Pakistan: Now or Never?

Perspectives on Pakistan

Pakistani society in the throes of tectonic change?

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Pakistan is dealing with multiple challenges all at once – its sovereignty and its very idea of itself as an independent nation state are tested in the northwest by both the Islamist militants and U.S. forces hunting them. To its east, the old hostility with India is back in full force following the Mumbai attacks. Then above all, some think the economic meltdown is a more serious risk to Pakistan’s survival than the threat of a conflict with India.

Where does a proud nation turn to for deliverance, faced with almost daily prognosis of its imminent demise?

To religion, going by the rise and rise of the mullah in Pakistani society according to a couple of articles in Pakistan’s Newsline magazine. Time was when the village mosque imam was one  of the most powerless men in the community whose social functions were limited to being present at  births, deaths and weddings, recalls author Mohammed Hanif .

The imam also led the prayers, but it was a different time then. There would be people loitering around the  mosque but it never occurred to him to ask them to join the prayers; nor were those hanging outside  the mosque embarrassed about sitting them out.

Madrasas catch the cricket bug

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Pakistani students recite the Koran in an Islamic school in PeshawarA crack has opened in the cast-iron rules surrounding Pakistan’s madrasas, and cricket, South Asia’s favourite sport, has rushed in.

Students from 24 religious schools in Islamabad, including the hardline Lal Masjid (Red Mosque), have been taking part in the past week in a cricket tournament organised by the city authorities as part of measures to regulate and revamp the schools. The students swapped their shalwar kameez for track pants and T-shirts, and sticks for cricket bats.

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