Guest Post by Fawzia Naqvi
For the first time Pakistan’s elected President has completed his full five-year term and has willingly stepped down to transfer power to another elected President, a herculean achievement for a country with chronic dictatoritus. The people of Pakistan must be congratulated for ensuring that democracy becomes an enduring grace and not just a good idea in some unforeseeable future. So while there is earsplitting cacophony of debate and disagreement on virtually all issues, there is near unanimous political consensus that the army should remain in the barracks and that there should be peace with India. The time is now. And Pakistanis have accomplished this in an era when Pakistan is suffering its worst hellish nightmare of daily bombings and killings by terrorists, and a loss of over 40,000 of its own citizens in the last decade or so. Pakistan teeters on the precipice of a very dark abyss, and has been inching ever closer to this dangerous edge for the last 34 years if not more. The first disturbing sign which I can remember was when the state institutionalized bigotry by officially declaring the Ahmadi community non-Muslim in 1974, opening up a hornets nest of discrimination, violence and unequal citizenship. A tragic disaster, and fatal capitulation to right wing elements, by Prime Minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto. No one is really safe in today’s Pakistan but clearly those less safe, those hunted and killed are the Shias, the Christians, the Ahmadis and the Hindus. Those doing the killings have given insidiousness to the meaning of “the land of the pure.”
Continue reading A tale of two passports, the year 1979, and walking to India: Fawzia Naqvi
Guest Post by Fawzia Naqvi
Sachin Pilot was in my dreams last night, with all due apologies to his wife, because I swear, I am not secretly fantasizing at all about India’s youngest cabinet minister. He just showed up. I think it was in Srinagar, though I’ve never been there, I swear. And why Srinagar? Well that’s another matter, requiring numerous sessions of therapy. But the good Minister made a cameo appearance and told me quite categorically that I had already been granted three visas to India and should expect no more. Don’t get me wrong. I like Minister Pilot. I admired the way he handled corporate America when he visited New York to deal with all the whining and complaining about Indian reforms and that pesky CSR Bill. But why is he in my dreams? An Indian friend tells me it’s because I’m constantly nervous about going to India. And herein lies the truth. I observe, analyze, obsess about, pontificate upon, call, email and travel to India more than most Pakistanis, without actually being a spy. Yes. Really. And I resent how easy the spooks have it. I’m guessing they aren’t dreaming about a finger wagging minister, ok Sachin Pilot, telling them they can’t get a visa! But such are the incessant covert and overt anxieties of Pakistanis like me who have careers involving India. And if Sachin Pilot, he of the new generation of Indian leaders is also telling me (in my dreams of course) that I can’t get a visa, then surely the news for Indo-Pak and hence my career, is not good. The twain of course is twinned.
Continue reading Why is Sachin Pilot in My Dreams? Or, Three Visas, and No More, to India: Fawzia Naqvi