Punjab Research Group

Casteism: alive and well in Pakistan by Raza Rumi

Posted in Articles by Pippa on February 18, 2009

Originally published in the Friday Times magazine

 

What do you expect of a country where the aboriginals are known as janglis, asks Raza Rumi

Who says casteism is extinct in Pakistan? My friends have not been allowed to marry outside their caste or sect, Christian servants in Pakistani households are not permitted to touch kitchen utensils, and the word ‘choora’ is the ultimate insult

   

It is a cliché now to say that Pakistan is a country in transition – on a highway to somewhere. The direction remains unclear but the speed of transformation is visibly defying its traditionally overbearing, and now cracking postcolonial state. Globalisation, the communications revolution and a growing middle class have altered the contours of a society beset by the baggage and layers of confusing history.

 

What has however emerged despite the affinity with jeans, FM radios and McDonalds is the visible trumpeting of caste-based identities. In Lahore, one finds hundreds of cars with the owner’s caste or tribe displayed as a marker of pride and distinctiveness. As an urbanite, I always found it difficult to comprehend the relevance of zaat-paat (casteism) until I experienced living in the peri-urban and sometimes rural areas of the Punjab as a public servant.

 

To read full article: http://pakteahouse.wordpress.com/2009/02/15/casteism-alive-and-well-in-pakistan/

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