Darling you send me..

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Pakistan - V.S. Naipaul

No real thought had ever been taken to the running of the new country. Everything had been expected to flow from the triumph of the faith. Always in the background now were the fundamentalists who - fed by the ecstasy of the creation of Pakistan, and further fed by the partial Islamisation of laws - wanted to take the country back and back, to the seventh century, to the time of the Prophet. There was a hazy programme for that as there had been far Pakistan itself : only some idea of regular prayers, of Koranic punishments, the cutting off of hands and feet, the veiling and effective imprisonment of women, and giving men tomcatting rights over four women at a time, to use and discard at will. And somehow it was thought, out of that, out of an enclosed devout society with uneducated men tomcatting away, the state would right itself, and power would come, as it had come to Islam in the beginning.

The fundamentalists were a presence now. They were still in the background, but they pushed and pushed, and always wanted more. It wasn't enough that this large portion of ancient land had increased, millenia after millinea, to be India; and - like Iran, like the Arab countries - had finally cleansed of the older faiths. The people themselves now had to be cleansed of the past, of everything in dress or manners or general culture that might link them to their ancestral land.The fundamentalists wanted people to be transparent, pure, to be empty vessels for the faith. It was an impossibility: human beings could never be blanks in that way. But the various fundamentalist groups offered themselves as the pattern for goodness and purity. They said they followed the ancient rules (especially the rules about women); all they asked of people was to be like them and, since there was no absolute agreement about the rules, to follow the rules they followed. If Iqbal's Muslim state had it's calamities, it wasn't the fault of Islam; it was only the fault of the people who called themselves Muslim. In the fundamentalist way of thinking this kind of failure automatically condemned itself as the failure of a false or half-hearted Islam. And the Jamaat could always say - its cause ever fresh - that Islam had never really been tried since early days, and that it was time to try it now. The Jamaat would show the way.


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