The War within Islam – Losing Faith In Pakistan: A Nation Of Human Bombs
By Aatish Taseer
These shrines are a memorial to the hybridity of the land, if not the state, of Pakistan. Until Partition, before the exodus of Pakistan’s Hindu and Sikh populations, they were places (as they still are in India) where Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims worshipped together. Behind each one—formed out of more than six centuries of religious reform, which created humanistic, more tolerant hybrids of India’s religions—would be some tale built around a local saint that celebrated the plurality of the land. To adhere to the spirit of these shrines was to know that deeper than any doctrinal difference was a shared humanity; it was almost to feel part of a common religion; the spread of this shared culture through Punjab, Sindh and Kashmir constituted an immense human achievement. And for as long as the plurality remained, the religion remained, seemingly immune to fanaticism, incapable of being reduced to bigotry and prejudice. But once the land of Pakistan, after Partition, was drained of its diversity (and this constituted no less a shock than if London or New York were suddenly cleansed of their non-white populations) , the religion lost its deepest motivation, which was to bring harmony to a diverse and plural population. The amazing thing was that even after Partition, when the land of Pakistan was no longer so plural, it was this religion, full of mysticism, poetry and song, that clung on as the dominant faith of the people of Pakistan. …
As the attacks on shrines like Data Sahib multiply, as the Americans discover that nothing will be achieved by throwing money at Pakistan, as India realizes that Pakistan’s hatred of it is not rational, that the border issue with Kashmir cannot alone be the cause of such passion, as the world begins to see that Pakistan’s problems are not administrative, Pakistanis will have to find a new narrative. The sad truth is that they are still a long way from discovering the true lesson behind the experience of the past 60 years: that it is of language, dress, notions of social organization, of shared literatures and customs, of Sufi shrines and their stories, that nations are made, not religion. That has proved to be too thin a glue and 60 years later, it has left millions of people dispossessed and full of hateful lies: a nation of human bombs.
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