On the 27th of January, while driving through Mozang (an extremely crowded section of Lahore city) in a rented Honda Civic, American citizen RaymondDavis shot two men who were riding a motorcycle. Soon afterwards, another vehicle that was racing to (presumably) rescue Mr. Davis, ran over a third person and killed him too. These seem to be the only undisputed facts about the event. Shortly afterwards, Pakistani TV channels showed one of the dead men with a revolver and an ammunition belt around his waist. It was also claimed that the two men were carrying several mobile phones and possible some other stolen items. But soon after the event, the story began to change. From a robbery attempt gone bad, it morphed into Mr. Davis assassinating two young men without obvious cause. Raymond’s own status was immediately in dispute and within a few days the network of websites that is thought to represent the views of Pakistan’s deep state were stating that Davis was a CIA agent, he was being tailed by the ISI and he had shot two ISI agents. They also claimed Davis was working with the “bad Taliban” to do bad things in Pakistan, while trying to spy on the “good Taliban” and other virtuous jihadist organizations like the LET.
You return home and watch Gaddafi make his address on TV and thank the heavens the World Cup is not in Pakistan so the world won’t stand up and ask why our stadium in Lahore bears his name.
From a Pakistani in Sri Lanka.
Though there were periodic intrusions of South Asia from the west, there seems to have been little flow of people and political power projection from South Asia out to Iran and Turan.* Why? Traditionally I have favored geographically contingent parameters. Populations from warmer climes tend not be well prepared for the winters in northern climes, while those from frigid climes can usually adapt by shedding clothing. The difficulties of the Arabs in pushing their power very far north of the Caucasus was an instance of this, as the records seem to indicate some difficultly in adapting to the reality of the north Eurasian winter (Islam’s penetration of the north came via the conversion of the Turks). In contrast, Turkic peoples have moved south for the past 1,000 years with relative ease.
The century or so before Islam has been termed the “Buddhist Age.” Buddhism had taken root in China as an indigenous and vital religion, and began its spread to Korea and Japan. Hindu and Buddhist influences were also evident in Southeast Asia. Men of Indian origin such as Kumārajīva were prominent at the time in China, teaching the tenets of the new religion and translating its scriptures into the local language. Though the figures at the courts of the kings of Angkor and Srivijaya are more vague, it seems implausible that Indian culture could spread without some Indian individuals. In the domain of “hard power,” the peninsular Cholas of the Tamil lands at their peak claimed hegemony over much of maritime Southeast Asia.
What happened? I think without getting into too controversial a territory native Indian cultural traditions clearly took a defensive crouch after the hammer-blow of the Muslim Turk raids, and then later the Islamic hegemony across much of South Asia. Unlike the Zoroastrians of Iran, or the Christians of the Near East, South Asians maintained their indigenous religious traditions by and large. But like Rabbinical Judaism, Indian civilization was transmuted by the thousand year awkward condominium between Islam and the Dharmic traditions. I must admit I find it ironic that some of the most anti-Muslim Indians I’ve met are also the most obviously attached to the involuted and exclusive forms and ways of Hindu civilization as it developed by necessity when faced with a religiously alienated ruling class.
The daughter of a French countess tells Saima Mir how she brought Gallic cuisine to Pakistan
If you find yourself ever in Karachi, tired of eating karahi, kebab, and kulfi, head for the neighbourhood of Clifton. Hidden within its bustling streets you’ll find a tiny piece of Paris in Pakistan called Café Flo. Once through the gate you’ll be in a courtyard filled with lush blossom-covered trees, and the armed guard outside the door will be a distant memory.
The restaurant, which has been serving fine French fare to Pakistanis for more than ten years, is regarded in certain social circles as the best place to eat in the city, a haven for the country’s elite to eat, chat and flaunt. Continue reading
I’ll throw this out there as an open question. Which nation in the Dar-ul-Islam is the most tolerant toward non-Muslim faiths? Bonus points for a combination of a substantial non-Muslim minority (so it’s not a moot point) and a devout populace. For example, Albania, Azerbaijan, and Kazakhstan, and probably Bosnia if you could disentangle ethno-nationalism from the equation, would probably come out on top. But these are nations which have experienced secularization, and have a substantial proportion of nominal Muslims among the confessing believers. I think to combine both religious sensibility and tolerance you’d probably have to look to Africa. I nominate Senegal, because it is a relatively stable and democratic Sub-Saharan African nation, which is 90% Muslim, whose first president was a Christian. That’s a large enough non-Muslim minority to make minority rights a live point, but the Islamic dominance in terms of numbers is assured.
though it must be said that mad dog Qaddafi is somewhat unique, even by Arab standards. Even Saudi Arabia has a relatively professional army (relative is an important concept here). Morocco and Algeria both have professional armies. Offhand, I cannot think of another example quite like Gaddafi….anyone?
I got this off someone’s facebook but it really was moving. Arab history, despite appearances, is not static. Soon after the Israeli victory of 1967 that marked the defeat of secular Arab nationalism, one of the great Arab poets, Nizar Qabbani wrote:
Corn ears of the future,
You will bre…ak our chains. Continue reading
I posted an earlier part of this series…its still going strong, thanks to the internet zine “viewpoint”…enjoy.
The full archive is here: http://www.viewpointonline.net/Archives/Archives/archive/author/A.+Asif.html
In the comments below there is a debate about the inevitability of progress, the possibility of reversion to past states, etc. I am not going to put a long comment here, but want to enter several points.
- At the end of the day the universe will suffer “heat death,” so eventually all anti-entropic dynamics and phenomena will be reversed
- So we need to constrain the time parameter to something reasonable. The parameter for biological evolution is probably on the order of a billions of years, while for human history we’re talking thousands of years