away from the cultural center of India. I think most Pakistanis are contended with Jinnah's concept of Pakistan and Islam. This is what I believe is the template.

Dearborn Iffy
Jul 28, 2013 10:49pm

@Abbastoronto: Uncle, I want to challenge you on your comment you made to a Hindu brother "The caste system was based on skin colour with lower castes being darker skinned.

BRR
Jul 28, 2013 10:51pm

@peacefulperson: Nihilist to the core. Perhaps a logical conclusion to an iconoclastic religion.

BRR
Jul 28, 2013 10:56pm

@Abbastoronto: Perhaps you have not read your history - Indians off the malabar coast were trading with Romans, a 1000 years before Islam. Hoards of Roman coins have been found in several different places in India. Also, St. Francis came to India 700 yeras before Islam along trade routes. All of S. East Asia were trading with India - you are really ignorant.

Pankaj
Jul 28, 2013 11:01pm

Pakistanis are only muslim, who are extremly appologetic about their hindu/budhist background. Bangladeshi muslims are extremely proud of their bengali language and rich cultural heritage. Irani muslims never feel tired telling about great persian empire, culture and languages......Egyptians are proud of their great old civilization and demonstrate it to the whole world.......African muslims don't feel any shame practising old African tribal customs.....It is only pakistanis, who feel shame in using their own languages like Sindhi, punjabi, pushto or more ancient languages like Pali, Sanskrit etc.... I have never found a single pakistani, who tells the world that our ancestor wrote first book on economics, we taught the world "how to trade", we gave the world the concept of university and oldest known university is here in Pakistan. etc. etc.............Pakistanis specially youth, are always apologetic and start giving all the tall claims of their arabian ancestry .......even Arabs start laughing by listening these claims.......

AbbasToronto
Jul 28, 2013 11:02pm

@BISWAJIT ROY

re. lifespan pf Hindus and Muslims: " --- this is not a fact. this is whimsical .."

http://www.iipsindia.org/pdf/RB-13 file for uploading.pdf

During 1992-2006, the estimated life expectancy at birth has increased from 61 years to 65 years among Hindus, from 64 years to 68 years among Muslims and from 68 years to 69 years among Christians.

http://www.firstpost.com/economy/hindu-population-set-to-fall-below-80-in-census-2011-10765.html

" .. the gap between life expectancy for

Gautham
Jul 28, 2013 11:05pm

@ethicalman: Ironically, we are called Hindus because of a river that today flows in Pakistan! We were Sindus first (people of the civilization that was born around Sindus valley) then Europeans coined Hindu when Sindus became Indus. Thus came 'India' too. The proud Indians derive their name from Pakistan! :-)

TAM
Jul 28, 2013 11:36pm

@Waleed Memon: Loved your sarcasm.

Chingari
Jul 28, 2013 11:41pm

In 2013, the debate about ancestory can be settled very quickly by genetic studies. Doodh ka doodh or pani ka pani ho jai ga. Check this website for understanding of what is involved: http://www.dna-afghan-pak.blogspot.com/p/links.html

SBB
Jul 28, 2013 11:43pm

@MIckey:

Hilarious!

Zakir
Jul 28, 2013 11:44pm

Not correct at all. The book written by one of your relatives for material gains may be an isolated incident specific to Paracha clan. It is unfair however to totally ignore the cultural influence and contributions of the Arabs in South Asia. It is also unfair to deny any ancestral links to hindus by falsely associating ancestry with Arabs. In addition to Muhammad Bin Qasim's takeover of Areas in Sind, Arabs had been in touch with south asian through ancient trading routes for centuries. A number of them settled here too. e.g. in Indian State of Kerala there is a mosque built by Arabs which is at least 800 years old. Your article would be better if it also correctly highlights the tendencies in the relatively well-off (burger) segments of the society who "wannabe' American, british or something else. that is even worse than associating oneself with the Arabs. This is on top of the other segments of the society who consider changing channel blasphemous while watching "Saas bhi Kabhi bahu thi". nutshell, it is not just the Arab association, it is multiple, and perhaps it is better to recognize whatever lineage one has without feeling inferior in any manner.

SBB
Jul 28, 2013 11:45pm

@Abbastoronto:

Islam brought a few things to India, but Trade was not one of them. Please don't rewrite Indian history, and just stick with rewriting yours. Indians traded with S. E. Asia, modern Uzbekistan long before arrival of Islam.

Faisal
Jul 29, 2013 12:16am

I think many people in Pakistan don't know this but the two biggest personalities in Pakistan's history were just third generation Muslims.

Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was a third generation muslim, his paternal grandfather was from a Gujarati Hindu trading community, known as "Lohanas". His grandfather converted to Islam sometime in 19th century.

Muhammad Iqbal(Allama) was also a third generation muslim, his grandfather was a Kashmiri Pandit(Hindu Brahmin), who converted to Islam in early 19th century.

Both Jinnah and Iqbal were just third generation muslims, like majority of South Asian muslims, they were not descendants of Turk, Arab or Mughal conquerors and rulers.

Ashish
Jul 29, 2013 12:16am

@AbbasToronto: Mr. Abbas, all conversions are either by force or coercion or falsehood. That's a known fact. Go and find out for yourself how your forefathers were converted, using swords. Immediate conversions of entire villagers and growing numbers to make you proud. After that there is no escape. Have you not purified your Pakistan enough of such impurities enough already? No need to convert back, But please make sure, no one else is ever subjected to such torture and imprisonment ever again. You owe that to your forefathers. Make sure that the rest of the world stays free, not the other way round.

Sonal
Jul 29, 2013 12:23am

Having lived in a number of developed countries and interacted with numerous Pakistanis and Arabs, I have found Pakistanis to be a lot more liberal than Arabs - what's with this fascination with turning Arab?? Pakistanis and Arabs are culturally so different! Rather than being proud of your individuality, why are you trying to ape a regressive culture that has little respect for women and secularism?

Ashish
Jul 29, 2013 12:27am

@Karachi Wala: Funny. Does that mean you will agree that the conversions occurred by force when the numbers will exceed the Hindus, that it will surely, given your constant penchant for conversions by force or coercion? Stupid. I pray for your forefathers who had to undergo the pain. Glad that you consider yourself to have been one of the maraunders not the victims.

Sonal
Jul 29, 2013 12:35am

This is a very ignorant question, but isn't Urdu based on Persian, and aren't a lot of Pakistani names just Muslim (as opposed to Arab) names? Then why are some people saying that if our names, religion, etc is based on Arabic then we should follow the Arabic culture?

Omar
Jul 29, 2013 12:35am

Umer sharif, the famous comedian once joked, ' Arab agar galian bhe day tu topi pahan k sunni chaiyay'. The other person asked, ' why is that?'. He said, ' kyun k wo arbi main hoti hai na'. Hilarious but sarcastic!

K.A Jamanada
Jul 29, 2013 12:43am

Indeed we have to be a proud nation on what actually we are, first Pakistani's than anything else..the dilemma of being Arab or try to put on Arabs mask is just so annoying as hell to our people. Our people should have to distinct between religion,culture and nationality.

AbbasToronto
Jul 29, 2013 12:47am

@Dearborn Iffy

Pakistanis are less race conscious than Indians.

If you were bypassed for a Caucasian in Lahore, it does not mean we defer to whites more than browns, but only that Pakistanis are more hospitable to foreigners (I presume you look like the locals). Blacks (I mean Africans) have had similar experiences that they got served faster. This is called being welcoming to strangers.

This behaviour is universal. In Liege Belgium in 1972 while waiting in an Italian consulate for visa I was hauled from back of the queue by the agent at the window (I was the only non-white) and no one complained. Does it mean the whites discriminate against their own for non-whites?

You Indians could learn from us in being friendlier to others.

And coming to point. You may have to brush upon you Sanskrit because the word for caste is

AbbasToronto
Jul 29, 2013 12:51am

@Ashish

" .. all conversions are either by force or coercion or falsehood .."

Yea. Tell the upper middle class, educated (above college), young (average age 27), healthy, white, nubile women who are converting to Islam here in the West in droves.

Google "conversion, women, video". You do not even have to include "islam" in the search, but the only hit you get is conversion to Islam.

Most of these white women insist on putting hijab, and in France, on niqab.

The pre-conceived ideas is the reason why we separated from India, and want to remain that way. Even Bangladesh, after separating from Pakistan did not join India back.

s.khan
Jul 29, 2013 01:25am

@Ashish: Amazing how your misinformed opinion has become fact. Your advice to go and find out without listing the source is misleading. Find out where? If muslims used force to convert hindus, why hindus always formed overwhelming portion of the population. Hindus particularly of lower caste adopted Islam because Hinduism treated them badly and Islam taught equality. It is not at all difficult to figure out why the people would be attracted to the religion of equality. If muslims don't practice equality today doesn't negate the teaching. simply the practice has diverged from the moral teachings.

Khalid
Jul 29, 2013 01:35am

Except for having the same religion, there are no similarities between the Pakistani and Arab cultures. Having lived in Saudi Arabia I remember Saudis always made fun of Pakistanis who had started behaving like Arabs!. In fact, I remember, there was a time (and I believe that law is still in place) when Pakistanis were not allowed to look like Arabs by wearing the national dress of Saudi Arabia. Culture has very little to do with religion and all to do with traditions. Our culture is a mixture of Hindu and Muslim traditions and instead of our similarities in cultures binding us together, the Mullahs (and of course corrupt politicians) in Pakistan (and India) have always tried to play the religion card to exaggerate the differences between the two countries. Having lived away from Pakistan makes it perhaps more obvious to me as to how things have changed. I remember saying "khuda hafiz" to my grandparents until they died. No one said that "khuda hafiz" is unislamic. Nowaadys you will be hard pressed to find anyone saying "khudafiz". I have also noticed words like "Adhan" (Azan) and Ramadhan (Ramzan) have been forcefully injected into our language. To be honest, I am happy living in a European country where my religion and my culture, both are respected rather than living in an Arab country where I can not even imagine to be treated equally let alone being respected by the local population. Unless someone convinces me that for the last 1,400 years my ancestors have incorrectly said khuda hafiz and azan, I will continue with what I believe is my culture. I will not allow anyone to hijack my culture. I feel so much at home whenever I visit India that it almost feels like Pakistan. There is no other place on earth where a Pakistani can feel more at home. If you haven't done that yet, try it.

Khalid
Jul 29, 2013 01:45am

@AbbasToronto: You are rude. Having the ability to speak (or write English) doesn't mean you can say whatever you like and your choice of words leaves a lot to be desired. Your name suggests you are a Pakistani living in Toronto. You make me ashamed to be a person of Pakistani origin. Why do you have to sound so rude in everything you say. My parents have taught me to respect all religions and people of all races. Wonder where you have learnt your manners from? Canadians are very polite people.

s.khan
Jul 29, 2013 01:49am

@Anoop: It is a big mistake to equate Indian culture with hindu culture. You know that muslim artists particularly song and dialogue writers are mostly muslims. Primary language of Bollywood movies is Urdu. If the songs were in hindi, Pakistanis won't understand. They might as well listen to Egyptian songs. Muslims contributed significantly to Indian art and culture. Remember Englishman's remark that all the ancient books written in India will fill one shelf of the book case.

Khalid
Jul 29, 2013 01:51am

@peacefulperson: That is most absurd comment I have ever heard anywhere. Are you for real?

Khalid
Jul 29, 2013 01:52am

@Kamran Choudhry: Kamran, love what you have said. Wonderful.

Sumit Mazumdar
Jul 29, 2013 01:54am

@Nasiroski: Simple - belief in and respect for diversity. That is our national anthem - ``Panjab, Sindhu, Gujrati, Maratha,'' etc.

Ayush
Jul 29, 2013 02:02am

@Faisal: Wrong. Allama Iqbal was a second generation muslim whose father converted to Islam not his Grandfather.

Romulus
Jul 29, 2013 02:30am

@Abbastoronto: I'm sorry you feel uncomfortable with my words, but facts are facts. As for colour, it's true that modern Indians show prejudice, but not our common ancestors in Indus Valley. In fact the most beloved Hindu deity Krishna is dark skinned. Another name for him is Shyam, which means dusky. So the ancient Indians were not prejudiced. Possibly centuries of colonialist ion has taken its toll. Now lets come to your assertion that Islam does not consider one people being superior to others. Maybe so, but clearly the Arabs haven't got this message. Nor have the Sunnis in your country.

Ashok
Jul 29, 2013 02:33am

Mr. Paracha here is a link of the outcome of latest rsearch condcuted by combined scientists of India, Spain and Florida ( US) and found that jeans of Muslims and Brahamns are same. The research was conducted on genes of 2800 families. Sorry this link is in Hindi. http://www.bhaskar.com/article-ht/UP-LUCK-genes-of-up-muslims-match-with-hindus-4325730-PHO.html

Nadeem somewhere
Jul 29, 2013 02:41am

@Ashish: yeah 1.8 billion people converted to islam by force, did 1 billion hindus convert by the sword too?

so humans cant decide on their own, they must have been converted by the sword if they left hinduism and became Muslim? what dumb logic you have

instead show some real proof, hindus were converted by force...

zuhaib
Jul 29, 2013 02:45am

@Ashish: If it was so why your forefathers and millions others were spared during the long rule of Muslims?

Lala
Jul 29, 2013 03:34am

@Waleed Memon: some people didn't understand the sarcasm and voted down your comment :P

Pavan
Jul 29, 2013 03:41am

I appreciate your effort at combating the rewriting of Pakistan's cultural history, but I was disappointed by your following statement:

.. were converted to Islam by Sufi saints between the 11th and 15th centuries

That is a very broad statement to make. That requires some justifications, especially in face of Islam's requirement to convert peoples of other faith and in light of historical records indicating forceful conversion of Kashmiri pundits.

Mustafa
Jul 29, 2013 03:43am

Excellent article by Nadeem Paracha that has exposed mentality of Pakistanis and Indians in giving importance to their blood origin, their color of skin, their sect, their heritage, their languages. What is relevant today is their actions and contributions to their countries and all other inherited qualifications are irrelevant. The Indians and Pakistanis who ran away from India and Pakistan to America or Canada for better living know fully fell that in developed countries no one cares if you are a Syed or Sheikh, a Brahmin or Shudur, whether your ancestors were Arabs or Aryans, whether your ancestors spoke Arabic or Sanskrit.

Who cares today if Jinnah or Iqbal had non-Muslim ancestors? What we care today is what Jinnah and Iqbal did or achieved. Unfortunately the cultures of Pakistan and India are man-made (not God-made) and these are the greatest threat to these countries preventing them from development and achieve peaceful co-existence of all people within the country.

Bangash
Jul 29, 2013 03:48am

@Ashish: If what you are saying was true than entire India would be Muslim by now. Please don't lecture Muslims on history of Islam.

Bangash
Jul 29, 2013 03:49am

@SBB: The "india" you are mentioning is a British construct.

shaukat ali chughtai
Jul 29, 2013 03:52am

NFP's run down on the socio-cultural front is true and sheds light as how saudi's wahabiizm spread in Pakistan, although majority of the population is from Indus Valley, some who entered with invaders either became syeds or qureshis ( quereshis from Ummaya tribe or Hashmite tribe), but Qureshis were fabricated. So Syed multiplied in Sind and south Punjab....so all those who settled in Indus Valley adopted the indian culture...and they lived in that culture for centuries but practiced islam as their religion. All indian castes like jats with 360 gotths, gujjars 2with 20 goths and Rajputs both sunderbansi and chanderbansi all were aryas and hindus, practiced islam and remain in touch with their adopted culture.

afroze fatemah
Jul 29, 2013 04:34am

@Kamran Choudhry: Africans really dont know where they are going.

Gautham
Jul 29, 2013 04:48am

@Zakir: Zakir, I think you are close to rewriting Kerala history! There is no denial in saying we have had Arab interactions but only as a recruitment pool for Muslim kings of India. They have not done any large scale colonization of India anywhere to start claiming there is a significant gene pool today. Besides, they were never rich and mostly illiterate to fund for conversions. The Malappuram region of Kerala is also awash with petro dollars as there is a huge workforce in gulf. If anything, Kerala's history is very well preserved and known, to quickly dispel mischief mongering. You just need to seek the information from right source.

Srinivas Rao
Jul 29, 2013 06:13am

@Abbastoronto: please reveal your location and real name, from toronto word every one is assuming that you are living free checks of western government

varinder abrol
Jul 29, 2013 06:49am

@BISWAJIT ROY: we always considered Arab As "Wehshey"

jd
Jul 29, 2013 08:05am

@AbbasToronto: NOOO... thanks. I don't want to do your last line comment

Shahryar Shirazi
Jul 29, 2013 08:14am

May I ask dawn to post the replies inline rather than all over the place in the comments section? This is one forum where Indians and Pakistanis can argue/debate without self abuse or abuse of their loved ones. Following the conversation is hard in this format. Earlier the comments used to be inline. Not sure what has changed. A lot of folks have replied to Mr Abbas Toronto - but I cannot find what he originally said .... Shahryar

Shubs
Jul 29, 2013 08:21am

@Mustafa: First of all, don't bring Indians into your narrative, which is a Pakistani construct. People emigrate from India for economic or professional reasons, not to escape being a "Brahmin or a Shudur", as you put it (who or what is a 'Shudur' only you can explain,I suppose).

ssf
Jul 29, 2013 08:40am

@Akhtar Ali Khan: My pujabi family is currently labeled as shaikh and some of us are very proud of being called shaikh so and so but our shujra shows that our grand grand grand fathers were Hindus of Rajput family so I would recommend that all these so called Arab Pakistanis especialy cutter religious group pl do some reearch and check your family's backround and be proud of your south asian heritage and overcome your inferiority complex.

Abhishek
Jul 29, 2013 09:52am

@Ashish: There have of course some cases of using force for conversions- but had that been the general case, the whole Indian subcontinent would have been Muslim. You should learn to give credit wherever it is due. A lot of people did find the teachings of Islam easy to understand and practice. Plus there was royal patronage due to which life became easier if one converted. Chiefly, the shudras, dalits and the rajputs (to maintain their ruling status) converted to Islam. Brahmins and Vaishyas remained Hindu.

Abhishek
Jul 29, 2013 09:53am

@Ayush: That too to escape punishment for an embezzlement charge!

Abhishek
Jul 29, 2013 09:59am

@Pavan: Most of the conversions have indeed come from Sufi saints- in Kashmir, Punjab and Bengal. Some cases of extremism (say, once or twice a century, that too in medieval ages) doesn't mean all conversions were by force. Of course, the local Muslim kingdoms encouraged it and life became easier for converts- but they did not necessarily, categorically employed force. Also, it is ironic that in Pakistan, Sufism is being demonized today!

NaMo
Jul 29, 2013 10:19am

@Gautham:

The Arabs you're talking about were not poor and illiterate. Your prejudice is clearly showing. They were traders and a significant amount were wealthy. Indian kings actually invited Arabs to settle in their town to control and promote commerce.

NaMo
Jul 29, 2013 10:26am

@Sonal :

So Hindu/Indian culture respects woman and is very liberal?

Wow. I hope you were joking.

Michael Welsh
Jul 29, 2013 10:34am

@Abbastoronto: Man the guy who brainwashed u did an amazing job... I live in paris and trust me even muslim women do not want to wear hijab or niqab or whatever

BISWAJIT ROY
Jul 29, 2013 10:43am

@Sibte Hasan: very well said my friend

Shan
Jul 29, 2013 10:47am

@nfhassan: Only indian muslim love to go there

Manoj
Jul 29, 2013 10:51am

@Khalid: Ppl like you are the only hope for Pakistan.. God bless you..

Milind
Jul 29, 2013 10:59am

@nfhassan - "But still most of the Indians love to go even to Saudi for work "

That's called pragmatism / co-existence my friend... you learn to live and work with people who you don't like and with whom you don't share the same values/religion...

Still better than blowing them up.. as you're like-minded folks do.

BISWAJIT ROY
Jul 29, 2013 11:31am

@AbbasToronto: Indian's life expectancy is 67.48 years and pakistani's life expectancy is 66.71 years( Ref:CIA World Factbook). So here it proves my point life expectancy is nothing to do with religions. It clearly depends on economic prosperity and technological advance of a country. Come again after 10 years Indian's life expectancy will be similar to current china's life expectancy which is 74.99 because india is world second largest growing economy. So chill and have a scientific mind instead of a bigoted mind.

BISWAJIT ROY
Jul 29, 2013 11:37am

@nfhassan: Indians also love to go to Afghanistan, Nigeria, Ethiopia as well for work purpose so that does not mean indians have liking for these countries..u know poor people want to have means for living

Naveed
Jul 29, 2013 12:05pm

@Ashok: I am a Pakistani Muslim and I know for FACT that my forefathers were Brahamns from Kashmir but, I don't if they were "forced" to convert! I also took a part in a DNA study that confirmed the link! I have a lots of blood relatives in India who are Hindus, I have never met them but, I miss them. We are more alike than some of us would admit!

Anoop
Jul 29, 2013 12:09pm

@s.khan:

"It is a big mistake to equate Indian culture with hindu culture."

If Jackie Chan makes a Hollywood movie, the movie is still an American movie.

Similarly, Muslim contributions to Indian culture is still Indian culture. The same Muslims cannot contribute similarly in Saudi Arabia or Pakistan because the society doesn't allow them. It is because India, overwhelmingly Hindu with 80% Hindus, allows such freedoms that Aamir Khan can such movies. To simply attribute such individual success, which is a byproduct of a great gene(Indian in form), to being Muslim is grossly incorrect. Don't you agree?

Would Aamir Khan have made Rang De Basanti in Pakistan? Answer honestly..

dr vimal raina
Jul 29, 2013 12:13pm

The day when air comes out of saudi oil wells, trust me your ancestry will change.

Ishant
Jul 29, 2013 12:19pm

@Mustafa: What is "god made"?

Aadil Rauf, Pakistan
Jul 29, 2013 12:26pm

A long overdue article. Another example - at a mundane, low - but telling - level - is the conversion of Ramzan to Ramadan and Khuda Hafiz to Allah Hafiz.

Khaliud
Jul 29, 2013 01:27pm

@Chingari: LOL. This is too much common sense for us to handle. Did you not hear that a bunch of mullahs in Pakistan daclared that DNA can not be acceptable in courts!! :) Not only that, to find out if the month has started/ended, they look for the moon looking at the sky, because if they can't see it, there is no moon. You tell me if we really have to see it to believe that moon has been sighted, in 2013!!!. I have not heard anyone complain about it because it might be seen as unislamic to take advantage of the sciences (other than driving a car, watching TV, using Internet, living in airconditioned houses etc. etc.)

Sonal
Jul 29, 2013 02:18pm

@NaMo: It's extremely interesting to see that you automatically assume I'm Hindu/ Indian based on my username. I didn't mention Hinduism anywhere - why are you mixing that with my comment? :)

Anyway, I am a Hindu / Indian woman, and I can assert that I have NEVER felt that I haven't been respected (in the sense that you're implying). I cannot generalize for my whole country and religion - there are always exceptions - and I have never said that Hinduism is superior to Islam.

Just because you asked, can I just remind you that Hindu women don't need to wear the burqa, hijaab, or abaya - we can dress as we like. Hindu women can enter temples - we don't need to go to a separate section to pray to the same God. As a start, that makes us more liberal, doesn't it?

Iqbal Khan
Jul 29, 2013 02:23pm

It is true that lot of Pakistani's have Hindu and Sikh roots. However, did you forget that lot of Pakistani's are decedents of Central Asian migrants? The Sufi saints, like Ali Hajwari and Moeen undin chisti are direct examples. Did you know that Rampur in India is populated by Pathans? Maybe Elder Paracha (The one with Two Haj) was proud of his Hindu ancestry, but then there are Persian and Pathan's all over that you do not see. I agree that we should not import another culture, but to deny what we got is contradiction. Those who insist everything Arab are one extreme, and Paracha is the other extreme who think everyone in Pakistan has DNA all Hindu written on it.

Shahryar Shirazi
Jul 29, 2013 02:30pm

@dr vimal raina: Sir, this is the comment of the topic. Well said ... Shahryar

Shahryar Shirazi
Jul 29, 2013 02:34pm

@Aadil Rauf, Pakistan: This hurts me a lot. People like Amir Liaqat are making sure this change will take place. Next on the cards is Salat for Namaz and Soam for Roza. Last year on my way to Karachi from Dubai, I was amazed to see many elders wearing the arabic tobs ( or what ever its called) and they had dressed the kids with the arabic scarf on the head ( not sure what its called again) .

Gautham
Jul 29, 2013 03:09pm

@NaMo: Arabs were invited by Indian kings to 'Control' and promote commerce? Really? Which king had done it? I would like to know. Arabs were traders, yes. But they were never equals with Indian kings. I don't need to look very far not history as I know the Nizam of Hyderabad had a special battalion of Arabs for his personal protection and they reside in a locality called Barkas (barracks) even today. But I never heard or read of some Arab gentlemen in high positions in any Dunbar of any king worth knowing. There is no such thing as Arab culture before Arabs struck petrol. They were just fierce, nomadic tribes in the desert.

insomniac
Jul 29, 2013 03:34pm

[admin there's nothing offensive in my comments.. its just summary of the entire blog.. pls publish]

i can understand its tough for pakistanis to associate themselves from indians, indian heritage, culture, history etc amongst many other things...afterall thats what they were looking out for.. a different country, religion, culture, way of life.. etc.. hindi mein kahawat hain, agar aam ka paudha apne pedh se alag hoke yeh soch raha hain ki voh bada hoke seb ka pedh banega to yeh uski murkhta hogi... meaning - if a small stem of a mango tree after separating hopes to become a apple tree on his own then its quite stupid of him to think so... hope sense prevail one day and NFP doesn't have to write up another blog on similar lines..

Saifur Rahman
Jul 29, 2013 05:09pm

My thanks to Nadeem F Parch for such a beautiful article. Ethnically majority of Pakistanis are Indians-any Arab, Turkish or Persian ancestry goes to the rank of minority. The ancient history of Pakistan goes as follows: About 4500 years ago, a race called Aryans used to live in the steppes of Southern Russia (also known as Asia Minor). They were loose-knit network of tribes with common culture. Their language was Sanskrit and some of their gods resembles present day Hindu god and goddess such as: Agni, Varuna, Arjun, Monu, Devas etc. At certain point in history Aryan race started to migrate southward. One branch moved westward and settled in places like Iran, Greece, Turkey, Italy and Germany (remember how arrogant was Hitler because of his Aryan blood!). The branch that came to Iran and adjoining places gave rise to a religion called Zoroastrianism. The other branch migrated East towards India. They mixed with Indus valley civilization (currently in Pakistan) and ultimately colonized India particularly whole of Kashmir, Punjab and Uttar Pradesh. The aboriginal Indians were forced to migrate southward. The Aryan religion came in contact with hundreds of local religions giving birth to Hinduism. Hinduism in fact is not a religion, it is a collection of philosophies (describing ways of life). The original language that Aryan bought to India (Sanskrit) gave rise to some of the major Indian languages such as Hindustani (Hindi), Bengali, Urdu, Nepali, and Assamese etc. Many Pakistani might not like the idea, but historical truth is that, Urdu originated from a branch of Sanskrit language called Hindustani who

AS
Jul 29, 2013 05:12pm

@Sonal:

Not true. There are enough temples in India that deny access to women and 'lower castes'. Let's not generalise and start bashing others for the sake of it.

Swaranjit1934@hotmail.com
Jul 29, 2013 05:25pm

@Ashish: If all conversions are by force, coercion or falsehood, could u kindly explain how did the conversion of Buddhist India back to Hiduism take place? How did Hiduism spread to Java, Bali, Cambodia and Buddism toCentral Asia, China, Japan etc and even Christianity to Europe , South America, Africa and other parts of the world?Why talk of only Islam's spread as a result of use of force, coercion and falsehood? Use of force, might and conquest is part of the great game of humanity's expansion. It is our common heritage and we should therefore keep communal sanctimoniousness out of such discourse.

arif
Jul 29, 2013 07:07pm

@Darbullah: There are 15 million jews against 1200 million muslims, and it does not need to be told who is stronger.

Absar
Jul 29, 2013 07:39pm

However, after the 1971 East Pakistan debacle, the state with the help of conservative historians and ulema made a conscious effort to divorce Pakistan

Sonal
Jul 29, 2013 07:47pm

@AS: That's my piece of enlightenment for the day. Which temples don't allow women, apart from Sabarimala? I will be very interested in knowing. Thanks in advance!

I wasn't bashing for the sake of it - as I clearly mentioned in my comment - I only brought this up because I was challenged on something I didn't even mean to imply.

Ranga
Jul 29, 2013 08:00pm

@AS:

Right on!!

Sonal
Jul 29, 2013 08:03pm

@Saifur Rahman: Brilliant comment! Very informative!! Thanks for posting.

On another note, if we just apply some common sense then it's logical that Pakistanis are closer to Indians (sorry if this insults some Pakistanis) in terms of culture and ethnicity than they are to Arabs - Pakistan broke away from India after all, and the Muslims who decided not to leave Pakistan still live in India today, and are Indian by culture and ethnicity, not Arab!! Imagine if 10-13% of India now started saying they're Arab. That would be hilarious.

sameer
Jul 29, 2013 08:23pm

@Shahryar Shirazi:

I bet you have never seen Pakistani wearing Western dress

Ssssssh
Jul 29, 2013 09:07pm

Nadeem Paracha is a Gem .

Jalandhar
Jul 29, 2013 09:37pm

It is heartening to see that a mature conversation is occuring here. I dont know if this would be possible a few years ago. History is written by the victors. I know my ancestorys may have been buddhists as most of Punjab, NWFP and even Afghanistan was, then became hindu and then eventually became Sikh 5-6 generations ago. I grew up in Indian Punjab watching PTV (Does anyone remember Doordarshan broadcasts), Pakistan seemed so much more modern to us kids then and look at it now. The common man/woman on both sides of the border is more concerned with the work of providing for their families, less concerned with the cross border violence. I think religion in excess destroys humanity, religions are always started by reformers, stay true to the founders agenda for a few generations and then get hijacked by fanatics who then use religion to control the sheep. To my friends in Pakistan, the average Indian is as concerned about Pakistans destruction as colonizing Mars. So please work to improve your economy, modernize your country, love and respect the diversity in your country and your incredible heritage.

Pankaj
Jul 29, 2013 11:59pm

@Naveed: So, Now you know your true genetic linkages.......Why don't you take the matter further ? Try to find out under what circumstances, your forefathers had to leave their faith....This would be your true gratitude to your forefathers and may be helpful in unearthing hidden historical facts, that your mullahs never want you to know..

Pankaj
Jul 30, 2013 12:06am

@AS: Temples were public places and forbidding Shudras to enter was due to the fear of spread of humanly communicable diseases like plaque, haiza etc......But, in today's world when we have the remedy of these communicable diseases, this practice has been abandoned in 99% of Indian temples......Some hardcore puritans are still practicing it but, they will also change eventually with time as Hinduism is continuously evolving way of life...........

zbarlas@hotmail.com
Jul 30, 2013 12:33am

@Iqbal Khan: I agree with Iqbal Khan. We have our roots from Iran, Afghanistan, Turkey and Central Asia. My great grand parents migrated from Iran and settled down in India. I was born and raised in Pakistan. I am now living in Houston, Texas. Last week, I was eating at a restaurant, a middle aged Persian lady came up to my table and started speaking with my in Persian language. I told her I am not Persian, I dont know any Persian word!! She looked at my with surprise and said, 'But you look just like a Persian woman from Iran".

Ram
Jul 30, 2013 12:58am

There is saying in western countries "if it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, quack like a duck probably it is a duck"

you don't need history book, you just need a mirror look at yourself and decide

Rasheedsiddiqui
Jul 30, 2013 01:31am

Who are you? or you can say What are you? This is a question is posed often by the people who think themselves at an advantageous position and want to be-little others. Look in Sind and their people. If you want to trace back their origin, you may find hundreds ethinicities i.e. Arabs, Mangols, turks, Afghanis, Punjabis, Baluchs, Africans, and go on counting and afterthat their subs. Same situation is for England. Hundreds tribes from neighbouring countries continued pouring in and then all intermingled. I am Siddiqui from Quresh from city of Mecca but now I am Pakistani in all respect. You have to see only the PRESENT and that's all.Example: A day may come when Parachas go to settle down in US their children/grand children born raised there may consider themselves as American.

Javed
Jul 30, 2013 01:35am

Apple that falls farthest from the tree rots faster.

Khalid
Jul 30, 2013 02:06am

@s.khan: Equality in Muslim societies?. Name me one Muslim society where you find equality?. About time we woke up.I have been to around 80 countries and the only societies that can claim to have equality are non-Muslims.

Shahryar Shirazi
Jul 30, 2013 06:00am

@sameer: Come to Pakistan my friend - will show you plenty :)

Ashish
Jul 30, 2013 06:19am

I've heard many responses that seem to suggest that since Hindus are still in large numbers, so the conversions must have been peaceful. Or for that mater, any violent conversions must be 100% to be considered violent.

There are yet others who seem to think since their religion is associated with sword, other religions incl. Hinduism would also have spread by sword. Hinduism does not believe in conversions, does not believe in a single path to salvation (I am good you're bad concept), so where does a question of conversion by force arise?

There are still others who believe that their forefathers converted since they were being mistreated by their fellow Hindus. Well, good luck with that logic. The same system more-or-less does exist today, but each of the groups has outperformed the other across very sector, and the poorest of the poor also come from each of these.

It is absolutely fine to identify oneself with the peaceful Nadir Shahs and the Ghaznis, who arrived here primarily for charitable purposes and to convert the uncultured Buddhas and Mahatma Gandhis of this land, and to consider them your role models. To me they were the looters.

K B Kale
Jul 30, 2013 07:33am

Kudos to Nadeemsahab for a wonderful article. I have been working in Indonesia for some 18+ years. As many of you may be knowing, Indonesia has world's biggest Muslim population, about 94% of its 250 millions! As I was interested in the history of Indonesia which I call my second home, I bought a book on its history in English by a Dutch author. According to this book, Islam was introduced to this area (starting with a Malaysian port along the strait of Molucca) by Muslim traders from Surat in Gujarat! I am no expert in history of Islam, but I am sure many Pakistani people may be already knowing this information & I am keen to know more from all of you.

dr vimal raina
Jul 30, 2013 08:08am

All I want to say is 'brothers' your and our ancestry is the same. If you deny that, trust me I could care less. It hurts you more than it can ever hurt me.

Navin
Jul 30, 2013 10:53am

I never understand the Pakistani obsession of calling themselves Arab and Indian obsession of saying its not true. as an Indian last thing i expect is coercing someone into calling themselves Indian. we south Asians have some real inferiority complexes really..

Muhammad
Jul 30, 2013 11:22am

I was born in Pakistan but I have been living in UK for a long time and am a naturalised British citizen. I had taken part in a genealogy project run by National Geographic's and had my DNA tested. They reported back that my Paternal DNA has originated in North Africa and travelled all the way from there to Sub-continent where it resides these days. Their findings were that all humans originated from Africa. That makes us all Africans :-)

Zahid Raza
Jul 30, 2013 12:30pm

I recall a concluding remarks of Pervez Hoodbhae in one of his article while mentioning that Khuda Hafiz is being replaced with Allah Hafiz , that, '' Now Arabian God has overtaken Persian God''

cameo
Jul 30, 2013 01:25pm

I heard a very similar story about my ancestors i.e. Arain. That they were farmers from Yemen and moved to India with Muhammad Bin Qasim. I still remember one of uncle telling me very confidently as if he was actually there.Looking at the arid land of Arabia now, it doesn't look like they had much agriculture over there.

It such a shame that instead of relating to the rich heritage of the Indian sub-continent and Indus valley Civilization we want to relates to the nomads of Arabia. Majority of whom consider us as 2nd class human beings. Any doubts visit Dubai airport

On a side note, these people of Indus Valley didn't build palaces and monuments for their kings but well planned cities for their people. We had covered drains for waste water 4-5000 years back, Palace of Versailles didn't even have toilets 300 years back.

cameo
Jul 30, 2013 01:47pm

We have such a distorted view of the history. If you ask anybody in Pakistan Sher Shah Suri would be hailed as a Muslim hero and conqueror. As Pakistani we also believe that Mughals were the great Muslim rulers of the sub-continent. What a vast majority doesn't know or don't want to think about is what these great Muslim ruler doing fighting each other.

Could it just be lust of Power and riches??

imran
Jul 30, 2013 04:07pm

and now Dawn is trying to rewrite the history again.I dont care who were my ancestors when I am a nobody.

dr vimal raina
Jul 30, 2013 04:08pm

On both sides of the border, if we walk donned in the flowing white ARABIC wardrobe with the angelic ring on the head, and a car driven rash on the subcontinent potholed road throws up mud on our attire, the superlative abuses common to both our genes that come out at spinal level being same, shows that we are going to a fancy show.

Pradip B Ravi
Jul 30, 2013 06:00pm

@Saifur Rahman: Dear Saifur, I do not agree with the first part of Aryan settlement into Indian Subcontinent, this has been disproved by genetic studies and gene mapping, only linguists are supporting this theory - but their stance is eroding day by day with greater information from Archaeology and finding of indigenous horse bones in Indus Valley - which proves that horses were indigenous to Indian subcontinent.

dr vimal raina
Jul 30, 2013 06:02pm

Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.....Quiet....The Saudi imam is coming!

Khalid
Jul 30, 2013 07:39pm

@zbarlas@hotmail.com: And I was stopped at an airport in Sweden asking me if I was a Colombian!!!. So what?. Doesn't make me a Colombian....does it?

Nidhi
Jul 30, 2013 08:14pm

@Saifur Rahman: Aryan Invasion of India is a myth. pls refer to the following link- http://www.archaeologyonline.net/artifacts/aryan-harappan-myth.html

Hasan
Jul 30, 2013 08:15pm

@cameo: beautifully put sir

Sonal
Jul 30, 2013 08:45pm

@Navin:

Indians aren't obsessed with saying Pakistanis are not Arab - sorry!!! I think most Indians don't even know Pakistanis consider themselves Arab, and the ones who do don't really care.

Why would any Indian want a Pakistani to call himself / herself Indian? Pakistanis are Pakistanis - even if some of us share the same ethnicity / culture!

K B Kale
Jul 30, 2013 09:36pm

Kudos to Nadeemsahab for a wonderful article. I have been working in Indonesia for some 18+ years. As many of you may be knowing, Indonesia has world's biggest Muslim population, about 94% of its 250 millions! As I was interested in the history of Indonesia which I call my second home, I bought a book on its history in English by a Dutch author. According to this book, Islam was introduced to this area (starting with a Malaysian port along the strait of Molucca) by Muslim traders from Surat in Gujarat! I am no expert in history of Islam, but I am sure many Pakistani people may be already knowing this information & I am keen to know more from all of you.

Tahera
Jul 30, 2013 10:09pm

A link of a dawn article for Mr. Paracha; http://dawn.com/news/1032964/sixty-six-shades-of-green

Ganesh Venkatasubramaniam
Jul 31, 2013 12:23am

@zbarlas@hotmail.com: Interesting, when I was in Las Vegas for a vacation, an Iranian cab driver greeted me "asalam alai kum" I replied to him " wah alai kum asalam".. he asked which part of persia/iran.

I said I am a South Indian Brahmin... it doesnt matter dear... end of the day what matters is how human you are .. maybe something is good abt Arabs or persians we can learn.. we Indians learn and expand intellectually, that's what majority of nationality also do..

Beenish
Jul 31, 2013 01:53am

Great article. Am glad that we have 'finally' started talking about this issue in open.

Ajit Kumar Das
Jul 31, 2013 07:56am

I read this illuminating article in The Asian Age. But I thought I must post my comments in Dawn for my Pakistani friends. Assimilation is an art that strengthens cultural identity and blossoms human personality. I would like to quote a poem by Dereck Walcott describing himself thus: I'm just a red nigger who love the sea I have a sound colonial education I have Dutch, nigger and English in me, and either I'm nobody or I'm a nation.

ssf
Jul 31, 2013 08:59am

When people respond/reply to a comment in Dawn that creates a discussion between people but Dawn spreads those replies all over the place so the reply to a comment has no significance. The previous format which is practiced in most newspapers makes sense.