Pakistan of the Provinces

We’re currently doing a podcast that is exploring Pakistan and China; I’m really shocked by what I’m hearing.

I predicted after last year’s Pakistan election that the Provincial Parties (which were dynastic) would set off against the military backed Imran Khan aegis (Madinat ethics).

I’m quite impressed by how Pakistan is transforming. I’m also a bit taken aback that it seems a Saffron wave is taking over India. Karan Johan is the last man standing for Islamicate culture in Hindustan.

Finally in Bilawal’s iftar; it’s interesting the Baloch and Pathan parties did not attend. Sindh & Punjab are vested in Pakistan but the periphery not so much (no word on MQM).

Bilawal also needs to lose 10-15kg if he wants to look Presidential whereas Maryam looks transluscent (she really lives up to the Kashmiri stereotype).

32 thoughts on “Pakistan of the Provinces”

  1. You can try your Islamicate experiments in Pakistan/Bangladesh. There’s a reason why they chose not to remain with India.

  2. Depends on our vantage points I guess. Of course I can see the Islam vs Islamicate distinction that you have drawn up, and in some respects there are noteworthy points of divergence.

    However, I do not see how Islamicate culture can integrate areas of India outside cowbelt/BIMARU. I don’t see this Islamicate culture to respect the diversity of traditions from the North-East to the extreme South.

    There is only one great cosmopolis that link Bharat from Srinagar to Sringeri, from Pune to Proagjyotishapura, and that is the Sanskrit cosmopolis. If anything, there is room for the Akbars and Dara Shikohs in this cosmopolis, but there is no room for say Shankara in your beloved Islamicate culture.

    Whether you look at the linguistic connections, the sociocultural commonalities, or the religious view of life, your Islamicate culture, sadly does not hold a candle.

    1. Zach wants Pakistan to switch to using Farsi and India to unite under an “Islamicate” culture. I suspect he will soon suggest that Sri Lankans convert to Bahai’ism and Bangladesh to “High Toryism”. 😉

      1. Zach wants Pakistan to switch to using Farsi and India to unite under an “Islamicate” culture.

        I propose that the whole of S Asia, plus Afghanistan and all the central asian “stans” and Xinjiang should revert back to the Dhamma of Lord Buddha. Only then there can be true peace in this part of the world.

        Dhamma was the original religion which united this great land mass. We must revert back to our roots.

        Dhammam saranam gacchhami
        Sangham saranam gacchhami
        Buddham saranam gacchami

        1. “The name Takhate-Suleiman, however, seems to have persisted during the Mughal, Afghan, Sikh and Dogra periods. Any publication during these periods all refer to the hill by that name. Mughal ruler Jahangir along with his wife, Noor Jahan, once climbed the hill for a picnic on its summit.

          Noor Jahan is said to have prepared pudding for her husband there upon which Jahangir extempore recited this verse, ‘Shakar farosh e mann paye halva giri nishast’ (My candy seller is seated to prepare the pudding). Noor Jahan equally replied with an extempore verse, ‘Yani ki zer-i-Takhta-i-Sulaiman pari nishast’ (As if a fairy is seated under the [shade of] Solomon’s Throne)[8]”

          Your drive for purity is admirable but in fact Indo-Islamicate culture is gloriously mixed up. Hindu, Muslim and other is all mashed up.

    2. Many modern Hindu Indians don’t realize the recency of sort of Sanskritized Hinduness that is becoming the norm.

      If Pakistan is sailing towards a more middle-eastern milieu, then India is digging deep in an attempt to restore artifacts of a pre-Isamicate Dharmic past.

      I don’t blame Hindus or Muslims. Pakistanis or Indians.

      Sikhs for example are not exempt from this trend (for eg. strict adoption of the rehat mariyada to distinguish ‘pure’ Sikhi )

      I think it is the developmental stage that the subcontinent finds itself in at the moment.

      1. It is a sad state of affairs, where each group is becoming more insular and narrow minded, eschewing important parts of its own heritage in order to aspire to a certain identity.

        Modernity and capitalism are making matters worse in the short run…

        For eg. Patanjali – Baba Ramdev’s consumer products brand, which has built an incredible empire on Sanskritized throwback culture uses “Made in Bharat” instead of “Made in India” for its products

        You would never really hear the word “Bharat” 30 years ago. (sar pe lal topi, phir bhi dil tha Hindustani)

        But I think the long term might make things better if we can all sort of unite under a western liberal style humanist umbrella.

        1. Stop generalizing Bollywood to represent all of India. My ancestors have always used the word ‘Bharat’ while speaking in their native language.

          Your point is that Sanskrit = Islam = backward. We must be more “progressive” and get rid of these stupid things called culture and tradition, and march onwards to “western liberal style humanist umbrella.”

          In your world, everyone in this planet must speak one language, have one common culture, think in one specific way – this would lead to more “efficiency” and less violence – utopia! (Fukuyama, anybody?)

          Unfortunately, I am not Western by mentality – I cannot think in the English language as fluently. Because of this , I must be living a ‘more insular and narrow minded’ life.

          1. “My ancestors always used the term Bharat”

            Probably not unless they were Hindu elites living in the Gangetic Valley.

          2. You’re completely wrong there. After all, what would a Pakistani know about Bharata, outside of cowbelt? 😉

          3. “Bharat” has been used in the Tamil country for a long time too, so it’s not restricted to the Gangetic belt by any means. Though for the last millenium, “Hindustan” or “Hindostan” has been much more in vogue, especially in north India. South India would have been “Deccan” or “Dakhin”, though that term’s now vanished.

          4. We must be more “progressive” and get rid of these stupid things called culture and tradition, and march onwards to “western liberal style humanist umbrella.”

            “Getting rid of it” sounds drastic and brutal, and clearly one ought to be careful about jettisoning tradition willy-nilly. That said, I’ve always believed that culture and tradition ought to serve people, rather than people serving (or blindly hewing to) culture and tradition. We need to be more reflective and self-critical about our traditions. Most of them were crystallized thousands of years ago, in totally different sets of circumstances, to solve problems and maintain a society as best as people could in those eras.

            Our current set of circumstances are vastly different, and our ways of dealing with them ought to be adapted suitably. If that means learning from the western experience and adopting the parts of it that make sense in our context, then why not?

            As an example, the west has figured out how to scale up and innovate through a dynamic division of labor and simultaneously manage internal diversity (of preferences and opinion rather than identity.) For a modern society that seeks to solve modern problems, that seems more suitable than our traditional mode of operation, which is through caste (I’m not touching on the moral aspects of caste here, just the utilitarian ones.)

            Another example: the west has more individuality and looser family bonds, together helping scale up and strengthen societies. In India, we still can look beyond family interests and obligations, limiting out potential and making our municipalities and bureaucracies highly corrupt.

          5. \“Bharat” has been used in the Tamil country for a long time too, so it’s not restricted to the Gangetic belt by any means\

            People in Pakistan or other countries don’t have a clue about how widespread Indian nationalism is cutting across regions, languages and religions. Like an amphibian, Indian nationalism walks across the waters of Hindu nationalism as well as a secular terra firma.

    3. Indophilus, agree. Islamicate is an external projection. There is a big disconnect between internal and external here. People forget that the Indian civilization is ruthless when it comes to testing philosophies and societal preferences. It’s a no brainer to see why islam and islamicate were rejected by indic internal failsafe mechanisms. Here’s a culture where people like Shankara and Ashtavakra challenged prevalent norms, challenged their own people in fact. Some of that nature to question and all are still prevalent in hindus. Gandharva vidyas have also been differentiated between external appeasement/entertainment and internal submission. Compare it to the Middle Eastern and European people and their pre-abrahimic systems. All wiped off. No purvapaksha, no strong internal mechanism to debate and analyze etc.

  3. I was referring to recent efforts to rename it to Takht-e-Suleiman.
    Stop attacking strawmen

  4. Kabir, Omar Ali

    Any insights into HIV/AIDS in Pakistan, specially with news of a doctor who infected children.

    note: Notice daily mail had more photos videos of Easter Bombings compared to local news. Apparently DailMail pay for videos and photos.

  5. Sarah Taseer is daughter of late Salman Taseer.

    Not familiar with Pakistani politics? Are Taseers rivals of Bhuttos?

      1. Aatish (who is rapidly becoming the new Salman Rushdie)

        I hope not, but given how thin-skinned the Modiites are, his recent criticism of their deity might result in a de facto travel ban a la Rushdie.

        1. He declined to come on the podcast but now he’s a new star.

          Gay – Pakistani (but Sikh too) – Ivy League – NRI but Delhite – dextrous with English but into Sanskrit & Urdu – Illegitimate but scion of a great family (he’s a great nephew of Manto)

          Aatish T is the rising intellectual of South Asia; unifies us all and makes us palatable to the West.

  6. Lol @ the takht-i suleiman v shaMkarAcArya temple debate.


    I agree with one of the commentators above that there is certain slapdash recency to this whole “sanskritization” of India trend. However, that does not make it any less real.

    Our choices, especially the ‘silliest’ ones, make us.

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