Stories about nationalism

Thrilling and gripping, Leila reveals the bitter truth of today’s India

Leila, based on its namesake novel by Prayaag Akbar, is the first Indian dystopian series that made its debut on Netflix recently. Set in the year 2047, it depicts a society where different communities live in segregation based on their religious beliefs and caste differences. It follows the story of a mother (played by Huma Qureshi) who, after the murder of her husband, sets out on a daunting journey of finding her lost daughter. The series portrays India as a nation ruled by the ultra-nationalist regime of Aryavarrta, under the leadership of Joshi Ji. Although this Netflix show envisions a ...

Read Full Post

It’s time to stop poking the bear, India

Our national identity, stemming from the word ‘Pakistani’, represents far more than just our citizenship. It runs in our blood, it is our life and we are willing to die for it. Twitter and Facebook are full of patriots who are at the frontlines of our social media war with India, but are we prepared to face the consequences of a real war which is imminent on both sides? Of course it is easy for us to say we can beat India, while sitting in front of television screens in the comfort of our homes. But war implies the death of ...

Read Full Post

The Turkish Republic, as we know it, is dead

In perhaps the most important election of the past two decades, Turkey has given its verdict, electing Recep Tayyip Erdoğan as the president and also giving his party, Justice and Development Party (AKP), who fought the elections in coalition with Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), a majority in the Parliament. President Erdogan called an early election because he was expecting to win at this time, and therefore, wanted to use the opportunity to consolidate his presidency, which after last year’s referendum had become an extremely powerful post. Just to reiterate that presidency after the referendum is no longer a ceremonial post but gives ...

Read Full Post

Why is the Wagah border ceremony a competition of nationalism?

It has been 70 years since India and Pakistan emerged from a single, coherent geographical unit as two sovereign nations, and both states do their best to remember and reaffirm this. Every day at around 4:30pm, the Wagah border prepares for a unique ceremony, wherein the soldiers stationed at and near the border gates on both sides re-state the identity of India and Pakistan as sovereign nations, while their people cheer for them. As the dusk sets in, it is time to lower their respective flags, but both countries do so by giving a warning to each other. The gates ...

Read Full Post

The perversity of labelling eight-year-old Asifa as ‘the new Nirbhaya’

As India slowly wakes up to the horrors that were inflicted on eight-year-old Asifa Bano in January, collective outrage is gathering steam. New hashtags are trending every day. Horrifying details about the crime are emerging to shake us out of our consciousness. Armchair activists are leading the shout to get justice for Asifa. And rightly so. It is impossible not to be moved to tears after reading the terrible details about the Kathua rape case. From being drugged, to being gang-raped by men who wanted to ‘satisfy their lust’, to being strangled and bludgeoned to death in two horrific attempts, ...

Read Full Post

There could only be one Asma Jahangir, Pakistan’s valiant moral compass

Last year, I wrote an article praising a person who I consider to be my most favourite Pakistani, Ms Asma Jahangir. In that article, I wrote how courageous she was and how she had taken principled liberal stances throughout her life. Due to this, her support for any political party or institution was not constant. She supported the judiciary during the lawyers’ movement and was its fiercest critics later on when she found out that judiciary under former Chief Justice of Pakistan (CJP) Iftikhar Chaudhry was overstepping its constitutional authority. She supported Muttahida Qaumi Movement’s (MQM) point of view ...

Read Full Post

Twitter is to Donald Trump what fidget spinners are to millennials

The priorities of a leader, particularly in times of crisis, tend to speak volumes about their leadership skills. In today’s political climate, where social media dictates public image, leaders like Justin Trudeau are appreciated for eating biryani with Muslim communities, while leaders like Vladimir Putin, who is regularly pictured hunting or exercising, are derided for trying to sell an image of machismo. In the past several weeks, the US has been severely impacted by two Category 5 hurricanes, with experts believing the devastation to have set Puerto Rico back nearly 20 to 30 years. At the same time, the US was also involved in a verbal war ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post