“Living in todayâ€™s Pakistan” – an interview for WPKN
From Tidings BlogÂ featuring my interview which wasÂ broadcastÂ on WPKN radio last year. Yes I have been a little lazy in posting all the stuff here.
Hazel Kahan has summarised some of the key points below and but those who can put up with my rants should click hereÂ –
In our wide-ranging interview, Raza spoke eloquently and poignantly about his country and what it is like to be living in Pakistan these days.Â Through his lens we can see another Pakistan, a parallel society that has been obscured by the prevailing image of militaristic, unreliable and confusing Pakistan given to us by the mainstream media.Â I have summarized some of the significant points Raza made but I do urge you to listen to him in his own compelling voice.
1. ” Much of Pakistanâ€™s seemingly inextricable alliance with Afghanistan and the Taliban can be explained by its existential fear, â€œa genuine insecurityâ€ of being encircled by India.Â Retaining its ties to the militants is one way of protecting itself from its huge eastern neighbor and as leverage â€in the endgame of Afghanistan.â€Â (What that endgame will be is â€œshrouded in mysteryâ€¦nobody really has a clue of how to approach and how to handle it.â€)
2. “The shared geography, history and culture of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the continuum between Pakistan and Â Â Â Â Afghanistan â€œmakes it very difficult to separate the two.â€
3.”Now you have two Talibans, the ones who attack NATO troops and the ones who attack Pakistani people. Â Pakistani people want to get rid of the Taliban because their lives have been traumatizedâ€¦we feel really angry and weâ€™re also sufferingâ€¦Â In this power politics, Afghanistan and Pakistan are burning.â€
4.These are extraordinary timesâ€, a serious crisis as Pakistan struggles between two paths: its South Asian, more secular identity and the puritan Arab identity of Saudi Arabiaâ€™s global Islam.
5. Pakistan is a society in major transition, created by the twin trends of urbanization which has brought women into the work force and into public prominence and a dynamic youth-driven culture, profound social change growing in parallel with the incumbentÂ jihadiÂ presence.
6.Â Muslims and Islam are not a monolith, with enormous variations amongÂ Southeast, South and Central Asia, Iran, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan societies.
7.â€œThis call forÂ Sharia,Â for theocracy,Â is nothing but an attempt to capture power â€¦ vis-Ã -vis the West.â€
8.Â â€œHelp Pakistan stabilize, grow and develop rather than Â penalize it in a momentary game of chess being played in Afghanistan â€¦ Be a friend of the Pakistani people and of civil society instead of helping the generals.â€Â Â Because of the visible and tangible projects funded by China, â€œthe perception is that China is a better friend of Pakistan than the US.â€
P.S. Hazel’s intro was rather generous: Â “Raza Rumi is a Pakistani writer, blogger and political analyst who spoke to me from Lahore, where he lives.Â He is also an adherent of Sufi thought and adopted the surname â€œRumiâ€ as hisÂ nom de plume, in tribute to the great 13thÂ century poet and mystic.