Wednesday, August 15, 2007
mohsin hamid on pakistan's independence
Ram Guha wrote on India's independence, but i was confused as to what he was getting at.
Here is Hamid.
And now Pakistan is once again turning its knife on itself. Insurgencies simmer in the regions bordering Afghanistan, and suicide bombers have begun to kill fellow Pakistanis with increasing frequency.
For me personally, the 60th anniversary of independence, while worthy of note, is not of the utmost importance. My hopes are already dashing ahead and attaching themselves to the elections that are scheduled for later this year.
On one side are the forces of exclusion, who wish Pakistan to stand only for their kind of Pakistani. These include the political descendants of the man who stabbed my great-grandfather, the people who seek to oppress those who are clean shaven or those who toil for meager wages or those who are from provinces other than their own. But arrayed against them is something wholly new.
Pakistan now has private television stations that refuse to let the government set the news agenda. It has a Supreme Court that has asserted its independence for the first time, restoring a chief justice suspended by the president. And it has an army under physical attack from within and in desperate need of compromise with civil society.
A 60th birthday brings with it the obligation to shed some illusions. Pakistanis must realize that we have been our own worst enemies. My wish for our national anniversary is this: that we finally take the knife we have turned too often upon ourselves and place it firmly in its sheath.
Mohsin Hamid is the author, most recently, of the novel “The Reluctant Fundamentalist.”