chapter  6
22 Pages

The Zamindari system

One way to understand the idea of Pakistan is as a coming to consciousness of a collective uniqueness that required political distinction. As much of the fi ction dealing with the 1947 partition and the 1971 war indicates, this idea intertwined Muslim political self-determination with lofty ideals for the construction of a just and equitable society. As idea became nation and as the trauma of national disintegration provided another opportunity for collective refl ection on the transition from idea to nation, the fi ctions I’ve already discussed present a spectrum of reactions to and critiques of the challenges of implementing the agenda of a political party as the basis of new nation. While Shah Nawaz’s The Heart Divided , for example, concludes optimistically with both Zohra and Sughra hoping that the new nation of Pakistan can live up to their socialist and feminist ideals, Shahbano Bilgrami’s Without Dreams outlines Pakistan’s failure to achieve such lofty goals as evidenced by the break-up of the two wings of the nation. Moreover, some of the fi ctions dealing with the transition from idea to nation fi gure the nation’s bureaucratic structures-its manifestation as a stateas the locus of affective attachment. In other words, if the affective resonance of the idea of Pakistan as represented in these fi ctions is one way of measuring the idea’s trenchancy and success, then the transition’s success also hinges in part on the ability of the state to posit and promote the new nation itself as the affective center that holds its citizens together. In Khushwant Singh’s Train to Pakistan and Sorayya Khan’s Five Queen’s Road , the abstraction of the nation gets concretized through its bureaucratic structures, such as the civil service and the various property acts. These fi ctions suggest that such bureaucratic structures facilitate (or obstruct, as the case may be) the characters’ senses of belonging to the nation through their abilities to include or exclude.