Will Culture Wars Reshape Pakistan?

Cultural invasion of Pakistan is in full swing with Turkish schools and soap operas finding broad acceptance across the country. Local TV channels are airing soap operas dubbed in Urdu and Gülen movement is operating over a dozen schools in different parts of the country.



Turkish Entertainment: 

Since last summer,  channel Urdu1 has enjoyed top TV ratings with its multiple daily airings of the Turkish soap opera Ishq-e-Mamnu, or “Forbidden Love", according to the New York Times. Afraid of being left behind, Geo Entertainment, part of Pakistan's biggest media empire spawned by recent media revolution in the country, has joined the bandwagon with its prime-time airing of  Noor. It's a rags to riches story of a woman, and her adoring husband, played by the blue-eyed former model Kivanc Tatlitug.

Ishq-e-Mamnoon Cast Members
While the soaps depict a western lifestyle and deal with subjects that are considered taboo in Pakistan, they include characters with Muslim names which many Pakistanis can identify with. 

This latest trend contrasts sharply with what has been happening in the country for several decades.  Since 1980s, Pakistan's cultural transformation has been led, in part, by Pakistani workers traveling to and returning from Arab countries. These workers have brought with them Arab notions of Islamic piety and hard-line Wahabi beliefs to Pakistan. This phenomenon has contributed to the proliferation of radical madrassas funded by Saudi money in many parts of the country.

Arabs, seen as model Muslims by many Pakistanis, are themselves soaking up Turkish culture. Back in 2008, Saudi-owned Middle East Broadcasting Centre (MBC) bought Noor and broadcast it across the Arab world to win its hearts and minds. Now Turkish shows are dominating the Arab airwaves. Even Greece, traditional rival of Turkey, has become so hospitable to Turkish soaps that they "are gaining a worshipful following in Greece", according to Mary Andreou who writes for the Greek newspaper Adesmeftos Typos.

Magnificent Century – Turkey’s most popular and most talked-about but controversial soap is about the lavish lifestyle of Suleiman The Magnificent who ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1520 to 1566 at the height of its glory and is still revered as Kanuni, or Lawgiver. His empire included large parts of Eastern and Central Europe and the entire Middle East. It is watched in 43 countries by 200 million people, according to David Rohde in The Atlantic. The Hurriyet reports that Turkish soap opera exports have grown from US$1 million in 2007 to nearly US$100 million today. Around a hundred different Turkish serials are exported in dubbed or subtitled form to North Africa, the Balkans, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America.

Turkish Education:

In Pakistan, Turkish presence extends beyond television entertainment; there's a network of Turkish schools being operated by Gülen Movement, a transnational religious, social, and possibly political movement led by Turkish Islamic scholar Fethullah Gülen. It's been described by  New York Times as  coming "from a tradition of Sufism, an introspective, mystical strain of Islam". Currently, Gulen Pakistan is operating 14 Pak-Turk schools serving over 3000 students in Islamabad, Lahore, Karachi, Khairpur, Multan, Peshawar and Quetta.

Pak-Turk School, Jamshoro, Pakistan
 In a CBS 60 Minutes segment last year, here's how correspondent Leslie Stahl described Gulen schools in the United States: "Over the past decade scores of charter schools have popped up all over the U.S., all sharing some common features. Most of them are high-achieving academically, they stress math and science, and one more thing: they're founded and largely run by immigrants from Turkey who are carrying out the teachings of a Turkish Islamic cleric: Fethullah Gulen". CBS report said Gulen schools in the United States have 20,000 students enrolled with 30,000 more on waiting list. The growing popularity of Turkish charter schools has drawn suspicion and criticism of various groups in the United States.

Critics:

Growing Turkish influence in Pakistan has its critics. Local actors and producers decry the new competition of Turkish soaps for "destroying our society".  Others see as part of the American conspiracy. Mesut Kacmaz, a Muslim teacher from Turkey, was warned by a mosque near where he works never to return wearing a tie, according to a news report.

Future: 

Today's Turkey is a modern democratic and secular state run by moderate Islamists. It is seen by many Muslims, including Pakistani Muslims, as a model pluralist society that offers many lessons for the rest of the Islamic world.  But it has many detractors as well. For example, there is significant resistance to growing Turkish cultural and educational influence in Pakistan.  The Turkish influence is still small but rising rapidly, and the resistance from entrenched orthodoxy is increasing with it. It does offer hope as an anti-dote to the  radical Saudi influence that is at least partly responsible for growing violence in Pakistan. While I do see signs of hope with the emergence of Turkey as model for Pakistan and other Muslim countries, only time will tell as to how this culture war unfolds to shape Pakistan's future. 

Here's a video clip of Ishq-e-Mamnoon:

Ishq E Mamnoon OST Title Song Full 720p HQ from Prince Mughal on Vimeo.


Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Turkey, Pakistan and Secularism

Pakistan Media Revolution

Violent Social Revolution in Pakistan

Clash of Ideas in Islam

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

 Silent Social Revolution in Pakistan

The Eclipse of Feudalism in Pakistan

Social and Structural Transformations in Pakistan

Malala Moment: Profiles in Courage-Not!

Urbanization in Pakistan Highest in South Asia

Rising Economic Mobility in Pakistan

Upwardly Mobile Pakistan

Comments

Riaz Haq said…
Here's an excerpt of Pervez Hoodbhoy's Op Ed on popes and caliphs as published in Express Tribune:

A consensus at electing popes hasn’t always been that easy. History: Pope Gregory X established the Papal Conclave in 1274 after it took the cardinals nearly three years to choose him as the successor to Pope Clement IV. Locking the cardinals in a meeting and gradually decreasing their food rations was seen as good way to expedite agreement on a new pope. Three voting cardinals died during the process. Such is life.

What enables the quick consensus on electing popes in modern times? Simple: the pope’s role has become largely ceremonial since 1536. No head of state need obey his orders. For Catholics, he is an icon of piety and chastity standing above the sordid politics of the world. While they are expected to live and breed according to the dictates of the Church, they do not consider them to be infallible any more. Today, increasing numbers of Catholics are moving away from the Church because of its stand on birth control and divorce. Nevertheless, though with much lessened powers, the new pope speaks for 1.2 billion Catholics.

Who should speak for the 1.5 billion Muslims today? This question is difficult because the Islamic world has been without a caliph ever since Kemal Ataturk eliminated the Ottoman Caliphate in 1924. Earlier, a caliphate had been the norm. Today, several Muslim groups are marketing the idea that restoring ancient glories is contingent upon reviving the caliphate. But this is a prescription for fratricidal conflict.

The problem is that the caliph is generally understood to be both the spiritual as well as temporal leader. The Egyptian scholar, Taha Hussein, was unusual in suggesting that Islam permits the two aspects to be separated. This strongly conflicts with the views of Maulana Abul Ala Maududi or Sayyid Qutb and those who have been influenced by them. In 2001, Osama bin Laden called upon Muslims to “establish the righteous caliphate of our ummah”, a man who would lead and organise the ummah. A Sunni, he would enforce a single Sharia. The bewilderingly many extant sects and schools of thought would have to vanish, either by persuasion or by coercion. Since Shias obviously cannot be persuaded, they (and others) would have to be subdued.

More significantly, the caliph would be the commander-in-chief of all Muslim forces belonging to an Islamic superstate that would supercede the authority of Muslim national states. He would authorise jihad, both defensive and offensive, in forms ranging from actual combat to space wars, cyber jihad, economic sanctions, oil boycotts, making treaties, and dealing with the World Bank and the IMF. Pakistan’s nuclear weapons would be at the caliph’s command. So would oil from Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the Gulf. If any Muslim country defied his orders, waging war would be an option.
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Today, a global caliphate can only be created through violence. The Hizbut Tahrir, which seeks this goal, sees mutinies and insurrections as the solution. Its website calls upon Pakistan’s armed forces to rise against its leadership. Brigadier Ali Khan and his colleagues will surely not be the last officers convicted of sedition.

It is a hard enough question, answerable only by God, to judge who is truly a pious Christian or Muslim. But when the power to make war also depends on the answer, it becomes impossibly difficult. So, the 13th century cardinals locked up by Pope Gregory X would have starved to death rather than arrive at an agreement! Attempting to elect a caliph today would pit Muslim against Muslim in bloody conflict. Although there is zero chance of the caliphate’s revival, this goal nevertheless looms large in the consciousness of those committed to seizing state power and to fundamentally transforming the societies they take over.


http://tribune.com.pk/story/524854/on-choosing-popes-and-caliphs/
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Daily Times report on Islamabad Literature Festival:

..The ILF, organised by the Oxford University Press, opened on Tuesday. The two-day festival with 70 speakers and more than 35 sessions/events is being held at a local hotel. Approximately 6,000 participants visited the festival on the first day. Oxford University Press Managing Director Ameena Saiyid welcomed the guests. In her speech, she observed that a common system or syllabus was not the solution, as teachers’ training, improving curriculum and providing children with better quality books would encourage the reading habit.

ILF co-founder Asif Farrukhi said that literature remains the medium to express society’s feelings and status. Quoting writer Intizar Husain, he said, “This is the time of signs.” Intizar Husain said that the last century started by promising a bright future, but it turned into a century of two world wars, fascism and now intolerance too had spread to Asia.

Kamila Shamsie, winner of Granta magazine’s Best of Young Writers’ Award for her contribution as a novelist, paid tribute to Intizar Husain and his novel ‘Basti’. “In Pakistan, it is taught that history is confluence of religion. Actually, history is confluence of geography. We deny our thousands of years of historical background,” she lamented.

In another thought-provoking session on his book ‘Pakistan on the brink’ Ahmed Rashid said that he still felt that Pakistan could be salvaged “if our foreign and national security policies are changed diametrically”.

“We have to stop thinking that we have the right to decide the faith of Afghanistan and stop relying on jihadi groups to achieve the foreign policy objectives. We have failed to take advantage of our geo-political position to build our economy. We need ceasefire in Afghanistan to help bring peace to Pakistan,” he observed.

The session was moderated by Daily Times Editor Rashid Rehman, who raised incisive questions. In the session titled ‘Pakistani English Poetry is Alive and Well: New Directions, New Voices’, Ilona Yusuf, Athar Tahir, Harris Khalique and Muneeza Shamsie were of the view that English poetry was being written in Pakistan and had considerable audience. There was consensus among the participants that there should be some publication or means of promotion of Pakistani English poetry.

In other sessions, Abdullah Hussain and Ahmed Shah captivated the audience in their readings and conversations; Amjad Shahzad, Zubair Hasrat, Arif Tabassum and Muhib Wazir discussed ‘New Voices in Pushto Poetry’ with Raj Wali Khattak and Ahmad Fouad; in ‘Shah Hussain and Sufi Classical Poetry in Punjabi’, Harris Khalique had an interesting discussion with Sarwat Mohiuddin; on the sensitive issue of ‘Politics of Child Labour’, Samar Minallah Khan, Anees Jillani, Taimur Rahman with Baela Jamil raised important issues regarding child labour and under-aged servants; and Muneeza Shamsie with Ahmed Rashid elaborated on ‘Pakistani English Novels in the New Millennium’.

In the session on ‘Dynastic politics’, to question by the Moderator Babar Ayaz that why political dynasties are scorned by middle classes, while dynasties in other professions like lawyers, writers and doctors are approved, eminent historian Hamida Khuro said that political dynasties were disliked because in democracy people like to have meritocracy and politicians have power to affect the lives of the people....


http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2013\05\01\story_1-5-2013_pg11_1
Riaz Haq said…
Here's a Washington Post story on Taan, billed as Pakistan's answer to "Glee":

Starting in September, Pakistani TV stations will begin broadcasting what some have called the country’s “answer to Glee”: an envelope-pushing musical drama called “Taan,” set in a fictional Lahore high school.
If a peppy musical about misfit teenagers and their social/sexual escapades seems out of place in Pakistan, that’s because it is. Interviews with director Samar Raza tend to focus on the way the show can grapple with those issues like sexuality and teen romance without provoking the ire of Pakistan’s media censors — the same people who warned TV media earlier this year not to promote Valentine’s Day and once took an entire cable network off the air after it broadcast a Salman Rushdie interview.
Raza told Agence France-Presse, for instance, that the show suggests a homosexual relationship through innuendo and conversation among the characters. (Homosexuality is illegal in Pakistan.) It will also tackle Pakistan’s religious and sectarian violence: One of the characters is described as an extremist who initially planned to blow the music school up — before getting into music, of course. Another main character is a Christian whose girl family was massacred in the 2009 riots at Gojra, an actual event that heightened interfaith tensions for weeks.
“Music is the only thing that can unite this country,” one of the show’s actors, Hassan Niazi, told The Telegraph. (The BBC also has some more behind-the-scenes interviews, and a few shots from the program, in this video.)
But it’s not as though Pakistan has shied away from controversy on TV. Pakistani dramas, often filmed in Lahore and modeled on Indian shows, have addressed child abuse, divorce and incest, Pakistani journalist Kamal Siddiqi told the Times of India for a feature on Pakistani TV last year. One of the country’s most popular domestic soaps, a family drama called “Humsafar,” revolved around a cast of willful women — and gave plenty of screentime to issues like divorce and mental illness.

Foreign imports from Turkey and India are also wildly popular in Pakistan. As the New York Times reported in January, the country’s most watched Turkish soap, appropriately titled “Forbidden Love,” follows the adventures of the rich and promiscuous as they fall in and out of love triangles and otherwise sordid relationships. (The video below, a slow-mo compilation of meaningful glances from the show, is absolutely worth watching.) Critics have slammed the show as vulgar and un-Islamic, but it’s still on-air....
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Taan will fortunately have no problems there: The show was filmed in Lahore, and its creators have licensed more than 100 classic Pakistani songs for the “Glee” treatment. Now Raza and his crew need only hope that their bold storylines receive the same kind of reception Glee, a rule-breaker in its own right, got in the U.S. According to Nielsen, he show raked in more than 8 million viewers during its last season.


http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2013/05/30/pakistans-answer-to-glee-will-address-homosexuality-and-extremism-in-song-of-course/
Riaz Haq said…
Pakistan Idol show launched by GeoTV.

One of the most popular talent shows in the world has come to Pakistan. The Geo Entertainment Network officially launched ‘Pakistan Idol’ on Wednesday.

The globally celebrated singing talent show has attracted 460 million viewers worldwide since it was launched in 2003.

Speaking to reporters at the launching ceremony, Imran Aslam, the president of the Geo TV Network, said Pakistan had a history of producing talented musicians across genres. The Geo Network’s endeavour to bring forth talented musicians is a step towards keeping that cherished tradition alive.

“The Idol will be a platform for people who sing in private, in the bathroom or in small family gatherings. We will bring them together and provide them with the opportunity to showcase their hidden talent,” he said. “From among them, the people will choose one voice that will reign in our hearts.”

The auditions for Pakistan Idol will start in Islamabad from Thursday (today) and the judges (who have not been named yet) will travel to various other cities to spot talent, including Quetta and Peshawar.

Asif Raza Mir, the managing director of Geo Entertainment, said the network was aware that there were security problems in Quetta and Peshawar, but the two cities were equally important.

“So we will provide our contestants, judges and crewmembers with security,” he added.

The eligibility age for the participants is between 15 and 30 years old.

The reason for this, Asif explained, was to encourage youngsters in the first-ever Pakistani Idol.

“We have a number of plans for the future. We will hopefully come up with Child Idol and another show for people aged between 30 and 60 years.”

About the possible inducements in store, Asif said the canvas for a Pakistani singer was not restricted to within the borders as many had craved a niche for themselves in the Indian entertainment industry.

“When the show was first launched in the UK, the prizes that were offered were not the same as they are today; things happened gradually. But we will certainly provide the winner with the opportunity to sing for the Pakistani film industry which is growing with each passing day.”

The sponsors also spoke on the occasion. ‘Idols’, co-owned by Fremantle Media and 19 Entertainment, is one of the most successful entertainment formats in the world.

It was first aired in the UK as Pop Idol in 2001 and immediately became a worldwide phenomenon with local variations in Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, North America and South America airing 199 series across 46 territories and attracting upwards of a staggering 6.5 billion votes worldwide.

http://www.thenews.com.pk/Todays-News-4-202867-Are-you-ready-to-become-the-first-Pakistan-Idol
Riaz Haq said…
Here's NY Times columnist David Brooks on Boko Haram abduction story coverage in the West:

In 2005, Binyavanga Wainaina published a brilliantly sarcastic essay in Granta called “How to Write About Africa,” advising people on how to sound spiritual and compassionate while writing a book about the continent.

“Always use the word ‘Africa’ or ‘Darkness’ or ‘Safari’ in your title,” Wainaina advised. “Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.”

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There’s been something similarly distorted to some of the social media reactions to the Boko Haram atrocities over the past week. It’s great that the kidnappings and the massacres are finally arousing the world’s indignation. But sometimes the implication of the conversation has been this: Africa is this dark and lawless place where monstrous things are bound to happen. Those poor people need our help.
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But this is more or less the opposite of the truth. Boko Haram is not the main story in Africa or even in Nigeria. It is a small rear-guard reaction to the main story. The main story in Africa is an impressive surge of growth, urbanization and modernization, which has sparked panic in a few people who don’t like these things.

Many countries in sub-Saharan Africa are growing at a phenomenal clip. Nigeria’s economy grew by 6.7 percent in 2012. Mozambique’s grew by 7.4 percent, Ghana’s by 7.9 percent. Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa as a whole is predicted to reach 5.2 percent this year. Investment funds are starting up by the dozen, finding local entrepreneurs.
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The first is the clash over pluralism. Africa has seen an explosion of cellphone usage. It’s seen a rapid expansion of urbanization. In 1980, only 28 percent of Africans lived in cities, but today 40 percent do. This has led to a greater mixing of tribal groupings, religions and a loosening of lifestyle options. The draconian anti-gay laws in Nigeria, Uganda, Burundi and many other countries are one reaction against this cosmopolitan trend.

The second is a clash over human development. Over the past decade, secondary school enrollment in Africa has increased by 50 percent. This contributes to an increasing value on intellectual openness, as people seek liberty to furnish their own minds. The Boko Haram terrorists are massacring and kidnapping people — mostly girls — at schools to try to force people to submit to a fantasy version of the past.

The third is the clash over governance. Roughly 80 percent of Africa’s workers labor in the informal sector. That’s because the formal governmental and regulatory structures are biased toward the connected and the rich, not based on impersonal rule of law. Many Africans are trying to replace old practices with competent governance. They are creating new ways to navigate between the formal and informal sectors.

Too many of our images of Africa are derived from nature documentaries, fund-raising appeals and mission trips. In reality, Africa faces in acute forms the same problems that afflict pretty much every region these days. Most important: Individual and social creativity is zooming ahead. Governing institutions are failing to perform the basic, elementary tasks.

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/09/opinion/brooks-the-real-africa.html?_r=0
Riaz Haq said…
#Pakistan prepares to shut down highly successful #Pak-#Turk schools run by Gülen

http://www.dailysabah.com/asia/2016/04/28/pakistan-prepares-to-shut-down-gulen-schools

The Pakistani government is moving toward taking steps against the 21 Gülen schools that operate in the country through exploiting Pakistanis' positive opinions of Turkey

The Pakistani government is moving toward shutting down schools and colleges affiliated with the U.S.-based imam Fethullah Gülen's movement. He is among Turkey's most wanted suspects and Turkey is exerting effort to obtain an international arrest warrant for him since the movement attempted to overthrow the government by infiltrating the police, judiciary and other key state institutions. President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has pushed the Pakistani government to join in efforts against the movement through the closure of Gülen schools in Pakistan. The Pak-Turk schools are widespread in the country.

There are 21 Gülen-affiliated schools facing closure from the government. There are hundreds of students enrolled in these schools as parents have the general perception that the schools are administered by the Turkish government, even though they are not. The schools were established back in 1995 and run under the auspices of the Pak Turk Foundation. Pak-Turk schools are among the most expensive private institutions in Pakistan, where the private school industry has become a cartel mafia, fleecing parents. Pak-Turk's administration claims they are playing a vital role in helping make relations between Turkey and Pakistan stronger and promoting the Turkish language. However, people in Pakistan are not aware of the Gülen Movement's actions to undermine Erdoğan's legitimate rule. Gülen schools and colleges are spreading the Gülenist agenda and preaching, which is an open contradiction to modern Turkish values and lifestyles.


Pakistan is a country that already has a conservative mindset as well as strong divisions between certain communities, making it all the more alarming that Gülen schools are promoting a culture of segregated society in the country. The schools have a strong concept of segregation between males and female students, and they even practice this in their private lives. According to Gülen school students, they are called on for a couple of days to stay at the school and are not allowed to go home in the combine study circle classes, which is actually an intensive indoctrination of the Gulenist ideology. During these classes, Gülen's preaching and lectures are delivered by the Turkish teachers. DVDs and cassettes containing speeches and lectures by Gülen are distributed among the students, and those students who listen more are awarded special prizes up to as much as 5,000 RS (TL 75, 212).
Riaz Haq said…
#Turkey asks #Pakistan to shut Pak-Turk schools run by #Gulen via @firstpost

http://www.firstpost.com/world/turkey-asks-pakistan-to-shut-institutions-run-by-gulen-2911190.html

Turkey has asked Pakistan to shut all institutions being run by Fethullah Gulen -- the US-based cleric whom Ankara accuses of masterminding and backing the 16 July failed military coup attempt in that country, a media report said on Saturday.

“We have called on all friendly countries to prevent activities of this (Gulen’s) group,” Dawn news online quoted Turkish Ambassador Sadik Babur Girgin as saying here at a media briefing on developments in Turkey.
He said the Turkish government had "solid evidence" that Gulen’s movement was behind the plot.
In Pakistan, Gulen runs a network of about 21 schools and Rumi Forum -- an intellectual and intercultural dialogue platform, in addition to having business stakes. His organisations and businesses have been operating in Pakistan for decades, Dawn news online reported.
Noting that Gulen had a “big presence in Pakistan”, Girgin said that Turkey was in close contact with Pakistani authorities. “We have had good cooperation with Pakistan in every field.”
The Turkish government has sought Gulen’s extradition from the US, and said the evidence asked by the US had been provided to the American authorities.
Gulen, a former ally of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been living in self-imposed exile in the US since 2013, when Erdogan accused him of promoting corruption scandals against his government.
Since then, the Turkish government has included the influential cleric on its list of most wanted terrorists and sought his extradition for judicial trial that could result in life imprisonment.

Riaz Haq said…
Liberal #Islam is not the answer to #ISIS. #secularism #liberalism http://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/philosophy/liberal-islam-is-not-the-answer-to-islamic-state … via @prospect_uk

"Forged in the age of empire in the 19th-century, one of the central paradoxes of liberalism has been its propagation of universal concepts in the service of particular interests. In the 19th-century Muslim world, these interests were defined largely by British imperial concerns. Today, liberal values are defined more broadly as stemming from a shared western heritage reaching back for legitimisation, as the British colonialists often did, to antiquity. Classical economic liberalism has recently even been prescribed as a panacea for both the Muslim world’s civilisational underdevelopment and its problems with extremism by the American scholar and policy adviser Vali Nasr and the Turkish journalist Mustafa Akyol

For Nasr and Akyol, Muslim liberalism is a happy coincidence between the values of Islam and those of the west. But such Muslim liberals grasp for connections between Islam and the west through a modern ideology which by its nature has no provenance in the Muslim world. In this way, liberal Islam’s relationship to the west becomes parasitic rather than based on any elective affinity. This is why the more that Muslim liberals aim for synthesis, the more their faith is seemingly diminished.


Liberal Islam’s third problem is its preoccupation with the idea of defining a “true” Islam that excludes or even labels as heretics or non-Muslims those who don’t adhere to this perceived consensus.

Perhaps the most popular response to Islamist extremism has been to reiterate the idea that the majority of Muslims are moderate. The problem here is not that most Muslims are not moderate (they are) but that projects encouraging Muslim moderation can be used against minorities, including within Islam, because they involve a process of “orientalising” others. This has been evident in the British government’s fostering of “moderate” Islam through its Prevent policy agenda for over a decade and its promotion of Britishness in more recent years—strategies which arguably have both divided Muslims and alienated them from wider society, especially those with conservative beliefs.

This mode of “othering” in the name of moderation also conflates extremism with heresy. So similar arguments about being beyond the pale of “mainstream” Islam can be applied to both terrorists like IS and those on the margins of Islam who may disagree with established forms of religious authority, or simply represent the wrong sect. It also ties together the will to marginalise dissent to the need for more authoritarian forms of leadership: witness the strange sight of western governments bolstering traditional Islamic centres of authority such as Al Azhar in Egypt—an institution whose legitimacy has been sustained by authoritarian governments."
Riaz Haq said…
Shahid Javed Burki Op Ed in Express Tribune


.... Large workers’ migration to the Middle East began in the mid-seventies. This was the time when construction booms began in the countries that had windfall gains in their incomes as a result of the several-fold increase in the price of exported oil. Since that time, I estimate that half a trillion dollars of remittances were sent by the workers to their families who stayed back in Pakistan. The Middle Eastern countries did not allow the workers to bring in their families. They were brought in on limited-time contracts and new recruits replaced those returning. Most of those who came were poor but the money they sent back made it possible for their families to graduate to the middle class status. My guess is that this social transformation involved at least 5 million households or 20 to 25 million people.

Pakistani sociologists need to study this new middle class,in particular their location, aspirations, and demands. K-P province and northern districts of Punjab have a large number of such people. A significant number of them are from the country’s major cities. They form a voter-block unlike any Pakistan has seen in its political history. They don’t have fixed political affiliations. They don’t constitute a reliable vote-bank. Their expectation from the government is that of the satisfactory fulfilment of their basic needs – food, shelter, education, health and transport. Those who meet their aspirations will get their support.

A quick study of the results of the 2013 elections suggests that some 15 million moved away from the People’s Party and were equally divided between the Nawaz League and Tehrik-e-Insaf. However, the beneficiaries must not assume that this was a permanent move. If this social group is unhappy with the substance of governance, it will move on to other places. This is one reason why we are likely to see considerable volatility in the structure of politics in the country.

The rise of the new middle class also has significance for the productive sectors of the economy. With sufficient disposal incomes these people would like to spend on high value agricultural products such as vegetables, fruits, milk products and meat. However, the heavily subsidised agricultural sector under the influence of the old political class is still engaged in producing food grains. This means that in terms of adding value to the economy, agriculture is performing well below its considerable potential. This must change for political as well as economic reasons.

Demographic change is another area of analysis for those who would like to understand Pakistan’s political development. Pakistan has the youngest population among the world’s most populous countries. Since we have not held a census for 18 years, the country’s demographic profile can only be guessed at. I assume that the median age of the population is 23 years which means that some 100 million people are below that age. Youth moves more than those who are older. A large number of them have left their homes and are living in large cities such as Karachi, Lahore, Faisalabad and Rawalpindi-Islamabad. Three-fourths of the populations of these cites is below the age of 25 years. They want good education and training, essential to find well-paying jobs. The Pakistani state has failed in this area which was why for-profit educational institutions in the country have proliferated.

Pakistan is changing fast, a fact that the old political class has not fully understood. It will pay a price for not watching what is happening around it. By the time this comprehension occurs, the country would have moved beyond its grasp.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/1222708/understanding-pakistans-new-politics/
Riaz Haq said…
#Europe's century old mistake: Shifting #Islam's theological-political power from Ottoman #Turkey to #SaudiArabia

https://www.economist.com/blogs/erasmus/2016/07/ottoman-caliphs

EVERY time a European city is shaken by an act of mass violence, the continent's heavy-weight newspapers host agonised debates over what has gone wrong. In particular, debaters often ask, should European states have responded differently to the emergence of large, discontented Muslim minorities, either by accommodating cultural difference more generously or (as some advocate) by suppressing it? Even when it becomes clear that Islam was not really a factor at all (as seems to be the case with last week's killing spree by a maladjusted young man in Munich) the discussions go on.

One of America's leading authorities on European Islam has made a rather nuanced and unusual contribution to this conversation. Writing in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung in response to a column asserting that "terrorism has a lot to do with Islam", Jonathan Laurence argues (link to English translation) that the present-day pathologies of European Islam are a kind of aftershock from a century-old mistake. Or rather, of a short-sighted policy that went into higher gear almost exactly 100 years ago. In the summer of 1916, the British government and its war allies began fomenting an Arab revolt against the political and above all, spiritual authority of the Ottomans. This brought about the British-led capture of Jerusalem and the collapse of Ottoman dominion over Islam's holiest places, whether in the Levant or Arabia. As an alternative to Ottoman rule over the Arabs, the British initially backed the Hashemite dynasty which still reigns over Jordan; but the ultimate beneficiary was the royal house of Saud which took over Mecca and Medina in 1924.

In the view of Mr Laurence, a professor at Boston College, this brought to an end a period of several decades in which the caliphate (a spiritual role which the Ottomans combined, until 1922, with the worldly rank of sultan) had a generally benign effect on global Islam. Not only within the Ottoman realm but far beyond it, the caliphate formed the apex of a international network of teachers, preachers and judges. As was shown by Halil Inalcιk, an Ottoman historian who died this week aged 100, the sultan-caliphs' real power varied a lot over time; some managed to control the ulema or religious scholars, others didn't. But the institution's global spiritual role was especially important in the late 19th century and early 20th century, ultimately embracing more than 100m Muslims living under British rule (in South Asia) and under Dutch rule (in modern Indonesia). As Mustafa Akyol, a Turkish writer on religion, points out, the caliph's sway over Muslims in the Asia-Pacific region had benign consequences for the United States; Abdulhamid II (pictured), the last long-reigning sultan, helped persuade Filipino Muslims to accept American power over their archipelago. (Others have darker memories of that sovereign; Armenians hold him responsible for killing tens of thousands of their kin in 1895.)
Yet precisely because the Ottoman caliphate was so attractive to some of their subjects, European powers worked hard to undermine it. From at least 1870, British diplomacy tried to shift the centre of gravity in global Islam from the Turks to the Arabs. The Dutch tried to stop their Muslim subjects deferring to the caliph in their public prayers. With somewhat more success, the French promoted alternative centres of spiritual authority among the Muslims they ruled in Algeria and Morocco. As long as the Ottomans retained control of Libya (ie, until 1912), the caliphate kept some sway in North Africa. But when Turkey's new secular nationalist rulers finally abolished the office of caliph in 1924, their job was made easier by the fact that European powers had been sabotaging the sacred office for decades.

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