Christopher Hitchens, of much ill-repute, tries his hand at Pakistan:
The very name "Pakistan" inscribes the nature of the problem. It is not a real country or nation but an acronym devised in the 1930s by a Muslim propagandist for partition named Chaudhary Rahmat Ali. It stands for Punjab, Afghania, Kashmir, and Indus-Sind. The stan suffix merely means "land." In the Urdu language, the resulting acronym means "land of the pure." It can be easily seen that this very name expresses expansionist tendencies and also conceals discriminatory ones. Kashmir, for example, is part of India. The Afghans are Muslim but not part of Pakistan. Most of Punjab is also in India. Interestingly, too, there is no B in this cobbled-together name, despite the fact that the country originally included the eastern part of Bengal (now Bangladesh, after fighting a war of independence against genocidal Pakistani repression) and still includes Baluchistan, a restive and neglected province that has been fighting a low-level secessionist struggle for decades. The P comes first only because Pakistan is essentially the property of the Punjabi military caste (which hated Benazir Bhutto, for example, because she came from Sind). As I once wrote, the country's name "might as easily be rendered as 'Akpistan' or 'Kapistan,' depending on whether the battle to take over Afghanistan or Kashmir is to the fore."
Oh, so the word alone is enough! Who cares a whit about history, politics, culture, yadayada. Let's divine like oracles from Hafiz! Oh and quoting yourself? Priceless.
If I was a Professor, and this was a freshman paper (about the level of analysis at display), I would have taken the paper to Jimmy's, invited all my friends and read it loud - karaoke style.
"If I was a Professor, and this was a freshman paper (about the level of analysis at display)" Don't insult, man. There are some bright freshmen out there! ;) "I would have taken the paper to Jimmy's, invited all my friends and read it loud - karaoke style." Forget Jimmy's. This thing deserves to be read out loud at the most frequented bar in downtown Chicago.
What a hoot! Aside from the fallacy of origins, though, he could be right: I can't think of any other countries formed from disparate regions and cultures which ever managed to stay together this long. Can you? [/sarcasm]
Ouch. This Hitchens chap seems to have a vendetta going. I don't quite get why else someone would be so vicious.
When mocking undergraduate papers, it is also sometimes fun to read the paper in Donald Duck's voice.
Clearly, you have a much better standard of reading bad student papers than I -- I have only managed to read them out loud over coffee at the Zoo!
Someone whose country came up with the god-awful PATRIOT acronym should not be the first to cast stones.
Hey all, Just wanted to give you a head's up: I am meeting Bitchin' Hitchens on Midway tomorrow at 2 pm CST to settle matters. If you have any grievances that you'd like to duke out, come along. See you. Bring ice and plaster; Hitchens is going to need it.
Farangi: "When mocking undergraduate papers, it is also sometimes fun to read the paper in Donald Duck's voice." Donald Duck, the fearless, pantless American warrior has been an imperialist ever since WWII. So using Donald's voice mocks not only flawed undergraduate papers, but Donald as well. Taking care of two birds with one stone.
This is why academics continue publishing in journals that no one reads. I dont think hitchens can go on a 300 page dissection of pakistan. Sometimes a metaphor works in its place. I think everyone gets his point. Pakistan punjabi dominated? Check Has Baluchistan been historically ignored? Check Has Pakistan had imperialist tendencies toward Afghanistan? Check Has it thought of Kashmir as its property? Check Irrelevance gentlemen. Don't run to it
"This is why academics continue publishing in journals that no one reads." Hardly anyone reads academic journals because most people don't have access to them unless they fork over a bunch of pesos for a subscription!
Hitchens wrote: "Most of Punjab is also in India" Really? I think Slate's fact-checker should be replaced. Hitchens has always had a thing about Pakistan -- he suggested at one point on Slate that the US/UK etc prohibit all immigration from Pakistan. (Hitchens should ask his friend Rushdie what colour was the passport that he traded in for British citizenship.)
Factual errors aside (most of Punjab is NOT in India), Hitchens piece should be reviewed AS an op-ed on an internet website, not an academic paper (freshman level or higher). One can (and probably should) take issue with the idea that the Western world has interests in that region or any other region. But as long as you are within that framework (and what mainstream commentator is not?) then his criticism of Pakistan is not far off the mark. Pakistan (or more properly, the pakistani army that more or less runs the country) has an expansionist ideology, based on some religious convictions that the rest of the world does not necessarily share. They have supported (and continue to support) various groups of free lance "militants" to serve their policy goals. Those goals are opposed to the policy goals of the US and its allies. He is warning the American reading public of this fact. From that perspective, why is his piece especially laughable?
Omar: "From that perspective, why is his piece especially laughable?" Because his entire argument is based on a name. I understand the politics of naming (like renaming Bombay as Mumbai, or referring to India as Bharat) and I don't necessarily discount these politics, but Hitchens' piece is laughable in that he sits there dissecting the name as if it were THE guiding force for people's actions and political cultures. Pakistani politics cannot simply be reduced to an infantile analysis of what 'P' stands for. "Factual errors aside (most of Punjab is NOT in India), Hitchens piece should be reviewed AS an op-ed on an internet website, not an academic paper" I seem to get the sensation that you expect less from journalistic pieces. Rest assured, journalistic op-eds are NOT supposed to be factually inaccurate, and have ridiculous arguments, even if reality tells us otherwise. I suspect that with Hitchens being a big name, either his editor didn't really go through this piece, or gave him a lot of leeway that other lesser known journalists wouldn't have. And I don't think anyone was expecting a Ph.D style thesis or academic paper. Good journalistic pieces on Pakistan exist out there (even with the constraints of tone, style, word count and space limit); unfortunately, this Hitchens' piece wasn't one of them.
I think its a good TACTIC to attack Hitchens by saying his whole argument is based on a name. But I hope you are not serious? I think he is using the name thing to make a point about Pakistan's dominant/official ideology. Thats frequently done in op-eds and should not cause so much heartburn or misunderstanding. But again, if I were, say, the ISI's psyops officer, or Karl Rove hired to demolish Hitchens, then I would definitely take the name thing and run with it. When you want to demolish someone quickly, thats the sort of thing you do. But Karl Rove would know that Hitchens didnt really mean that the name is the root of the problem, and I hope you do too :)
Omar: "I think its a good TACTIC to attack Hitchens by saying his whole argument is based on a name. But I hope you are not serious? I think he is using the name thing to make a point about Pakistan's dominant/official ideology. Thats frequently done in op-eds and should not cause so much heartburn or misunderstanding." What do you mean by "tactic"? I'm not out to attack Hitchens because he is Hitchens; I am taking issue with his argument, and that is perfectly legitimate. There is no denying that Pakistani politics are messy, etc (I mean, just look at CM-- it takes incisive jabs at what's happening there all the time, and Sepoy should be smooched all over for this). So, I AM serious, because his entire argument IS based on a name, and I think it's legitimate to attack his piece precisely for that, it has nothing to do with "tactic." No one here has said that Pakistan's political scene is rosy-colored; commentators are taking issue with the basis of his assessment. Furthermore, I am being all the more serious because I have worked in both the American and South Asian media, and I have to say that there are writers and editors who hold up higher standards than this piece demonstrates. I for one, as a writer, never sought to make a weak, unrelated, or facetious claim to prove a larger point, and 2) my editors wouldn't have allowed me to get away with that in any case. There are blogs that are more well written than this, for god's sake. And really, where was the editor for this piece? On a three-day vacation? And no, in my eyes, it is NOT an acceptable way to make a point about a larger picture by using a claim that really has little do with politics in action. The fact that this is done 'frequently in op-eds' is no justification for this. Just because it is a recurring practice (publishing a meretricious argument) and people like Maureen Dowd and Thomas Friedman get national and global airtime to spiel crap that they wouldn't even allow in J-School doesn't mean it's correct and we should accept it and not criticize. Demand more of the press, I say! :)
BTW, Sepoy, if I ever get to fulfill my dream of jump-starting my own publication, you will definitely be one of my syndicated columnists, ok? Smooches.
Omar, I should also point out that Hitchens has lost credibility within the segment of the journalistic community that strives for a better media.
"Factual errors aside (most of Punjab is NOT in India)" The fact-checkers ("editorial interns," in journalistic parlance) were probably taking a well-deserved weekend off for the first time in a long time, and this ignorant error slipped by. The poor things, overworked, overwhelmed, and living on slave-labor wages. Though fact-checkers should adhere to stringent standards, ultimately, factual accuracy is on Hitchens as the journalist and the editor (who, as I mentioned, was most likely on a three-day vacation). It reminds me of the Newsweek error which stated in its print edition that Iran was a part of the "Arab world." Ha, ha, HA.
Wow, it took more than 60 + years for Professor to find the real problem!!!, well fortunately we know our problems, I think its not this Mr. Christopher Hitchens. Now try to come again with new theory about problem!
I am afraid I am with Hitch on this one. Living away from homistan tends to give you perspective. He is not that far off the mark. And Desi It - on the name thing. Chill. YOu are making too much of it. He used it as a trope to emphasize the state of Pakland. I would like to see what bones you can pick with his overall argument. It's terrible to read but sadly - quite true.
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