Naim Sahib in Outlook India on the plight of Sikh families under the Swat deal: Islamic 'Adl in Orakzai. It is worth reading in full, and I wanted to highlight this pertinent call to the lawyers movement...
[glossary: 'adl (justice), jizya (property tax levied on conquered populations), dhimmis (non-Muslims under Muslim rule), fiqh (jurisprudence), bid'ah (innovation, bad), `ushr (annual tax on Muslim) ]
A week has passed, but I have not seen any comment on the above in the three Urdu newspapers from Pakistan that I fairly regularly check: Jang, Nawa-i-Waqt, and Daily Express. And if the Daily Times or Dawn carried an editorial on the plight of the smallest and most powerless group of Pakistani citizens I must have missed it. Here I must note that while Jang failed to carry the news about the Pakistani Sikhs, it twice reported on the special arrangements made for security and hospitality for the Sikh pilgrims from India.
The Pakistani lawyers who took to the streets to bring back an independent judiciary might not have read the news, busy as they must be with important matters, for none issued even a statement of regret or sympathy. As for the newly established 'independent judiciary,' personified by the Supreme Court of Pakistan and its Chief Justiceâ€”it took notice, suo motu, of the case of the whipping of a married woman and then only the other day declared that the penalty for 'blasphemy' should be death in the Islamic nationâ€”it too preferred to ignore the Sikhs. The nation's President and Prime Minister, of course, saw nothing wrong in what the Taliban had doneâ€”the two now co-share authorityâ€”and made not the slightest noise. Of course the guardians of Islam's honour in Pakistan, the muftis and maulanas, made not the slightest protest. Most likely they saw in the incident just one more triumph of their vision of Islam's glory in Pakistan. If anything, they showed remarkable restraint when they didn't make a public celebration of it, as they had done when President Zardari's father-in-law had the Ahmadis declared non-Muslim. Who knows but the mullahs might be planning secretly to demand that the same shari'a should now be enforced on the equally helpless and minute population of Hindus in Sindh.
What surprises me, however, is that none of the maulanas and muftis made an issue of the exact amount of money when so many avenues of argumentation were open to them. Was the amount extorted from the Sikhs right according to all the major schools of Islamic jurisprudence? Wasn't it less? Wasn't it more? Shouldn't the amount be equivalent to the value of a certain weight in gold? And what about the requirement, according to many jurists, that the dhimmis must additionally be publicly humiliated and made to display some distinct marker to separate them from the pure and virtuous? Shouldn't the dhimmis be disbarred from riding a motorbike now, and limited only to riding a bicycle? So many valid questions of fiqh were available to the reverends for the purpose of displaying their brilliance. Further, the newspaper report does not indicate if a similar payment would be demanded again next year. Perhaps not, but then is it valid under shari'ah to extort jizia in a lump sum? Are not the Talibans guilty of a bid'ah in this instance? Surely a few fatwas are needed to settle that issue.
I love that last paragraph. It suggests a potential for culture-jamming counterattacks on fundamentalism, but in reality most fundamentalists have a pretty clear idea which traditions they do and don't follow, and consider their interpretation to be "clear" and "honest" and "complete" no matter how convoluted and selective it is. Still, it wouldn't hurt to try.
Has there been any type of reporting on Saudi (not only state, but wealthy wahabbi members) money flowing into swat, or the pakistani taliban? It doesn't surprise me pakistan is sending in troops to the northwest. Seriously professor, do you think the militants will stop their advance in swat and say "mission accomplished"? Furthermore, I believe the deal Mush cut with the US wasn't "give the militants a base" and we'll give you money. If pakistan doesnt hold up its end of the deal, i.e. waging war on taliban types who destabilize afghanistan, then what is stopping the US from sending Pakistan to where it was in the 90s, branded a pariah state by the US state department. There is "bad" guys on all sides of this issue. but it is clear the Swat deal has not stopped the incremental approach of the militants. btw, this is completely unrelated to the post or my comments BUT. How "good" was Imran Khan? Is Brian Lara considered a better cricket player? Is Imran considered one of the best ever, or only one of the best ever for Pakistan?
Re: "How “good” was Imran Khan? Is Brian Lara considered a better cricket player? Is Imran considered one of the best ever, or only one of the best ever for Pakistan?" John Woodcock, in his 1998 "ranking" of the 100 "finest" cricketers of all time, ranked imran in the top 15 all time (lara and sachin were in the 20-30 range; wasim and miandad were probably 50-60, and waqar was in the 80-90 range if I remember correctly). Obviously no list can be above critique, but my point is that Imran Khan is not just considered a great Pakistani cricketer -- for anyone who is an informed cricket fan, Imran is easily -- easily -- one of the greatest fast bowlers since world war II (hard to compare the earlier period, the game was so very different), and this despite losing two years at his peak due to a stress fracture. As an Indian cricket fan, one knows only too well his mind-boggling returns in a 6-test series on dusty pitches in Pakistan, when a line-up composes of Sunny, amarnath, vengsarkar, and (albeit at the twilight of his career) Vishy was mauled out of sight: 40 wickets in 6 tests on THOSE pitches! Gulp. Factor in his batting ability (not just the flamboyant lower-order hitting, but his ability to knuckle under: I am thinking of a marathon, five hour, 43 that was invaluable in helping save a test match in the Caribbean in 1988; ODI-fans will not forget a valiant 57 in the 1987 World Cup semi-final, when Dickie Bird incorrectly ruled him out, not his 1992 World Cup final innings), and his captaincy, and there can be little doubt that as a cricketer, he is one of the Immortals. Yes, he was an asshole, and rumored to be fastidious to a fault when it came to selecting unorthodox batsmen (i.e. he wouldn't pick then), and he probably treated Shoaib Muhammad far more shabbily than that gifted test match batsman deserved, but on balance, he would be in my personal all-time test XI.
PS: I recall Gavaskar, a man who knows a thing or two about fast bowling, once saying that Imran at his peak was the best fast bowler he had ever played against or seen. From a man who played against Lillee, Hadlee, Wasim, not to mention the relentless West Indian battery, and who has been a commentator since retirement (when the likes of Waqar, Donald, Ambrose, McGrath, Bishop, etc. played), that's saying something.
PPS: My bad: the 43 was in the 3rd test of that series, a match Pakistan lost (they should have won, but the non-neutral umpire refused to give Dujon out in WI's 2nd innings, which would certainly have put an end to WI's record of remaining unbeaten at home since 1973, and unbeaten anywhere since 1980 -- Pakistan had a 1-0 lead in the 3-test series), and it took nearly three hours.
btw, yes man, thanks to you now I feel guilty about making this of all threads a cricket thread. wtf.
On the Naim piece, quite frankly religious minorities have long been all but invisible to Pakistani liberals and civil society (compare the reactions of liberals to ill-treatment of Ahmedis with the blank stares one often gets when one speaks of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan). This is not due to overt animus, but to an "absence", an absence that speaks volumes. In terms of Pakistan's public life, its religious minorities simply do not register, and are politically irrelevant -- the example Naim cites is telling, with newspapers writing of Sikh visitors from India while seemingly unaware of Sikh co-citizens...
What about Hindus...?????????? Sikhs and Hindus in Swat were both included in the imposition of Jazia ...what about Hindus ..is there no news of them . Both these communities make up a tiny inch of land of Pakistan ...shd not the Pak govt protect these tiny gems and whatever is left of the other tiny gems of communities in Pakistan . Rise !!!!! this is the time of crises of all humanity and u cannot be just mute and blind to the hordes of evil slowly creeping in Pakistan to devor it completely and spread to the rest of the world
On the Naim piece, quite frankly religious minorities have long been all but invisible to Pakistani liberals and civil society (compare the reactions of liberals to ill-treatment of Ahmedis with the blank stares one often gets when one speaks of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan). This is not due to overt animus, but to an “absence”, an absence that speaks volumes. They are small minorities and some like the Hindus make an effort to blend in. Sikhs of course are more prominent and there is a long history of Sikhs in the NWFP region as well as Afghanistan. My parents tell me fond memories they have of attending the colourful mass wedding ceremonies that the community used to hold in Kabul in the 1970s. Pakistani Christians are probably more visible, they seem to run afoul of the blasphemy laws more often tha other religous minorites (non-Muslim anyway) and NGOs and acitivists working with the brickmakers unions and on bonded labour have long been aware of the disproportionate presence of Pakistani Christians in this sector.
Also, Imran Khan was a great bowler but not a great batsman. Q, you should be ashamed of yourself for turning this into a cricket thread :D
Conrad: never said he was a great batsman: my point was that once his batting and captaincy abilities are added to his great bowling, his position as one of the greatest cricketers seems even more secure. On the minorities, I don't think size is the most relevant issue: the percentage of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan is not too different from the percentage of Christians or Sikhs in India. [I don't mean to suggest that this "difference" is entirely explained by political ideology; perhaps much is simply attributable to social/caste/class factors.]
My article about what is happening in Pakistan: http://wichaar.com/news/294/ARTICLE/13790/2009-04-23.html Comments?
Conrad: never said he was a great batsman: my point was that once his batting and captaincy abilities are added to his great bowling, his position as one of the greatest cricketers seems even more secure. Fair enough Q, I am not a cricket afficianado so I can't comment too much on this. He wouldn't make my top XI, but this might be because I detest the man and let my personal animosity get in the way here. On the minorities, I don't think size is the most relevant issue: the percentage of Hindus and Sikhs in Pakistan is not too different from the percentage of Christians or Sikhs in India Sikhs are a tiny minoirty in Pakistan 0.4%, hindus are a bigger at 1.85%; in India Christians are 2.3% and Sikhs 1.9%. Apart from politics and ideology; the spread and concentration is much more visible in India - from the NE, to the chotanagpur plateau and Kerala there are regions and localities where Christians are either the majority or make up a significant minoirty group. sikhs of course have their own state. I get the feeling that the spread and concentration is much less in Pakistan, you wouldn't get many places, aside from maybe some urban areas where you could say that Hindus come near being a majority. christians may be more visible because they get trapped in certain 'dirty' or undesirable jobs. Still you wouldn't know that there are 3million+ Hindus in Pakistan, so I guess other factors must be at work here as well.
I suspect the vast majority of Hindus in Sindh are Dalits, and/or "tied to the land" in rural areas, which probably adds to their "invisibility." I will tell you that in Karachi, many of the younger Hindus whom one encounters because they are domestic workers, have ambiguous names (that this is a recent development and not a reflection of a certain cultural orientation is shown by the fact that the older parents tend to have very recognizable names), and in one instance it was several visits before I ever learned that my relative's cook was Hindu. I don't know how reliable the tables in this Wiki piece are (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hinduism_in_Pakistan), but it claims that according to the 1998 census, Hindus constitute 7.5% of Sindh, and considerably more than that in some districts of Sindh (40+% in Tharparkar, 18+% in another district).
PS-- yes, I do not like Imran Khan one bit (his post-1992 avatar has been deeply distasteful, and even in cricket commentary he's a whining sort, and for the longest time very reluctant to give credit to any Indian players, or to Miandad, etc.; cuts a poor commentary box figure in comparison with Ramiz Raja), but he was a supreme athlete. I had the privilege of seeing him live at Sharjah stadium several times in the late 1980s, and even though he was towards the end of his career, it was still a treat.
Omar Ali: Thanks for posting that link. I will confess that I tend to be skeptical of what many "non-resident" desis tend to say, not because they are "abroad" but because so many tend to be drawn from social classes which tend to see "the people" as a kind of undifferentiated mass, a "them" that reacts to stimulus but seems incapable of any serious reflection. In fact one finds this attitude "back home" as well. Second, I am unpersuaded by the opinions that take the "long view" to say that Punjab has historically been a "buffer" state, etc. (one sees variants on this sort of thing with discussions of "plains-dwellers", "warrior races", etc., basically a resurrection of Raj-era stereotypes). I don't think Punjab seemed like a buffer to the Mughal Empire, it would have been the very "core" (Lahore was, at a certain point, the capital of the empire; Delhi is geographically indistinct from Punjab; just to take two examples). [I do not mean to suggest that community self-image cannot lead to new social realities -- presumably if Sikhs and Pathans see themselves as a warrior-community, and in light of various socio-economic situations do end up joining the armed forces in great numbers, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy -- but that if we take these sorts of sweeping characterizations as given, then we can't think further.] My sense is closer to the paragraph beginning "My own opinion..." than those offered by the people you spoke to...
Q, - I think Wiki should be broadly accurate; in so far as any demographic data on Pak is accurate. So it seems that Sindh is the partial exception, huh, I knew Karachi had some old segments of the community but I didn't know that there were rural areas where there would be so many Hindus. I know of the 'Dalit' problem in Pakistan - as an aside VT Rajshekar recently was in Pakistan as a state guest to extend some lectures and engage in some Hinduism-bashing :D - but I didn't realise that they were classed as Hindus. I think a Dalit has been elected as a Senator for the first time in the last elections; but from my understanding they don't readily identify themselves with Hindus, or unproblematically as Muslims either.
Someone had emailed me a report on the situation of "scheduled castes" in Pakistan; if you're interested, I can send it along to you (in fact, if anyone wants it just email me at qalandar4ATgmailDOTcom..
Just wanted to quickly jump in here without having read all of the comments, but there is the Hindu population in Balochistan. I had read the Pakistan Human Rights Commission's fact-finding report on Balochistan where attacks against Hindus occurred. Of course, non-Hindu Balochis also have gotten attacked, and I do not know if the Hindu Balochis are targeted for their religion. I haven't read the report in a long time, so there might be some information in there about this.
[...] Chapati Mystery.) [...]
Qalandar, I absolutely agree with you about this "buffer" and "people of the plains" and other kinds of geographic determinism. That was not my opinion. As a geneticist with some interest in this subject, I do think we should pay more attention to how greatly the peasants outnumber the various nomadic warriors who loom so large in history. Dr. Cavilli Sforza wrote somewhere that if you look at the genetic heritage of the current population of China or India, you find that the genes of the famous invaders (mongols, turks, etc) are the proverbial "aata mein namak". In that sense (and that limited sense only) the "people of the plains" do indeed swallow up the various high profile invaders who arrive without their women and whose genes sink into the vast numbers of peasants that they enslave....
Are there any prominent Hindus in Pakistani national life? Journalists, actors, politicians, musicians? Surely there must be Hindu and Sikh musicians in Pakistan? Especially Punjabi singers, in India and England there are so many Sikh singers and musicians. One thing that unites India and Pakistan and seems to be the only thing unaffacted by respective suspicions or chauvinism is music, I am surprised Pakistani music scene does not seem to any prominent have Hindus or Sikh artists. Unless I have missed them, can you let me know if there are any.