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The Hindus of Pakistan

A seminal book on the Hindu temples of Pakistan should be read by all Pakistanis.
Katas Raj
Kataas Raj
Temples in PakistanJournalist Reema Abbasi and photographer Madiha Aijaz have done a remarkable job of travelling across the length of Pakistan and documenting the state of Hindu temples. The regions that comprise Pakistan are central to the evolution of the Hindu religion and its various offshoots. For instance, the Indian subcontinent derives its very name from the River Indus. In the ancient Sanskrit language, the river was known as “Sindhu”. The Persians gave it the form “Hindu” and through successive generations the land finally came to be known as India, with various forms being derived from this root. Similarly, the shrines in Punjab and Balochistan are perhaps as old as Hinduism itself.

Reema writes at the start of the book – Historic Temples in Pakistan: A Call to Conscience – that her endeavor focuses on “Pakistan’s fraying social order and the sad prospect of it bringing about its own destruction”. In recent decades, the country’s minorities have come under severe attack from extremists and the state has often seemed indifferent or worse, culpable. Reema’s concern is not misplaced. In 1947, the non-Muslim population was nearly 23%. Today it is around 5%. Granted that the separation of East Pakistan caused a major decline in this number but we are all aware of Hindus, Sikhs and Christians migrating abroad. In fact, it has become a class-based exodus. The relatively privileged are the first ones to leave, and sadly, for the right reasons.

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Reclaiming the legacy of ZA Bukhari

By Raza Rumi

Defining ‘Pakistani’ culture has been a problematic endeavour right from the inception of the country. Pakistan has straddled between 5,000 years of its ancient past, a thousand of years of Muslim rule in the Indian subcontinent, and the secular, plural reality that exists to date. Few individuals attempted to understand this. And fewer could actually lead the arduous process of articulating and shaping a truly nuanced and composite Pakistani culture. Zulfiqar Ali Bukhari, popularly known as ZA Bukhari, was one such Renaissance man who will always be remembered for his life and works, but more importantly for filling the void, which was created due to the truncation of Indo-Muslim identity in 1947. At the time of Independence, Pakistan was beset by the greatest of its challenges, ie of coming to terms with its past and deciding about its future trajectory, conflicts which remain unresolved despite six decades of fruitless struggles. […]