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Friday, November 27, 2009

Rabia Zuberi, Mohsin Hamid, Eid/Thanksgiving, Politics of Babri mosque, Second-hand Americans, White Lies?

RABIA ZUBERI is a pioneering figure in the world of the plastic arts in Pakistan. She has done more to have art accepted as a worthy activity of self-expression in her country than any other individual. Art in Pakistan was centred around the activities of three artists, Sadequain, Gulgee and Iqbal Geoffrey. Of the three, only Geoffrey (Jaffrey, really) enjoyed the luxury of complete artistic freedom, having lived and worked in England all his adult life. In a country constantly fighting off the stranglehold of mullahs, depiction of the human form has been an act fraught with peril. It is significant that a seminal figure in Pakistani art is a woman and a migrant. The first state may not have been easy for her to have been in but the second afforded the distance so necessary to create something enduring in a society suspicious of innovation in the social sphere. Rabia never married; her own art and the pleasure of seeing her students grow were compensations enough.

Mohsin Hamid: When it comes to where we think Pakistan is heading, we are voting with our feet.

Eid and Thanksgiving: A beautiful juxtaposition The lunar Islamic calendar gives Muslims the unique opportunity to perform their ritual practices throughout the entire Gregorian year. Sometimes, this is most welcome: such as Ramadan occurring in the month of December, with its short days and long nights. Other times, this presents a difficult challenge: such as the current situation with Ramadan, which will be in the summer months for the next decade. And as always, the juxtaposition of the various Islamic holidays with those of other Abrahamic faiths allows constant reflection over the importance of acknowledging and working together as people of faith. Yet, this year, the calendar coincidence could not have been more perfect: this year, the day of Arafat is on Thanksgiving.

Politics of Babri mosque - “LET the temple come up.” This was the remark made by Atal Behari Vajpayee when I asked what his reaction to the destruction of the Babri Masjid was one day after the event. I was surprised because I considered him a liberal force in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). Yet I did not attach much importance to his remark. Now that the one-man commission on the demolition, headed by Justice Manmohan Singh Liberhan, has named Vajpayee as one of the collaborators in the pulling down of the mosque, his remark falls into place. How could he have reacted differently when he was a party to the “meticulously planned” scheme to demolish the mosque?

Laila o Laila: Balochistan is our Laila, the beloved, who is angry and hurt because the Pakistani establishment and consecutive governments mistreated her. She gave the rest of Pakistan everything they needed. Be it energy and natural resources or love and goodwill. But powers that be continued to inflict wounds on its body and soul. Neither the cosmetic changes in policy and announcement of support packages from those at the helm of the affairs nor the half-hearted voices of support from common citizens like us will make Laila happy. Nothing less than becoming a Majnoon for our Laila will help us lure her back. We have to love Balochistan. We have to treat her wounds with care, her ego with respect and her anger with patience. Only then our claim of a lasting relationship will be worthwhile. We must also condemn the killings of innocent non-Baloch citizens. But could you really treat people like sub-humans for decades and then expect them to be nice to you?

Second-hand Americans like Zakaria cannot let a reference to China slip by without casting it as the emerging economic rival of the US, which is fair enough, but also militarily dangerous for the US, which is by no means obvious or necessarily so. This is done mostly as a ploy to enhance India’s importance for the US. India is indeed an important country, possibly some score years hence also a global power; nevertheless it needs mention that of the one billion population that are supposed to give India its global stature, today 500 million of them are starving. India will need to do better and for much longer to claim the status of a global power.

When the price is right? Benazir Bhutto, had she been alive, would never have gone this route. The amount of respect and affection shown by her to me is my valuable asset as a journalist, and the lengthy meetings with the late lady in which she used to share with me her personal miseries are sacred trust of her that I would resist to divulge at least for the time being. She was a great leader and a visionary who had far-reaching vision, but her personal life was full of miseries, as she had been denied the comfort ever since her great and illustrious father opted to fight for the people and their comforts.

White Lies: The Jamaatud Dawah has always been the first to condemn any armed activity within Pakistan, including suicide attacks. We consider such activities damaging to the image of Islam and Pakistan. Islam is a religion of peace and jihad for the sake of Allah is a vital pillar of Islam, yet there are certain specified rules for carrying out jihad, which does not include indiscriminate killing of everyone everywhere. Islam does not condone random blasts at public places, nor does it endorse the killing of every non-Muslim that one comes across. We do not believe in killing and slaughter in non-Muslim countries too, and we believe that it is the responsibility of Muslims to protect the life and property of non-Muslims in Muslim countries. Raising of the sword is only permissible against those non-Muslims who arm themselves to the teeth and invade Muslim lands and people.


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