The Problem of Pakistani Identity and Writers: Intizar Hussain


This essay by Intizar Hussain talks about a very serious issue for Pakistani writer. He addresses the issue if identity of Pakistani writers and is a quest in the way of ransacking and developing our identity. Intizar Hussain posts very serious questions about the identity of Pakistani writers because after the partition of sun-continent, Pakistani writers went into dilemma as what was their real identity. The issue is raise by many authors and Intizar Hussain quotes a number of writers in this essays.


(Lines 1-7)

Intizar Hussaian, in the very first paragraph of his essay, states that he is getting jealous. He then explains that Pakistan and India, both, got independence almost simultaneously. But the problem of identity is only for the Pakistani writers while Indian writers have no such crises. He adds, they might have some other issues but the problem of identity is not within them. He admits that now almost fifty years of independence are to be completed but the problem of identity for Pakistani writers cannot be eliminated

(Lines 8-18)

He asks the readers to allow him so that he can address this problem of Identity which has turned into a controversy. He says those were the early days of Partition when Urdu writers were writing about the human miseries caused by the partition. He says that the writers did not support the partition. He further says that some of the writers in Pakistan, too, were writing against partition and it was disappointing. Writers like Dr Taseer, Mohammad Hassan Askari and Mumtaz Shrin turned against this attitude of the writers and laid the foundations of “Pakistani Adab” which was to be different from Indian literature.

(Lines 19-31)

But this idea was rejected by some of the writers and one of the poets Ahmad Riaz Said;

“Kaun Karsakta hai taqseem adab ki jagir,”

This conflict gave way to another controversy as how to define Pakistani Literature different from that of India. This controversy turned into the dilemma of Identity as what was Pakistani Identity. Intizar Hussain then quotes Faiz Ahmad Faiz, when he said that we celebrate Pakistan because we think that we have different identity based on our distinctive culture that’s why Pakistan was our only solution. But he says that we should have asked, which we now ask ourselves, what actually our different culture is.

(Lines 32-40)

He then states this has the secret of national identity. He then asks a series of questions;

  • Whether we, as nation are born on 14th August 1947 or we are on old nation?
  • If we are an old nation then how old, exactly.
  • Whether we should trace back our history to Muhammad Bin Qasim when he entered this land or to the old times of Mohenjo-Daro and Harappa.
  • Does our culture originate from Islam or from our land?
  • If it is land based than why we are trying to own the Muslim relics of India.

 (Lines 41-52)

Intizar Hussain says apart from this controversy, it became a fashion that people started calling it a new born nation. However, they were not aware about the implications involved in calling a new born nation. Even, Muhammad Hassan Askari warns them about the dangers of this. He warns them that by calling a new born nation, it would get difficult to hold East and West Pakistani together, but people were charmed by it. Faiz Ahamd Faiz asserts as well that with the partition a new nation and new country has been born.

(Lines 53-72)

He then gives four different aspects of cultural identity;

  • This aspect states that culture is a land rooted phenomenon so each region in Pakistan holds its own peculiar culture and there is no integrating force that binds them on a higher level of national culture.
  • On the hand there are people who say that concept of national culture is superior and this regional based culture is not a good idea.
  • The third aspect says in front of pure Islamic culture and negates all other views.
  • While the last aspect is that they trace the cultural identity to Muslim History in sub-continent.

Jamil Jalibi calls it Indo-Muslim culture. He says that regions are important aspects of culture but they should contribute to solitary national culture.

(Lines 73-79)

According to Professor Gillani Kamran, during Muslim reign in India, a new culture emerged which we call Indo-Islamic culture which gave awareness to the Muslims of sub-continent in developing their Muslim Identity. This Identity developed because of a common history, a common culture consciousness, and a common heritage.

(Lines 80-84)

But Salim Ahmad raise an objection to the statement. He says how this identity can be emerged due to a common history, a common culture consciousness, and a common heritage because we are told that we have nothing in common with Hindus.

(Lines 85-104)

Intizar Hussain asks another series of question. He asks this identity which became the base for Pakistan why did it become controversial after the birth of Pakistan. He asks another question that why is the case with Quaid e Azam who asserts that with the partition born a new nation whose identity is rooted in common culture. Intizar Hussain then answer as well, he says if say that the experts are misled in stating about the identity developed out of common culture, so, that would not be very correct. Because, we lived with Hindus for centuries in a love-hate relationship. We hate them but are attracted towards their rituals. We call them Kafir yet we live with them in relationships. So in such a situation we felt for them but at the same time we developed our identity for the creation of Pakistan.

(Lines 105-121)

Intizar Hussain says that for this separate identity, we are in debt to Hindus. He says that our identity is based in common culture. After the partition and the elimination of Hindus, we lost the culture balance and our identity grew blur. And because of this, regional identity concepts also came to the surface.

(Lines 122-132)

Faiz objects to this idea and stated that our religion is the base for our culture.

In the last paragraph:

Intizar Hussain quotes Elliot who expresses his apprehension that if Christianity goes, the whole of our culture goes.


  • The essay is of immense importance as it talks about a very grave issue of Identity.
  • The author has tried to connect the views f different authors to have a series of statement about the identity of Pakistani writers.
  • The issue with Intizar Hussain is that he jumbles up the ideas of different writers and in the end, he is unable to find any logical connection.
  • The dilemma with Intizar seems, too, that he himself is in a dilemma of Identity quest because he is unable to find out what our actual identity is.
  • Intizar Hussain has quoted a number of writers who talk about the issue of identity and have tried to address the issue of Identity in order to find out the roots of our identity.
  • What Intizar Hussain misses is that our identity lies deep in Islam-our religion.
  • He does not discuss this point and this is what lacks in the essay.
  • Intizar Hussain misses Iqbal as well, who has talked more than enough about our identity. As he says;

Youn To Saayed Bhu, Mirza Bhi Ho, Afghan Bhi ho,

Tum Sabhi Kuch ho Btao To Musalman Bhi Ho…