What Pakistanis don’t talk about

Two excellent articles in Pakistan’s Friday Times

Najam Sethi’s weekly newspaper continues to be on the vanguard of progressive journalism across the border — this week’s issue is strident in its opposition to Musharraf’s perversion of democracy. But Zia Ahmed’s article on Pakistani hypocrisy is by far the best expose of that country’s convoluted rationalisation.

Moral relativism and a pervasive blindness towards the sins of the so-called Islamic states are the hallmarks of the Pakistani psyche.

Reason dictates that we recognise our own sins, and hold ourselves to the same moral standards that we hold others to. [The Friday Times]

He reveals that in spite of support for the ‘Palestinian cause’ being an article of faith in Pakistan, hundreds of thousands of its citizens (called the ‘Biharis’) remain stranded in Bangladesh interned in squalid refugee camps — their right of return does not evoke much enthusiasm.

While decrying Israel’s practice of collective punishment in the Palestinian territories, Pakistan, a signatory to a Geneva convention that forbids the practice, uses the same tools in to punish its frontier tribesmen, as witnessed most recently in Waziristan.

And in 1972, a detachment of Pakistani troops, led by then-Brigadier Zia-ul-Haq participated in an operation ‘that killed more Palestinians in eleven days than Israel could kill in twenty years’. Then there was the genocide of Bengalis carried out in 1971 in East Pakistan that ultimately led to the creation of Bangladesh.

Ahmed writes that violence perpetrated by Islamic states against minorities of their own scarcely find mention in Pakistani public discourse.

Such episodes and incidents along with the culpability of the Pakistani state and its institutions are conveniently airbrushed out of public awareness and the rhetoric of its vocal establishment that is only too ready to point out the faults of others.

Zia Ahmed and the Friday Times reach a very small audience in Pakistan — but such introspection is the first step towards Pakistan’s internal reconciliation. Peace between India and Pakistan will be sustainable only when this reconciliation is complete. Unfortunately, the vast majority of the Pakistani people are still offered a very different intellectual diet, which is far removed from views such as Ahmed’s. The worst part is that it not about to change any time soon.

5 thoughts on “What Pakistanis don’t talk about”

  1. Pingback: Reality Cafe
  2. I remember reading a post here some days back where a Paki columnist was criticizing a lack of open-mindedness among Indian writers, when compared to Paki writers. Now who knows he might have been right even! Of course it takes more than two swallows to make a spring, but the self-analysis depicted here is indeed remarkable.

  3. Kiran

    In India, there are entire newspapers, magazines and TV channels dedicated to introspection and soul-searching. Every issue of Frontline magazine, for example.

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