William Dalrymple, Imran Khan & Xerxes’s Jinnah moment-

One of the Hoi Polloi, or rather a penny-store Machiavelli, writes:

(Oh also nice job critiquing Zach’s H-M chasm and his Urduised worldview 😛 Was getting pretty boring listening to him and his friends go on about the same thing over and over again)

We haven’t listened to the episode so are unaware of what was exactly said. Neither do we know what H-M means but assuming His Majesty (though ShahenShah is preferable)?

On a personal level I take issue with “Urduised” because it’s known that I am partial to PAU (Persian Arabic Urdu).

Urdu is simply the liminal of civilisational elegance. The Great Moguls would have spoken Arabic to God, Persian among themselves and Urdu to their sub-alterns (such as the stable hands and chaiwallas).

Otherwise on a more personal note I don’t know who “my friends are.”

If, as I suspect, he means the CamCast Quarter then our views are radically different from one another. MJ is lightly coated with Saffron, V is a Nehruvian capitalist and J belongs to a very prominent (& known) right-wing family.

I myself am very partial to aristocracy and Monarchy. Perhaps that’s because I’ve spend the vast majority of my life in a country defined by both such institutions.

I was impressed to wake up this morning to William Dalrymple liking our tweet (Kiara Advani is now one of the foremost Mughalists).

In my more Tharoorian avatar; I would have ranted about Dalrymple being a coloniser and what not.

But the more I think about it, the more I’ve come round to how sound Two Nation Theory is.

Indeed my own life choices reflect that. I am not a Muslim and therefore I’m adopting Indian culture. If I were a practising Muslim there is no way I could choose the Saffron path.

Finally in one of the threads it was asked when Bangladesh would have its own Modi or IK.

I don’t think ethnically homogeneous and “sound” nations like Bangladesh will ever have a need to produce such leaders.

Partition is the Great Angst of the Subcontinent and it’s something that consumes both Pakistan & India. If there had been no Pakistan/Islam, there probably would have been no BJP or RSS or Modi.

However Pakistan, being such an artificial nation, has to produce these leaders to provide it with a coherent narrative.

Pakistan is always a few steps from collapse (in cricket & in life), which leads to chronic instability but also the potential for greatness.

A good example is below where Imran Khan is clearly lying through his teeth but is doing it with such elan that the reporter is flummoxed.

I prefer my leader to have that grace and polish and to have the ability to duel with dexterity. It’s a bit like the Great Moguls; the illusion is more important than the reality.

The final tweet is of interest to me:

Hindutva foams at the mouth constantly trying to tell Pakistanis where our ancestors came from. Their desperation at getting us to buy into the Brahmanical hierarchy is cute but a touch manic to be honest..

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48 Replies to “William Dalrymple, Imran Khan & Xerxes’s Jinnah moment-”

  1. I’m guessing H-M chasm means Hindu-Muslim chasm?

    The Two Nation Theory doesn’t work. India’s Muslims are not a different nation from India’s Hindus. Their ancestors chose to stay in India in 1947, at least partly because they didn’t believe in the rationale for Pakistan. If TNT is true, than all of these Muslims have no place in India. Also, I would be careful about using the term “Indian” culture if what one really means is “Hindu” culture.

    It is ironic that it is the Hindutvadis and Islamists who are most convinced that TNT is real. TNT justifies majoritarianism.

    Many of us would argue otherwise that we are the same people who were divided because of political reasons. India and Pakistan’s animosity also has less to do with religion (though it is often perceived in those terms) than with politics. If there were no territorial dispute over Kashmir, relations would probably be much more stable and neutral.

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    1. Not sure about that, the military needs a big external enemy to justify its privileged position. If not Kashmir it would probably be agitating for Hyderabad or Ferozpur or some other part of India to be handed over.

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      1. Conversely, if there had been no Kashmir dispute the Pakistani military would not have attained so much power in the country.

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        1. They would have had an outsized role in any case. Most organized and powering institution in a country carved out of some of the most underdeveloped parts of British India, cut off from the traditional Muslim urban centres of culture.

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      2. This is one of many myths Indians tell themselves so they can feel better about their atrocities in Kashmir, and justify the continuing occupation.

        It is after all only Indian officials who display maps of India or “Bharat” that show their various neighbors being annexed by India. The Hindu-Right is not shy about stating these countries will be conquered by India one day, though they differ on how (military vs peaceful ghar wapsi).

        Pakistan has done no such thing for any of its neighbors, including India (outside of Kashmir).

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  2. / Imran Khan is clearly lying through his teeth but is doing so with such elan /

    If you are lying with elan , nobody will notice you are lying. If you are going to admire his lying, the game is already lost .

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  3. “It is ironic that it is the Hindutvadis and Islamists who are most convinced that TNT is real. TNT justifies majoritarianism”

    Bro for the last time , TNT is not an islamist position , it was a MAINSTREAM Muslim position held by majority of Muslims (which their voting records in 47 shows) in the subcontinent. No amount of equating with the Hindu right will wash. The Hindu right wasn’t in power nor it demand and get partition.

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    1. \TNT is not an islamist position\

      True Jamaat Islami pre-47 was against Partition . It was whiskey swilling Jinnah who goaded towards partition. Jinnah had bodyguards in his meetings , not for protecting against Hindu assassins , but those sent by JI . JI was started by redoubtable Abul Ala Maududi.

      \it was a MAINSTREAM Muslim position held by majority of Muslims \

      That is if you take Muslim League as the sole rep of ‘MAINSTREAM Muslim position’ . So, this statement is false, as both orthodox Muslims and non-ML political Muslims were not for it. If the negotiations had dragged on for few more years with more voices from the ground, the hard line stance of ML would have unraveled.

      \The Hindu right wasn’t in power nor it demand and get partition.\
      True. At the same time, Hindu right has no idea of what to do with Muslims or any political design , apart from being driven along by events.

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    2. I’m talking about now, not 1947. Hindutvadis and Islamists are convinced that India belongs only to Hindus and Pakistan belongs only to Muslims. The rest of us believe that states belong to all their citizens.

      By the way, the majority of Muslims didn’t have the vote in 1947.

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  4. ‘I’m talking about now, not 1947.”

    Do you mean apart from Islamist , other Pakistani politicians dont subscribe to TNT? Because that’ s what you meant by ““It is ironic that it is the Hindutvadis and Islamists who are most convinced that TNT is real. ”

    “By the way, the majority of Muslims didn’t have the vote in 1947.”

    Also majority of hindus/sikhs/christians etc didnt have the vote in 1947, what are insinuating here ? That Congress/ML were not legitimate political parties for India/Pakistan? Because that would mean the elections of 1946 on which the partition and the latter events unfolded are illegitimate.

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    1. I’m not insinuating anything. Your statement that the majority of Muslims wanted Pakistan is incorrect, given that they didn’t have a vote. Partition was decided by Congress and the Muslim League which were both elite parties and may not have truly represented the wishes of the masses.

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      1. “Partition was decided by Congress and the Muslim League which were both elite parties and may not have truly represented the wishes of the masses.”

        Wow

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        1. @Saurav “Wow”

          The official narrative now is that India is to blame for partition. This is because only a handful of Muslim elites wanted Pakistan. But wait, it gets better — even Jinnah never wanted Pakistan. Jinnah pleaded with Nehru for a reasonable compromise that would ensure that the Muslim population would be treated with dignity. Nehru furiously refused, leaving Jinnah no option but to regrettably and reluctantly pursue partition. Jinnah is basically Lee Kuan Yew under this version of the events.

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          1. 😂😂
            If Nehru would have known ,70 years later ,he would be blamed for every evil to fall on the subcontinent, he might have probably left for USA to resume his lawyer-ship with his bae edwina

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  5. the first three Caliphs were crooks and criminals.

    LoL. Which conqueror in history wasn’t? You don’t judge conquerors on the moral standards meant for common masses. You judge them based on how much they achieve.

    To quote from a recent Disney movie Aladdin – steal an apple and you are a thief; steal a kingdom and you are a conqueror.

    Abu Bakr was great because without his firm hand the nascent muslim state would have folded within days of Muhammad’s death. (And in its place we would have seen Musaylima’s Islam spreading over earth – an interesting what-if of history!).

    Umar was great because he was smashing Sassanian armies far away on the banks of Oxus while sitting in Medina! Contrast him with poor Alexander who had to march in front of his soldiers lest they run away.

    Though Uthman does not impress me. Emperors don’t get their heads chopped meekly; they chop their enemies’ heads!

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    1. Yep, I agree that Serbs, so as mentioned Lesander the Great, were many times dumb or naive in their history.
      Oxus (now Amy Darya) – just to refresh our memory, MMK worked for months to find out its previous name. He could not find, I helped him – Ariana (like french rocket). I hope he will be more successful in finding the previous name of the river IND.

      PS. Good shot at JR’s elephants as a royalty gig.

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  6. Their desperation at getting us to buy into the Brahmanical hierarchy is cute but a touch manic to be honest..

    Its more about giving them a helpful anchor for their identity rather than trying to ram roll them into a (non-existent) hierarchy.

    A punjabi muslim jutt or gujjar is adrift without an indic identity. No, You can teach him any amount of persian, but that won’t turn into a Turanian.

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    1. How about you don’t try to tell other people what their identity should be? If someone identifies as a Punjabi Muslim or a Pakistani, why does it matter if that’s not “indic” enough for you?

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      1. How about you don’t try to tell other people what their identity should be?

        That will be so boring. What is an Indian who doesn’t dish out unsolicited advice to one and all.

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  7. Is this post a parody of Zach by one of the other BP’ers? Sure reads like one. Well either way, floored to get such level of attention and have a post dedicated to me given I’ve only ever made two comments here.

    “Urdu is simply at the liminal of civilisational elegance.”

    Haha… yes if you define civilizational elegance to constitute concubines, harems and opium addict poets. Urdu poets in 18-19th century were known for their degenerate poetry including paedophilic bachebaazi.

    “I’m very partial to aristocracy and Monarchy and maybe that’s because I’ve spend the vast majority of my life in a country defined by both.”

    No it’s because you coolie saheb, are born with a silver spoon, love pouring scorn on everyone from the Hoi Polloi to chaiwallahs – maybe that’s why your skin crawls when you see a subaltern, OBC Modi, show the elites their place. You can’t stand it, but too bad buddy — your opinions like the elites you sooo revere will be confined to the dustbin of history. Jai Shri Ram.

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  8. Can Zachary actually read Urdu or even speak it fluently? Leave alone Persian or Arabic.

    Also, can he list down 5 works in Urdu (or Persian and Arabic) which he has read and explain why he feels they touch the heights of human creativity and depth of thinking?

    I very much doubt his ability to do either of these things. He really should stop this juvenile way of expressing his Urdu-philia and Mughal-philia which lowers the tone of Brown-Pundits. Real Mughals who spoke “Chagtai Turkic” would look down upon the entire swath of Indic (both Hindu and Muslim) and Afghan peoples. Babar’s autobiography contains many ungenerous comments on Pashtuns and Indian Muslims such as Meos.

    I have met real Urdu-philes in India, both Muslim and Hindu and none of them would ever denigrate Hindi in order to boost Urdu. For them all Hindustani literature exists in a continuum between the two extreme registers and shares much of the same cultural universe.

    e.g. The following Bollywood song was written by Shahir Ludhianvi, perhaps independent India’s best Urdu poet. The same movie also contains 2 Hindu Bhajans written by him.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IzC0_XVE3Vk

    The lyrics of the song contain
    “Gham Aur Khushi Mein Farq Na Mehsoos Ho Jahan
    Main Dil Ko Us Muqaam Pe Laata Chala Gaya”

    Rough English translation:
    “Where there is no difference between Happiness and Sorrow
    I moved on, trying to bring my heart into that state”

    A song written in chase Urdu which reflects the philosophy of “Nishkam karma” from Bhagvata Geeta.

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    1. Bhai – I don’t understand Italian or German but in my younger day I was an avid fan of the Opera.

      One doesn’t have to *know* something to appreciate it.

      English is a language of continuums; it doesn’t mean we lump Shakespeare and pidgin together..

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      1. How do you enjoy literature without reading it or how can you appreciate a language without being able to speak it properly or enjoy works of art which are created in it? You did not answer my question directly so I have to assume you might only have a smattering of street Urdu like most people.

        Your love for both Urdu and Opera seems pretentious and dilettantish.

        If you really love Urdu put enough of an effort to be able to read it in its script and read some good Urdu poets. Then as I said before you can write posts on those great Urdu works, we might take your claims or being an Urduphile or even the greatness of Urdu language seriously. We might also learn something interesting.

        Otherwise what are you but a rabble-rouser on the internet posting stuff like this.
        “English is a language of continuums; it doesn’t mean we lump Shakespeare and pidgin together.”

        Shakespeare is great not because he wrote in old English but because he was able to express complex emotions and timeless philosophical truths and marshal the language available to him beautifully. I suppose a modern Shakespeare could write something equally great in pidgin. Don’t think there is anything inherently great about any language.

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        1. I shall entertain your comment this time but my patience is wearing thin.

          How do you justify your comment that my “love of opera” is pretentious and dilettantish?

          What do you know of my life, my history or my choices to make such an assumption about me.

          This is the problem with the commentariat; there is a lack of nuance and texture in their own statements however they are so keen to point out my inconsistencies.

          I have always been transparent and forthcoming.

          By the by I won’t be so generous next time so I suggest you desist in your argument mon ami..

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    1. It’s the Hum Safar cast; only the greatest show in naughties Pakistani drama.

      Fawad & Mahira Khan; don’t know the name of the actress who plays the vampy villainess, Sarah.

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      1. Do vamps in Pakistani serials also tend to be more sexy( than the lead actress) and western oriented as they are shown in Indian serials ?

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        1. Yes, the vamp is generally more westernized than the heroine. Sara in “Humsafar” wears jeans and does yoga while Khirad covers her head with her dupatta and prays five times a day. The evil mother-in-law runs an NGO.

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          1. LOL. Dint even know you could show yoga on Pakistan tv. Isnt it a bit too un-islamic/hindu for Pakistani TV?

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          2. LOL, yeah it is.

            BTW i feel NGOs are now a dying breed in the subcontinent. Looks like they suffer the same negative reputation in Pakistan that they suffer in India

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  9. I love it when Shahenshah berates caste Hindus for the privileges they enjoy over Dalits.

    Too bad Akbar did not undertake a social engineering project in India. Those damn Rajputs and Brahmins took all the plum posts in his empire. If we could do it all over again, 22.5% mansabs will go to SC/STs, 30% to OBCs, and so on.

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    1. “Too bad Akbar did not undertake a social engineering project in India. Those damn Rajputs and Brahmins took all the plum posts in his empire. If we could do it all over again, 22.5% mansabs will go to SC/STs, 30% to OBCs, and so on.”

      It would have been nice if Akbar didn’t overwhelmingly import Persians, Arabs, and Turks to be mansabs. Almost no plum posts for the natives.

      Even the British offered far more posts to the natives. Yet it’s the Mughals who are certified Indian.

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  10. What’s up with folks getting so passive aggressive all of a sudden? Let s chill out a bit

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  11. بازیچۂ اطفال ہے دنیا مرے آگے
    ہوتا ہے شب و روز تماشا مرے آگے

    Dedicated to the future emperor of modern day Af-Pak-Turan 🙂

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  12. In honour of Xerxes, an urduless urduphile, a mushaira in a comment.

    ————-

    vaa.e tilism-e-naqsh-e-fara.ng
    bhuul gayaa urdu bhii mai.n
    SHAANUL HAQ HAQQI

    jo ye hindostaa.n nahii.n hotaa
    to ye urdu zabaa.n nahii.n hotii
    ABDUL SALAM

    jahaa.n jahaa.n ko.ii urdu zabaan boltaa hai
    vahii.n vahii.n miraa hindostaan boltaa hai
    MANSOOR USMANI

    hindii kii apnii shaan hai urdu kii apnii shaan
    dono.n hii aan-baan hai.n hindostaan kii
    ASHOK MIZAJ BADR

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    1. shahd-o-shakkar se shireen urdu zabaan hamari
      hoti hai jis ke bole meethi zabaan hamari

      [honey-and-sugar than sweeter (is) Urdu langusge (of) ours
      Becomes by whose speaking sweet tongue ours]

      😉

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    1. No problem, here you go:

      “Spellbound by a foreign land, I forgot my mother tongue”.

      Or

      “Envouter par une marque etrangere, j’ai oublie ma langue maternelle”

      (Translated in spirit, not literally).

      The rest are just variants on Urdu, Hindi, “zabaan” (tongue), and hindustan (India). Less interesting.

      Saurav — it is his takhallus. He is on twitter and Facebook, you can ask him why he uses it.

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    2. I was hoping that some of our resident Urdu maestros will be able to provide a great translation, but since none is forthcoming, here is one poor attempt by a “Hinditva-vadi”

      Transliteration of the couplet by Ghalib posted by me above..

      bāzīcha-e-atfāl hai duniyā mire aage
      hotā hai shab-o-roz tamāshā mire aage

      Meaning..

      World is merely a kid’s toy for me..
      having seen such horseplay all my life.

      This is vintage Ghalib. Regally dismissive of the world. Like, been there, done that.

      Ghalib belonged to the old mughal aristocracy of delhi. He had the unenviable fortune of living during the first half of 1800s, when the power and prestige of old muslim nobility of delhi was slowing eroding, and in its place company era british official and their hindu employees were starting to assert themselves. The couplet was presumably thrown as a jibe against some pompous british official, or some upstart punjabi khatri carpetbagger who was going about surrounding himself with trappings of power.

      would love to discuss historical urdu literature with the masters on this blog, if only they would allow us.

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  13. Language is a political tool in the subcontinent. Even though i have no major issues with it, just feel its more softer, apolitical side is less appreciated or enjoyed, specially less and less over the years.

    I still sometimes read short stories in my native language , all those meaning-less, lazy-in-the-afternoon, full of dreams child hood short stories. That and Guy de Maupassant’s evergreen short stories.

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