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Culture in Pakistan
 
 
 

General

Pakistan has a rich cultural and ethnic background going back to the Indus Valley civilisation, 2800-1800 BC. A civilisation remarkable for its ordered cities, advanced-planned sanitation, straight roads and uniquely structured society. Present day Pakistan has been invaded many times in the past. it has been occupied and settled by many different peoples each of whom have left their imprint on the current inhabitants of the country. Some of the largest groups were the 'Aryans', Greeks, Scythians, Persians, White Huns, Arabs, Turks, Mongols and other Eurasian groups right up until the British who left in the late 1940s.

The region has formed a distinct cultural unit within the main cultural complex of South Asia, the Middle East and Central Asia from the earliest times. There are differences in culture among the different ethnic groups in matters such as dress, food, and religion, especially where pre-Islamic customs differ from Islamic practices. Their cultural origins also show influences from far afield; including from: Tibet, Nepal, India and eastern Afghanistan. All groups show varying degrees of significant influence from Persia, Turkestan and Hellenistic Greece. Pakistan was the first region of the South Asia to receive the full impact of Islam and has developed a distinct Islamic identity, historically different from that further west.

Architecture

The architecture of the areas now constituting Pakistan can be designated to four distinct periods – pre-Islamic, Islamic, colonial and post-colonial. With the beginning of the Indus civilisation around the middle of the 3rd millennium BC, an advanced urban culture developed for the first time in the region, with large structural facilities, some of which survive to this day. Mohenjo Daro, Harappa and Kot Diji belong to the pre-Islamic era settlements. The rise of Buddhism and the Persian and Greek influence led to the development of the Greco-Buddhist style, starting from the 1st century AD. The high point of this era was reached with the culmination of the Gandhara style. An example of Buddhist architecture is the ruins of the Buddhist monastery Takht-i-Bahi in the northwest province.

The arrival of Islam in today's Pakistan meant a sudden end of Buddhist architecture. However, a smooth transition to predominantly pictureless Islamic architecture occurred. The town of Uch Sharif contains the tombs of Bibi Jawindi, Baha'al-Halim and Jalaluddin Bukhari, which are considered some of the earliest examples of Islamic architecture in Pakistan and are on the UNESCO World Heritage Site list. One of the most important of the few examples of the Persian style of architecture is the tomb of the Shah Rukn-i-Alam in Multan. During the Mughal era design elements of Islamic-Persian architecture were fused with and often produced playful forms of the Hindustani art. Lahore, occasional residence of Mughal rulers, exhibits a multiplicity of important buildings from the empire, among them the Badshahi mosque, the fortress of Lahore with the famous Alamgiri Gate, the colourful, still strongly Persian seeming Wazir Khan Mosque as well as numerous other mosques and mausoleums. The Shahjahan Mosque of Thatta in Sindh also originates from the epoch of the Mughals, as does the Mohabbat Khan Mosque in Peshawar.

In the British colonial age predominantly representative buildings of the Indo-European style developed, from a mixture of European and Indian-Islamic components. Post-colonial national identity is expressed in modern structures like the Faisal Mosque, the Minar-e-Pakistan and the Mazar-e-Quaid.

Literature

Pakistani literature as a distinct literature gradually came to be defined after Pakistan gained nationhood status in 1947, emerging out of the Indian English Literature tradition. The shared tradition of Urdu literature and English literature of India was inherited by the new state. Over a period of time a body of literature unique to Pakistan has emerged in nearly all major Pakistani languages, including Urdu, English, Punjabi, Balochi, Pushto and Sindhi.

The nature of Pakistani literature soon after independence aroused controversy among writers due to its being centred heavily on the negative events related to the India-Pakistan partition. According to Gilani Kamran (GC University), Pakistani literature was expected to take a new direction along with the new state of Pakistan at this point, but did not immediately meet this expectation.

Saadat Hassan Manto (1912-1955), a prominent writer of short stories of the South Asia, produced great literature out of the events relating to the India-Pakistan independence. His literature is considered to be progressive in its tone and spirit. According to several critics it had not only evolved its own identity, but also had played a significant role in documenting the hardships and hopes of Pakistan in the latter part of the 20th century.

Today, Pakistani literature has taken a shape of its own by depicting the complex class system and common man. Contemporary authors such as. It also has evolved in merging Urdu literary forms and English literature leading to experimentation. Many writers of fiction borrow from English and vice versa.

English language fiction from Pakistan began to receive international recognition in the latter part of the 20th century, pioneered by figures such as Bapsi Sidhwa, the Parsi author of The Crow Eaters, Cracking India (1988) and other novels. In the diaspora, Sara Suleri published the literary memoir, Meatless Days (1989), Hanif Kureshi commenced a prolific career with the novel The Buddha of Suburbia (1990), which won the Whitbread Award, and Aamer Hussein wrote a series of acclaimed short story collections.

In the early years of the 21st century, a number of Pakistani novelists writing in English won or were shortlisted for international awards. Mohsin Hamid published his first novel Moth Smoke (2000), which won a Betty Trask Award and was a finalist for the PEN/Hemingway Award; he has since published his second novel, The Reluctant Fundamentalist (2007), which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Kamila Shamsie was shorlisted for the John Llewelyn Rhys award for her third novel, Kartography (2002); she has since published her fourth novel, Broken Verses. Uzma Aslam Khan was shortlisted for the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Eurasia region) for her second novel, Trespassing (2003). British-Pakistani writer Nadeem Aslam won the Kuriyama Prize for his second book, Maps for Lost Lovers (2004). The first novel of Mohammed Hanif, A Case of Exploding Mangoes (2008) was shortlisted for the 2008 Guardian First Book Award. Emerging authors Kamila Shamsie and Daniyal Mueenuddin have garnered world wide attention


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