Monday, August 20, 2007

Viewpoint – Jiye Gandhi

Jiye Gandhi in Pakistan

We need more Gandhians in Pakistan.

[By Maryam Arif; she hails from Lahore]

Pakistan paindabad, not the blog site but the concept (Long live Pakistan), depends on critical self-analysis on our parts. We are critical, but the analysis is missing, as far as the general public, particularly the Pakistani youth, is concerned. I feel the need to justify everything that doesn’t translate to “All hail the land of the pure.” This is a dilemma not unique to us, but is found in societies where the concept of nationalism is the result of a process other than an organic, bottom-up struggle.

While this hypothesis requires further research and analysis, I have some points to discuss. My question is why do we get so defensive when it comes to issues like nationalism, identity and our ideological past? I think this close-mindedness is very dangerous. Everything either starts or ends with “Insha’allah,” and the saying that God helps those who help themselves goes largely ignored.

Where do we find activism in our youth today? The lawyers’ movement was unprecedented in the history of this country, for as long as I have been around at any rate. They gave us something to be proud of; a golden opportunity to finally take an active part in politics- and what did we do with that opportunity? We lost it. We let the lawyers parade in their suits till they won their case, part of it, and then we let them shut up and leave us alone.

Where was the youth involvement in this movement? How many of us even thought about reminding the lawyers that their struggle was not based on a one-point agenda? It could have become our movement if we had taken charge of it, or even showed an active interest in the weekly protests. Alas, we lost a chance to bring to trial the “kala coats.”

Are things so much better in India? Well, there is definitely more activism. There are several reasons for that – political awareness, a history of upholding democratic ideals, and faith in voters’ power to bring about change from within the system. In my opinion, the most important factor is the Gandhian tradition. It is a tradition of grassroots politics; of reaching out to and connecting with the masses.

Gandhi’s is a legacy of peaceful protest – long marches, long fasts and long struggle. To this day most Indians look up to this leader who was a people’s person, one who led by following.

Where is that legacy to be found in Pakistan? Ours has been a politics of the army and an aristocracy that made every effort to remain aloof from the common people and their problems. What we need are Pakistani Gandhians – activists who believe in the politics of resistance and perseverance. Don’t think I’m anti-Pakistan for saying this. Or go ahead; think what you will but the fact is that Gandhi is not just an Indian leader. He is one of the most prominent personalities of the sub-continent.

How do we honor this great leader in our country? We reduce him to a footnote in our history books. I learnt more about Lords Curzon and Mountbatten (even Lady Mountbatten and her affair with Nehru) than I did about Gandhi or other activists of the Indian sub-continent.

Being Muslim is only a part of our identities. Does faith require us to give up other aspects of our selves that make us complete human beings – people who learn from history and take an active role in shaping their societies?

I rest my case. I hope that you will take it up with your friends. All is not lost.

26 comments:

Raza said...

Maryam
thanks for this reflective post. I suport your views on self-examination and introspection. However, on a lighter note, beware that such a discourse can be easily misunderstood by your compatriots...

Some of the other values that Gandhi promoted are now fading into oblivion sadly in the country that calls him Mahatama - the call for simple living, tolerance, communal harmony, fairplay are now rare ideals with little demand in this age of consumerism, nuclear prowess and 'growth' mantra. This is the case across South Asia as global capital and finance sell dreams of different varieties.

Indeed the key part of Gandhi's legacy - of grassroots activism and non-violent struggle - survive and have been used as far as South Africa. And it is relevant for Pakistan as well.

There is a little tragedy of Gandhi-ism that is seldom given the importance that it should have received - his brutal murder by a fanatic (thankfully not Muslim) also exposed the fragility and faultlines within the South Asian societies.
So Gandhi-ism and search for that ideal non-violent, self-governing, just and poverty-free world is equally required in all South Asian countries (including India and Pakistan).

Hope I did not come across as too cynical!

maryam said...

thank you so much for your comments!

Naseeb said...

Gandhi is not relevant. Can he fight against the Taliban? Madam Maryam, are you from Pakistan? It was because of gandhi that pakistan came into being. He was too much Hindu. He made muslims insecure.

maryam said...

Naseeb, if we follow Gandhian ideals of peace and non-violent struggle, we won't have the Taliban problem. Some believed that he was too pro-Muslim and supportive of Pakistan.

NoRosySunglasses said...

Please grow up. Gandhi has been extremely well marketed. If you had done proper research you would know that he was hypocritical, especially when it came to Muslims in India. He didn't condemn the train massacres that followed the Partition until the Muslims retaliated in kind, after the 7th massacred train of Muslims to Lahore. This is documented. The 'anti-violence' drama perpetuated by the British is typical. But you are right, to be a popular leader, hypocrisy is exactly what one must assume. Jinnah was neither a hypocrite nor a 'yes-man'

Mr. Mansoor said...

ayya yaya yaya....
I kinda agree with what Norossysunglasses said... even though i think his nick is ridiculous...

anyway... yea Indians have this habbit of glorifying their "celebrities" no matter what... and the beauty of politics is that we dont actually know what really happened...

my uncle who happens to be a fanatic is of the view point that Gandhi was indeed responsible for most hindu muslim riots... and after they ended pretended to bleed from his eyes...

on the other hand... there is no smoke without fire... and i have to give him credit for keeping up this facade for as long as he did...

anyway... cheers...

aMmAr said...

Excellent post maryam,the point you raised about the lawyers movement is an unfortunate reality. But my view point is that you have to have a leader to lead any movement. Gandhism did not emerged on its own, they had Gandhi who leade them.

I am sure the day any leader will emerge, you will see the youth of Pakistan behaving in the very revolutionary manner that any revolution demands.

Che Guevara wrote in his diaries that a revolution is never inspired from any other revolution. Its original in its purest sense.

Salim said...

it is again blame the gullibe hindoos for partition, LOL, who called for direct action day, oops it is Quiad-E-Ajam( hope got it right) Moahmmed ali Jinnah and all the subcontinent moahmmednas start butchering the hindooos and sikhs .

now manipulate hisotry balme it on hindoos, atleast soemtimes paksitanis need to own up responsibility , who invaded kargil couple of years back its it mujahideen or Pakistan Army? every one knows the answer , but paksitanis never acknowledge it...

Vaibhav said...

Those people who think that Gandhi supported killing of Muslims, then may god help them for they seriously need help. He died because he was considered too pro-muslim and pro-pakistan, also responsible for partition. His role in Independence is definitely overstated but to say that he had some ulterior motive is rubbish.

He can only be compared with Gautam Buddha, he was the one man after Buddha who made Indians think as one nation(without any violence). Freedom was just a "by-product" of this unity which was brought by Gandhi.

Amitabha said...

I recommend you to watch the movie "Gandhi". Although there are many Indian actors this movie has been made by an English.

Gandhi was not a perfect man by any means. And some of his views are probably outdated now. But he was a great man despite any shortcomings (not because he did not have shortcoming). He showed the world how it is possible to get something rightful without raising a gun. He was the greatest factor in achieving independence for India and for that matter Pakistan also - Pakistan came into being only when British decided to leave the subcontinent. I salute this great man!

To say that Gandhi was responsible for inciting Hindu-Muslim riots is like saying Mount Everest is the largest sea in the world - of course it does not make any sense.

Harsh Satya said...

great post maryam.i congratulate u.i'm an indian and have read/heard a lot about gandhi. i'm actually surprised to read some of the comments here. it seems people in pakistan beleive he was pro hindu.people here in india beleives he was pro muslim and thats why partition happened.infact he was killed for precisely this reason.i wonder how gandhi managed to get himself into two such contradictory views...i request my friends who have posted comments to please read about gandhi more. the india which you see today is NOT the india which gandhi wanted. so if you are drawing your perceptions about gandhi based on today's india, you would not understand him. if there is somebody who wants to REALLY understand gandhi, then he should read his works before 1923.thats when he wrote fearlessly. one book i recommend is HIND SWARAJ. here hind does not relate to hindu, so please dont feel offended. this book proved to be an eye opener to me....
i still dont believe people beleive he was responsible for the riots. when all of congress was celebrating independance in delhi, he was in calcutta trying to calm down things.
i suggest one should try keeping a fast.one would then understand if its possible for someone to go hungry for weeks and yet ignite violence...
thank you maryam once again.love from india

Giri said...

There is story of Gandhiji fasting in Kolkatta to prevent Hindu Muslim riots during partition. He camped in a Muslim neighbourhood and was extremely successful in keeping the anti-social elements at bay. This led Mountbatten to remark " What 100,00 troups couldn't do one man was able to achieve". Gandhism is a philosophy, a practice which could appeal to anyone

Anonymous said...

While one agrees with the need for peace and nonviolence, Gandhi was a fraud nothing more.

He was a racist casteist bigot who believed that black people were subhuman.

As for his caste philosophy one only needs to read his essays in collected works of mahatma gandhi to see how deeply casteist he was.

Also dr. Ambedkar, the father of indian constitution has written extensively on Gandhi's sinister role against untouchables. People ought to read it.

I certainly hope people like Mariam Arif research the issue.

As for taliban ... Gandhi is the original father of religious fundamentalism in politics not just for hindus but muslims as well. He encouraged deobandi mullahs in politics and guess who the taliban are in doctrine?

Anonymous said...

Maryam,
not as an indian but as a human being i appreceiate your article highly. in india we the people are divided regarding whwther gandhi was a political leader or a spiritual leader. he inspired masses and led india to freedom but on 15th aug 1947 he was nowhere in picture. he was in pains to see his country being devided in to two pieces.killing of people in both the sides hurt him too much.he was not a politician at all to be happy on getting a cake of independence. he was working for the internal change in man towards a better one .injecting morality in to politics was not acceptable to his own congress follwers even.they were allowed by gandhi leave him to work for the political nation.the men who killed him respected him very much but as a moral inspirer.they were too sorry to have to do this for the country's future
we are waiting hopefully for the day when the people of pakistan will curtail military supremacy and stand up as the real guards of their democracy and be led by the inner voice rather than the fanatics.
bishnupad panda, puri orissa.

Anonymous said...

Indians have accepted Moghul Rulers and their tyranny. No body exposes the laws (jijiya tax) and other attrocities commited on non muslims. Why we should have driven the Britishers out? We should have accepted them as well. At the end of the day accepting the Muslims we have lost the land of Pakistan to them and still face the problem of Kashmir. If Pakistan was made for Muslims then all the muslims should have move out and atleast we would have had a peaceful Hindu India. Gandhi was stupid to not have let this happen he liked Muslims more than Hindus and he let those Muslims want to live in India.
Well to have a peaceful society then we should make a new religion acceptable to all. That perhaps would bring down the hatred and disliking.

Anonymous said...

I just wonder why there isnt a blog by an INDIAN comparing INDIA and Pakistan, then I wonder why I have to wonder?? there is no comparison... What pak people have to do is to compare themselves rather than comparing with someone else!! then probably they can better themselves..What I see most of my Pak friends do is to find faults in others without giving a notice to thier own. Stop thinking about others, stop comparing with others, the more you compare the more destitute you will find yourself!! You always seem to be intersted in whats bieng fried in other;s kitchen and not bothering if you have got anything to cook!!

Anonymous said...

There are many things in Gandhi's philosophy that a Muslim can truly admire. Live simply and not be greedy for material things, look after the poorest of your compatriots, pray to God sincerely, never harm a fellow human being with violence. Many of these were also Aurangzeb's virtues, whom many Pakistanis often admire.

Anonymous said...

""my uncle who happens to be a fanatic is of the view point that Gandhi was indeed responsible for most hindu muslim riots... and after they ended pretended to bleed from his eyes...""
^^ your uncle seems 2 be an intelligent man..

lets get to the point.the massive killings in the hindu-muslim riots could be easily stopped. the riots could have never happened!BUT
the following "powered" people did not want it .i guess?
1)gandhi(why call him mahatma wen i wasnt there to see it all?!) - any idea why he cudnt help when the two religions were on the edge of riots.(gonna explain)
2)jawahar lal nehru - kept quiet.come on man ,stil dont get? who was gonna be the prime minister!!!!!!?
3 british! - the british forces flee'ing when the riots were reaching at the peak point.why hurry?the most common slang. divide n conquer. they cudnt conquer anymore ,got pissed off. its obvious they didnot help anybody.

the explanation and the results and the proof and the MYSTERY UNFOLDS -

put the above people and you will know its quite clear. the britishers were pissed off. they wanted to see blood. nehru wanted the P.M chair.kept his mouth shut gandhi was just behaving normally (mouth closed,slap us and we offer you the 2nd cheek)BOOOOLSHEET.

the thing is the ANNOUNCMENT of the partition was NEVER publicised!!can you imagine? . so when the itsy bitsy few ppl got to know about the partition.they wanted thier land. MOSTLY those people who died at the starting of the riots. they dint even know y r they getting killed!!! our 2 politicians kept thier mouth shut because of thier GREEDYness.

the announcement of the partition happened a bit later . guess what? .the british armed forces had already left.! so there was nobody to stop the FU***** bloodbath,.!!

gandhi +nehru +british admiralz .= blame them equally OR dont talk about the riots. coz these days people have gandhi or nehru on thier wall. man if you have LOVE for our country .stand up and die for it! .they put gandhi on da wall becoz these people are turning into scary ass kittens.aint they ? did we ever need these kitty kinda leaders?
"slap u,offer him the second cheek " -MAN F**K THAT.!!
" slap me ,get your f***in throat cut down .! we needed these kind of leaders.


though we had some. thats why we all are free .
Subhash chandra BOSE. - THE REAL ONE.


peace to those who understand me.
18 yr old. VEE .INDIAN

DreAmer said...

if every pakistani thinks what u think,,pakistan would develop just like india..
gandhi said that both hindus and muslims are his two eyes,an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind..
ur correct when u say god wont help us in coming down on earth and feeding the poor and building the bridges,,religion should not eclipse the real problems of the society,,finally u were the most genuine pakistani ive ever read about..
humanity is bigger than hindu muslim

DreAmer said...

some of the people here say that their grandfather or uncles told them that it was gandhi who created all the wars,,even my grandfather says that there is a shivling in the mecca and that muslims are bad people and dont keep a muslim gf ,,but its upto u to see when ur grandfather is actinkg like an asshole or not..

trushar said...

Great Comment Mariam...

Because of Gandhism India and pakistan got freedom at less sacrifices otherwise people who have commented bad things about gandhi would not be even alive to comment....

Gandhi was normal humanbeing but he have showed that what one person's potential is...

One person said in his/her comment that person who did fasting for 21 days for hindu-muslim peace can not be a resposible for riots..


I think people of pakistan should read unbiased books apart from pakistan textbook in schools so they can have real picture of the Gandhi....

Gandhi was not hindu not muslim...
He was not african not an Indian...

Gandhi was Humanbeing...


Before blaming him just try to inculcate a single quality in yourself....
Do introspection......

Zarre zarre me usika noor hai...
Zank khud me woh na tujhse dur hai...

kiran said...

love mahatma n know what he lived for then we will love each others.arent we brothers.except for our religion we r the same

Anonymous said...

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Anonymous said...

Ms.Maryam.
I heartily wish you for your future to be bright and shining after knowing your point of view.
Further to last comment, I could like to write my point of view regarding that:
Had India been the one single country after the Freedom just like it was before Freedom, It could have been much better for the both Hindu and Muslim people.

Common people of Pakistan think that Gandhi Ji was responsible for both separation of whole India into two and riot between Hindu and Muslim claimed the lives of many Innocent People.
Mahatma Gandhi ji wanted India as a single country having both Hindu and Muslim together living happily. But It was Mahammad ali Jinnah who had raised the issue of Pakistan in lahore muslim seminar in 1940 and it would be country for Muslim people. He said so because he thought Muslim would not get proper attention in india due to different culture,traditions,customs,religions.

But just because Muslim has different customs,religions,traditions,culture does not mean that Muslim person should live in another country because there were many religions even at that time,which did not say anything to be separate from india because they knew that together as single country they could be much more stronger and prosperous.just like madrasi,bangali,bihari,punjabi etc can live together ,could not muslim live with these people under the same country of India instead of making another country specially for muslim.

Anonymous said...

further to previous

Then again when cabinet commission came, Jinnah again raised the demand of Pakistan for muslim before cabinet members. and warned the congress for the bitter result if the demand was not met by declaring the date of 'DIRECT ACTION DAY'in august 1946 to achieve the Pakistan. Soon after that the great colcutta killing started, left the thousand of muslim and hindu dead.It was the Jinnah party who had started the riot in the country after demanding the Pakistan.IF he had not asked for the separate country of Pakistan for muslim,then Everything could have been peaceful and people could have been living together peacefully.

when separation was actually being done even at that time there was riots because at that time faith between both communities had gone and their angry were coming out at that time when people were transferring from one place to another.It must have been too disastrous for both countries and that detest is still there.
So Gandhi ji was not the person who fired the riots in the country but it was the demand for creating Pakistan.

Whatever happened can't be changed now.But at least want is in our hands can be changed.
We both India and Pakistan should come together after forgetting the past and work together to provide the better life of our citizens.Instead of spending heavily on purchasing the arms and ammunition we should rather spend these money in employment generation, educations, Health,subsidy to farmers, and Infrastructures.How long would we be fighting each other.Unless we come together for betterment of both countries nothing will change.
We are youth of both India and Pakistan, we can change the way world see both of us.Just come together and join hands together to work for the better future of India and Pakistan.

Bye and Take Care
With Regards
neither hindu nor muslim but rather I am human being(although an Indian)

Anonymous said...

hey guyzzz trust me milion dolar sugestion y can v india n pakistan come together join hands reunit n b a one country on whole v vll b a super power....we r brothers dnt 4get.wat mistek our 4fathers comited of dividing us cant it b amended??? cant v........becom a country again.......????????