Pakistani women, Chinese men, the continuing story….

The New York Times has a follow-up story with some nuance, She Thought She’d Married a Rich Chinese Farmer. She Hadn’t.

Now there is coverage of Muslim girls going to China. The model is the same as the Christian girls, rural Chinese men who aren’t as wealthy as they present themselves, go through nominal conversions or affirmations of faith, and take the women back. Here for me is the interesting part:

Then, after a four-hour drive past fields of wheat and corn, they arrived at Dongzhang village in Shandong Province, where she saw her husband’s duck farm. It was not the sprawling operation of a wealthy man that she had envisioned, but a modest family farm where he lived with his parents and two brothers.

The New York Times was unable to independently verify Mr. Zhang’s income. But on a recent visit to the Zhang family home, a Times’ reporter found a newly built housing compound with multiple bedrooms and shiny tile floors.

Outside the family home, Mr. Zhang’s mother, who is in her 60s, recalled being puzzled by Ms. Kanwal’s reactions.

“She is religious, so when she came here I went out of my way not to give her any pork,” she said, as a small guard dog barked nearby. “I stir-fried chicken and made egg omelets for her. But no matter what I served her, she just refused to eat.”

Some of the more sordid stories of prostitution are likely true. And, it seems from the story above that some of the girls who moved to China are pregnant, and reasonably happy where they are. But many of the stories are grayer and not so clear.

The mother-in-law above seems well-meaning, after a fashion, but one can see the perspective of a young Muslim girl from Pakistan, encountering a world filled with pork, dogs, and without the washing facilities she was used to. Additionally, the reporters seem to agree that the farmer was prosperous, if not necessarily wealthy. With no real linguistic common ground, it’s pretty easy to imagine that wires could get crossed her. The huge cultural chasm, where most Chinese do not take religion that seriously, is probably almost impossible for a Pakistani girl from a non-cosmopolitan background to fathom.

Right now these stories are exotic. But if more and more girls stay and settled down in China, that will result in positive word of mouth. The precedent with other Asian countries is tragic and horrible stories will continue. But that may not be the whole, or the main, story.

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As India Saffronises, 9 Questions on her Za’faran sister (IranZamin) with Professor Foltz-

A degree of uncertainty surrounds the origin of the English word “saffron“. It might stem from the 12th-century Old French term safran, which comes from the Latin word safranum, from the Arabic za’farān,[13] which comes from the Persian word zarparan meaning “flower with golden petals”.[14]
As an aside I pilfered this interesting piece from Kabir’s facebook

Continue reading “As India Saffronises, 9 Questions on her Za’faran sister (IranZamin) with Professor Foltz-“

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Browncast Ep 35: Tahir Andrabi on Primary Education in Pakistan

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunesSpotify,  and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above.

You can also support the podcast as a patron (the primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else…).

Tahir Andrabi

This week we have a twofer about education in Pakistan. In part one we talked to Dr Sohail Naqvi about higher education, and in this episode Omar and Zachary talk to Professor Tahir Andrabi. Tahir is the Stedman-Sumner Professor of Economics at Pomona College and is currently working as the founding dean of the school of education at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. He has a professional interest in primary education and public policy and has written extensively on these topics. He shares his views about primary education in Pakistan. I was especially taken by his observation that the 10th grade examination (the “Matriculation” examination) in Pakistan is one of the reasons why primary education in Pakistan is so sub-par. And that the entire colonial era educational system is meant to identify “winners” (the top 1 % of the students) instead of meeting the needs of the majority of students (the modal student in Pakistan is headed for failure). His points about educated girls having sparked a revolution in (private) primary education in the rural areas, and lax enforcement being the reason (onerous and useless) state regulation of education has done relatively little damage in Pakistan, are also spot on. I hope we get Dr Andrabi on again to discuss some of these topics in greater detail.

We would definitely appreciate more positive reviews. Many of you listen to us, but don’t leave any reviews!

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Browncast Ep 34: Sohail Naqvi on Higher Education in Pakistan

Another BP Podcast is up. You can listen on LibsyniTunesSpotify,  and Stitcher. Probably the easiest way to keep up the podcast since we don’t have a regular schedule is to subscribe at one of the links above.

You can also support the podcast as a patron (the primary benefit now is that you get the podcasts considerably earlier than everyone else…).

Related imageThis week we have a twofer about education in Pakistan. In this episode Omar and Zachary talk to Dr Syed Sohail Hussain Naqvi. Dr Naqvi is currently the Rector of the University of Central Asia. Prior to that he has been vice chancellor of the Lahore University of Management Sciences, executive director of Pakistan’s Higher Education Commission and Dean of electrical engineering the Ghulam Ishaq Khan institute of technology. He shares his views about higher education in Pakistan and his own experiences in that field. In the next episode, we speak to Dr Andrabi about primary education.

In the next episode, we talk with Professor Tahir Andrabi about primary education.

We would definitely appreciate more positive reviews. Many of you listen to us, but don’t leave any reviews!

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Why I hate the Hijab

The Hijab is a part of the Middle Eastern-Levantine cultural matrix so I don’t  have a problem when I see Arab women wear it . But it’s risible when Desi Muslims try to flaunt what is essentially an alien garment. If one wants to be modest why not just wear a salwar kameez and elegantly drape the dupatta?

After I ranted to V about yet another uppity Hijabi (the offending lady in question had secured herself a booth for 4 people in a crowded cafe); V made a profound remark.

V didn’t mind the Hijab per se; women should be allowed to wear what they want. However what she found to be so strange about the Muslim hijabi activists in the West is that they had no sympathy for their Iranian sisters who are dying for the right to dress as they please.

Continue reading “Why I hate the Hijab”

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Short Note on “outsiders”

I’ll write a short note since my name has been taken in vain repeatedly in the past few days (I only believe we should take Muhammad the Pedophile’s name in vain).

Our resident hero, Kabir, writes:

 The demand for Persianization/Arabization is not coming from Pakistanis but mainly from outsiders on this blog. I fail to understand the logic of trying to change a country’s national identity when there is no grassroots demand for it.

Addendum: What have Pakistanis accomplished or achieved in the English language? I can only think of Kamila Shamsie, who won an award for Home Fire. Decolonisation must begin with the gradual displacement of English from prestige to merely technical.

Continue reading “Short Note on “outsiders””

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Our most popular categories

I’ve given myself the thankless task of “tagging” all my past posts. I noticed that we don’t have a tag on “Kashmir” (the only sub-region we do have is NWFP). It sparked a thought that for a Desi blog we really don’t discuss Kashmir all that much (even though it was going to drag the region into war earlier this year).

This mirrors the larger discourse on Kashmir where Indians & Pakistanis don’t seem as animated or defined by it as before. Two reason comes to mind: Continue reading “Our most popular categories”

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