Tuesday, September 07, 2004

Background Reading on Pakistan

The link below provides an article for background reading. The interesting thing is, the article was written in 96.

Remember: The article is from 5 or so years before 9/11. On the Indian side, the massacre in Gujarat happened after this. The heyday of the Taliban was in the future. And there are other little things; for example, the article says that Pakistan's complaint about not receiving stuff they've paid for has been "partially resolved". Most Pakistanis are still very pissed, and as far as I know, no real money has been transferred.

I don't agree with everything in the article, but on the whole it gives a complete view of Pakistan--both the fundamentalists and the more democratic tradition. The conclusion sums things up well:
"Whatever fire may emerge from this tinderbox, Pakistan will be a pivot. Perhaps the source of conflict or perhaps a mediating influence."
One very important thing; don't base anything you think on only one paragraph in the piece. The article makes a complete point and reading a paragraph here or there out of context will give the wrong impression about what the writer is saying. Unless it is the following paragraph [which might show you my bias :D]:
"It was earlier suggested that the resurgence of Islam as a political force in the world presents us with what will be the 21st century's most important political problem. We shall have to deal with this in our foreign policy. But we shall also have to confront it as a national problem, as Muslims are now the second largest religious group in the United States and are becoming a widely recognized political force. Pakistan can help us understand this phenomenon in a unique way. Pakistan is one of the few countries which has a long history of reconciling Islamic and non-Islamic values, of interpreting in English a moderating Islam in the context of western culture. This unique reconstruction (some would say modernization) of Islam began with the work of Sir Syed Ahmed Khan (1817-1898) in pre-partition India. His orientation is revealed in the name of the institution which he sought to establish: Muhammadan Anglo-Oriental College, which ultimately became Aligarh Muslim University. This reconstructive or modernist orientation is continued in the work of Sir Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938) the Muslim poet-philosopher regarded as the creator of the concept of a separate Islamic state on the South Asian subcontinent. His Reconstruction of Religious Thought in Islam is a classic in modernist interpretations of Islam. The pre-eminent Pakistani historian, Ishtiaq Husain Qureshi, was preoccupied for several years with articulating Islam to modem constitutionalism. His book, The Future Development of an Islamic Polity is a brilliant analysis marked by clarity and comprehension of other political systems. The point of view of the founding father of Pakistan, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was in the same tradition - Islamic to be sure, but not militantly Islamic. Rather it was reconstructionist, progressive and modernist."
Now the link:


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