What the reaction of the so-called liberal and prodemocracy elements in Pakistan towards General Pervez Musharraf reveals, is that this important section does not consider democracy to be a process which takes time, often generations, but rather, a mechanism which puts in place instant solutions irrespective of how they are to take place. While they talk about 'institutions' and institution building, they are not concerned with how these interventions take place, or who builds institutions in their own preferred manner. Most importantly, the process of building democratic institutions in a country which has had military rule for almost half of its 52 years is not considered important enough.
Call it opportunism or a lack of hope, or one last bet, but the public in Pakistan has overlooked a number of important facts that have taken place in recent times. Firstly, all the attacks against Nawaz Sharif since his ouster, have labelled his a one-man autocratic government which seems to be one of the stronger charges labelled against the former Prime Minister. Yet, while these people welcome General Pervez Musharraf as their saviour, they conveniently ignore the fact that military rule is always one-man rule and potentially far worse than any form of autocratic democracy. Besides, democracy does always have the military as a potential watchdog, its checks and balances, if things get out of hand; the question of replacing the military does not arise, and one must await events of extraordinary proportion to do so. The war of independence of East Pakistan with the secession of Bangladesh and an air crash clouded in mysterious circumstances, were the events which culminated in the end of martial rule twice in the past.
Second, our good liberal friends endorse the measures taken by general Musharraf to initiate the process of accountability of Nawaz Sharif and his cronies, yet they conveniently overlook the fact that the orders of the Chief Executive cannot be challenged by any court in Pakistan. Moreover, his dismissal of the government itself and the abeyance of the Constitution are both illegal. Who will hold the army accountable?
Thirdly, all the ground that had been taken by the liberal lobby after the Pakistan army's fiasco in Kargil, in terms of discussing the role of the military in Pakistan's economy, has certainly been lost. After Kargil, many of us questioned the amount budgeted to the military each year, and there was a possibility that the voices of democracy may have put some pressure on the military to reveal its accounts. Clearly, that opportunity has been lost for good. Linked with this, was the possibility of peace in South Asia, with the BJP and Nawaz governments talking peace and moving towards economic and trade relations to start with. This too, has been put aside for the moment.
All those liberals who are banking on the military are the very same ones who backed the World Bank's Moeen Quraishi when he was a caretaker Prime Minister for three months in 1993. This time, they are openly stating that they want the military to stay for some time, two years at least, so that it can cleanse the democratic stables .of their undemocratic components They are relieved that the Chief of the Army Staff does not wear a beard and speak the language of General Zia or the Taliban. But this precisely is the problem. By supporting this intrusion by the military in Pakistan's politics, next time round they may get the worst end of the stick. It is this liberal and supposedly pro-democratic element which has probably done Pakistan its biggest disservice. Had they been an active and effective lobby in the first place, things would not have come to the stage where they have. Pakistan's greatest tragedy regarding democracy is not that the military has taken over, but that we allowed democracy to degenerate to the level it did, and for this to happen in the first place.
S. Akbar Zaidi in "A Benevolent Dictatorship" from
Economic and Political Weekly.
Chicken tikka masala
Each day at Noon Products in Southall, west London, 10 tonnes of chicken tikka masala are produced for supermarkets across Britain. For Waitrose it's called chicken tikka makhni, for Somerfield it's chicken masala, and for Sainsbury's it's chicken tikka makhanwalla. But, according to company chairman GK Noon, they are all variations of the chicken tikka masala, Britain's most popular dish. Like the flock wallpapered restaurant that created it, the chicken tikka masala, or CTM as it is foridly referred to in the industry, is a peculiarly British invention. Around 14 percent of the 2 million people visiting an Indian restaurant every week order this most un-Indian of Indian dishes. Demand is such, in fact, that restaurants in India are now being forced to put the hybrid dish on their menus. So the anglicisation of the world's palate chomps ever on- I wards, sprinkling ironies as it goes.
In spite of its popularity, the origins of the fastest selling British dish remain obscure, lying somewhere between the first wave of Indian immigration in the 1950s and CTM's' introduction as a ready meal to Waitrose in 1983. Legend has it that one day in the mid 1970s an English customer went into an Indian restaurant and ordered chicken tikka (tikka means small pieces) and when it was served to him, he peered at the marinated and grilled chicken with a look of consternation and asked: "What, no sauce?"
The bemused but eager to oblige waiter asked his boss what to do. The canny restaurateur saw his chance and seized it. He took the chicken tikka back into the kitchen, poured over some tomato puree, a dash of cream and, not to make it entirely tasteless, a dash of fenugreek, the herb that gives curry powder its distinctive pong.
The dish that entered the kitchen at £4 returned to the customer's table as a chef's special at £6. A classic win-win situation. The customer got his sauce and the restaurant made more money.
"I know at least half a dozen people who claim to have invented the dish," says Peter Grove, publisher of The Real Curry Restaurant Guide. He refuses to name them, however, for fear of encouraging their rampant myth-making. "They all know each other and come from the Bangladeshi community in the. east end of London." This group of pioneers, Grove believes, hit upon the idea of mixing small, dry chicken pieces with a tomato sauce in the early 1960s, to cater for the British delight in gravy. "Their stories match each other right down to the original base for the masala mix: Campbell's Cream of Tomato Soup."
The timing of this discovery can be narrowed down to a period somewhere between the 1959 introduction of the tandoor, the day-lined oven needed to cook the chicken, and the dish's boom in the takeaway restaurants of the 1970s. But, say purists, trying to track down an originator is a misguided enterprise: the dish is a composite that has evolved over years of slap-dashery and culinary erosion; it has little integrity as a single dish.
"Chicken tikka is not a recipe, it is a generic name," says Namita Panjabi, owner of Veeraswarmy, Britain's oldest surviving Indian restaurant which was founded in 1927 in the west end of London and first introduced the tandoor. "It does not refer to a dish or a taste, it just means spices. Go to 100 different restaurants and you will find 100 different recipes."
Nonetheless, Panjabi testifies to a 1959 menu hanging on her restaurant wall; offering an early incarnation of tandoori chicken, the genuinely Indian base out of which the masala dish grew. "I should imagine that, by the early 1960s, restaurateurs were beginning to catch on to the new way of cooking it," she says. ' Shrabani Basu, food historian and author of Curry in the Crown, concurs, aligning the dish's inception to the rise of the Bangladeshi, curry house in the 1960s. "It is impossible to pin it down to one person, but the era is likely to have been then,"
In spite of the sneers, the dish's lack of authenticity has riot damaged its blazing path through the British food industry. By the 1970s, the explosion in curry houses saw it spreading from London up to the Midlands to become the staple item on every takeaway menu in the land; by the early 80s, it was gaining popularity as a boil in the bag supermarket dish.
"I sold my first CTMs to supermarkets in 1983 from a company I was running in the States," says G.K. Noon. "It wasn't until 1989 that the first British supply chain started up, when Birds Eye put in an order and started distributing them throughout the supermarket chains."
By June 1999, CTM had received the ultimate gong in market saturation/blandification: Burger King launched a Masala Burger, at 99p a go. But, say some tandoori experts, this doesn't mean it should be dismissed out of hand.
"I can't see anything Wrong with the fact the most popular dish in Indian restaurants isn't actually from the Indian Subcontinent at all," says George Dorgan,? editor of the trade journal Tandoori. "Food always has to evolve and this is a classic case. "What I have noticed, however, is that while CTM remains popular, the newer restaurants with more modern menus are beginning to diversify their culinary offerings arid regional specialities are emerging more."
Iqbal Wahhab and Emma Brockes in "Spice…the
final frontier", in the guardian.
Has the Indian government adopted neoliberdl economics? There's a tremendous amount of discussion, in the press and everywhere, about neoliberalism and structural adjustment. That's the main topic everybody wants to talk about.
They discuss it as if it's something new, but it's pretty much what India has been subjected to for 300 years. When it's pointed out to them, they tend to recognise it, because they know their own history. That knowledge contributes to popular resistance to neolibralis, which is why India hasn't accepted the harshest forms of it.
How far neoliberalism will get in India is an open question. For example, the government is trying to 'liberalise' the media —which means, basically, sell them off to the likes of Rupert Murdoch. The media in India are mostly owned by the rich (as they are virtually everywhere), but they're resisting the attempt to turn them into subsidiaries of a half dozen international mega-corporations.
Although they're pretty right-wing, they'd rather have their own system of control internally than be taken over by outsiders. They've managed to maintain some sort of cultural autonomy..at least so far. There's some diversity in the Indian media…that's very significant. It's much better to have your own right-wing media than Murdoch's.
As mentioned earlier, the same isn't- true of India's small advertising industry — it's been mostly bought up by big, mostly American (maybe all American) multi? nationals. What they push —of course — is foreign products. That undermines domestic production and is harmful to the Indian economy, but many privileged people like it. Somebody always benefits from these programmes.
Intellectual property rights are also a big issue. The new international patent rules are very strict and may well destroy the Indian pharmaceutical industry, which has kept drugs quite cheap. The Indian companies are likely to become subsidiaries of foreign firms, and prices will go up. (The Indian Parliament actually voted the proposed patent rules down, but the government is apparently going to try to institute them anyway.)
There used to be only process patents, which permit people to figure out smarter ways to make products. The World Trade Organisation has introduced product patents; they allow companies to patent not only a process, but also the product that's the result of the process. Product patents discourage innovation, are very inefficient and undermine markets, but that's irrelevant—they empower the rich and help big multinationals exercise control over the future of pharmaceuticals and biotechnolqgy.
Countries like the US, England and Japan would never have tolerated anything remotely like product patents, or foreign control of their press, during their development. But they're now imposing this sort of 'market discipline' on the Third World, as they did throughout the colonial period. That's one reason India is India, and not the US.
Another example is recruitment of scientists. Foreign firms pay salaries way beyond what Indian researchers are used to, and set up research institutes with facilities Indian scientists can't dream of getting anywhere else. As a result, foreign firms can skim off the best scientists.
The scientists may be happy, and the companies,are happy. But it's not necessarily good for India, which once had some of the most advanced agricultural research in the world.
An Indian farmer used to have a place he could go to and say, There's some funny pest in my fields. Can you take a look at it? Now that's being bought up by foreign firms, and will therefore be oriented towards export crops for specialised markets, and subsidised foreign imports that will undercut domestic production.
There's nothing new about this. It's part of a long history of 'experiments' carried out by the powerful of the world. The first major one in India was what the British called the Permanent Settlement of 1793, which rearranged all the land holdings in Bengal.
When the British Parliament looked into this 30 or 40 years later, they conceded that it was a disaster for the Bengalis. But they also pointed out that it enriched the British, and created a landlord class in Bengal, subordinated to British interests, that could control the population.
Noam Chomsky interviewed by David Barsamian in
The Common Good (Odonian Press, 1998).
The Census of Pakistan (1951) recorded 7,226,600 Muhajirs, the term it used to denote 'person[s] who had entered Pakistan on account of Partition or for fear of disturbances: connected therewith'; thus including those who had chosen to make the migration in those uncertain circumstances and those who were immediately forced to by the acute violence. As has already been noted by a number of scholars, the word 'Muhajir' was consciously employed by the Pakistani state in reference to the migration undertaken by the Prophet Muhammad and, his followers from Mecca to Medina in order to imbue the migrations with a religious meaning, and to impart to the emplaced population their receiving role as Ansars.
The Muhajirs had a categorical visibility in this Census, with tabulations of their 'Proportion in the population', their 'Economic Categories', and an enumeration of their 'Birthplaces and Places of Origin'. The fact that Muhajirs had come from many different parts of what was now India was almost a source of pride. Most maps depicted only, outlines of the two disconnected entities of East and West Pakistan, With numbers indicating how many people came frorn which part of In dia. The maps seem to cartographically reassert the claim that Pakistan was predicated on its ability to represent, not just the Muslims of the Muslim majority provinces that fell within its territorial borders, but the Muslims of the entire Subcontinent, a single Muslim nation. In moving from a non-territorially defined nation to a territorially limited one, the refugees/Muhajirs were thus the key to imagining the completion of the claim to nationhood. It is significant, then, that there were no maps included showing the outward movement of people, or tables with numbers for Muslims who remained outside Pakistan's territorial borders.
While most of the refugees were recorded as accommodated in Punjab and Bahawalpur (5,281,200 or 73 percent), and only about 616,900 (or 8.5 percent) in Karachi, Karachi underwent a dramatic change —from a caste Hindu population that, according to the 1941 census, formed 47.6 of the city, to only 0.4 percent in 1951, with Muhajirs now forming 55 percent of Karachi's quickly growing population; 50.4 percent had Urdu as their 'Mother tongue'.
While most of the Muhajirs who went to Punjab are no longer recognised by that name, it is these Urduspeaking Muhajirs who came to Karachi and other centres of Sind who have retained their identity as such. In most scholarly writings on Pakistan, this category of identity is taken as unproblematic given the attention directed to state-centred struggles for political power in which the MQM [the Muhajir Quami Movement, now called the Muttahida Quami Movement] has been a relatively recent player. Instead, taking the history of the emergence of MQM, as a given, I want to focus on the category of identity itself by turning to Oskar Verkaiak's ethnography of the Muhajirs of Karachi, A People of Migrants: Ethnicity, State and Religion in Karachi (1994). Based on 70 interviews conducted between August 1993 and January 1994 and archival research in Dawn's library, he examines the cultural 'webs of significance' that make the Muhajir identity. On the other hand, he argues that he cannot capitalise 'muhajir' identity as equal to 'Sindhis, Punjabis, British, etc'. This raises the question of whether Verkaiak simply thinks that some identities are culturally constructed, while others are not, or that there is something else that is significantly different about muhajirs. Though Verkaiak himself does not recognise this bind, his ambiguity towards Muhajirs does point to the liminality of Muhajir identity —the difference between Sindhis/Punjabisand Muhajirs is that the former are territorially defined'identities, while Muhajirs are not.
This becomes even clearer as Verkaiak describes the political and cultural world of Muhajirs in their uneasy and shifting location between pro-state and antistate identification. In Muhajir narratives the phase of separation is imagined as a precondition for nationalist identification, as can be seen in the author Jeelani Chandpuri's statement: "Only they were Pakistanis who came here as Pakistanis and who wanted to live as Pakistanis.' Altaf Husain, the leader of the MQM is even more eloquent on the subject;
Don't you know that Hindustan's minority-province Muslims sacrificed two million lives? We are the heirs of those two million Muslims… The story of their looted homes and valuables, is our story. We have a right to Pakistan, and it is a right of blood, we gave blood for it.
Further, their liminality, or 'uprootedness', is asserted as a precondition for national identification when Altaf Husain notes that they are a "group without a province, and whose only association is with Pakistan", where "province" signifies a prior territorially rooted identity. Given the properties of liminality, this "uprootedness" also becomes a precondition for the absence of national identification. Verkaiak comments that the meaning of the word Muhajir had changed: "Once ft had meant 'welcome'"; now it means: "You are not from here". Marked by their 'Indian heritage', Verkaiak recounts how in 1988, with the first taste of electoral power, MQM members of the National Assembly went to the inaugural session in Islamabad in their tight North Indian pajamas. It created a stir in the press and Muhajirs were immediately dubbed as bearers of a "pajama culture" verkaiak pays attention to the symbolism of clothes in the assertion of nationalism, and reads the stir over pajamas as consequence of the salwar karneez being declared, first, the Awami dress by Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, and then, the national dress by General Zia-ul Haq.
Indian-Pakistani, Pakistani-not-Indian, not-Pakistani-Indian, not-Pakistani-not-Indian — the predicament of the Muhajir identity is most movingly summed by one of Verkaiak's informants: "It was horrible. He was so nostalgic before he died. He had expected to be a Pakistani but he realised he would die as a muhajir, still a migrant."
Vazira Fazila-Yacoobali in "A Rite of Passage: The
Partition of History and the Dawn of Pakistan" from
Interventions: International ]ournal of Postcolonial
Studies, Vol 1, No 2.