Gibran wasn’t a Muslim?
— Xerxes the Magian (@ZacharyX) June 19, 2019
Gibran of course was a Maronite and was inspired by his encounters with Abdul Baha. The Belle Époque seemed an especially sensitive time for Oriental spirituality (Grierson and Gandhi were somewhat contemporaneous).
At any rate most Pakistanis would internalise Gibran as one of their own and Tagore as foreign.
I used to be more skeptical about this Arabophilia; like all liberalstanis I used to say Khuda Hafez etc. However I’m of the opinion that pan South Asian nationalism has simply not made enough space for the two competing overarching identities.
In my podcast today with Professor Majeed; we briefly touch on the meta-aspect of Hindi and Urdu. It simply is the dividing civilisational fault lines.
When the Bengalis and Tamils needed to make their choice they were happy to prioritise their meta-identity In 1947 (Bengali were Muslim; Tamils were Hindu). However in 1971 the Bengalis in turn clarified their choice, which culminated in an “Indian-friendly” but distinct nationalism.
Tamil politics on the other hand, interacting and influencing no doubt with Sri Lanka (it’s fascinating that Tamil Muslims politically segregated during the Sri Lankan colonial era culminating in a distinct political identity as opposed to the mainland) is now grappling with the same choice.
It’s absurd to compare modern day India with 1971 Pakistan (the language question has been resolved in the 50’s with the adoption of Bengali so it wasn’t simply a linguistic matter) but the underlying tensions are the same.
Once a side picks their “civilisational” meta-identity then the demand for local identity starts to flourish in the wake of national homogeneisation.
I have begun to become very interested in the Seraiki question. It’s almost the equivalent of Cornwall getting separate constitutional state in the UK (Scotland is a Kingdom, so is NI – the remnants of one, and Wales is a Principality).
The only local or distinct identity Cornwall has in being the Duchy of Cornwall. This is the Prince of Wales’s subsidiary title hence why Camilla is addressed as the HRH the Duchess of Cornwall instead of Lady Diana’s previous and popular title as the Princess of Wales. It is important though since the Duchy Estates are the personal income of the Prince in a way the only other Duchy (of Lancashire) is not.
Interestingly the Duke of Lancaster is HM the Queen (the income from that estate reverts to the Crown, to which she is entitled 15% for the Royal Household’s running costs). The Duke of York is usually given to the monarch’s Spare son; it’s a title Prince Harry will eventually inherit. It’s fascinating to think that one of the oldest and most prestigious titles in the United Kingdom (the Duke of York) will eventually be held by an individual (Archie with Obama as his godfather) who would be considered as black in the United States (and so would his descendants).
But back on topic Lancaster is considered to be a fundamental part of England while Cornwall is an ambiguous territory; close to but not quite Wales.
In much the same way the emerging conversation on Seraikistan will emerge. It’s obviously not as distinct as Sindh but there is a formidable “Seraiki” ethnic identity.
Does that entitle it to a distinct Province? A separate Province would be very good for Pakistan because it would automatically re-jigg the Punjab’s disproportionate role in Pakistan. However as in the case of Andhra & Telangana; there is a fundamental unity to the region inasmuch as there is distinction between them.
It has taken centuries for Britain to express these Constitutional and regional quirks not to everybody’s satisfaction (the Brexit dilemma centres on the NI backstop). How will Pakistan accommodate this?