Ah, the second week in August, when every wizened old editor’s attention turns to the “Partition of 1947”. Thoughtful pieces are commissioned on the violence of Partition, the communalism that brought about the horrible violence of Partition and the horrendous culpability of the British in bringing about the terrible violence of Partition (to add some topicality, Fred Kaplan unhinges about Iraq and India, this year). It does appear, to the casual reader of news in these here United States, that the only thing worth telling about South Asian history is that decade in the 40s and the communal killings.
- Pankaj Mishra leads the pack with a rather starchy and frustrating article in the NYer, Exit Wounds. I can overlook that preciously Marie-Antoinettesque opening. I can even ignore that he faithfully reproduces the post-imperial narrative which robs Indians – any of them – of all their agency (Independence happened because Britain was weakened and US put pressure. Killings happened because British fueled separatism). But I just cannot let go of his conclusion which as usual ignores history and reduces analysis to simply spotting every recursion of the word “Islam” and then connecting the dots.1 More Mishra & Mishra & Mishra.
- A random story about change and growth in Pakistan since 1947: The House of Kazmi
- Khushwant Singh has a list of the dozen most significant novels
about Indiaby authors of Indian origins in the past 60 years. Jhumpa Lahiri?
- I couldn’t agree more with Ahmed Rashid’s Musharraf’s State of Emergency. You can see my agreements down below or in my unpublished op-ed, Getting Pakistan Right.
- Abir informed me about Jashn-e Azadi – a documentary by Sanjay Kak about Kashmir. I am curious to see the documentary and judging from the comments on the blog, there is a pretty harsh reaction to it from our beloved nationalists.
- And finally, I link to this map, Terrorism on the Rise, not to make any political point but to highlight what Edward Tufte would herald as “beautiful evidence”. I am a design geek. Yes. In fact, I am such a geek that this NYT article on Highway sign typography is the best thing I have read in weeks.
- update: William Dalrymple’s got Pakistan’s back.
Things will be slow and low on the CM front. Enjoy the dog days of summer.———
- “Meeting Mountbatten a few months after partition, Churchill assailed him for helping Britain’s “enemies,” “Hindustan,” against “Britain’s friends,” the Muslims. Little did Churchill know that his expedient boosting of political Islam would eventually unleash a global jihad engulfing even distant New York and London. The rival nationalisms and politicized religions the British Empire brought into being now clash in an enlarged geopolitical arena; and the human costs of imperial overreaching seem unlikely to attain a final tally for many more decades.” [↩]