Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Pakistani Musicians--the NY Times Video

There's a video from the New York Times website is going around. [Click on the graphic to view it on their website.]

This video is so hit-or-miss and done from one specific point of view!

Firstly, Pakistanis, including Pakistani musicians, can walk and chew gum at the same time. They see that Pakistan is stuck, as Ali Azmat's current ideological guru puts it, between the twin jaws of fanaticism and neo-imperialism. The same video clips could have been used to say that Pakistani musicians and artists are actually taking the issues on in a more nuanced way and talking about both sides of that equation rather than leaning on side or the other. Except Ali Azmat, but we'll come back to that.

To say that "Yeh Hum Naheen" (This is not us) is belittling the issue by not using the word "Taliban" is so ass-backwards! Pakistanis see that Taliban are only one face of terrorism and fanaticism. Take a closer look at the graphic on the left. That statement "Terrorism is murder. Murder is haram." expressed in those religious terms, using a word--haram--that every Western Muslim pounds into their children with respect to eating pork, and wine, and so on is something I am still waiting for any "American Muslim" or Muslim government official to utter, 8 years after 9/11.

I try not to make sweeping statements, but to say that only the entity (or three entities, if you really follow US establishment rhetoric) known as "The Taliban" are our fanaticism problem is to follow the same shortsighted attitude of solving one problem and ignoring if not creating another that the US establishment has done again, and again--not least during the jihad, yes, jihad, against the Soviets.

And coming back to Ali Azmat. To have a discussion about Ali Azmat without bringing into the discussion the gentleman--and I am personally not allergic to him as others--that he has been hosting a show with and seems to be re-presenting the thoughts of is to miss the point. If you are not following Zaid Hamid and his influence on large swathes of Pakistani society, you're not paying attention.
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