Pakistan Independence Day: Can Religion Be A Basis Of Nationhood?

It is quite fashionable among liberal Indian and Pakistani elite to question religion as a basis of nationhood. Pakistani intellectual Javed Jabbar responded to some of these "liberal" critics at a conference in New Delhi, India. He said as follows: "India was a region, not a country until 1947....Pakistan was NOT carved out of India.... Both India and Pakistan became independent countries in 1947.. Religion can be a basis for nationhood".

Happy Independence Day Pakistan

In his detailed remarks, Jabbar made a reference to British political scientist Hugh Seton-Watson who said there is no scientific definition of nationhood. 

Jabbar also talked about "Imagined Communities" by Professor Benedict Anderson who taught political science at Cornell University in New York. Anderson explored how these "imagined communities" are created by the territorialization of religious faiths and the decline of antique kingship

Talking about pluralism, Jabbar said Pakistan is a diverse pluralistic country with multiple regions, languages, religions, etc. Jabbar added that the creation of Bangladesh reinforced the Two Nation Theory. How? Bangladesh chose to remain independent rather than merge with India. 

A recent Pew survey has revealed that two-thirds of Hindus in India believe only Hindus are truly Indian. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Hindu Nationalist BJP party's appeal is the greatest among Hindus who closely associate their religious identity and the Hindi language with being “truly Indian.” The Pew survey found that less than half of Indians (46%) favored democracy as best suited to solve the country’s problems. Two percent more (48%) preferred a strong leader. 

Most Hindus Link Hindu Religion and Hindi Language With Indian National Identity. Source: Pew

The majority of Hindus see themselves as very different from Muslims (66%), and most Muslims return the sentiment, saying they are very different from Hindus (64%). Most Muslims across the country (65%), along with an identical share of Hindus (65%), see communal violence in India as a very big national problem. Like Hindus, Muslims prefer to live religiously segregated lives – not just when it comes to marriage and friendships, but also in some elements of public life. In particular, three-quarters of Muslims in India (74%) support having access to the existing system of Islamic courts, which handle family disputes (such as inheritance or divorce cases), in addition to the secular court system.     

Most Hindus (59%) also link Indian identity with being able to speak Hindi – one of dozens of languages that are widely spoken in India. And these two dimensions of national identity – being able to speak Hindi and being a Hindu – are closely connected. Among Hindus who say it is very important to be Hindu to be truly Indian, fully 80% also say it is very important to speak Hindi to be truly Indian.    

Here's a video clip of Javed Jabbar's remarks:


Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan national anthem translated from Farsi to Urdu. #IndependenceDay

The only purely Urdu word in #Pakistan national anthem is “ka” as in “Pak sar zameen ka nizam”.
Riaz Haq said…
#Bangladesh Minister Thanks #India For 1971. "Without her (Indira Gandhi) help, without her government's help, without the help of the people of India, it would never have been possible for us to liberate our country in 9 months' time" #Pakistan

Without the help of Indira Gandhi, her government and the support of the people of India, Bangladesh would not have attained its independence in nine months in 1971, Bangladesh minister Hasan Mahmud said today, asserting that his country would remain forever grateful for India's support in its Liberation War.
The Information and Broadcasting minister of Bangladesh also hit out at Pakistani sceptics who in 1971 had scoffed at Bangladesh's freedom, predicting a bleak future for the nation, and pointed out that his country was well ahead of Pakistan on all counts of development.

He made the remarks at the launch of the book ''A Bangladesh War Commentary - 1971 Radio Dispatches'' by the late U L Baruah, the then director of external services, All India Radio, and later DG of AIR.

Hailing India's role in his country's independence, Mr Mahmud said it would never have been possible "for us to liberate our country in nine months' time without the help of India".

"So, I want to register at ICWA (Indian Council of World Affairs), my gratitude to the people who fought for Bangladesh, for its liberation," he said.

The people of India gave refuge to 10 million people from Bangladesh, not just in neighbouring states but in other states also, Mr Mahmud said.

Bangladesh would forever remain grateful to the people of India and the then government of India, he asserted.

"Indira Gandhi went from one part to another part of the world to build an opinion in favour of our freedom fight, our independence war and also to liberate Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujibur Rahman from the custody of Pakistan," Mr Mahmud said.

"Without her (Indira Gandhi) help, without her government's help, without the help of the people of India, it would never have been possible for us to liberate our country in nine months' time. It would never have been possible to free Sheikh Mujibur Rehman," the minister reiterated.

Slamming Pakistani sceptics of Bangladesh's future, Mr Mahmud said under the leadership of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, his country was well ahead of Pakistan on all indices -- social, economic and human.

"Our per capita income is 2,227, while that of Pakistan is over 1,500. Our foreign currency reserves are more than two times that of Pakistan, our poverty rate is well below Pakistan's and our life expectancy is 73 years," he pointed out.

"When Imran Khan formed the government, he said he would transform Pakistan into Sweden and then there was a debate in the Pakistani media, saying don't give us false dreams, try to make Pakistan like Bangladesh in 10 years," he said, underlining the rapid strides of development Bangladesh had made after its independence.

Amit Baruah, senior journalist and son of U L Baruah, introduced his father's book that has been published by ICWA and Macmillan Education from an original manuscript of his father's commentaries of the tumultuous times in 1971-72.

"My father wrote these commentaries in his capacity as the Director External Services, All India Radio, in 1971-72. These were translated from English and aired on Urdu, Pashto, Sindhi, Punjabi, Bengali and West Asian language services of the All India Radio," he said.

"All the original titles of the commentaries have been retained. They provide rich context for the events of the 1971 war and the liberation of Bangladesh," Mr Baruah said.
Riaz Haq said…
Shahid Zaidi, A Veteran #Pakistani #Photographer in #Lahore , Rushes to Save the Past - The New York Times

LAHORE, Pakistan — Before Shahid Zaidi was born, before his home was an independent country, his father opened a portrait studio and captured the nation’s emerging history.

His father, Syed Mohammad Ali Zaidi, captured a Hindu couple in 1939. The man wore a conservative double-breasted suit, hair slicked, while the woman sported a sari, with earrings dangling and bangles on her wrists, the exact colors eluding the black-and-white negative.

The next year he captured a Muslim couple, listed as Mr. and Mrs. Mohammad Abbas, the bride in a shimmer-trimmed shalwar kameez and a matha patti, an ornamental headpiece, and the groom resplendent in a qulla, a wedding turban.

Word spread about his studio, and Syed Mohammed Ali Zaidi’s customers began to include the elite of the new nation of Pakistan. He photographed Muhammad Ali Jinnah, the lawyer turned separatist who became the modern country’s founder. He photographed Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister, who was cut down by an assassin’s bullets in 1951.

Shahid Zaidi, 79, wants to preserve that history. He has assembled a small team to create digital versions of the images his father began capturing at his studio in Lahore 91 years ago. He aims to put the complete collection online so that families can find their ancestors and explore Pakistan’s coming-of-age.

“It’s my responsibility,” said Mr. Zaidi. “We have images that belong to somebody. They may want them or never want them. That’s beside the point. As far as I’m concerned, I owe them something.”

It won’t be easy. The studio, called Zaidis Photographers, houses an extensive archive of around half a million negatives. Though he won some financial support from the United States Institute of Peace, which promotes conflict resolution, he is funding the rest himself.

The elder Zaidi opened the studio in 1930, when he rented a piece of prime real estate on The Mall, a British-era thoroughfare in Pakistan’s second-largest city. Despite its sought-after location, the studio struggled to find customers in a tough economy.

The elder Zaidi “had the courage, the commitment, and the wisdom to do this when he had nothing else,” said Mr. Zaidi, who grew up in the studio.

Mr. Zaidi left for London as a young man to study film. He returned for a stint to Pakistan with his wife, Farida, in a Volkswagen bus, almost bartering his Leica camera in Tehran in exchange for gas. The pair later moved to Reno, Nev., where Mr. Zaidi worked as a director of photography for a studio portraiture company.

When his cousin, who had been running the studio, called Mr. Zaidi in the 1980s to ask him to take over the business, he felt he had to return. “There was something in me telling me, ‘You’ve got to go back,’” he said. “‘That’s your father’s work.’”

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