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Understanding Turkish Nationalism

by Yasser Latif Hamdani Further to the Part 2 of Shaheryar Ali’s “Historiography” series, in particular the tangential reference to Turkish Nationalism contained therein, I am sharing a few thoughts for the readers of the Pak Tea House. Given the importance of the said discussion, it is important to set the record on straight.  Ali’s main thrust is that since Kemal Ataturk’s Turkish Nationalism took an increasingly European character, it was not a kind of Muslim nationalism but an ethnic one or linguistic one.  All of the arguments thus presented have not done anything to reveal the true nature of Turkish nationalism but rather rely on subsequent modernist endeavors of Ataturk and the Kemalist Turkish state to move away from an overtly Islamic identity to whitewash the history and context of Ataturk’s … Read entire article »

Filed under: History, Identity, Islam, Islamism

History and Interpretations: Communalism and Problems of Indian Historiography 2

by Shaheryar Ali We have analyzed, the origins of “communal historiography”, the “socio-political construction” of communal-identities, the conversion of “communal politics into Religious Nationalism. Here we have given a critique of Colonial Historiography, by the secular-nationalist historians of India. What becomes clear is that colonialism in  India  resulted in formation of 3 types of Nationalism, which Romila Thapar characterizes as Anti-colonial Indian Nationalism, Hindu and Muslim Nationalism, both of whom were not anti-colonial but relied on colonialism for their historical legitimacy, we have demonstrated that looking into history and culture of India in terms of “Muslim” and “Hindu” was essentially British. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

'The Making of Mr. Hai's Daughter' A Memoir

Soniah Kamal Usually one hears of desi immigrant parents preferring, or forcing if you will, their kids to adhere to the traditions and customs of backhome and, usually, these parents are referred to as ‘backwards’. What of those immigrant-parents who are ‘forwards’? Those who actively seek to assimilate into other lands and other ways so that they themselves do not become the ‘other’? Can it go too far forwards too? Yasmin Hai’s father was one such forward and Yasmin writes about her upbringing in her memoir ‘The Making of Mr. Hai’s Daughter: Becoming British’. Sounds absolutely delightful. Here’s an excerpt from the memoir. Here’s a review in the Spectator. Mr Hai’s idea of Britishness was very different from the British version. Not once did he mention the importance of going down the boozer and watching the footy. Instead, he instructed his children to read Milton and Shakespeare and … Read entire article »

Filed under: Books, culture, Europe, Heritage, Literature

The new "Nokiaa" gadget for Pakistan

The new "Nokiaa" gadget for Pakistan

Courtesy Hillpark – this is by no means an authentic picture but a reflection of the sardonic black humour prevalent in these troubled times. RR … Read entire article »

Filed under: Humor, Images

History and Interpretation:Communalism and Problems of Historiography

Shaheryar Ali There has been an interesting debate going on in the pages of PakTea House e-zine regarding Indian history. This debate is also at the heart of the “history wars” which are  going on in India and Pakistan. In Pakistan it has acquired a specific character because , a version of  communal historiography had to be adopted to built “Pakistani Nationalism”. When a nation state was to be built on Muslim identity and Muslim separatism, it had to rely on a version of history which starts with Muslim invaders, all the debates in such form of history revolve around a particular community, in this case “Muslims”. It is supposed that somehow that community was always “separate”, “distinct” and somewhat independent of other people this community was living with. This type of … Read entire article »

Filed under: History, India

DTN view on the 'suspicious' Marriot Hotel Bombing – And Not the Taliban.

Divining the News (DTN), Not Mainstream News says: One report says: “Why haven’t the Taliban claimed responsibility for the Marriot”. Another report points out Islamabad is the most closely surveilled place in Pakistan. How could a Tribal possibly drive a truck all the way to the Marriot, and not be stopped? Read more here … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Islamabad, the miserable

by Zafar Iqbal Kalanauri Mujhey koi achee khabar sona, meray khush nazar, meray khush bayan, Meree kashtian hain bhanwar bhanwar, meree bastian hain dhuan dhuan….. (Amjad Islam Amjad) The Islamabad Marriott Hotel is no more. Islamabad – the beautiful, has turned into Islamabad – the miserable. The Islamabad incident while highlighted monumental security lapses and loopholes in the country, it also raised questions about efficiency and professionalism of country’s disaster management infrastructure. Usman Manzoor reported in The News: “The Capital Development Authority (CDA), like Nero of Rome, was playing the flute when its icon of security, The Marriott, was burning in the heart of the capital”. “Saturday’s blast not only exposed the fire-fighting unit of the civic authority but also raised fingers at the high officials of the CDA and the cabinet division whose negligence left Marriott … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

Land for the landless – a new beginning

By Sabihuddin Ghausi In the next few weeks, just after Eid, the Sindh government is going to launch one of its ambitious programmes, land for the landless. While not very impressive in number of beneficiaries — less than 14,000 in first phase — the message of the programme is quite significant. Each hari family will be given two to eight acres of barrage land. … Read entire article »

Filed under: land, Sindh

Zardari Meets Palin; a Different Take

Zardari Meets Palin; a Different Take

I am not sure I completely agree with, or endorse the thought, but this bears quoting. It’s something Nowsherwan Yasin said on a mailing list this morning about the whole Zardari hits on Palin brouhaha (in case you’ve not followed it, check out the post and discussion Teeth Maestro’s blog here.): Although I agree that such statements are inappropriate in foreign relations, I can’t help but see an unintentional advantage (of sorts) of Pakistani chauvinism in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Democracy, Pakistan, Politics

SAJA Panel Discussion on the South Asian Blogosphere

SAJA BRIEFING: The South Asian Blogosphere and How Its Changing the Media 8:35pm Website: The South Asian Journalists Association presents an online panel discussion among some of the best-known names in the South Asian blogosphere. They will discuss the state of the blogosphere (South Asian and otherwise) and how it is affecting how news and information about South Asia and the diaspora is gathered and shared. Sabahat Ashraf of iFaqeer; Anil Dash of; Karthik of; Maria Giovanna of; Arun Venugopal of Technorati tags applicable to this post: iFaqeer – Blogging – South Asian Blogosphere – Indian Blogosphere – Pakistani Blogosphere … Read entire article »

Filed under: Blogging, journalism, Media, Pakistan, Society, Writers

Ayesha Siddiqa on the burning Pakistan

Ayesha Siddiqa‘s brilliant piece on openDemocracy is a must-read. She is clear and quite strategic in her analysis that concludes with these lines: This effort to create a domestic coalition that can address such acts of terror should be part of a larger agenda to reach out to the rest of the world – including Russia, Iran, China, India and others – to keep the Americans at bay. Pakistan needs to go multilateral. Unless a third option is found beyond Washington and the Taliban, Pakistan will continue to burn – until it consumes itself. Pakistan: a country on fire The bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad on 20 September 2008 has hit Pakistan hard. The reputation of the hotel as a meeting-point and social hub for the capital’s political and diplomatic class … Read entire article »

Filed under: Army, Politics, war

The secret life of a doomed hotel: remembering Islamabad's Marriott

By Mark Corcoran of ABC’s Foreign Correspondent A CCTV still shows security personnel gathering around a truck, on fire at right, that tried to crash through the barrier at the Marriott hotel in Islamabad. (Reuters TV) It’s hard not to get emotional and very difficult to play the dispassionate journalist as I sit here, watching the Marriott Hotel burn on my computer screen courtesy of online news. Initial reports say rescuers still can’t reach the upper floors. How many colleagues, friends, acquaintances lie buried in the wreckage is unclear. It’s the holy month of Ramadan, and the suicide truck bomber struck in the evening, just as hundreds of people would have been gathering to break the daily fast. Having attended such gatherings at the hotel, I suspect most of the crowd would … Read entire article »

Filed under: Terrorism, violence, war

You hold your heart in your hands

You hold your heart in your hands

The great struggle of life is the struggle of understanding the Self.  It is not the struggle to put food on the table, though that is often a great struggle (and for many it is a primary struggle).  It is not the struggle to establish justice, though that struggle is an obligatory struggle.  But, it is the struggle to know the Self.  If you know your Self, then you can excel in these other endeavors. If … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

European Left and People Reject Islamophobia: the tale of a city

Shaheryar Ali Though the Islamists, imperialist, fascists and their “softer” supporters, the conservatives, capitalist Liberals, are on the forefront of promoting the agenda of “clash of civilizations”. The people, the real people, the poor and workers of the world have repeatedly demonstrated their solidarity with each other, their rejection of religious hatred and fascism. The capitalist media which is known as “free” media, is on the forefront of promoting hatred. As Noam Chomsky has demonstrated in his remarkable study “Manufacturing Consent”, that this free media just plays the role of spreading hate and built public opinion , in favor of Imperialist wars. To sell , George Bush’s War on Terror [which is nothing but War of Terror], Media and others have built stereotypes have marginalized Muslims and Islam. A stupid thesis was … Read entire article »

Filed under: Activism, Europe, Islam, Islamism, Left, Religion, USA

No Military Solutions to Suicide Bombings

Analysis by Beena Sarwar (IPS) – Political analysts have long been warning the United States and Pakistan governments that there are no easy military solutions in prosecuting the global `war on terror’ which may now have become inextricable from `home-grown’ militancy. These warnings were grimly reinforced by the bomb attack on the Marriott Hotel in Pakistan’s capital, Islamabad, on Sep. 20. If not the deadliest such attack this frontline country in the `war on terror’ has withstood, then it is perhaps the most symbolic in terms of venue and timing. The number of suicide attacks and casualties in Pakistan has steadily risen since the first bombing here in 2002. The deadliest year so far was 2007, during which bomb blasts at the welcome procession of the late former prime minister Benazir Bhutto on … Read entire article »

Filed under: Afghanistan, Army, FATA, Islamism, North-West Frontier Province, Politics, Terrorism, violence, war