Pakistan: The Narratives Fall Apart

I have to run, so this will have to  be fleshed out later, but a few quick points to start a discussion:

1. The government of Pakistan (GOP) has completely lost control of the narrative. They were always confused, but part of the confusion was by choice. Since Musharraf gave his famous Sulah Hudaybia speech, where he said we will cooperate with Western powers just like the nascent Islamic state in Medina signed a peace deal with the kafirs in Mecca as a temporary measure, there were always going to be things we had to hide or obfouscate. Then the more impatient jihadis started beheading armymen and brave levies soldiers, so they had to be fitted into the story somewhere. For that, the Hindu agent/Jewish conspiracy theme was activated and the Pakistani Taliban were described as agents of RAW and the CIA, fighting against our brave soldiers in order to undermine the world’s only Islamic nuclear power. This was never an easy sell outside of middle class Pakistan but it had a certain internal coherence. Now this whole convoluted scheme has fallen apart thanks to Mian Nawaz Sharif and Choudhry Nisar.

2. The Pakistani state recognized those very Taliban (hindu-jewish agents, CIA proxies) as negotiation partners and also conceded that they control a certain territory where they decide who comes and who negotiates. A team of negotiators who are generally sympathetic to the Taliban was appointed to talk to them. Mullahs of every stripe were activated (or activated themselves, after all, they have brains too) to prepare the ground for negotiations. Since no one in Pakistan can deny shariah law and the supremacy of Islam, this already puts the corrupt and double-dealing state apparatus at a disadvantage to the more shariah-compliant and Islamic Taliban. This blow was bad enough, but worse was to come.

3. The Taliban, displaying (as usual) more coherence and sense than the GOP, have put forward a list of people who can negotiate on their behalf. A list that includes Imran Khan and Maulana Samiul Haq. Not exactly people who can be easily dismissed as Hindu-Jewish agents. Then they have supposedly appointed a ten man committee to supervise these negotiators.THAT committee includes such luminaries as Asmatullah Muavia (the guy who ADMITTED to ordering the killing of Chinese and East European climbers on Nanga Parbat and admitted to a vicious church bombing as well) and Khalid Khurasani (whose video can be seen below). They will now issue lists of demands, some minor (and therefore impossible to resist…after all, can peace be sacrificed for such minor things?) , some major (like prisoner release) and some irresistible in principle (like the imposition of shariah). When negotiations fall apart (as they must), who will be blamed? Is there ANY chance that Sami ul Haq or Imran Khan will blame the Taliban for this failure? Of course, the TTP can also deny the committee or any other news as and when it suits them. They control the narrative, not Choudhry Nisar.

4. Where will this leave the whole Indian-agent theory on which any real operation against the TTP was to be based within the army?

The state will not surrender to these people. Yet. But one more step back has been taken.
What next?

btw, Fazlullah’s last set of demands for peace is in the second video below.

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Cafe Le Whore and other stories

A new book by Pakistani-American author Moazzam Sheikh.
I think its brilliant and original. Moazzam is not interested in writing “Pakistani” fiction or “Western” fiction. Just stories, about people, in strange places, sometimes doing strange things, but always human, all too human…
Funny too. Very funny at places.
All in all, a fresh, different and disturbing new Pakistani-American voice. Migration, migrants, Lahore, Samnabad and the People’s Republic of San Francisco play a role in most of the stories, as they do in the life of the author. But the themes are universal. Check it out.
 Full Disclosure: I am related to the author, who is also a friend.

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Can inter-sect marriages save Pakistani society?

“I am Muslim and nothing else,” says 23-year-old Sana*. Growing up in a multi-sect home it wasn’t until Sana was a teenager that she felt the distinct divide society wanted to categorise her in. An outgoing and ambitious young professional Sana, with a Shia father and Sunni mother, continues to resist societal pressure to declare allegiance to either religious sect.
Her live and let live policy along with the unwillingness to “choose sides” is something she staunchly stands by and contrary to popular belief nothing about Sana indicates she is not a well-adjusted individual. Living in a loving home where understanding and tolerance supersede prejudice and narrow-mindedness she is happy to have the opportunity to be exposed to both sects.
Aurangzeb Khan, 22, has also been raised in a multi-sect home. Since he turned 12, Aurangzeb showed an inclination towards his mother’s sect, who is a Shia. He admits he was initially uneasy about the distinction between how he and his father offered their prayers but says,

 

Hands by my sides or folded, all I know is that I am praying before the same God.

http://www.dawn.com/news/1083796/shia-sunni-marriages-till-faith-do-us-part
My paternal grandfather was of a Sunni background (before he converted) and my grandmother’s family was of Shi’ite Sayyid lineage (before they converted). One astonishing thing about the Baha’i community is the nature of the constant mixing; among the Persian Baha’i Jewish, Zoroastrian and Muslim backgrounds intermingle in the same individual. It’s perhaps the best way for the world to heal when we’re all (more closely) related together.
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You gotta love the Bhutto-Z kids

I have no idea how to embed this video so I’ll just link to it.

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=485049061617125

I think Bakhtawar is speaking Sindhi? She does resemble her mother so (both the daughters do) whereas Bilawal seems to have taken more after his father.

I’m really reminded of the antics of hereditary princelings; it’s nice to know Pakistan is the only country left in the world where such antics are possible. Personally I think it’s a strength after all Pakis have become so drab that any splash of colour will do.

Interestingly enough I would hazard the state of the Sindhi language in India is relatively dire (this is based on observations none of my fiancee’s generation will speak Sindhi though most understand it). I did tweet at Bilawal to invite the wealthier Hindu Sindhis to the festivals but nothing availed of it. Any revival of Sindhi culture is going to include the wealthiest population (merchants, traders & property owners) who still disproportionately happen to be Hindu.

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Dirty War in Balochistan

Some mass graves containing unidentified bodies were recently discovered in Balochistan. Who is buried there? the home minister thinks they are victims of the Indian secret service, but most people seem to think they are some of the hundreds of Baloch nationalists who have disappeared in the last few years.€15 dead bodies found from a mass grave in Balochistan
What IS clear is that nobody is really too bothered by this discovery. It has not made big news in Pakistan (for obvious reasons) or abroad…perhaps the reasons are less obvious in this case, but they may include:
1. A fuss in the Western media is more likely when vital Western interests are involved. Since the CIA needs Pakistan for a relatively peaceful exit from Afghanistan, the push to demonize Pakistan may be lacking in this case
2. There is no big expat Baloch population making a fuss.
3. Journalists are usually not allowed in Balochistan and with so many other big stories around in Pakistan, this one is easy to miss.

Anyway, to bring people a taste of what is happening, here is a set of videos from Balochistan.
Notice that several are set to the same song. This is the theme song of the Taliban and their allies in the Lashkar e Jhangvi (the Shia-killer faction of the Jihadist network) and other Jihadist organizations.
A look at these videos may give a hint about why Shia-killers are especially free to operate in Balochistan; Not just because its so weakly governed, but also because the state is using the same Jihadist groups to undermine “secular” Baloch nationalists. Dr Taqi sheds some light on this little known war in this piece.  
Its a hard world out there.

Couldn’t help putting this one up

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Why are Pakistanis such a jealous and vicious lot?

I’m sure everyone on Twitterstan (why are there so many Pakis on twitter btw) is condemning BBZ’s brave Sindh festival. Apparently the hoo-ha is caused by the fact that Mohenjardo has been scaffolded and used as a stage for the festival.

My own thoughts on the festival is that it seems rather ethnic and downmarket as opposed to cosmopolitan and pseudo-Western (let’s keep it real – the upscale Urdu-speaking Mohajers are now the core constituency of Guccistan, we like Urdu but prefer English), which is what elite should be trying to foster.

At any rate now half of Twitterstan is slinging at BBZ and his anglo allies for somehow desecrating Mohenjardo. Myra Macdonald made the good observation where were these Pakistanis when Bamiyan was being blow to bits. Also these are the same Pakis (middle class Urdu speaking Islam lot) that believe our history beings with Mohammed Bin Qasim & ends with Quaid-e-Azam.

Personally I’m glad I stay out of Paki politics (I have to since it’s doctrine for us to remain strictly non-partisan) but Pakistan seems to be uniquely affected by Tall Poppy syndrome (which deeply affects the Old Commonwealth; contrast the US & Canada) and also the developing world problem of vicious, aggressive cut-throat competition for the limited space.

Bilawal is what promises for a Hereditary Princeling of Pakistan these days; he and his sisters are a localised version of a fumbling royal dynasty. Let them indulge their passing fancy because there aren’t many other good representatives of Pakistan (their cousin Fatima is of course stunning but then again she’s only quarter Paki, far too caught up in a blood feud & doesn’t have that feel for Pakistan that a Guccistani should naturally have).

Pakistanis sadly make so little use of Mohenjardo and other such sites that at least a good send-off in some forgettable festival isn’t the best way to mark the true end of 5,000 years of Indus Civilisation. Since these very same critics of Bilawal (the Urdu speaking Punjabi Islam middle classes) are the very same one who’ll happily put on Burka & Dishdasha  to make sure that Pakistan finally becomes the Arab-Muslim country that Quaid-e-Azam may or may not have promised us.

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Bengalis are like Tamils, and Jatts are sui generis, and Syrian Christians are not Brahmins

Zack Ajmal has closed comments on Harappa DNA. Though they were amusing, they had gotten out of control. But that doesn’t mean that his blog still isn’t a comment worthy. The data is still there. I check in on it every now and then, mostly because Zack’s sample has populations which you can’t find elsewhere. It can also answer some questions which I’ve always wondered about. So three things are now clear with his sample sizes/constituents

1) Like Tamils, Bengalis exhibit a dichotomous distinction between Brahmins and non-Brahmins genetically. By and large Bengali Brahmins seem only moderately effected by the distinctive East Asian admixture found in other Bengalis, and are rather like North Indian Brahmins. The other Bengali samples are very similar in having elevated East Asian admixture, and lower fractions of “Northwest” Indian affinities than the Brahmins. This is in contrast to the situation in Uttar Pradesh where there are non-Brahmin high castes who have similar genetic profiles to the Brahmins (e.g., Kshatriya).

2) The Jatt samples are unique and distinctive, and have more European-affinities than almost any other South Asian samples Zack has (more than Punjabi Brahmins, for example). And, they are relatively uniform in this pattern. To me this does suggest that these populations have a more recent infusion of ancestry from outside South Asia.

3) Syrian Christians have told me for years that their ancestors were Brahmins. Not necessarily all Syrian Christians, but their ancestors. This was so common I assumed it was false because there are about ten times more Syrian Christians in Kerala than Brahmins. The Harappa DNA results show that Syrian Christians are probably not descended from Brahmins, probably none in Zack’s sample. But their genetic profile often matches that of the Nairs, and also other various castes. Unlike Bengali Brahmins, or Jatts, this implies to me that multiple communities have moved into the Syrian Christian category over the centuries.

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A lonely BP

Since most of our contributors haven’t been enabled yet it’s pretty much me manning the fort. Two always riveting pieces from Centre India (lest I deviate from a “Brown” Topic) . The below is from Harsh Gupta who I follow on twitter and it touches on Indian identity, which is an apparently inexhaustible topic (like Israeli identity) since they have to at least nominally some measure of inclusion (purport to be liberal democracies) yet also chauvinism (such is the way of nationalism).

The Indian centre-left tries to co-opt Christians, dalits, tribals and the “very poor” into a coalition that is electorally sustainable. In 2009, large sections of the urban middle class too went with them. But they are now coming back towards the BJP, which has grown from middle and upper castes in North India to a broader coalition.
The Muslim percentage of population of what is now India is about half of what it was in 1924, because of the partition, despite faster population growth amongst Indian Muslims. The 2011 census results as far as I know have not yet been broken down by religion, but the Muslim population should be around 15%, higher than 13.6% in 2001. This would mean the Indian Muslim population is around 180-190 million Muslims. The 250 million number peddled by fanatics – both Hindu and Muslim – is simply inaccurate. Sikhs and especially Christians make significant religious minorities as well. A Letter to Indian Muslim Youth
India and identity – In ten pieces Varshney’s writing (‘Why India must allow hyphens‘, IE, Feb 13) that “If Indians can be Gujarati Indians or Hindu Indians, why can’t there be Muslim Indians or Christian Indians?”, is a strawman. Nobody is saying Indians cannot see themselves and fellow citizens as belonging to any group. The argument is simply for the government to not see Indians as Hindus, Muslims, and Christians or so on… 9. Against entrenched identities – Indian Express
…it is high time the Indian state breaks from Nehru’s construct of seeing religious minorities as “separate from us” and stops indulging in the “soft bigotry of low expectations” from certain communities.
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