What should Pakistan’s Christians do?
November 07, 2014
There had always been in Pakistan the Deobandi school of thought, co-existing easily and without conflict with other denominations and sects of Islam. The occasional sectarian clash did occur but it was rare. However, under the impact of the Afghan ‘jihad’, in which Deobandi religious parties stood in the forefront, sectarianism and bigotry acquired harder edges in Pakistani society.
Outrage of the patriotic brigade
April 04, 2014
I say impossible to contemplate because we have been trying to do this for the last 1400 years without success. The moment we talk of Islam we step on to the pitch where the traditional mullah, the maulvi, the Mansoora champion, the Akora Khattak seminarist, the Deoband scholar, is overlord and vice-chancellor. And on this pitch not even a titan like Iqbal can hope to make much of an impression. The reason should not be too hard to understand. Iqbal is holding up the light while the mullah is dealing in obscurantism and dogmatism – and in the history of Islam up to this time the palm of victory has fallen to the lot of dogmatism.
The deep desert shadows over Pakistan
February 25, 2014
Pakistan has been a proxy battleground for competing Saudi and Iranian interests from Gen Zia’s time, the Saudis pouring in money to Deobandi madressahs and the Iranians funding Shiite seminaries and imambargahs, and Pakistan reaping the whirlwind and turning into the sectarian and extremist powder keg it has become. Have we learned nothing from our tale of woe, the record of our follies?
A six-month timeline is all we have
November 08, 2013
There’s a difference too: MQM power is confined largely to urban Sindh. In the shape of Deobandi madressahs and networks of sympathizers, the Taliban can project power and carry out deadly actions across the country. Mehran, Kamra and GHQ attest to this Taliban capability.
Bankruptcy of the mental kind
September 24, 2013
Fighting Salafi militancy, Deobandi extremism, is not easy. Granted. Their roots now run deep in our society. But our redeemers can’t even get the words right. Even after the Peshawar church attack they spoke in riddles – this was a conspiracy against Pakistan, Islam didn’t allow for such things, etc. A straightforward denunciation of the Taliban, the resolve to give terrorism no quarter, would just not come out of them.
As another holiday approaches
August 17, 2012
The real divide in Pakistan was never between feudals and haris, much less Sunnis and Shias, or Deobandis and Barelvis, but between the English-speaking classes and all others. Only this divide explained the class configuration of Pakistani society. No more. The relentless advance of piety has wrought another distinction, perhaps more important than the old ones. Call this the Scottish distinction – between those with access to Scottish benediction and those deprived of this blessing.
Song and ecstasy
February 10, 2012
No Bach, no Mozart, no Beethoven? The armies of the faithful have been vouchsafed no assurances on this score. No Falstaff and no taverns of the night where such molls as Doll Tearsheet hold court? No raucous assemblies, no harmonium-playing, no beating of the tabla? Is it paradise we are talking about or a stellar version of Darul Uloom Deoband? These are metaphysical questions which require some examination.
As the moving finger keeps on writing
October 14, 2011
What have Iqbal and Jinnah got to do with present-day Pakistan? Is this the land of their dreams? Iqbal honed his talent as a scholar and philosopher not in the seminary of Deoband but the universities of Europe. Jinnah was a product of English education, steeped in the ideas and sentiments of English liberalism. What would he have made of the Pakistan of today? From every office wall his portrait looks down on us. But if a growing number of Pakistanis had their way, Mullah Omar’s portrait would replace Jinnah’s.