Monday, April 16, 2007

Shia-Sunni Unity in the Face of Extremism...

... or what you will

I have been struggling with a post on some of what is happening in Pakistan. And if you're not following it, you should; whether you're a Pakistani or anyone else. Things are bit hectic around me right now, but the thing is, Pakistan's in an interesting phase. And there's more than one thing happening. The subject line above, I have to admit, is one that might have drawn your attention. But it is one of at least three I could have chosen. Let me say a few things quickly and I'll post more later.

There have been quite some words said about how you see well-heeled folks come out on the streets lately. (You can start at my earlier post and follow the links.) But there's more than that afoot.

On the one hand, the ethnic party that started as the political vehicle for the "Muhajirs", the MQM, held a massive (check out the pictures) rally downtown Karachi. And I mean downtown. (I haven't been in Karachi as a resident in about 13 years now, but I have never seen anyone do a New York-style "urban canyon" look for a rally/parade before--but that's the part of the point about the MQM, these are urban kids, with urban sensibilities...) And yes, those who have followed the the MQM and Pakistani politics will have their critiques and condemnations of the MQM--from the philosophical to the inane (Pakistan's leading comic is a supporter and, apparently, now an advisor to the provincial government)--but a rally where Muslims of various sects, and ulema of various sects, gather in their thousands to rally for unity has to be something you want to see. The picture above is quite a statement, isn't it? [It's from a site linked from the MQM site; not sure whose the site is.] People often do not want to hear his name or the party's. But their voice is often one of the clearest about the hypocrisy and other foibles of the "religious right". You can read more at:

The Dawn story at:

The Daily Times' story whose headline translates to "Shia-Sunni; Brother to Brother/"Sharia by Force"; We do not need"

If you can bear to be at their website, you can see more news links there. If you don't want to, do check out the discussions on the Karchi Metroblog and The former is a great way to get things live from the ground, and the latter gives you a taste of middle class expat zeitgeist.

And speaking of the middle class, it does seem like Pakistan's well-heeled folks are starting to push back, stand up and be counted. For example, there's been a petition drive going against the commercial development of the best-maintained part of the seashore in Karachi. And the Teeth Maestro's post is a good place to start. Take a look at the pictures on Flickr, a lot of them by photoblogger Abro and those by Altamash Saahab, starting about here. I am reproducing some here. The protest isn't a big one compared to the other one, but the cross-section of people is interesting...and something I want to talk about later:

Notice with what we in the US would call a "Hijabi" person in this one:And one last one from Altamash Saahab--just for the kids:I really must stop here. Will write more later.

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