Saturday, April 22, 2006

Fragmentation of Pakistan: A Microcosm of the Muslim World?

I’ve been reading some news about Pakistan and I’ve come to the conclusion that Pakistani society is fragmenting at an unprecedented rate.

Here are the two cases I present as my cases:

1. The Glasshouse’s Blogger writes:

“There is a restaurant in Karachi apparently well-known for the high quality of its cuisine. Many people go there for the excellence of its food, but not all. There is a growing set of jaded Seth housewives who visit this eating establishment merely to display their handbags.

Sounds weird doesn’t it? But I kid you not.

These ladies , I am told, live a life engrossed in reading vacuous magazines (such as ‘Hello!’ and ‘Tattler’), watching mindless US Television shows (‘Sex in the City’ and ‘Desperate Housewives’), and are obsessed with the latest diet fads so they can look their glamorous best for the next high profile ball. Even if they lack dress sense, clothes have to be bought in Bond Street or Knightsbridge, shoes from Italian fashion houses and, yes - the ultimate – a handbag or two from Hermes.
…As Ayesha Haq reported in the Herald magazine a few months ago, we have a bunch of housewives married to rich Sethia husbands, who try and one-up each other by exhibiting their Birkin bags during lunch. They are said to line their bags on the table for display, so even passing female diners can take note of these costly accessories.

Outside this restaurant one usually comes across poor beggar children trying to palm off small bouquet of flowers for Rs. 20. Less than half-mile from the restaurant lies Neelum Colony where some of the impoverished classes live. For these people the cheapest ‘Birkin’ bag (costing around Rs. 400,000) could feed and clothe a small family for ten years.”

2. The BBC reports on Pakistan’s Taliban in Waziristan:

Irrespective of whether money is involved or not, foreign militants are the crux of the problem, aren't they? I asked him.
"The issue is the government's poor understanding of the issue," Haji Omar says.
"Afghanistan was an Islamic country with an Islamic system. It has now descended into anarchy.
"The only way for us to put an end to the anarchy there is to wage a jihad against the Americans and anyone who supports them."
That includes Pakistan, the key American ally in the region.
"Yes, we treat all American allies as enemy. We have caught many people who were trying to help the Americans, either directly or through Pakistan," he said.
What happens when they catch such people?
"We do not waste our bullets on them," Haji Omar said with a smile.
"We slaughter them."

The growing divide is not only on issues of rich/wealth, Islamic/secular, rural/urban, but I suspect it runs deeper into other issues as well. I also believe that these are the same problems afflicting other Muslim countries.


At 5:28 PM, Blogger Tariq Nelson said...

This is something happening all over the world with Muslims.

It is a very complex problem too as the religious tend to be ignorant and uneducated in secular matters and the rich tend to be ignorant and uneducated in religious matters.

The problem with the Muslims in a nutshell: A lack of balance

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