Upon reading Sabina Siddiqui’s commentary, A very Un-Pak Pakfest (Feb. 10, p. 5), I was deeply disturbed by her extreme religious right-winged views regarding Pakistani culture and society.
Pakistan is not India, Siddiqui wrote. Pakistan was and is not about dances, song, or clothing, but religion.
Sure, Pakistan is not India. It is a separate, distinct and sovereign entity. However, let us not mistake politics with culture. Pakistani culture is very closely linked to that of India. They both share a rich and long history dating back thousands of years. That cultural history just doesn’t go away with the emergence of new political boundaries – it’s embedded in the hearts and minds of both Pakistanis and Indians alike.
Also contrary to what Siddiqui stated, Pakistanis love to sing and dance. It’s an integral part of the culture that can be seen all over the country. Weddings, festivals and concerts are just a few examples of where Pakistanis of all ages joyfully engage in singing and dancing. Incidentally, many of the songs played at weddings and other occasions in Pakistan are songs from Indian songwriters and performers. People in India also enjoy many songwriters and performers from Pakistan, showing that both countries share strong cultural ties with each other.
Regarding religion, the majority of Pakistanis are in the moderate middle, with some elements in the religious right and some in the secular left. Those who interpret things through a narrow, extremist perspective shut themselves off from the big picture. However, those people who look at the world and their surroundings through a more open perspective learn to appreciate things a lot more.
By writing this commentary I’m not asking anyone to agree or disagree with my viewpoints. All I’m asking is that people open their eyes.