The convenient curtain of myth

Published Nov 14, 2009 09:58am

Recently, I met some jihadis who have been in the business of holy war since the 1990s. I was surprised to hear that even though they were in support of the jihad in Afghanistan and Kashmir, they were opposed to the idea of destabilising Pakistan itself. When asked who was responsible for the suicide bombings and target killings they had an overarching theory to explain the tricky business. According to them, India, the United States, and Israel had colluded resources to create a super-agency to dishevel this entire region. Though they admitted that convincing a hardened jihadi that the government of Pakistan was also part of the enemy collaborative wasn't too much of a stretch, they also added that a true jihadi would not be involved in the killing of innocent people.

Surprisingly enough, this whole India-US-Israel theory has a lot of popular currency these days in Pakistan, a country whose national sports should be lounge room politics and conspiracy theorising instead of cricket and hockey. The myriad of television talk-shows on every news channel are heavily relying on this theory of a triangulated axis of evil out to destroy Islam and Pakistan with one nifty stone's throw of insurgent terror.

I don't mean to dampen Pakistan's highly built up superiority complex laced with self pity at the whole world’s always being out to get us, but has anyone ever thought of questioning why we always situate Pakistan at the centre of our world view? It is true that Pakistan is in the news a lot these days, and that the location of our borders in terms of resources and trade routes present significant geopolitical interests. But isn't it a bit much to consider the current conflict in terms of issues that lie beyond the immediately obvious uses of Pakistan's soil, and therefore hurl the current conflict in to the realm of myth and conspiracy?

Islamic mythology has obviously played a huge role in the formation of our national identity. It is telling that the history books we're taught in school start from Mohenjodaro and Harappa, jump to the life of the Prophet in pagan Arabia, and then an interlude of early Islamic history until the likes of Muhammad bin Qasim finally brings Islam to the subcontinent. After that, the Muslim personalities involved in South Asian politics are closely followed up until the creation of Pakistan as a homeland for the Muslims.

Given this strange mix of religious indoctrination and nationalist propaganda, it isn't a shock that our national identity is hopelessly intertwined with religion. The great ups and downs of our history are also then viewed though the mirror image of early Islamic Arabian history, starting with the Partition of 1947 where the oppressed Muslims in the land of infidels partake in a hijrah-like migration to greener pastures. This is also responsible for similar coinages as mohajir's for people who migrated from the other side of the border, and of course the Muttahida Quami Movement as well. Looking across the border with the same deeply rooted scepticism through which we historically view pagan Mecca also comes with the national identity combo-meal.

After two wars with our neighbour that have been cloaked in the same historical-identity mirror as jihads which the Prophet Muhammad participated in – the 1965 war, where a small number of Muslims beat a larger threatening army of infidels akin to the scenario in Jang-e-Badar, and the 1971 war being similar to Jang-e-Uhad, where the Muslims suffered heavy losses owing to their greed and indiscipline. Kargil would then be seen as the Battle of the Trench, had it not ended with such a national disaster.

The idea of martyrdom has been historically very close to these times of crisis when national unity is a must. The list of the dozen or so shaheeds who gave their life for the country is also present in every textbook. Unfortunately, the idea of the martyr as a member of Pakistan's armed forces has become one that is hotly contested in recent times, as the right to declare a martyr isn’t the sole prerogative of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. The ISPR's version of a shaheed in Waziristan is diametrically opposed to that of the TTP's version of shaheed.

The same mujahids who valiantly fought in Kashmir and Afghanistan for Islam and Pakistan, seem to have turned on the Islamic Republic as the very fabric of propaganda which binds Islam with Pakistan is ruptured beyond repair. With the popularly elected government being portrayed as infidel rule propped up by the Americans, and the culture of the modern, westernised elites is labeled as shamelessness and excessive debauchery, it seems we're caught in the middle of a storm where the hero can no longer be told apart from the enemy.

For decades, the enemy image coined in our heads has been that of the Islam-hating, darker-skinned Hindu at the eastern edge of our border. One can imagine how much violence the average Pakistanis' worldview must have been subjected to when the heroic mujahid suddenly became the enemy, in less than a decade. A painful readjustment of the conventional enemy image is needed in order to re-galvanize the nation behind these destroyers of the idea of Pakistan.

This interesting transposition was evident in an armed forces award ceremony in which shaheeds from the current conflict were inducted into the ranks of those martyred in Pakistan's conventional wars. The reenacted footage telegraphing each incident showed a mysterious tribal as the concealed enemy. The army also seems to be relying on foreigners being involved in the tribal areas as a way to distance the conflict from civil strife. The circulation of reports of large containers of alcohol belonging to Uzbek militants also seems to be a way of distancing Islam from the enemy.

However, it appears that instead of reevaluating things through a more rational approach, we've stuck to our patchwork quilt of mythological identity through a couple of quick-and-easy adjustments. As a matter of convenience for our security establishment, the principal enemy obviously remains India. But those polygamous infidels couldn't possibly be the solely responsible for such an ingenious plan that redirects our tactics against them and literally brings the country to its knees? No, that's not possible. So who could they possibly be in cahoots with?

Once again the answer is conveniently available from early Islamic Arabia, where the Meccan pagans were conspiring with scheming Jewish tribes. A simple transposition of the historical onto our mythological identity yields the result of India and Israel collaborating for the destruction of Pakistan, with the US sitting on the fringes like the Holy Roman Empire.

I think it's time we quit hiding behind the convenient curtain of myth, and take the bitter pill of reality. For once, for that might help us frame this conflict in more rational terms and possibly lead us closer to a solution, rather than further feeding propaganda to the conflict. If the present reasoning of global evils out to destroy Islam and Pakistan continues, then the only answer is the apocalyptic war which is talked about in fringe mythologies related to the arrival of the Antichrist.

The last thing we want is for this to be a self-fulfilling prophecy! We need to step away from viewing this as a clash of civilisations, in terms of Islam versus the West. This is a misinformed dichotomy, since the West is not a religion, and Islam isn't a geographical location. The more hopelessly intertwined our nationality becomes with a faux mythology, the more susceptible it becomes to being hijacked by those wishing to extract temporary gains from this vulnerability.

asifakhtar80x80
Lahore-based Asif Akhtar is interested in critical social discourse as well as the expressive facets of reactive art and is one of the schizophrenic narrators of a graphic novel. He blogs at http://e-scape-artist.blogspot.com/ and tweets at http://twitter.com/e_scape_artist.

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Comments (205) Closed




R S JOHAR
Nov 17, 2009 01:01pm
Well done Asif, you are another Nadeem in making but it would take some time to reach his level of journalism. The situation in Pakistan is indeed complex but resolve and reselience of its people can take them out of it.
Naazer
Nov 14, 2009 12:50pm
Good article and well written. Just a point that you need to better research what you write or at least use the correct numbers: 'The list of the dozen or so shaheeds who gave their life for the country is also present in every textbook'. The shaheeds were a lot more. Perhaps you meant the recipients of the highest award for valour: The Nishan-e-Haider.
Shan Rizvi
Nov 14, 2009 12:51pm
Excellent article. I suppose our people love to be in denial and always take the easy way out, just so long as it keeps them from accepting the bitter reality. For them, there is just one amazing answer that answers every question: It is a conspiracy.
TR
Nov 14, 2009 01:27pm
An interesting read. However, one look at the article and I knew there would be more responses / Appreciation / Advices from across the border then within. A positive article will find these people absent. The same article if written in our "neighboring nation" by one of their "enlightened writer/Blogger" would have been greeted with a severe backlash by these same people appreciating this article. Obsession and hatred is common on both sides fueled by the corrupt politicians and out of control media. Pakistan's problems are its own and InshahAllah will be resolved by its own people. If someone thinks that Taliban actually has enough support to take over Pakistan then I might as well be playing soccer with aliens on Mars.
Suresh
Nov 14, 2009 01:31pm
I would like to call the creed of Asif's a "fresh generation" of Pakistan, who are not at all willing to take the old argument. I think, this and coming generation should be carefully isolated from the old so called missed generation or the brain washed, so that in years to come fresh and independent ideas will take over the obscurantist.
Abdullah Hussain
Nov 14, 2009 11:43am
Asif Akhtar, the author says: After two wars with our neighbour that have been cloaked in the same historical-identity mirror as jihads which the Prophet Muhammad participated in
Bhimappa Hegade, India
Nov 14, 2009 08:22am
Well its a some better article except old myth ideology etc. Pakistan and Afghanistan are moderate countries, sized population with abundant natural resources especially in Pakistan. America calling every body to "Save Pakistan, Help Pakistan". think twice who is responsible for this, is it a love or some thing else. If Pakistan never allow any foreign interference since the beginning, it would have become robust nation than any neighboring countries. Don't believe foreigner and not depend upon them. Win the hearts of the country men. I don't trust airing words like extremism and hardliners, who made them? its not sin to follow our religious values.
Ullas
Nov 14, 2009 11:04am
Make no mistake. There's only one phrase for what is going on in Pakistan today : Civil-war. Moderate Islamist's are fighting Fundamentalists. What is more important than who wins is : Who do the people want to see win ? If a majority of Pakistanis want the Taliban to win then just pause for a moment and imagine what life would be under the Taliban: No freedom for women, restricted (possibly madrassa-style) education, harsh punishment for petty crimes, a Zimbabwe-style economy that shrinks everyday, enmity with all its neighbors and more. Overnight Pakistan would turn into a place that its citizens would want to flee and no outsider would want to come to. It is for Pakistan to choose.
Realist
Nov 14, 2009 10:28am
I agree wholeheartedly with the author. His basic reasoning is correct. Taking this further, the fundamental flaw lies in the mindset of the Muslim Pakistani's belief in the two nation theory. Little does this type of Pakistani know that success of such a 'theory' should have conversely first proven the success of a 'one nation' theory i.e success of its religion as the binding force'. The formation of Bangladesh outright negates this theory in to two Period. Infact morally & legitimately it is Bangladesh, then 64% of population, that should rightfully bear the name Pakistan, NOT the present western wing as it now exists!. The OIC is a vivid testament to this failure of 'religious bonding' concept - and further, that all of Pakistan's neighbors are at loggerheads with it only further strengthens this assertion. No wonder the only 'brother' country of Pakistan is China with whom it shares one common 'binding' factor i.e its anti Indian. And ironically while the professed islamic nations are further drifting apart! it is the shaitan westerners ie europe that have/ are merging together! So until this basic change in mindset is not made, the more the Pakistani nation tries to wriggle out of its self-inflicted mess (from birth), the more irredemably entangled it gets.
Amarnath
Nov 14, 2009 08:19am
Nice article Asif. It is hoped that your article inspires more common Pakistani's to question before believing the information that they are presented. And that Indians get to know that there are voices which question the credibility of authority. It heartens to see dawn publishing such forthright articles. I have been following dawn for a year or so. I find more and more articles that are questioning the beliefs laid by the all powerful Pakistani establishment and make people (both Indians and Pakistanis) THINK. Whenever I read articles as these, I am tempted to relate these articles to a saying in sanskrit. "May the light illuminate our intellect".
shiva sundar
Nov 14, 2009 08:12am
Very well written article. I have commented in the past also, what Pakistan needs today is good sound education. Once the masses are educated the clergy will not be able to fool and pollute the innocent minds with religious believe. What the nation needs is good economy to survive and not an overdose of religion. Religion at best can be a guide to a disciplined life but it cannot and should not become the be all and end all of life. Also please understand neither Indians nor Israelis nor the Americans are out to destroy Pakistan. Pakistan is self destructing only the people of Pakistan can save themselves and their country.
Saad
Nov 14, 2009 05:16am
A little bit too self demeaning. Yes Pakistan has its share of the crazies but most people are starting to realize that these people are Pakistani this is clearly evident in the polls that support the military operation in Waziristan.
ashutosh
Nov 14, 2009 06:53am
Hi asif nice article. Here are few of the reasons why I feel that Pakistan will lose decisively. First the idea of Pakistan is against a law of nature. The idea that Punjabi, Bengali, sindhi, pashtun, baloch and urdu speaking people based on their similar muslim identity will create a strong bond and unity to create a healthy nation is wrong. The more you try to bring similar sides of two magnets together, the more they fall apart. You need equally strong opposite side\views (minorities) to keep two magnets together. Unfortunately for Pakistan, the state has systematically annihilated its minorities (opposite view) thus digging its own grave. In India and other plural democratic states, the minorities play a healthy complimentary role by giving an opposite view, keeping check and balance on any extreme or radical state policy. Hence they save us from monotonous growth. Power is distributed to all levels. It avoids concentration of power. And as you know. Absolute power corrupts absolutely. Pakistan has successfully for decades created a fear and hatred for non-Muslims among its Muslim masses. Initially it worked for Pakistan, but now onwards you will pay a very heavy price for it. To give a similar example; in India the state of West Bengal is ruled by communists. For more then two decades they had systematically curbed the capitalist
Vd
Nov 14, 2009 05:43am
Wow, a remarkably insightful and honest article. I wish many in Pakistan read this.
GP65
Nov 14, 2009 06:28am
Army has valiantly fought in Bajaur, Swat and now South Waziristan. The intensity and frequency of terror attacks meanwhile continues to grow. Where all the army go next North Waziristan, South Punjab? Do we feel that terror can be eliminated this way? Or could some of the choices an ordinary citizen makes be directly creating this terror? In that case is it time to evaluate each one makes individually? People who willingly put money in charity boxes of jihadi outfits have to ask themselves ' Could this money fund an AK47 that could be used in my neighbourhood? ' People who send their kids to madrassah have to ask themselves, is this a well regulated madrassah that is truly guiding the youth about Islam or is it one of those factories of hatred and I may lose my child to a terrorist movement? Is the mindset of supporting jihad but opposing terrorists viable? Are the men and money involved in both not interchangeable?
Shiva
Nov 14, 2009 06:11am
Good article. Any reform, if at all felt needed, has to start with a revolutionary change in attitude and mindset of the young, as well as a "secular" education which treats everyone in this world as equals. All these years of fertilizing their minds with the idea of "believers" vs. "infidels" and "us" vs "them" has poisoned probably two whole generations of youth into thinking themselves as a supremacist force at constant loggerheads with the rest of the world. And never discard old cultural past and history. Once that idea changes, the world will surely be a better place.
Ahmed Jamil Khan
Nov 14, 2009 06:11am
What a shame bit of a pressure and writer is questing the roots of this nation, your national identity and our belief system. Mr Akhtar clash of civilizations debate is old and has been around ever since and in recent time started by President Bush and Osama-bin-laden, not Pakistani's. If you think a country and a nation can stay safe while keeping itself pure in today
NASAH
Nov 14, 2009 06:14am
Pakistan is the prime victim of its own myth making -- that is the entire non Muslim world is out and out to get it except perhaps a selfless philanthropist China. That's why when an Islamic university is suicide-bombed by the Talibans for being a place of education the students protest against the US. That is why when the veteran diplomats, experienced journalists, columnist and blogger who suggest that Pakistan's salvation lies in FRIENDSHIP with India they are made to appear suspicious characters working for Indian interests. As if Pakistan's interests lie in its enmity with its neighbors especially with India.
lucky
Nov 14, 2009 07:05am
I think Pakistan needs to be ruled by taliban for few years. Since Pakistan had also faced martial law. And after that only they can decide what they want and where they are heading to.
Pervez
Nov 14, 2009 07:32am
An excellent article, a rare one. One only wishes that it could be re-written in an idiom of Nawa-i-Waqat and Jang. Well done Asif Akhatr, I am excited by your being there. However, the challenge is to get into a dialogue with the 'unconvinced.'
verming
Nov 14, 2009 07:18am
Jews and Hindus have not much time for the nation Pakistan. In any case why should we ( Hindus and Jews ) waste our resources on you when your nation is quite capable of taking Pakistan down.
Parminder Singh
Nov 14, 2009 09:58am
Nice to see some one talking rational stuff from Pakistan. One word of advice to you dude, you are wasting your efforts as the comments to your article shows! Its always the Indian agencies which are seen as the trouble makers in Pakistan. I Appreciate and respect you for writing and honest and truthful subject. peace for all.
Saud Usmani
Nov 14, 2009 08:09am
Brushing aside all curtains of myth, my good friend as he has written "reevaluating things through a more rational approach" if you can elaborate the core issues, it would be more helpful and interesting for the readers. What you have written is out of frustration and agony of being helpless spectator. Good article in terms of theoretical philosophy of nations but far from reality. If it is not Islam or Pakistan 'they' are against and if our neighbors are not the 'foes' as we were told since the day one, and if there is no international conspiracy, who are 'THEY' the one who are pulling strings? If all is myth then why we are in state of war for past 30 year? Proxy, direct or indirect we are part of it and we are paying the price. Martyrdom or not, uniformed or in black turbans, in remote mountains or in cities we are loosing our loved ones, killing has become an every day story. Can you tell me any rational perspective for looking at things other then Mythological 'Islamic and Nationalistic perspective'?
Ali Agha
Nov 14, 2009 08:42am
Asif, you seem to have met only 0.1 % of the Pakistanis who are struggling to create new conspiracy's every day, they have a permanent acting role on all TV shows as Psuedo Intellectuals, not realizing the actual intellectuals watching them on TV can only compliment their acting on live talk shows. Personally, I feel Pakistan Military has taken a strategic decision to fight against these radicals, who were earlier could not be defeated by Russians or Americans. We must accept the fact that Pakistan is located on the map, which has been a focus of Super Powers for quite sometime for whatever odd reasons, but the fact of the matter is that we have become its victim. India, till today has not digested the fact that Pakistan has come into being, and despite their size 8 times bigger than Pakistan, they like to remain our arch rival. In last sixty years, against all the odds, Russians, Afghani's, Israeli's, Indian's and American interest in our strategic depth, we have come up with number of great initiatives and have proven the world that, given the chance for stability, we can come out very strong, and InshAllah, we will. Please do not pay attention to conspiracy as they'll never die. We are in living with the reality of an ongoing war - already fought couple of wars and still growing.
Thurzan
Nov 14, 2009 08:49am
The writer
Samwise
Nov 14, 2009 08:25am
A very good article. I am however intrigued by the statement - "But those polygamous infidels (from India) couldn
shaukat chughtai
Nov 14, 2009 09:28am
Asif, again I would like to say that Islam teaches dignity of human beings and Holy Prophets saying for universal brotherhood. Let us develop our socio-economic and political system, educate the masses. All myths must be washed out from the proletariat brains. Let them show the mirror and introduce real Islamic principles where human dignity and universal brotherhood is more important than anything else.
I E
Nov 14, 2009 09:45am
It's not bad to explore all possible explanations of what is happening around you. But, in the end one has to evaluate them considering at least what kind of backgrounds these views coming from. If so many educated people around you are saying fault mainly lies within, there has to be some truth. Why then common people continue to believe the theories of seemingly closed minded, novice conspiracy theorist ? I think progressive, open-mined thinkers such as Asif Akhtar, even though right, will have to find some way to make common people realize truth without making them feel guilty and inferior.
shaukat chughtai
Nov 14, 2009 09:09am
Woh Jumley ada karta hai aisey dhab say k mairy afkar kee bunyad hala deyta hai. Asif. It is a great article. Continue, I hope you will do better than this. We must concur that we are nation belonging to Pakistan. First we should believe in nationhood. That is important. Why we should be a fort to fight wars for Islamic countries, what concern we have to voice for Palestine. Let them figure out what they want and how they want. Why Pakistani clergy should shout here. We have to develop our own country, our generations have to live. We have to revisit our myths and so many other beliefs.
Hasan
Nov 14, 2009 09:44am
"This is a misinformed dichotomy, since the West is not a religion, and Islam isn
Jehangir
Nov 14, 2009 09:45am
Unless the myth of renaissance of Islamic conquers is not broken with the realization that it is 21st century and history is not cyclic but flag bearers of obscurant ideologies will continue to emerge who are being taught by their master minds to take the responsibility of upholding Islam upon their shoulders and expect paradise in reward. These so called soldiers of God mostly belong to the poorest of the poorest segment of society who usually fall prey in the hands of those promoting jihad.
pasha
Nov 14, 2009 09:46am
There is a serious problem with Islamic ideology circulating in Pakistan. The problem is beyond repair and state is failing. One can only pray. I am not seeing any responsible and influence leader in whole Pakistan, which can compensate some sort of damage. Even Mr Asif Akhtar wrote in it's article words like "infidel hindus". Is he able to tolerate words like this against Muslims?
Sunil Gautam
Nov 14, 2009 10:07am
Great article, Asif. And I am not saying it only because you have been critical of Pakistan and I am an Indian. Individuals pay for their mistakes. And if those individuals happen to be in charge of a nation, the nation suffers too. Indira Gandhi paid the price of first creating, then abandoning militant Sikh leaders. Rajiv Gandhi paid the price of turning his back on the LTTE. It did not matter that he didn't start the problem, he was there at the wrong turn of events. Both Pakistan and India have had their share of dubious leaders but Pakistan edges ahead. Being a military man and a political leader, Your ex-president has created such a mess that no one knows who is killing whom anymore. He has created a problem so big that we are no longer shocked at the magnitude of the clashes between Pakistani army and militants. With the kind of ammunition used, it would be called a war except that both groups belong to the same country. And when such a person happens to be in charge of a country, the results are bound to be catastrophic. I hope the current leaders are strong in their resolve to clear this mess without looking for other nations to blame. Even if others are involved, the solution still has to come from within.
Omar
Nov 14, 2009 10:09am
Good article Asif, Please keep up the good ideas and dialogue. We started to slip into our current abyss once we lost our ability to articulate ideas freely and to be able to laugh at ourselves. Both are essential. Changing gears, as a Pakistani I don't find the article demeaning at all. Once we start asking the tough questions we will start getting some answers. Questioning the purpose and direction of the nation in no way undermines one's patriotism. The same applies to our interpretation and practice of our religion.
DG
Nov 14, 2009 11:29am
Thanks for an honest insight. To the readers who are still not convinced I have a few observations. 1. Inspite the fact that there are numerous Islamic countries or countries with Muslim majority, it is Pakistan which is mostly related and vocal and active for anything related to Islam. It is though, Pakistan is the most violent voice of Islam today. 2. Most of the terrorisms of the world has some thread going through Pakistan. 3. The economically powerful Islamic states do not allow non state / pseudo state actors to create anarchy and havoc in other countries in the name of religion. 4. Similar countries can only be compared with the most impoverished states in Africa. Frankly the present state may lead to implosion and similar situation. 5. Like communism, Pakistan is always looking for conspiracy theories for excuse. And this has been built into the nation psychology. What is the way out ? It requires 180 degree rotation, which is very difficult. Still can we as people of this subcontinent create a pressure group for the following : 1. Create modern education system (with one subject on religion with modern society in mind) 2. Start questioning the basis of conspiracy theories. Ask for validated proofs. There are good educated people who can verify 3. Focus more on economy. Best wishes
diwakar
Nov 14, 2009 11:41am
Good to read some sensible thoughts from Pakistani brother. We Indians have accepted the existence of Pakistan. So we wish country and people of Pakistan prosper and be rich in education, money and mind. We hope Pakistan will overcome its difficulties soon and will be able to live as a nation contributing to world peace.
Imran Bhatt
Nov 14, 2009 12:29pm
You write 'I think it
Sunny, Germany
Nov 14, 2009 12:29pm
I wish the people of Pakistan to come out of the phobia created by the Mullahs and other vested Politicians-India bashing for all the bad things happening in Pakistan. Remember, it is after all the locals/ Pakistanis who are doing all this and who have been caught red handed planning such terrorist activities. Biggest enemy to Pakistan are the Mullahs(majority) who have to be exposed. Great and honest article !!!
O. Yousaf-zai
Nov 14, 2009 11:59am
Asif, We need to start a movement for the secularization of statehood in Pakistan. State should not have a religion. Now I am not saying all of the Muslim population should become atheists etc. But just that religion should be a personal matter. I think this way the religious rights of ALL the segments of the population will be safeguarded including most importantly the sectarian minorities. Pakistan needs to be a Democratic Republic rather than an 'Islamic Republic'. But this is I think wishful thinking as we are too emotionally tied up with the notions of religious identity so much so that this identity takes hold of all aspects of social life especially national identity. O. Yousaf-zai
Alam
Nov 14, 2009 12:03pm
Good Article. This is the dilemma with not only Pakistanis living in Pakistan but I have seen very educated Pakistanis living abroad in UK, having the same psychotic believes. These delusions are fixed and unshakable, even the massive destruction done in their country by their holy warriors cant make any difference. They still believe in that's its a conspiracy against them by their neighbors or someone else.
Pradeep
Nov 14, 2009 01:36pm
Good to see that there are some people taking up the liberal cause in Pakistan. Kudos. "polygamous infidels" - Is this how Hindus are thought of in Pakistan? Very amusing indeed. Let me put that myth to rest too. In India, it is illegal for a Hindu to have more than one wife. This restriction is not extended to Muslims by their religion. Hope that this is at least one positive point for the secular cause of India.
A S Mann
Nov 14, 2009 01:37pm
Congratulations Asif, I read your article with interest and commend you for your honesty and insight. It is all to easy and frankly intellectually lazy to all ways point the finger at someone else for all your troubles. What is needed is some critical insight and introspection similar to the qualities you have displayed in your writing. Religious dogma can not form the basis of a secular multi cultural, progressive democratic nations, which I firmly believe is the future. Religion should be a personal matter to give moral guidance and sustenance and not a tool for selfish elites to brainwash destitute people into committing acts of terrorism to further their own vested interests. People wake up.
SA
Nov 14, 2009 01:38pm
Hi Asif, Firstly, although you have written a through provoking article, please refrain from using historical references if you are unfamiliar with history. The Holy Roman Empire did not exist at the time of the emergence of Islam. The state you are referring to is the Eastern Roman Empire which existed in the eastern Mediterranean. The Holy Roman Empire was the continuation of the empire of Charlemagne and it was located in Germany and central Europe. Secondly, it would be a good idea for progressive writers, such as you, to publish their views in Urdu language daily newspapers. That way you would gain greater exposure amongst the people who really need to be woken up to the dangers facing Pakistan. At present, by writing on a liberal, English language publication, you are limiting your exposure and in some sense preaching to the choir. This is because most readers are already aware of the dangers. So please, if you wish to put your journalistic talents to good use, publish in Urdu and reach out to the common man. I look forward to reading your articles in the future. SA
Johar
Nov 14, 2009 01:47pm
The answer is in the following question: Who is gaining from the whole conflict including suicide bombing?
Mohammed
Nov 14, 2009 01:54pm
Thurzan says: "...For people who give examples of Indian liberalism, a look at the plight of the Muslims there at the present time makes one realize why Pakistan was created in the first place." Indian liberalism created APJ Abdul Kalam, Azim Premji, Sania Mirza, Azaharuddin, A R Rahman and the little Muslim kids in Slumdog Millionaire, Shahrukh Khan, should I go on? You do seem to take your conspiracy theories seriously, Thurzan. Even you will have to admit that the plight of Muslims in India is far better than that of Muslims in Pakistan. We (I am a Muslim, you may please yourself by thinking I am a Hindu hiding under a Muslim name) have a much cozier life than Muslims in most Muslim countries. Our women are free to reach their full potential in life. Muslims have reached greater heights in science, business, politics and any other field you may wish to name than Muslims in many Islamic countries. I am sure our literacy and educational levels are much better than Muslims in Pakistan. Yes we do have some to muddy the picture once in a while. But our Prime Minister is a Sikh, the most powerful person in the country is a Roman Catholic, the Defence Minister is a Christian which tells us Muslims that the
Asad Rasheed
Nov 14, 2009 01:56pm
Very candid and well written article Asif. Thank you.
Sarkar
Nov 14, 2009 02:13pm
Fantastic article. Congrats
M
Nov 14, 2009 02:15pm
It is refreshing to see someone writing about the real facts of life in Pakistan. Not this phase of denial that all Pakistanis seems to be living in. Unfortunately it seems the leaders / politicians in Pakistan are still living with this myth of conspiracy theories and pointing fingers at the rest of the world for all their own shortcoming and problems. All this while their people are needlessly dying on the streets.
Deep
Nov 14, 2009 02:20pm
I am puzzled by your reference to "polygamous infidels" when referring to Hindus in India. Hindus are not polygamous and polygamy is illegal in India (and prohibited by mainstream Hinduism.) Instead, it is Islam that allows polygamy, not Hinduism. But I suspect that you meant to use the word "polytheistic" (worshipping multiple Gods) and mistakenly typed the word "polygamous" instead.
Ahmed "Hindustani"
Nov 14, 2009 02:43pm
Asif Akhtar must have a steel nerve when he uses the term "Islamic mythology" in an Islamic country. Boy if we all agree to this half of the problem will be solved. A very nice article, but shows prejudice against India again like saying "polygamous infidels". I mean common as an Indian Muslim, I have seen that polygamy if practiced in India is practiced by Muslims and if as a non-Muslim. Please Mr. Author when you talk about the conspiracy theories make sure you don't come up with one.
Ramesh
Nov 14, 2009 02:44pm
A well carved out article indeed. It needs to be analyzed that why the large population of Pakistan falls pray to the propaganda of the jehdists? There must be something inherently wrong with it. To me it appears that lack of modern education is the greatest contributing factor in creation of this mindset besides bad governance. As concerned Indian I feel that their had been peace between India and Pakistan, the economy of both these countries would have been in a much better state than today and Jehadists may not have been getting canon fodder with such ease.
D. Warraich
Nov 14, 2009 02:48pm
How many innocents have to die before the proponents of the paranoid conspiracy theory realize that we are solely responsible for our own mess? The radicals thrive on the ignorance of the masses. Wake up Pakistan! Educate and enlighten! Before we lose it all, we must stop blaming others for our backyard fire. This fire can only be put out by us, before it consumes us. Remember, the others will always act in their own self interest. In this case, it is in our self interest to pull our head out of the sand and DEAL with the reality of imported radicalism.
Vijay Kodati
Nov 14, 2009 03:01pm
Wonderful article. I hope more Pakistani friends will read this. Entire generation of post independence Pakistan were brought up in the shadow of hatred towards others. This must change. The only solution to current problems in Pakistan is to usher in education reforms where children were taught religious tolerance and secular views. When these reforms are implemented for solid three decades and at the same time army fights to keep a lid on extremist forces. We can think of peaceful Pakistan. Wishing you all the best.
Sawkar
Nov 14, 2009 03:07pm
It is great to see there are people in Pakistan, who are having logical reality check. May be one day we will see more of them and there will be a better, friendly and progressive Pakistan who cares for its people.
Rizwan
Nov 14, 2009 03:12pm
Bad written article.
Chris
Nov 14, 2009 03:19pm
Interesting to read, but mostly preaching to the choir. It will take a long, difficult struggle for a nation to change, if at all. This is not like China changing its economic system. This involves the very core of what the nation is and the myths around its creation. This is what Jinnah with Iqbal's inspiration has brought forth. I feel sorry for all rational thinkers in Pakistan. They are whistling in the wind. Sorry to be so pessimistic.
Existentialist
Nov 14, 2009 03:29pm
I'm glad to see there are at least some people out there who talk sense. We should have overcome our obsession with Islam as binding force after the fall of East Pakistan. It clearly showed us that religion is a matter of personal faith and not something that can hold a country together, and certainly not something that can be used to govern a country. It's time people started working toward a secular Pakistan. There's nothing wrong with Islam and Muslims, but we need to learn that our religion should be a matter of personal choice and not something that we base our country's laws on. And isn't it time we stopped thinking of India as our enemy? There are more Muslims than there are in Pakistan. I don't even want to get started on drawing parallels between Pakistani and ancient Arabian history. We are South Asians, and we have to learn to deal with it. Learn to be proud of our own history and our own ancestors and not plunders from foreign lands.
Varun Mahajan
Nov 14, 2009 03:32pm
Increase your decibels. Your voice needs to be heard more loudly
babag
Nov 14, 2009 03:49pm
Listen to our so called leaders. They use word "conspiracy" on a daily basis such as, conspiracy to unseat our president. This word is embedded in our culture. I hope we come to our senses and start looking into ourselves before it is too late. May God help us.
samir
Nov 14, 2009 04:11pm
Thanks. Reading this article was such a relief. At least we are closing in to what we should be doing/thinking. And ofcourse I am much relieved to read this as compared to the confusing pseudo Nadeem Farooq Paracha's articles. Good job! your expression is simple and straight forward. keep it up!
samyak gowda
Nov 14, 2009 04:15pm
HASAN says "Well, Islam not just a religion, it
samyak gowda
Nov 14, 2009 04:17pm
THURZAN : "For people who give examples of Indian liberalism, a look at the plight of the Muslims there at the present time makes one realize why Pakistan was created in the first place." I guess the author refers to such baseless theories. Such conspiracy theories and myths spread in the Pakistani society. Muslims in India are better off than Muslims in Pakistan. And trust me, in a couple of decades, Muslims in India will be better off than Muslims in any other country in the world.
akbar khan
Nov 14, 2009 04:18pm
Very good article coming from any author in the recent times. But Akthar do you not think these ideas are very sophisticated by any Islamic nation to understand may be barring a few? Before that I must agree with Ashutosh for nailing the truth in a way about the Pakistan did for itself in the first place. In fact that applies to every nation which looses follows religion without applying any thought. I would like to emphasize two very important issues here. Culture and Religion are very separate. Culture is the binding force not religion infact Religion is weaker than culture any day. Unfortunately we have now generation of Pakistanis trained on Islamic ideology that this is futile and they will not understand what I am saying. By choosing hatred, Pakistanis also choose medieval version of Islam followed in Arabia over sophisticated Sufi and Subcontinent version. In the end the nation lost its self respect and integrity by following a version that will not suits its citizens. Fueled by hatred for "dark skinned Hindus", this metamorphosis changed the society rapidly. Infact the seriously heart breaking changes have already taken place. Sindhi and Punjabi and other myriad of beautiful cultures have torn part in the name of religious identity-shame. The results of this hatred based ideology can be seen in the educated ones who still think religious terms. To those who still Indian and Pakistani are similar- I think that shift and change has successfully taken place and they need be in touch with reality. In the end Culture is our identity and soul in this vast world where religion is perceived in terms of how it adjusts with culture. Pakistan has lost its cultural identity which has helped its religious identity to sophisticated level way back in 1950 and chose to ancient version. Survival is now miracle and that it is optimistic view from many who have closely followed this nations mistakes in the last 30 years
Jay
Nov 14, 2009 04:19pm
Good article Asif, but my brother this realization is coming to Pakistani population late. This realization only came when these "state sponsored" terrorists started killing innocent Pakistanis. These type of articles never surfaced 10 -15 years ago when these same terrorists were killing other innocents.
Pradeep Rangarajan
Nov 14, 2009 04:44pm
One of the reader's mentions here that India hasn't come to grips with the formation of Pakistan and that Indians still want to treat Pakistan as their biggest arch rival. Unfortunate that the media in Pakistan (not just print and electronic) is giving this impression to the people of Pakistan. Contrary to the belief expressed by my co reader, India has long accepted Pakistan as a separate nation and wants no part of it. The truth is in the pudding like they say. If India was so obsessed about Pakistan, India would not have moved on as it has today economically, scientifically, and in all respects. We do not even consider Pakistan as a threat only as an irritant due to the extremist face from within Pakistan. We only hope people in Pakistan also start focusing on development of their country instead of being obsessed with India being a threat to them. If something like Mumbai had happened in USA or even in Pakistan do you think those countries would have done anything short of going to war with the country from where the attackers were? and yet India has shown tremendous restraint. Do you think it is because India is so weak and scared or because it prefers a peaceful and stable neighborhood over strife inspite of the hostile situation? If you think it is because India is afraid of the nuclear might and economic strength of Pakistan you are wrong my co reader. So lets expunge these theories and focus on what we want to achieve as nations and I hope our intentions are for peaceful, existence and great progress and well being for our nations. And as far as one of the readers who seems to have understood the writer wrongly, I think the writer was only referring to how some fanatic theologists would interpret Hindus as Indians as polygamous and wasn't actually suggesting that himself. The writer has done very pragmatic analysis and all of us should have his guts to discuss honestly without religious, national or regional barriers blinding us.
Rezwan Khan
Nov 14, 2009 05:04pm
In some comments I read about 'plight of Muslims in India'!!! Let me tell you, I'm a Muslim from India and everyone in my family sincerely believe that we are way better off than Muslims in Pakistan. A Muslim in India essentially has the same access to all the resources as a Hindu does. But due to the massive lack of education prevalent in Muslims, we fail to capitalize in a highly competitive country. Still, an ordinary Muslim's life in India is better than that of a citizen of Pakistan. The only 'plight' of a Muslim in India is they are mistrusted because of Islamic militancy. And that is not only in India, this Jihad has made Muslims suffer everywhere in the world.
Amjad Wyne
Nov 14, 2009 05:27pm
Interesting, a couple of points though. We cannot blame people like jihadis or otherwise for the vacuum created by our leaders. Every nation has its own jihadis.
swapnil julmay
Nov 14, 2009 05:29pm
Well this time you have surely done a great job. But still I find it inconvenient that a person like you (who is an article writer) can meet terrorists (jihadis) and still every time why do u need religion to give the answers?
umer
Nov 14, 2009 05:50pm
Another typical Pakistani writer out there to make a name for himself and stand out of the crowd. comparing our education system as Religious indoctrination is outrageous. And everybody knows that who is involved in the so called ''taliban'' insurgency, after all the afghan taliban have made it clear they have nothing to do with the crazy ideas of the Pakistani taliban.
Shastri
Nov 14, 2009 05:57pm
Very rational article. It is not enough if views of this kind appear only in media published in English. It has to reach the masses. The translation of the same article should be published in Urdu, Punjabhi, Pashtun, Balochi and Sindhi news papers. The power of writing can cleanse evil influences on the human minds. It is the warping of the mind that causes all calamities. Voices of this kind are seldom heard outside and most people outside of Pakistan have a very different view of its people as a result. I read the internet version of the Dawn regularly and I am very impressed with the high degree of rationality, intellectualism and culture amongst Pakistani writers. I have interacted with many Pakistanis abroad and have been impressed by their polished manners and hospitality. I am a big fan of the Urdu language. Pakistan has immense talent in all areas. We Indians admire Pakistani sportsmen and statesmen like Imran Khan. It is so unfortunate that misunderstanding has snowballed into the level we see today between the people of India and Pakistan. I would blame the agencies for messing up Pakistan right from the beginning. Pakistan had the potential to become a Malaysia or another economic Asian tiger. Because of its geopolitical ambitions against the USSR, the agencies propped up Ayub Khan and things have never been the same. Agencies again used Zia's help in radicalizing the poor and turn them against the USSR forces in Afghanistan. Once the damage was done, the agencies left everything in shambles in this region. Now they are back again, this time playing from the other side. India has moved on and Pakistan has become a quagmire. It is time Pakistanis like this author raise their voices and reach out to the masses and change their mindset. If India and Pakistan can live like Canada and the US, life will be so much better for the people of this region. We all recognize Pakistan as a sovereign nation. The idea of a united India has died off with the older generation in India. The new generation is very different, progressive and understanding. We wish Pakistan all the best in overcoming this evil that is burning its heart. If Pakistan manages to come out of this, the people should exert their power and change the outlook. Islam is a religion of the hearts. It must not give identity to people or be used to fight others. It is meant for spiritual progress and nothing else. May the Sufi saints protect Pakistan's people and take them along the path of progress!
S.Narayanamurthy
Nov 14, 2009 06:03pm
It is a soul searching article. We have great regard and love for the common man of Pakistan. However, the Pakistani Government, Bureaucracy, and agencies have been adopting unhealthy anti-Indian stance since creation of Pakistan instead of pro-Pakistan, pro-development outlook, which has resulted in systematic down slide of Pakistan. If they channelize their energy and resources for development of Pakistan, I bet, you will grow as one of the greatest nations in the world. Bill Clinton has said that if India & Pakistan work together, they can beat China in the growth rate in economy. I wish that the Government of Pakistan and their establishments develop positive attitude towards the world and start thinking about economic development of Pakistan. The illiteracy and poverty in Pakistan will vanish and there won't be any place for extremism and terrorism.
Indian Muslim
Nov 14, 2009 06:03pm
First of all great article, considering the fact how difficult it would be to jot down honest words in adamant society full of home-grown self proclaimed conspiracy theories. For any one who worries about Muslims in India. Please save your sympathies for your own countrymen. Indian Muslims are the most respected Muslims around the world and we are capable for taking care of ourselves rather than relying on any other Muslim country. Every country has its odd and even times in various issues and this is 2009 my friend not 1947 when you can fool masses to create religious divide and fulfill your own vested interest. Whoever questions about the state of Indian Muslims and theirs safety should think about recent 26/11 Mumbai attack by Pak based terrorists, despite so much agony and well known fact that Muslim terrorism caused this, there was not even a single incident of backlash on Muslims in India, in fact every person of any religion shared the disaster and contributed at his/her level best. This proves that Indian tolerance based mutual co-existence society of various religions and creeds has come a long way and now we know who the real enemies are, and I see the similar hopes in Pakistan as well. Its definitely gonna be very tough to eradicate this menace. We know that game has just begun. Peace!
Naeem Gulzar
Nov 16, 2009 12:44pm
Salams, Good article, certainly of the kind that we need as food for thought. I don't understand whats wrong with saying that our troubles have to do more with our deeds than with any conspiracies being hatched half way around the globe. The longer we deny it, the graver the circumstances would get. About India, of course we want friendly relationships with our neighbors.
H. Zuberi
Nov 14, 2009 06:24pm
Great Article! Is there any way that such opinions be aired on local TV talk-shows or Urdu roznaama's? So that 80% of our population that feeds on propaganda can also open their eyes?
Lawangin
Nov 14, 2009 06:25pm
Yes the identity crises in Pakistan is the most serious political delima. The historian and political analyst have no idea of how nations went through various stages of becoming the modern nations. Religion nowhere played the prime role of converting a group of people permanently living on a piece of land who share a culture and language for expression of their social values and communication, other than a political and economical sovereignty.
Ayesha Khan
Nov 14, 2009 07:10pm
Well, Islam is not just a religion, it
atul
Nov 14, 2009 07:27pm
Like post world war Germany, Pakistan too needs to change its History teaching to its students (i.e.next generations) that however lofty ideals of jihad are, they also have their own disadvantages to the nation itself in the long run, (say from the next 20 years onwards) today in Germany, students are taught that there was more bad than good with Nazism for the country. I hope one day Pakistan will emulate this.
Munir Saami
Nov 14, 2009 07:31pm
A truly daring article. Gives a lot of hope that Pakistanis will win over the darkness. Keep it up.
Ayesha Khan
Nov 14, 2009 07:31pm
"For people who give examples of Indian liberalism, a look at the plight of the Muslims there at the present time makes one realize why Pakistan was created in the first place:. I am not sure what you have been told about the plight of Muslims in Pakistan but I am one of them. A proud Muslim and a proud Indian. In case you are not aware, the Muslims in India can aspire to and reach the top in any field they choose. Not just Muslim men - but Muslim women too. Here are a few: Actors : Shah Rukh Khan, Salman Khan, Amir Khan, Dilip Kumar Actresses: Katrina Kaif, Wahida Rehman, Nargis, Singers: Mohammad Rafi Film music composers: AR Rehman, Naushad Classical music: Ustaad Bismilla Khan (shehnai), Ustaad Vilaayat Khan, Amjad Ali (Sarod), Begum Parveen Sultana (vocal), Ustad Alla akha, Zakir Hussain (tabla) Cricket: Pataudi, Azaruddin, Irfan Pathan, Yusuf Pathan Tennis: Sanya Mirza Lyricists: Kaifi Azmi, Javed Akhtar Business men and women : Azim Premji, Habib Khorakiwala, Shahnaaz Hussain. We have had 3 Muslim Presidents of our country and one of them was also in charge of our nuclear program. Those Muslims that get a scientific education in India get the same opportunities as the Hindus and Sikhs. Some Muslim parents choose to send their kids to school (Madrassahs) where the skills they gain are no relevant to business and industry. As a consequence such people find little economic opportunity. The country gives a Muslim parent the right to choose what type of education they give their children and their choices determine the economic opportunity their children get.
Dil
Nov 14, 2009 07:39pm
Nice article. Pakistan is such a country of contrasts. I think 5% of the population is very literate, rich and more liberal than I see in India and the rest 95% are semi-literate, poor and very conservative. The middle class is missing. It's the vast middle class in countries like USA and India that keeps a country stable. Your comment "But those polygamous infidels couldn
Ali
Nov 16, 2009 12:02pm
Very good insights about the realities around us. I agree we need to concentrate within. However, parallel to the agreement, one should not avoid that there is a very enormous gap between individual's thinking and state's thinking and individual's behavior and state's behavior. We have witnessed the dominance of realism and neo-realism. It would be nascent to think that plots are not in progress around us. If one thinks, it would most possibly be perished "The fittest to survival theory".
Indian
Nov 14, 2009 07:46pm
"Dark Skinned Hindu", "Polygamus Infidels" Thanks for letting us know what conspirators call us. I hope this is limited just to the conspiratorial lounge rooms. Pakistan was indeed created on the name of Islam, as an extension of middle east to be called greater middle east. Middle East is the true home and geographical location of Islam. It is extremely difficult to appreciate why our Hindu friends fail to understand the real nature of Islam and Hinduism. They are not religions in the strict sense of the word, but are, in fact, different and distinct social orders, and it is a dream that the Hindus and Muslims can ever evolve a common nationality, and this misconception of one Indian nation has troubles and will lead India to destruction if we fail to revise our notions in time. The Hindus and Muslims belong to two different religious philosophies, social customs, litterateurs. They neither intermarry nor inter dine together and, indeed, they belong to two different civilizations which are based mainly on conflicting ideas and conceptions. Their aspect on life and of life are different. It is quite clear that Hindus and Mussalmans derive their inspiration from different sources of history. They have different epics, different heroes, and different episodes. Very often the hero of one is a foe of the other and, likewise, their victories and defeats overlap. To yoke together two such nations under a single state, one as a numerical minority and the other as a majority, must lead to growing discontent and final destruction of any fabric that may be so built for the government of such a state Why can't we be honest and accept these facts.
hindustani
Nov 14, 2009 07:47pm
Great article. I am so surprised to see the level of debate in Pakistani TV shows. In some cases, there is no debate whatsoever. It is clear that voices of the reason that hold the key to the well being of Pakistani state are being drowned by the loud and violent noises from the religious right.
Madhulika
Nov 14, 2009 07:55pm
A well written article for the most parts. But I have some questions for this author : India lost to Pakistan in 1965? Really? Is that why Pakistan had to run to UN to ask for ceasefire? Is that why Ayub has described starting this war as one of his life's greatest mistakes? Is that why he was pushed out of power? Polygamous people in India? Other than Islam, no religion in India permits polygamy. Perhaps you meant to say Polytheistic?
shafik
Nov 14, 2009 08:34pm
Excellently depicted the virtual conspiracy plagued mentality, 99.99% Pakistani populace have en-sowed in. Is there some one to challenge and brought to justice all these conspiracy theorist as they are the worst than the factual jehadis mercenaries killers.
sadia
Nov 14, 2009 08:36pm
Again the coin has not been viewed from both sides. It is not only the Muslims from Pakistan getting caught in the resonance of 'faux-mythologies', it is the West as well. Take the rhetoric of Bush Jr. at the time of declaration of war against Afghanistan after 9/11, he declared it another "Crusade". Similiarly, the words chosen by the head of NATO when asked whether this part of the world needs NATO any longer, was a jilted retort to the effect that there is Islam still out there. The political rhetoric from both sides does not get justified.
yash
Nov 14, 2009 08:52pm
Excellent article, keep up the good work, and I wish this gifted author good luck and probe more in future.
Mystiq Elephant
Nov 14, 2009 08:56pm
My simple question is this, how come there was no new religion in whole wide world for last 2000 years or so!! Human kind is evolving, all technologies are evolving but this one piece of puzzle is still a mystery to me. Why on the earth this religion is not evolving? I am a Hindu and I really dont know that as a Hindu was I ever told by anybody (my parents, teachers, friends) to do something just because of I am hindu. Of course one thing would be sure then when I die I would be burnt and not burried. And I am still perplexed why Hinduism is not evolving? Not sure about mono ethical Abrahimical religions. And finally, despite Russia and American being Christian dominated countries there was cold war for years between them. Same is the case of Iran-Iraq. So why on the earth we drag religion in case of national wars? It just makes matter worse for fellow religion members in other country. Ask about that Muslims in India.
Imtiaz Ahmed
Nov 14, 2009 09:17pm
I am surprised to read this article as under; Is Pakistan still has such committed, honest, brave and bold person in its wild,heartless , egoist, living its self praise past glories/stories and myths. I salute to the young writer. Imtiaz Ahmed
A Khan
Nov 14, 2009 09:41pm
Well written and hitting the nail on the head! I am tired of hearing the 'non state actors' and 'foreign hand' chorus again and again. Wake up people of Pakistan, you are your worst enemy - stop living in a world of self pity and feeling sorry for yourself. I am a Indian Muslim and feel proud to be Indian and a Muslim, its a shame to see you self destruct across the border.
Khalifa Wasi Ahmed
Nov 14, 2009 10:59pm
I don't understand where people like the author of this article and Nadeem Paracha get the concept of false mythology. Can someone explain? I understand there is a lot fiction mixed in to our national govt promoted history whether it be the image of the Quaid or the conflicts with India or for that matter any official account of anything. This is true of most of the current nation state histories at least and the Islamic history taught in the American high schools is also taught through the prism of the historian's personal or national or racial or religious views. I say the above not to condone such behavior but its a fact. Islam's history is not mythology and the distinction must be made by whoever uses such a term. Islam doesn't deal in myth it came to this world to give us a code of life based on and in search of the Haq, the truth.
Amjad Cheema
Nov 14, 2009 11:14pm
I totally agree with Asif Akhtar's assessment. The situation is quite gloomy. Our survival depends on destruction of mullah. So far they have been in cahoot but things are now different from the day mullah attacked GHQ.
US Ind
Nov 14, 2009 11:36pm
Why is hating Indian or Jews more important than life itself? Is life not a gift of god? Pakistani elite must take responsibility & create an environment of hope & well being.
Isaac
Nov 15, 2009 12:00am
Very good article. Pakistan and people of Pakistan will not come out of the terrible situation, unless the people/leaders/army comes out unequivocal against terrorism. The can not support one group for subversive activities in the neighbors and fight with other groups. The worst role is being played by media, who is keeping a blind eye to real problem and broadcasting conspiracy theories and blaming on others. No one can help Pakistan, unless they set to right mind frame.
nasir butt
Nov 15, 2009 12:16am
Thoughtful and perceptive article Aktar. Kind Regards Nasir
Dr Junaid Tipu
Nov 15, 2009 12:18am
I think its a well written article, this free media of today can sure make a difference with honest writings and sincere efforts to strengthen the country. I also welcome the views of our Indian brothers and sisters, though I feel they should also accept that Kashmir issue itself has fueled the creation of terrorist organizations, whether or not nurtured by Pakistan, and that without solving it, we wouldn't be able to eliminate terrorism fully. Peace for all
Tanveer
Nov 15, 2009 12:54am
Well done, Asif! You've done an outstanding job in stating the obvious! I don't mean to undermine your well-composed article but it is no different than what I know and read day in - day out. What no one is telling me is how Pakistan can get out of this mess.
ayesha
Nov 15, 2009 01:19am
These days it is so easy to catapult oneself to pseudo-intellectual acknowledgment by defaming Islam, its ideology and what it stands for. Such rhetoric is the root cause of all evil these days. This secular portion of the fabric is so oblivious of the realities. Their mindset has been trained over the years by pop culture and western media. They bash their own people and always assume that the other side is right. The author seems to have forgotten how we would have been trampled by the Soviets if there were no resistance in Afghanistan. This so called liberal middle class who have forgotten or more appropriately lost their religious identity and are ashamed to be associated with Islam in any way is part of the problem. It is examples like these that are used as propaganda to corrupt young innocent and overzealous minds. Living far from the realms of reality and not even knowing what life is for a common man they feel proud to echo the sentiments of our enemies. We have enough of those who speak from their drawing rooms. People who have any doubt about why Pakistan was created in the first place have no right to live here.
Jitu
Nov 15, 2009 01:29am
Wow what a excellent article full of truth. This article is like showing MIRROR.
Khalid
Nov 15, 2009 01:30am
This guy doesn't even know what Islam stands for. Don't forget what you are today, its this motherland that gave you everything such that you can express an opinion.
sonya mehra
Nov 15, 2009 02:27am
This is the open truth and Pakistanis know it but just will not admit to it. Islam and democracy are not compatible. Politicians and agencies destroyed the moral fabric of Pakistan. I have many Muslim friends from Pakistan as I live in North America and trust me, no one even wants to visit Pakistan anymore as they fear for their lives. Religion as they say is the opiate of the masses. Be it Islam, Hinduism, Christianity, Judaism etc etc, religion has no place in a secular society except in the confines of your home. The misguided ideology of Islam is turning the world upside down and Pakistan today is known as the most dangerous nation in the world. Is this what you got freedom for? Is this what Jinnah dreamed about? Pakistani's have to look deep within themselves and one cannot deny the respect that India has in the international arena and the scorn with which Pakistan is treated. Your leaders have brought you to this junction, the answer will need to come from the people of Pakistan.
Ali Siddiqui
Nov 15, 2009 03:21am
You just spoke my heart out. I really wish that every Pakistani can read this. Asif can u tell other editors to translate this article and print it in every newspaper so majority of the people can read this?
Muhammad Tariq
Nov 15, 2009 03:47am
I think the writer need to know that humans cant live in the vacuum, one has to has some source of inspiration and these are religion, history, culture etc. If being a Muslim I will not get inspiration from the life of Holy Prophet then should I get my inspiration from some Hindu god. If I don't study the history of Islam, evolution of Muslims rules in India then should I study Ashoka or the saying of Chankia and should get my inspiration from these. We have to have links with our history and religion. As far as Pakistan is concern, the binding force is Islam and the history ranging to the advent of Islam. If the writer is of the view that we are tempering with our history then he should explain who doesn't? Western and Indian media show and portrait their history and their present which suit them. At last, writer should know that clash of civilization is a reality today as it was on yesterday, moreover "Clash of civilization" has been not written by Some Muslim or Pakistani.
Indian
Nov 15, 2009 04:21am
Good Article. Asif be careful. Talking against Islam and Political Scenario can be Dangerous to you.
Johnny
Nov 15, 2009 04:27am
Excellent article. Even though it is not going to make an iota of difference in the opinion of our intellects and anchors who love to come on tv and talk about this evil nexus by India, Israel and America to destroy this land of pure. Even today the Editorial of famous paper is based on these same conspiracy theories, while on the last page they have a news item that says that taliban have accepted responsibility for all of these explosions in Peshawar.
GHAZAN KHAN
Nov 15, 2009 04:42am
There is only one remedy to all these problems of extremism and terrorism. Our parliament should pass an act of separating religion from politics.
pramod
Nov 15, 2009 05:06am
Hasan, Great, you proved the writer right. @ Ali Agha, I don't know who told you this that we still think that Pakistan does not exist. We in India hardly talk about Pakistan. We have enough problem like population, poverty and many others at home and we are more concerned about those. Who has time to think about Pakistan. Only you people who has been taught India is your enemy(may be because of Kashmir), Israel is your enemy (because they are fighting Muslims) and US is your enemy(because they attacked Afghanistan after 9/11)
khan
Nov 15, 2009 05:12am
Even though this article might not go well with some of us who believe in the popular myths that are created by out military establishment and preached by our mullahs but it is a great piece. We have been fed with manufactured history and brainwashed over the years and those who refuse to be brainwashed have been accused of being Hindus and communists and separatists etc. we must break these barriers in order to solve our problems.
PM
Nov 15, 2009 06:01am
Asif, good article to start a discussion. You should look into what historically creates a nation state. Rather than India look at Iran, a country that has consistently maintained its integrity over hundreds of years. They have not excluded religion from their discourse. They were not completely secular even under Shah. Myths and conspiracies are part of their tool kit. The problem with Pakistan is inability of the state to manage the economy and apply the resources efficiently. Apply justice and equality; you would see 90 percent of the problems solved. Taliban are criminal groups operating in cover of religion. Irrespective of who supports them, they will be destroyed but it is difficult for corrupt leaders to do it.
Naved Haider
Nov 15, 2009 06:11am
Just have a good look of the last 25 years law & order scenario in Pakistan, religious extremism prevailing in the society, brutal sectarian killings of hundred of people, bomb blasts in mosques & Imam bargahs, we come to know its purely our home grown problem. We will have to change our official policies, our way of life and thinking pattern as a society to save our coming generations from this. Blaming others will not serve the purpose.
Ansari
Nov 15, 2009 06:29am
The author is not making any sense, you need to find some facts, I wonder how can such an ideology be printed.
NASAH
Nov 15, 2009 06:35am
Another Myth: Islam is not a religion it is 'the way of life' If you knew other religion, unfortunately every religion of the world claims the same that it is not a religion it is 'the way of life'. It is like Ghalib said "Dunya main hoon Dunya ka Talabgaar nahee hoon"
Sam
Nov 15, 2009 07:14am
Why don't you provide conclusive proof that the people who are bombing/terrorizing are not actually Muslims. (even if they are Muslims, show that from where they are paid) Until you show full and complete proof, you are statements are just your opinions.
s.satti
Nov 15, 2009 07:50am
Hats off to you Asif, it takes lots of courage to write an article like this. We need more writers like you and Hasan Nisar to educate all these conspiracy theory mongers who have set their mind to blame every one else but not look into our own backyard.
Juniper
Nov 15, 2009 08:27am
It is Pakistanis who are being misguided to become suicide bombers.
Fauzia Ahmad
Nov 15, 2009 08:38am
Great article indeed... There is no doubt mullahs are the biggest enemy of Pakistan. Most of these so called mullahs have no education and they easily bend the minds of illiterate youth in the name of religion. However, one must also investigate and understand from where all the money is coming in for these mullahs for carrying out these terrorist attacks and what the ultimate objective is? One doesn
Fauzia Ahmad
Nov 15, 2009 08:44am
And I can predict one more thing. Soon US/West will go to UN to get a resolution that the world is under extreme threat due to inadequate safety measures of Pakistan
pragmatist
Nov 15, 2009 08:53am
Very nice article by Mr. Asif. We are living in the "age of reason". The middle-ages represented the "age of faith". The "age of faith" clashed with the "age of reason" since 1700s. Christianity went through this struggle and finally we see the outcome in the western world with the separation of church and state. This resolved most problems by keeping the faith "more personal" than communal, and thus worked its way through a level of moderation. Islamic countries faces similar challenges and Pakistan is going through this test.
Rashid Khan
Nov 15, 2009 08:59am
Beautifully written and well researched. Quite a big lot of those who share the writer's view, have gone pessimist, finding no movement or struggle around them. Let it be known that awakening or enlightenment of individual is much fast and robust as compare to societies. We are perhaps where Europe had been in Dickens Era. The best we can do is to argue these points and educate our people where ever we find an opportunity. For any revolution educating and understanding of issues in their right perspective is must. For the moment share this article on your social networks.
Iqbal
Nov 15, 2009 09:29am
This article reflects the harsh realities which the Mullahs with Establishment are always mulling for how to deceive the common people with the myths of Indian is an arch -one enemy and Israel is her associate which is financed by American. Shame to those who say this is conspiracy against Pakistan but it can be by themselves who call themselves the guardians of Pakistan.
aaruni
Nov 15, 2009 10:10am
Religions are supposed to bring peace and harmony to the world. 5000 years(since Religions claim to have been created) have passed by and yet we are to be anything close to it. Is this not proof enough to see that religions have only served to create herds of sheep who ask no questions and are easy to be moved the desired way. Many provisions of Religions are outdated and incompatible in today's context and should be the last basis upon which a country is built. Nearly all religions contradict each other fundamentally and until and unless we can be at peace with our differences, we would always be the one who hunts and at the same time who gets hunted for nothing. I have no words to tell how much this article impressed me. Congratulations Asif.
Li from China
Nov 15, 2009 10:19am
As a Chinese who spent lots of time in Pakistan I totally agree with the author. Between 1949 and 1978 China experienced a communism-dominated radical times. Just like today's North Korea there was lots of hatred against outside world (especially USA) and we blamed everything bad on others. I have many Pakistani friends and they are kind and clever. Pakistan should be a great country only if you can go through this turmoil times and do some reforms. In China Mr. Deng Xiaopeng applied a open-and-reform policy in 1979 which paved way for today's economic prosperity in China.
indian
Nov 16, 2009 08:06am
Well these kind of articles do come up in Elitist English media , but who cares for them. Anyway nice article. Only rational thinkers will improve Pakistan. This whole taliban mess will soon be over by a truce.
Sunjoy
Nov 16, 2009 09:35am
Hi Asif, I am an Indian and I personally liked your article and it is heartening to note that there are Pakistanis like you who are really concerned about the terrorism problem and ready to think differently. However my good feelings stop here onwards and I step into the world of reality. As an Indian I am very much aware how much love an average Pakistani has for India / Indians. Asif: You are on the wrong side of the border. Sane people like you need to be on this side of the border.
Kayenn
Nov 15, 2009 10:57am
Pakistan has to come out of denial but it is very difficult. To come out of denial two conditions are to be met 1) Education which teaches people to question what others are saying 2) Freedom to speak and elect their leaders Unfortunately because the type of education being provided in Madrassah and Military rule for so many years independent thinking is a far fetched dream. Add to the above points, the unrelenting propaganda about India / Isreal / US nexus to destabalize Pakistan. Apart from the denial mode, a sizable part of the population would rather articulate extremist views in public for the fear of being on the wrong side of Taliban. If separate homeland for Muslims is required why are there so many Islamic countries in the world?, why Bangladesh became independent?, why is the present war going on between Pakistan Army and Taliban? Why Mojahirs are still not accepted as equal in Pakistan? Look at Indian Muslim, educated, moderate and trying to grow in life. They have exposure to other faiths and there is dialogue for better understanding. What has been achieved by wars in 65 / 71 and Kargil. Nothing but destruction and death. How long this will continue? Provide education, support democracy with its many faults and let the elected representatives direct the Army / ISI and not the other way around This kind.
indrajeet
Nov 15, 2009 11:25am
Great article. Pakistani leaders and its armed forces should understand that it is the time to analyze their past follies. Their fetish for Kashmir and their animosity towards India and Hindus is destroying Pakistan as a nation. I am not against their claim for Kashmir but the means they applied to get it. My hearts goes out for Pakistanis when i saw their plight. We are brothers but look the way we are treating each other. I don
Abhay
Nov 15, 2009 11:51am
Very Bold and Rational Article. As commented by many Pakistanis and Indians etc, the establishment, media in Pakistan have to undergo Paradigm shift. I doubt it will come as suddenly as bombings are happening across Pakistan. Though I wish the shift should come sooner the better. Pakistan was created to cater to cultural, religious and economical needs of South Asian Muslims. Now that it's here, we Indians wish it well. Let the people of Pakistan be in Peace and Prosperity. But it can not have it by exporting ill will, violence and extremism. Unfortunately this is what is / has been happening. Let us hope the Article like this one helps the correction mode. The Denial syndrome/blaming others will not help. Thanks Asif.
Ammaar Ahmed
Nov 15, 2009 11:57am
You need to be more careful when talking about Prophet (P.B.U.H) otherwise nice article
sanjith menon
Nov 15, 2009 12:00pm
Well the English media in Pakistan can be secular but then how many are listening? large group of the people watch the urdu media. I was watching "has bey haal" a popular media chat show on a private TV, the anchor was concretely pointing out fingers on India, for involvement in Waziristan.
Kshitij
Nov 15, 2009 12:37pm
Hi, This is very nice article only want to say that I am from India and an Hindu and working in Saudi Arabia and can say that its culture that binds you not religion and if any one wants any prove come to Saudi and good thing is good bad thing is bad. What ever happening in Pakistan seems more to be social issue rather than religious issue when people do not have interest in living than they are ready to die, India also faced this situation though in different prospective through caste war between high and low and credit must go to our politician who accepted this and respond.
Muhammad
Nov 15, 2009 12:45pm
Very convenient and good use of words but I wish you had some background of history and political affairs. This is the real problem, we have speakers and writers without knowledge and scholars quietly observing the show.
North europe
Nov 15, 2009 01:12pm
Second name of terror is Pakistan. The country is bankrupt and in constant need of aid. If this is the situation at ground and still the people do not accept, then may god help you all. Because if it was land of Pak (clean) people, then this day would not have come.
Shub
Nov 15, 2009 01:30pm
A Good article Asif. I get so stunned to see that youths like us still support and laud few people, who does nothing but spread hatred, fear and lies on Pakistani TV channels. I am not surprised that he gets the prime time devoted to him on TV channels for his conspiracy theories, what bothers me the most is that there are actually people in Pakistan who actually believe him. God bless us all.
Ahsan Nisar
Nov 15, 2009 02:13pm
Everything these days in Pakistan is seen in terms of terrorism and plots and conspiracy by US, India or Israel. We have become used to the "It's not us" attitude but what do you people say about the double standards of the West when they paint Maj. Hasan to be part of a larger conspiracy and part of homegrown terrorism, which is far from the truth. Is it not a conspiracy?
Shaminder
Nov 15, 2009 02:23pm
Very Bold article indeed. How ever, I doubt it would change anything. It is unfortunate that innocent men and women in Pakistan are falling victims to the suicide attacks almost on daily basis. This monster of terrorism is indeed a creation of people who ruled and controlled Pakistan. Almost every major terror attack in the entire world has a link with Pakistan. Pakistan today is seen as an center of terrorism. It is amusing to read that Prime Minister Gilani claims to have in possession proofs of neighbors involvement in fomenting trouble in Pakistan but would disclose it at an appropriate time. Is 'not it funny ? No one is conspiring against Pakistan. Since there is nothing to be proud of being Pakistani so these conspiracy theories are circulated to take pride in the fact that someone wants to destroy Pakistan but can not , so therefore, we are proud ! I don't think any country want to destroy Pakistan as its problems will scatter all over the world. So everyone must support Pakistan to keep intact in whatever form it is.
rangeela re
Nov 15, 2009 02:31pm
Why can't the taliban / TTP stand for elections in Pakistan. If they win then let them have their Islamic state. whats wrong with it?
Vijay
Nov 15, 2009 03:11pm
Good Article. I think some deeper analysis is required for the present situation in Pakistan. The root cause of the problem are tyrannical rulers in Arabian and Gulf countries. They claim to be preservers of Islam but exploit poor Muslims who have gone to their countries for earning a living. They never gave freedom to their own population and when they started questioning them they conveniently diverted them to poor Muslim countries like Pakistan and Afghanistan to fight 'Holy Wars'. This way they secured their position. This way the focus of the Islamic world would be diverted and they can continue to rule. A few questions need to be asked. Are Pakistani workers in Gulf and Arab counties treated well? Are they treated as Muslim brothers? Why alone Pakistan is the protector of Islam when there are so many other Muslim countries? Are Pakistani life's cheep? Pakistan should reclaim its identity as a country of the sub-continent.
RAJARAM JARIA
Nov 15, 2009 03:26pm
Good article. But don't forget it is not the Jews or the Hindus who are responsible for Pakistan's woes. It is your corrupt leaders. In India we have corrupt leaders but only a handful, progress does trickle down to the common man. We have Industry and Indian Multinationals. In Pakistan you don't have either. Instead of playing the blame game better take the bull by the horns and force your system to change. You'll then stop playing the blame game.
shiv vasisht
Nov 16, 2009 07:06am
Nice article, but am not surprised that such views exist in Pakistan - I know that to tar any one peoples with the same brush is just as bad as being an extremist of any sort. I believe that the pre-47 borders (the pink lines on British maps that made their "India") are the real borders of one people. Even at that time, the British were fighting in the same NWFP, with the same kind of people. Then too, there were problems in Baluchistan and wherever we see the conflicts today. The rest of the sub-continent was more or less at peace with itself. How long before people of the same thinking unite; before the common enemy is defined and excluded from the civil societies of the subcontinent? Not much. And no, I am not suggesting that Pakistan is a failed experiment, as most Indians like to believe, but I do think that future ties will be built on fighting a common enemy - and this is the only way out. Best wishes to you, and thanks for sharing your thoughts, Asif. This must be harder for you to do than for us.
ASHOK
Nov 15, 2009 04:48pm
Congrats Asif, It feels refreshing to know that the younger generation in Pakistan thinks & introspects in such a rational manner. It's an eye opener. I am a regular reader of The Dawn. I wish many should read this article. People of Pakistan must understand that, the whole world has moved on & is busy in better things than to plot against Pakistan. For the last sixty years leaders, rather rulers in your case have seriously mismanaged this country, it's polity, it's education, it's foreign policy, it's economy & it's human resource development. You all have to reclaim & develop it for a better future. Good luck from your Indian brothers.
Surinder K. Dhupar
Nov 15, 2009 04:49pm
Nice article. Ever since Pakistan has been created, it has been pulled in every direction. Ultimately it is the people of Pakistan who will decide what they want to be - democratic or theocratic or religious Islamic country. I wish more people read this article and say to their leaders now more fooling us.
Asim Mehmood
Nov 16, 2009 10:02am
I feel that part of our society is truly unaware of realities of world and world history. Its just because of class differences in Pakistan. Terms used by author are the same the kind used by any secular author and is justified to do so. I wish Asif should study history and religion more deeply and without biases. I agree on this point we need to make things in order in Pakistan, and they are more important then to discuss conspiracies. We are more enemy of our self then any other of our enemies.
riaz
Nov 15, 2009 05:55pm
Himayat Ali Shair says, "bunyad per nazar ho tu shayad samjh sako; kyoun tote ne laga hai mera ghar bana huwa" the late Sehba Akhtar said, "mulk kee tamam mushkiloon ka elaj; mulk kee sarhadon ke under hai; iss ke buruks sochta hai wohee; jis ka aqaa watan ke baher hai"
Suv
Nov 15, 2009 06:15pm
I think Dawn newspaper is one ray of hope for Pakistan. Till the time there are free thinkers like Asif Pakistan has a chance to become a progressive nation. Wish Asif and Pakistan good luck! Suv-Jammu
Aftab kenneth Wilson
Nov 15, 2009 06:17pm
A well researched Article. Get it translated into Urdu Leading news papers (I know they will not publish it) so that those who are still in the state of "Denial" may take some sense from this good piece of writings. I am now of this view that all stake holders who run the affairs of the state in any position should be consulted (Whether in Uniform or Gowns) on all Policy Matters, other wise no Government can survive. Adopting this formula it would be healthy for the present and incoming governments. We must not forget that we Pakistani have totally different mind set. All Pushing and Pulling will also end.
Malik Assani
Nov 16, 2009 06:35am
Take it easy my friend Mr.Asif Akhtar. The world of yours that you live in amazes me. We Pakistanis may not be the perfect people but we are also not that imperfect, a picture that you've tried to depict. As a matter of fact, we are not even close. A few bad apples can not justify garbaging an entire harvest. I know for sure that we are very loving, hospitable, accommodating and, like anywhere else the world over, good-natured common people. Less than 1% exist of the kind you have written of, so be sensible and accurate, for it helps the truth. Also, my friend, a humble request to you to be a little careful with our race, roots, religion, spirituality, identity, dignity, name, honor, integrity and other things we are proud to be the possessors of. As for you, I have sympathy for you as you must be regretting to be born here in the 'east'. Equally but much less bothersome is my discomfort to have you here amongst us. Anyway, may God bless you (if I'm not sounding 'religious').
Londoner
Nov 15, 2009 07:44pm
Interesting article, and interesting comments as well. I am prepared to offer a degree of support to the author for what he has written, although I'm more inclined to support the view of one of the posters, who lamented the fact that there are some Pakistanis who seem to be questioning the very cornerstones of their nationhood just after a few years of turbulence. Pakistan was hated by Hindustan from birth; that is no conspiracy. Nehru and Mountbatten tried to strangle the nation before it was even created; that again is no myth. David Ben Gurion, the first premier of "Israel", made an explosive speech to his Knesset in which he highlighted Pakistan as one of the chief opponents of the occupying regime, which had to be neutralized at all costs. This, again, is documented and no secret. True, we are not a nation of Ghauris and Ghaznavis; those figures had their roles in the make-up of our identity, but they are not seen in any modern-day incarnation. The first step we as a nation must accept is that we are hated by a large part of the world, simply for existing. Just look at the comments on this board; so many Hindustanis beset by national insecurity have used this article as a vehicle to call for the amalgamation of Pakistan. All the while, their own government continues to have a hand in the regular religious and ethnic pogroms that go on there. I'm happy to see articles like this, which do serve to challenge some dangerously chauvinistic facets of our national ethos, but I hope readers will also come away from it and be aware that although we are our own worst enemies, there are also many in this world who have a vested interest in our demise as a nation. As for the Hindustanis reading this, let the article be a lesson for your own government as to how to employ your military to take on those parts of society that have been overcome with hatred and self-delusion, all it takes is a little courage. Hasan
windian
Nov 15, 2009 08:21pm
Hi Asif, It's an nice, sincere and bold effort to put a different view of an situation. Land of Pure "Pakistan" has to keep up with its name. Pure for me is being like water. Like water in its pure form is clear, transparent and helps everyone see what lies beneath so, should be the pure idea, it should help people realize and visualize all sort of visions that are encircling the basic thought. Such thoughts and ideas will help Pakistan to become a secular country in real terms and put her on the track of growth. For example when ever we study history of growth of any developed country, they have one thing in common. Opportunities for growth, Opportunities for all people irrespective of religion they follow, Opportunities for world to invest and see market in that country. I think for this radical ideologies for religion first has to be uprooted be it India and Pakistan. I am a strong believer that both the countries should resolve their issues as soon as possible and join hands in terms of growth. When loads of opportunities are awaiting us to be explored. We South-Asian Countries can form such an economy which can full fill each others needs and doesn't have to depend on European countries for them to support us. I am not against them but every continent, sub-continent has an economy for that region as well. My wishes to Pakistan and I am very hopeful the time has come for people of Pakistan to realize that there is huge requirement of social revolution.
Sumant Rawat
Nov 15, 2009 08:47pm
Nice article that views the present crisis from a religious identity perspective but omits the obvious psychological accompaniments to the tremendous sense of insecurity displayed by Pakistan. The self hatred of the convert to acknowledge his past and come to terms with it is very painful and the reason he continues to lash out at any reminder of a previous identity. Until Pakistan comes to terms with itself with maturity not much will change specially if the medieval Pashtun culture is held up as a badge of honor.
rajeev
Nov 15, 2009 09:56pm
Great Article. I hope it helps some Pakistanis.
Hari Har
Nov 15, 2009 10:11pm
Your scholarly article and those who support your views prove beyond any doubt that Pakistan has lot of powerful and objective thinkers second to none. That gives lot of hope not only to Pakistanis but to others in the subcontinent as well.
Ahmed
Nov 15, 2009 11:51pm
Excellent, spot on article! The actual dichotomy could be boiled down to this: those of us who believe it to be a self-fulfilling prophecy versus those of us who believe it to be a prophecy which will be fulfilled by the divine plan. I think this difference of approach is at the root of the whole conflict. There is a need to marry the two paradigms in light of our own culture(s) and traditions, developing a coherent narrative that could explain and make sense of this conundrum for the most of us.
Raja Coventry
Nov 15, 2009 11:56pm
These mullahs are trying to divide the nation between Talibans and Anti-Talibans which means Civil war. There are enough good nature thinking people in Pakistan who can get together to stop this non-sense and save the Pakistan from destruction. Looking at omens, The political Islam in Pakistan could become the reason of its destruction.
Sameer
Nov 16, 2009 12:09am
The author is the one who is ashamed of his true identity. Far from reality and living in a dream world the author seems to know little about what Pakistan was created for and what it stands for. Every nation goes through periods of turmoil. But sons of the soil betraying their nation be it TTP or people like him; I feel bad for our country.
Ravi
Nov 16, 2009 01:24am
Excellent thoughts and a good article. Good to know that Dawn has added Asif to this rather short list of such ideologists that starts with Nadeem. With people like Asif and Nadeem, I feel very encouraged that there is yet hope for Pakistan. I hope your country recovers soon from the current turmoil and joins the bandwagon of states that are very focused on economic development.
guru singh
Nov 16, 2009 01:52am
In the west people dont take religion that seriously, same is the case with Hindu India and Budhist east Asia. It is only Muslim countries, where too much importance is being given to the religion. Let me be very frank with you to share that muslim religion is as good or bad as other religions. Good modern education in the west, India and east Asia has enabled and empowered the people to enact laws and make secular constitutions for good governance and welfare of their people. Most of the Muslim countries especially Pakistan on the other hand give too much importance to religion and out dated concepts associated with it, neglecting modern education and liberal thought. That's the reason the whole Muslim world is on the downward path and Pakistan is degenerating since its birth in 1947. Let me assure each Pakistani that majority of people in India accept Pakistan as a nation and want to establish good neighborly relations with it. I hope Pakistani people will understand my message and ask their govt to encourage modern education rather than depending on Mullahs to teach their children 1000 years old concepts. Time to act is now otherwise it will be too late to save themselves from self inflicted wounds.
matta reddy
Nov 16, 2009 01:58am
This is a misinformed dichotomy, since the West is not a religion, and Islam isn
Iqbal Qasim
Nov 16, 2009 04:12am
Brilliant article.
NY
Nov 16, 2009 05:36am
I am smiling how naive are the views of this young author. The post is fine, but does not have depth that one expects on topic like these. Hope to see better content next time. Cheers!
Maria
Nov 16, 2009 02:57pm
I don't know why this discussion has to be about Pakistan and India. Pakistan has to come to terms with religious extremism which dictators and politicians used for political purposes. Sadly the West helped Pakistan nurture these extremists when it was in their interests such as removing the Soviets in Afghanistan. Now it must stop and we have to rebuild our nation like we're doing with the criminals "Taliban". Most Pakistani's I know want good relations with India but we don't want to be Indians. I am tired of hearing the nonsense about British India being some kind of divine nation created by the White Man. Get over it! It was a colony artificially made by the British. Pakistan and India both broke free from British rule. Both are separate countries with their own futures. India is our Eastern neighbor and most people on both sides believe in living in peace. This will happen when we respect each others uniqueness and right to exist. Not by ignoring Pakistan's history or India's history. You can't deny however that Pakistan's history is a bit more complex and that at different times in history Pakistan has been part of many different empires and nations. So Indians please stop this talk about India and Pakistan as some sort of conspiracy. We are just two neighborly nations.
desihungama
Nov 16, 2009 04:43pm
Way to go Asif Akhtar for crawling out of the usual denial blanket we have it over us. We need more progressive thought like yours to carry us over.
auqil
Nov 16, 2009 07:15pm
Excellent article. But as a Pakistani I cannot help asking my nation,"Are we prepared to admit that Religion has to be separated from "the affairs of the state"? Auqil.
Hindupur Rajagopalan
Nov 16, 2009 08:34pm
Pakistan and Pakistanis have developed a persecution complex, that is they think that the whole world is after them. This is simply not true. They should change their thinking, nobody is after Pakistan or Pakistanis.
ali hassan
Nov 16, 2009 10:22pm
The author is surely too young to understand and grasp the true complexities / dichotomies of the situation being faced or shown to Pakistan. And for my Indian friends, I just want to tell them a tale of a meeting between President Ayub and PM Nehru. During this meeting, President Ayub offered PM Nehru to have 'Joint Defence'. PM Nehru replied, 'Against whom?' Now I leave it to the bloggers to determine as to against whom joint defence was offered.
Hashsham
Nov 17, 2009 05:10am
That's the true picture of chemistry of mythological believes going inside the minds of mostly uneducated Pakistani's. Its time that people like you should criticize and evaluate the collective social dysfunction under the light of reason . very well Done.
Sam
Nov 17, 2009 05:38am
Please explain me about the Pakistan's claim for Kashmir. Pakistan already occupies 1/3 of Jammu & Kashmir state. The rest of the 2/3 is under India. If West Pakistan has a claim, why not Bangladesh (East Pakistan) ? We know Bangladesh is not physically next as Jammu & Kashmir is. But so was East and West Pakistan, physically far apart.
Sam
Nov 17, 2009 09:41am
Great article, Boy you must have great courage to write the truth. Please watch out 99% of fellow Pakistanis will not agree with you and you may face serious problems. My advice, stop talking the truth and just give what people want to hear. Our country has no place for honest and sensible person like you.
vidhyarthi
Nov 18, 2009 08:06am
@ concerned american, Very well said. Agree with you.
I E
Nov 18, 2009 08:28am
@ Maria
Dinesh
Nov 18, 2009 08:29am
The institution of Democracy needs to be strengthened in Pakistan. More educated young professionals needs to join politics and bring about a change. The young and the educated has the power to change a country destiny. And most important, The average people in Pakistan and India should concentrate on their own issues first. Try to become a better individual, a better father, a better son. Rather than focusing on other peoples (i.e Kashmir, Palestine) problem.
SQ Khan
Nov 18, 2009 11:57am
We are not the victim of terror. We have created this to destabilize others. Now we fear that the same thing is going to destabilize us. lets not cry to that world as "Victim of terror" instead lets look into ourselves and rectify the mistakes what our policy makes of our nation have been making.
Ikram Ali
Nov 18, 2009 03:59pm
While the author writes for Dawn, does he read it as well? That Pakistan is in a state of denial might be a common refrain but the ground reality hardly suggests that. Just a few days back, anyone who reads Dawn would have noticed that the clerics who congregated at Raiwand denounced the taliban thugs & terrorists in the strongest words. I think the Swat takeover by the taliban was a watershed moment for the country. Realization has downed most people since then about the enormity of the threat posed by such groups to the country. And thankfully there is an overwhelming consensus now that military action is vital to weed out the terrorists.
rich05
Nov 18, 2009 05:45pm
A good article and I hope someone like Moin Ansari reads it, its people like Moin who will take Pakistan to the abyss, The author courage is to be saluted, hope India too wakes up to its own trouble of naxal, and other terror group in India Regards Richie
tipu
Nov 18, 2009 06:36pm
I am dismayed by my own people. Pakistan has no future unless we replace our ideology. Become true secular and rational. To those who romanticize Islam must read Sahi Bokhari first and then evaluate. It was really an extremely primitive and unhealthy environment, I wasn't inspired even a bit after reading the religion.
Maria
Nov 18, 2009 07:22pm
@IE: Why is it so hard for Indians to accept Pakistan as a neighbor? Your mind set shows why peace is so difficult. You seem to believe that only Europeans can define a nation but you forget that the land of Pakistan was hardly under British rule for 100 years. The British alone made the Raj in South Asia and before that invaders from outside were the only reason why different regions in South Asia were lumped together. A whole generation of post partition Pakistanis like me don't but into the Indian myth of British India being some great "white man's creation". Partition wasn't a blunder; it was inevitable. For centuries before that Pakistan has been part of many Kingdoms, Empires and nations. We are proud of our history. Sure there are some things in common between India and Pakistan but we also have a lot of things which are different. I respect your culture and right to be Indian and I expect you to respect my culture and right to be Pakistani. @SQ Khan: Does anyone doubt that the criminals are working against Pakistan's interests and trying to destabilize the nation? We all know that they are finally getting the treatment they deserve and it's almost ludicrous that these very terrorists dress up like women to kill innocent civilians. I think it's important to point out to the world that Pakistan has suffered more from terrorists than any other nation. We have put up the greatest sacrifice and we will prevail. That's why I get so bothered when others expect us to do more. It's been proven that some of our neighbors actually behind the terrorist acts and I wish the world would put pressure on them. I'm upset that our Foreign Office isn't doing a better job of showing our efforts and blaming the neighboring nations who are involved in a double game. They say one thing but they are trying to damage us too.
Londoner
Nov 18, 2009 09:29pm
The greatest indicator for how good this article is is the number of Hindustani's who have posted messages to praise the author. Pakistani's must be wary of their eastern neighbor, in the same way that Hindustani's trawl through websites like this one and wait for articles like this to vent their own insecurities, the nation of Hindustan itself is united by nothing but a common hatred of Muslims, as can be witnessed by regular state-sponsored religious riots. The author seems blind to this, and is making a futile appeal for us to forego our identity. What is the alternative? We to surrender our eastern border and let the soldiers of Hindustan fulfill their ambitions ? Kashmir is the clearest example of what kind of status Muslim-majority areas would have in this mythical 'united India'. Our soldiers threw themselves under tanks with grenades in their hands in 1965, just so that we would be spared this horror. Hindustani's are allowed to wallow in self-delusion, because they rely on it to feel some misplaced pride in their own nation. We as Pakistani's must be more realistic about our options, the turmoil that Pakistani's are going through today and have gone through for decades. Poor effort by the author, but not the first time I have seen a Pakistani fall for the brahmin myth of a 'civilized' Hindustan. God bless Pakistan. God bless Quaid-e-Azam. PAKISTAN ZINDABAD Hasan
Mayet
Nov 17, 2009 02:35pm
Excellent analysis Asif. Very impressive. Hats off to you Mate. Haven't read a better explanation in many years. Time the thinking people in the 'silent majority' read your article and turn their backs on those that profit from the mythology you have described. Time they speak up as you have done.
irfan
Nov 17, 2009 05:30pm
There is always blessing in disguise.
Dinesh
Nov 17, 2009 08:23pm
Nice article Asif well done. Rational mind is the only hope that can save Pakistan. My only question is who is there to wake up masses addicted to gossip & conspiracy theories? Are similar articles translated in vernacular and discussed among masses? For Indian's Pakistan is a reality, but failed Pakistan a nightmare. But seems Pakistan could not come out of its birth pang. Reason put forward by Jinnah for demanding Pakistan was that the interests of Muslims would not be safe in dominant Hindu country but same Quaid-e-Azam of Pakistan wanted newly formed country to be secular after partition! Being learned scholar he could foresee the implications of mixing religion & state. So the birth of Pakistan was based on exploitation of fear of dominant Hindu state alas the fear lives in all these conspiracy theories.
ashutosh
Nov 18, 2009 06:46am
Just want to congratulate this gentleman. One needs courage to write with honesty and that too in the context he is situated in.
umair
Nov 18, 2009 02:02am
I am slightly disappointed that unlike Akhtar
Jay
Nov 18, 2009 03:27am
Good article, but I am not sure why this type of articles and self realization were not found 5-10 years back. It seems only after these "terrorists" started killing innocent Pakistani population. Earlier the same terrorists were referred to as "Shaheeds" when they were killed by Indian forces in Kashmir. These militants took lives of thousands of innocent people.
Jai S
Nov 18, 2009 04:12am
There is an inclination amongst the Pakistani people to brand anybody who tells the truth as a traitor. What most Pakistani's want to hear is that the US, Israel and India are fomenting terror inside Pakistan. The moment it is pointed out that the agencies and the other institutions have been training terrorists to give them 'strategic depth', he is branded as a 'traitor'. Nearly all of Pakistan's problem is its own making. Sure, the US had a responsibility to resettle the Mujahideen after the Soviets left. But, the agency and the military would not have allowed it to happen. They saw this great opportunity of wresting Kashmir with the same force that outwitted the more powerful Soviets. But they realize that the Mujahids did not have the same motivation for the Kashmir cause.
Concerned American
Nov 18, 2009 07:16am
As America is browning with immigrants from central and southern America, Indians, south-east Asians, Chinese and African countries, America is learning from them. What it is learning from Indians, not only Science and Technologies (many of our MITs and Caltechs besides state universities as Berkeley, Urbana Champagnes, NASA, Bell Labs are filled with Indians) but most importantly their individualistic spirituality, not religions. We Americans are fed up of old Abrahim's religions such as Catholicism and Islam. They are very restrictive. Abraham's religions assume us to be sinners and then try to reform us. This creates guilt, the worst emotion which can lead to suicide. Yoga and Meditation taught by Hinduism and Buddhism is spreading in Americas, because they are practices which an individual can practice without a need of any holy book. Pakistan is so close to India, if it sheds a bit its Islamic ideology then it can turn back from its suicidal march.
Akil Akhtar
Nov 19, 2009 04:56am
By writing such articles all the writer has achieved is a fan club in India and opportunity for the fan club to bag Pakistan. A Nation that bans all Pakistani TV channels and digs up cricket pitches when we visit and stand against its politicians if they say a good word about Jinnah should not give others lectures on tolerance. Whether India is involved in Pakistan or not but there is definitely a propaganda war against Islam and Pakistan which is having its effect and demoralizing us. I have lived in western nations long enough to know that all this tolerance thing is B.S. all nations are extremely intolerant toward other races and religions and blind Nationalism is their god. Same is true for India which blames Pakistan for everything so what is the difference if we blame India for the terrorism in Pakistan.
Jai S
Nov 19, 2009 05:15am
@ Umair sir, let me give you an Indian perspective on the creation of Pakistan. I can tell you categorically that Indians are happier with the thought of Pakistan being a separate country than being a part of India. Do Indians want Pakistan to be a part of India? The answer is 'NO'. I really don't know where this perception that India has not accepted the creation of Pakistan, came from. Trust me, no Indian wants Pakistan to be a part of India. The only thing we want if for the Kashmir issue to be solved. But if that involves India ceding Kashmir, I don't think it will happen. The only realistic solution is to make the present LOC into an international border. Otherwise, we'll be fighting this for another 1000 years without a solution in sight. Sad but true.
as
Nov 20, 2009 12:05pm
"polygamous infidels" hehe :) We might be infidels but we are not polygamous. I'll take it that you meant polytheist?
Spartan117
Nov 19, 2009 06:31pm
@Ali Atkhar "Whether India is involved in Pakistan or not but there is definitely a propaganda war against Islam and Pakistan which is having its effect and demoralizing us." Incorrect India's problem is only with Pakistan. India does not have problems with other Muslim countries (e.g. Iran, Bangladesh, the Arab world, Indonesia, etc.). "I have lived in western nations long enough to know that all this tolerance thing is B.S. all nations are extremely intolerant toward other races and religions and blind Nationalism is their god." I am the son of immigrants and I find the US and other western countries to be extremely tolerant.
Sachin
Nov 19, 2009 07:40pm
I just want to say that Indians should not be allowed to comment on this site as despite being an Indian, I find most (80%) of the Indian comments in bad taste. It hurts me to know that Indians are using this site and the freedom of press in Pakistan to vent out their feelings. My request to my Indian brothers is 'please keep your thoughts and opinions to yourself. This is not the forum for you to highlight your opinion on Pakistan. Please refrain from doing so. This country is better off without our intervention or advise." To the people across the border, just a passing thought. In India, we too hope for a better world and a better country for ourselves. Our thoughts and hopes are not much different from yours. I have met a few Pakistani people during my travels and I see no difference between them and me. Hopefully the world and our countries will be a better place to live in the years to come. A sincere hope and thought.
paagle
Nov 19, 2009 11:37pm
"They also added that a true jihadi would not be involved in the killing of innocent people" Of course not. They'll just define anybody they don't like as guilty using some religious-themed sophistry and off you go.
Madhu
Nov 20, 2009 05:43am
Interesting to note the number of people who object to this article because some Indians have supported it. There is not even an attempt to challenge the facts or myths of the author. Instead there is just blind denial or rejection.
NameDoesNotMatter
Nov 21, 2009 10:51am
Good, intelligent people (in both India and Pakistan) never join politics. The people who have and who have had power for the last 60 years haven't done any developmental work. Both countries still have poor literacy rates, extreme poverty, energy crisis (I can go on and on with the problems) and are still 'Third World Countries'. Having done nothing for the people these politicians need issues to win elections - they feed on religion, race etc to distract people from real issues. The education system has been changed to fuel hatred. The press of both countries feeds on this hatred to increase revenues (painting other side in a bad light is what people on both sides want to read) and thus also adds fire to it. I experience a sense of deep and painful disappointment at the present situation. I pray to God for better sense to prevail soon.
Azam khan Buneri
Nov 21, 2009 05:23am
The people of both Pakistan and India want co- existence and good brotherly relations but governments of both the countries are bent upon to never materialize this dream. They create hurdles in this way through adverse statements and propaganda's against each other. This is being done with plannings. Both of the governments have created such organizations which promote hatreds and misunderstandings among the people of both the countries. I think there is a great need to warn both the people of these conspiracies.
karimbhai
Nov 21, 2009 07:01am
The only religion in the world which allows polygamy is ISLAM. No other religion supports polygamy be it Christianity, Buddhism or Hinduism. So it is wrong to call some one polygamous infidels.
Amit
Nov 22, 2009 12:08am
When it comes to identity, every one has a need to preserve their own - whether it is nationalistic, religious, racial, or even something simple like a favorite sports team. Regardless, there has to be a commitment to truth. It is not about religion or race but about culture. People quickly learn to distrust a culture of lies, violence and victim hood. Pakistan is suffering from such a cultural decline today. Pakistani media spends too much time writing about the social evils and Jingoism in India. Does that justify terrorism? How many times does the media try to uncover why the terrorists are able to hide behind Islam without a massive opposition from the masses? When was the last time intolerant Indians came to Pakistani cities and shot up innocent civilians? The primary problem in South Asia is violence and hatred emanating from Pakistan in the garb of Islam.
Bunny
Nov 22, 2009 07:08pm
Sadly as long as Religion and Government shake hands this scenario is unlikely to change. Countries should be ruled by Civil Law and within that framework Individuals can rule themselves with whatever religion they choose or its lack thereof. Taliban's need to understand that it is none of their business if a women dances in a club as long as the Civil law supports it. They have a right to their own life, not to others. The day people understand this basic argument, the world would be a far better place to live in.
namedoesnot matter
Nov 23, 2009 01:56am
Not to change the topic by to answer karimbhai polygamy question, He will be correct to say that Islam only allow 4 maximum while other religions have no limit on the number. In bible there are examples of 1000 wives and no limit on cuncubines. ANd there is no limit in other religion on marriages including hinduism for man but for women sathi is the last resort. So please karimbhai do justice and throw away your bias eye.
Rahul
Nov 23, 2009 10:48pm
I agree with the author. Pakistan's problem started when america left taliban after soviet was buried in afghanistan with the help of agencies and then agencies started using its own brain and thought why not use these leftovers against India. Hence the IC 814 hijacking when Masood Azhar was released by India. A few Pakistanis who hated India had this freedom to use the state machinery against India and why did they have this freedom because of frequent army takeovers. Democracy not being there led to all this mess and Pakistani till date likes to see indian people dead anywhere. Hope to see Pakistan with democracy which the whole world is proud of. General public however narrow minded wont let terrorists takeover.
Hameed Sayyad
Nov 24, 2009 09:19am
The problem with Pakistan is its security sector who are the zionists of Pakistan. They control the media, the average Pakistani people and etc.
Jehangir
Nov 24, 2009 10:45am
So many people so many conspiracy theories.
Harleytourism
Nov 25, 2009 12:20pm
Every body has to understand that world is not black & white but grey. We always aspire and seek the truth (Which is again our Nature) But one mans truth could be different from others. A Journalist job is to report the situation but The Journalist also with little editing will promote his opinion (Which definitely be different from the facts). Discussions are a mode to seek clarity and form opinion and to enrich the knowledge.
SQ Khan
Nov 26, 2009 04:04am
Today is the day all of us should bow down our head in shame and pay homage to the victim of last years Mumbai attacks by our mis guided countrymen. They were not Taliban
Manish
Nov 26, 2009 10:42am
Wow, that was a good article. Wish the whole Pakistan good times always. From an Indian
MB
Nov 29, 2009 12:11pm
Dear very well written and an inspiring article. Wish all other so-called "literates" who though have hi-fi Bachelor and master degrees but keep on sending senseless messages on sms against India and our so-called enemies wake up and use the upper portion of their head.
Omar
Dec 08, 2009 07:45am
Dear author. What is that thing which you call a rational approach, what is an alternate view of things. What is the root cause of the mess we see around, who is it actually doing it. Ok for the same of argument let me agree with you. But then you have to tell me whats the root cause? Ok lets be Rational, but what is the Rational explaination? Have I missed some line or para in the article which answers my questions? Bro let me know.