Thursday, 10 April 2014

Pakistan Monument

My third sight-seeing escapade was at the Pakistan Monument. Designed by Arif Masood, the Monument was constructed from 2005 to 2007, during the Musharraf era. It is made in the shape of a blooming flower.

The monument itself is beautiful. The insides of the 'petals' are adorned with murals depicting scenes from Pakistan's historical narrative. 

I thought it was a great picnic spot with great views of the city. I was even more impressed with the Museum. It's a small space but was used very well. I loved the displays in terms of the statues and scenes. 

The entrance 

Not a very good shot but you get the idea! 
I didn't think this granite-looking multi-dimensional pyramid with gold stars fit with the overall monument! It looked like it belonged in magic show!

Kavita looking on as some soldiers take some photos too.

Detail of one of the murals.

Where the petals meet.

I love this photo of a daughter taking a picture of her parents.

View of the surrounding gardens

Of course we have to take a photo of ourselves!

Kavita wants to get jiggy with it

The main display at the centre of the Pakistan Monument Museum - Jinnah and his sister, Fatima, 
riding in horse and carriage at the inauguration of the State Bank

The visit to the museum starts withistory pre-dating Pakistan - The Indus Valley Civilisation

And, here we have the Muslim conquerors of the subcontinent

The Muslim rulers practiced Good Governance - what an excellent choice of words - The World Bank, UN and all the other NGO types would be proud!

I love this famous scene of Iqbal praying at the mosque in Cordoba. 

The thinking Iqbal, the national poet, who believed the Muslims of India needed a 
separate homeland

Caption 1: Jinnah shows the first steps of the bhangra to Gandhi.
Caption 2: Gandhi asks Jinnah, "So, what do you think of the 4th season of Game of Thrones?"

Kavita got so tired of sight seeing that she fell asleep. Zzzzzz

The Pakistan narrative clings very strongly to great philosophical ideas. Muslim thinkers and philosophers placed the Muslims of India in the wider Muslim Ummah. They saw the Muslims of India as descendants of conquerors and rulers who ruled India for hundreds of years, created a spectacular civilisation, which unfortunately was in decline since the arrival of the British. Political treachery between the departing colonials and the Hindus made a separate homeland an imperative. We Pakistanis look to Iqbal and Sir Syed as key figures in our history, in our quest for a homeland and identity. 

All modern nation states rely on an almost primordial faith in the origins and unity of their nations. There is a purity and a nobility in the nation, in the country. The soil itself is sacred. 

Pakistan worked as an idea by suggesting Muslims were a separate nation. It worked as an idea by creating an enemy out of the Hindus, who were the subjects of Muslims. But a million people perished in blood-curdling sectarian massacres in the Partition of India. 

Of course, many Muslims passionately believed in a new homeland and, made the necessary sacrifice by traveling hundreds of miles willingly. They feel proud of the hardships they endured by abandoning everything they had, making the perilous journey and, making a new life in the new Pakistan. But most people were forcibly moved upon threat of conversion or in absolute fear. 

At that moment, were the ordinary folk really heirs to these exalted ideas of separate homelands and the purity of the Muslim nation?

Pakistan as an idea has failed many times over since its creation. It failed as an idea when we committed atrocities in East Pakistan and it broke away. It failed as an idea when we did to Christians and Hindus what we have done, burning their homes, forcing their daughters to convert, and treating them worse than animals. It failed as an idea when we criminalised Ahamdis and, started wondering as a state who could or could not be a Muslim. It failed as an idea when Sunnis started slaughtering Shiias. And, it's been failing as an idea over and over again. 

So, who do these highly and lofty ideas of us great Muslims being separate peoples really belong to?

I think many young people eventually stop believing in the myths of their states, some earlier than others, depending on how soon you figure it out. I know many Americans finally realise they forefathers were involved in the genocide of the real inhabitants of the land, in slavery and even the repression of women. The very birth of the American nation is stained with the blood of millions of innocent American Indians. 

The key for me is to first figure it out and, be free from manufactured truths. An important reality for me, personally, is to find myself within a larger sea of humanity. I've made my home in West Africa. Wed a man across the border. Borne a child in the United States. My family roots and still a large part of my identity belongs here in Pakistan. I need to be able to navigate all these places and spaces and identities. 

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