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Pakistan’s Southern Punjab: Politics of marginalisation

The discourse on South Punjab conceals the grassroots social movements and the clamouring for a linguistic identity in the region

The conundrum of South Punjab remains a major challenge for analysts, policy makers and above all the people of this marginalized region. Socio-economic data testifies to the impoverishment and the deprivation that exists in the region. Add to this the iniquitous land distribution and utter lack of economic opportunities for the local population. Despite the rhetoric of the establishment, the region has been neglected through decades of “modern” development in northern and central Punjab. The bulk of public resources were invested in Lahore, Rawalpindi and other urban centers of the North. Industrialisation, growth of private education facilities and the rise of the middle class are phenomena that have eluded the dusty environs of South Punjab.

The result is clear: the electoral patterns show support for redistributive agendas and which are deemed as pro-peasantry. In recent years, southern Punjab has also witnessed two conflictual yet interrelated trends. First, the rise of Islamism through a network of sectarian madrassas which train militants and mercenaries alike; and scattered yet influential social movements around the issues of linguistic identity and livelihoods. How does one make sense of these contradictions? […]

April 11th, 2010|governance, Pakistan, Politics, terrorism|4 Comments

Amankaar Tehrik (peace movement) in Pakistan challenges the status quo

Courtesy Fouzia Saeed


Myth: The root cause of Terrorism is extreme poverty and lack of education
Reality: This is not true. There are many countries in the world that suffer from extreme poverty but do not have terrorist groups.  Within Pakistan many areas are more poor than Swat, but have not become violent. On the other hand people who have become terrorists are not doing anything to eradicate poverty or provide education. Terrorists merely use the resentment of the marginalized and those resentful of other state actions in the initial phase of their ideological campaign. Once in control, they tax the poor, destroy school buildings and stop girls from going to schools. Most of those who have been killed due to militant attacks are women, peasants and the poor. […]

May 4th, 2009|Personal|7 Comments

This night bitten dawn

By Raza Rumi

The triumph of a popular movement on March 16 has marked a new beginning. The retreat of an intransigent government and the wise response by the PML-N and the lawyers averted a major crisis that could have been violent, and also a potential recipe for harming the parliamentary system in its infancy. There was a sigh of relief among the public for a long-standing issue appeared to have been resolved. This has been a monumental achievement by all standards.

However, the inherent imbalances within Pakistan’s power structure and the state of its polity are yet to be addressed and the contradictions of how our power is exercised stared us as the good news rolled out through the ubiquitous TV channels and their zealous presenters. The way quintessentially political issues and turf-wars between the PPP and PML-N were battled and resolved through a stage-managed process only concealed the bitter power-realities of Pakistan. […]

April 2nd, 2009|Personal|2 Comments

Kashmir,Azadi and Arundhati Roy

UPDATE from SAJA Forum, articles, news and comments here

UPDATE: Arundhati’s brutally frank piece where she asks this question:

The unimaginable sums of public money that are needed to keep the military occupation of Kashmir going is money that ought by right to be spent on schools and hospitals and food for an impoverished, malnutritioned population in India. What kind of government can possibly believe that it has the right to spend it on more weapons, more concertina wire and more prisons in Kashmir?

India needs azadi from Kashmir as much as Kashmir needs azadi from India. […]

August 19th, 2008|India, Politics|136 Comments