“There is a bit of tyranny in every form of collectivity, even in the husband-wife relationship, but a tribe imposes the least amount of tyranny on its members,” said Pakistani author Jamil Ahmad at the Jaipur literature festival here on Thursday.
Mr. Ahmad was in conversation with Ameena Saiyid, Managing Director of the Oxford University Press in Pakistan and fellow countryman, author M.A. Farooqi, during a session titled “The Flight of the Falcon.”
Mr. Ahmad, who has served as an administrator in the Balochistan province of Pakistan, has chronicled the tradition-bound way of tribal life in Balochistan in his first book The Wandering Falcon. A collection of short stories, it is set in pre-Taliban times. “Tribes are the basic building block of humanity and today they are being persecuted by nation states and are facing destruction,” said Mr. Ahmad.
Asked whether it was time for tribes to take up modern ideas and education, Mr. Ahmad said tribal people were often far more educated than the literate urban population.
Mr. Farooqi, whose book Between Clay and Dust is a peek into the pahalwan (wrestler) culture of Pakistan, said it was not easy to get into the strict code of life of the pahalwans.
“Initially, it was supposed to be a two-page essay but as I started to move deeper into their physical space, my understanding grew and a whole world opened up before my eyes,” said Mr. Farooqi.
He said he understood the popular anger in India against the killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistani forces. “Human life is sacred … if there is a feeling in India that Pakistani authors should not participate in the festival, I completely understand this sentiment,” he said. He said he did not care about literature but about how people felt. “I am here to make friends.”
Pakistani authors were happy that despite the tensions they were granted visas by the Indian government, he said.
He was amazed how the ties of friendship had not broken down between the people on both sides of the border, “despite everything that had happened.”