Stories about nationalism

Not all Indians are rapists just like not all Pakistanis are terrorists

As a Pakistani, I always thought of the Indian media as anti-Pakistani and excessively nationalistic. So when I recently got the opportunity to work with Indian journalists, I was not sure what to expect. I was on my way to London for the Chevening/South Asia Journalism Fellowship. The program brought 17 leading journalists from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Maldives to live and work together in London for two months. Getting off the plane at Heathrow Airport, I wondered what it would be like to have a frank conversation with an Indian journalist. India is almost four times the size of Pakistan, yet their news media seem to be obsessed ...

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Destroying Jinnah’s house will not undo the Partition, Mangal Lodha

The sordid saga of ultra-nationalism unfolding in the subcontinent took a new twist this week. The Times of India reports that a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) lawmaker, Mangal Prabhat Lodha, demanded that Jinnah’s house in Mumbai be demolished and replaced by a centre representing Maharashtra’s culture.  Jinnah’s residence is a mansion in the Malabar Hill area of Mumbai where Mohammad Ali Jinnah resided following his return to India from England in 1936. It continued to be his primary residence till 1944, following which he started transitioning to the Flagstaff House in Karachi where he moved permanently after Partition. Before anything else, let’s dispense one clarification: jingoism ...

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Why does the state structure and narrative unfairly favour Punjab?

The selective way of presenting history in Pakistan conveniently ignores the fact that at the time of the country’s creation, there were two large movements which were sometimes contrasting and sometimes overlapping. The first was primarily centred on the Muslim identity and tried to actually bargain a better position for its bearers. This movement though ended up in carving a separate homeland for the Muslims but did not have a strong separatist thrust, at least in the beginning. However, the Islamic identity itself was not the only identity taken up by the Muslims as strong ethnic nationalist tendencies existed particularly in ...

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Why Modi is as bad as Trump

We are living in extremely dangerous times. Many of you would imagine I am referring to the election of Donald Trump, a xenophobic, misogynist, white supremacist, “nasty” man as the US president. I am not. I am referring to an even more terrifying phenomenon; which is our willing suspension of disbelief in election times. This is the very phenomenon which enables evident liars, of the ranks of Trump and back home, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and team, to work up crowds with promises that any sane man would know are hoax, and get elected to office. And still worse, defeat the right ...

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I am Pakistani, just like you. Except we’re not the same

Edmonton like many other metropolitan cities is an interesting blend of people of various nationalities, race, religion and creed. Walk around in the neighbourhood or enjoy the lazy summer sunshine in a park and you will be struck with a variety of people and languages you hear. The same exotic sampling of populations is present in schools, which gives children a wonderful opportunity to not only mingle or learn about various cultures but also to accept their differences and forge friendships out of their own communities at a very young age. It was a special day for the children of a small elementary school in Edmonton. They had ...

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Why are these members of authority and celebrities silent over the Kashmir issue?

We had been seeing pictures of kids as young as four being admitted in hospitals, their faces mutilated with pellets. Young Kashmiris, some sportsman and some students losing their dreams as their vision was taken away with what the Indian forces described as ‘non-lethal weapons.’ On top of that, Facebook had the audacity to censor these stories in the name of ‘Community Standards.’ We wanted to do a campaign against the use of pellets. Narendra Modi was an obvious choice as he is the prime minister. Sonia Gandhi was chosen because her ally, Omar Abdullah, sanctioned the use of these guns in 2010. It ...

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Beware documentarians: If it shows the truth, the Pakistani government will ban it!

It is said that whenever the gods want to destroy someone they take their intellect or aql as we would call it. If this saying is anything to go by, I can definitely say that the gods are hell bent on destroying our peace loving and pak (pure) nation. They have bestowed us with the most nationalistic bureaucracy and patriotic politicians that can ever be. If there is anything that happens against the motherland, they are there to save it from evil. They will mow down any finger that points, cut out any tongue that wags and gouge out any ...

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Prejudice towards languages and ethnicities other than Punjabi has to end

Textbooks play an important role in building the world view of students. In a country like Pakistan where the reading culture is non-existent, these books serve as primary sources of information for a huge chunk of society. Khursheed Kamal Aziz also known as K K Aziz began his book ‘The Murder of History in Pakistan’ with the following words, “In every country, the textbook is the primary implement of education at the school and pre-university stages of instruction. In Pakistan, it is the only instrument of imparting education on all levels, because the teacher and the lecturer don’t teach or ...

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For some, West Pakistan may be home but East Pakistan will never be forgotten

When people would ask me my ethnicity, I used to proudly declare that I am Bengali. This was before I understood the concepts of nationalism, citizenship and belonging. I learnt in my adolescent years that I am, in fact, not Bengali. I am not even from Bangladesh. I have Gujrati origins, and my great grandfather and his family lived in East Pakistan for 24 years after partition. My father only spent seven or eight years in East Pakistan before moving to West Pakistan during the war. Both, my great grandfather and my grandfather, whom I knew closely, spent an important ...

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My country won’t stand up against rape, but I have to stand up for the national anthem?

“Nationalism is a great danger. It is the particular thing which for years has been at the bottom of India’s troubles. It is my conviction that my countrymen will truly gain their India by fighting against the education which teaches them that a country is greater than the ideals of humanity.” – Rabindranath Tagore On Monday, at a movie hall in Mumbai, a family was humiliated, threatened, told they would be slapped and were forced to leave the hall amidst applause, because they did not stand up during the national anthem. This was not a victory for patriotism but a defeat for humanity. ...

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