Analysis / 03.07.2011

By Bettina Robotka Dear Anjum, First, a word about that unspeakable article of Hitchens. He obviously has never lived in Pakistan and doesn’t know anything about its people in reality. Part of his argument is emotional – an emotion that is negative, an emotion of ridiculing and contempt. Whosoever has lived in Pakistan knows that the people on the ground in their majority are neither humorless nor eager to take offense, but warm, hardworking, hospitable and very much tolerant. Actually I always thought that they are too tolerant, they should take offense much earlier. I think they are not very brave in the sense that they go and risk in order to fight injustice, but that is also related to the fact that they are not individuals who think and care only about themselves and that their right and welfare was most important but they are family people who feel responsible for those depending on them and would not want to endanger the welfare of the family for some abstract or concrete injustice. They have accepted me without much asking; have taken me into their custody though I was nobody to them. One should never analyze a society without knowing the sounds and smells of it.
Modernity / 12.07.2010

By Arun Pillai Before we can talk about separating ideas from geography, it is necessary to say what ideas are, what I mean by geography, and what traditions are. I will start with ideas. Ideas Ideas are abstract things, like words and numbers. They don’t occupy space or time. A physical object occupies space and time, and if it is in one place, it cannot be in another (I will ignore the puzzles of quantum mechanics here.) This is not true of ideas. We can all simultaneously entertain the same ideas, or utter the same words, or calculate with the same numbers. (This is partly why the area of intellectual property rights is so tricky.) In any case, there is a fund of ideas that belongs to everyone, like the ideas in the sciences and other areas of culture.
Behavior / 11.03.2010

By Anjum Altaf I attended a talk by Professor Vali Nasr where he presented the central argument of his new book Forces of Fortune: The Rise of the New Muslim Middle Class and What it Will Mean for Our World. Professor Nasr is an influential voice as senior advisor to Richard Holbrooke, the special Representative of the US for Afghanistan and Pakistan, which makes it relevant to summarize his views and to identify some areas of agreement and disagreement. Professor Nasr’s underlying hypothesis was quite straightforward: the middle class transformed the modern West and it can transform the Muslim world as well. The rise of trade, capitalism and merchant life is the most important trend at work and one that shapes the contours of culture and delimits the uses of religious belief. From this vantage point the prescription follows logically: if Islamic countries are integrated into the global economy, this trend would shape the cultural landscape of the Muslim world.
Pakistan / 07.10.2008

By Anjum Altaf This is the edited text of the keynote presentation at the conference on Teaching Textiles organized by the Textile Institute of Pakistan, Karachi, on December 2, 2005. It was published in the SDPI Research and News Bulletin, Vol. 13, No. 1, 2006. The textile and clothing (T&C) industry is the most interesting of the major industries to study at this time. Its natural development has been the most severely distorted by a system of global constraints that were only eased at the beginning of 2005. Many people expected the removal of quotas on January 1, 2005 to trigger a massive readjustment and the resulting cutthroat price competition to drive production to the lowest cost locations. It is important to remember, however, that the quota regime was initiated over 50 years ago--the first long-term agreement was enforced in 1962--and 50 years is a very long time....