The capture of Pakistan’s cultural space by the orthodoxy has increased over time. In 1947, within a split second of history, the Islamists shed their opposition to Pakistan’s creation and became the greatest defenders of its ideological frontiers. While the tableeghi movement is a different entity altogether, its avowedly ‘non-political’ stance in effect strengthens the supremacy of the orthodox cultural discourse that is uncomfortable and in some cases outright hostile to the local ethos comprising mystical Islam, music and alternative healing gained through adherence to the Sufi way – or whatever of it remains. It is also quite strange why the tableeghi network is converting the already converted Muslims while it has little to articulate against the militancy and unpalatable sectarianism.
Ironically, the current regime of General Musharraf has created an unprecedented space for alternative voices to flourish and sing. Since the deregulation of media we have witnessed a glasnost that even surprises the hard-boiled cynics in the country. True to Pakistan’s contradictions, while the Hasba law is tabled in a provincial legislature, Sufi pop plays on privately owned electronic media that also churns out much that could not be transmitted even five years ago. Junoon and other exponents of sufi-pop genre have created this incredible fusion between the old and the new and instantaneously popularized the Sufi poetry to the MTV/Indus generation that otherwise might not have discovered this aspect of our heritage and its perennial cross currents.