Stories about British Raj

In Pakistan self-preservation takes precedence over loyalty to the nation

Many today will be looking back at the two fateful days in our history that share a common date – March 23rd. The first of these was in 1940 on which the Lahore Resolution was adopted, calling for the formation of a separate state for Muslims in the Subcontinent. The second was in 1956 when the Dominion of Pakistan became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with the passage of our first Constitution. The past is all well and good. And much will be made of it today. But the questions that we really need to be asking, as the years ...

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Trump’s ban on Muslims is just as offensive as Pakistan’s racial profiling of Pakhtuns

Not every Muslim is a terrorist but a significant number of terrorist incidents are conducted by Muslims. This statement is controversial and yet, deep down we all know that there is some sort of evidence for it. At least the terrorist incidents which are indiscriminate and use suicide bombings are overwhelmingly committed by Muslims. Of course, as already mentioned, this does not mean that every Muslim is a terrorist and in fact thinking in such terms would be overstretching and overgeneralisation, resulting in bigotry if endorsed by the general populace and institutionalised discrimination if incorporated into laws by the state. Donald ...

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When will Pakistan stop mocking people for speaking imperfect English?

Recently, a video went viral on social media of a group of girls in which one of them spoke a misplaced English phrase. The results of this innocent error by that girl were catastrophic. It soon became a phenomenon on the internet with the girl being subject to several jokes and derogatory comments. Following this, news came that the girl has not been attending college due to this incident. This represents two chronic problems in our society; first, the issue of cyber-bullying, and second, our obsession with the colonised tongue. Cyber-bullying is reprehensible, but the underlying issue is that we give English ...

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Why have we forgotten the long lost glory of the Punjabi language?

The thorny issue of “Pakistan’s regional languages face looming extinction” has been projected to the forefront in an AFP report carried, among others, by The Express Tribune and Dawn. ‘“There is not a single newspaper or magazine published in Punjabi for the 60 million-plus Punjabi speakers,” wrote journalist Abbas Zaidi in an essay, despite it being the language of the nationally revered Sufi poet Bulleh Shah and the native-tongue of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.’ The historical relegation of the Punjabi language comes from the cloud overshadowing the Punjabi stance in the 1857 War of Independence, paving the way for Urdu’s ascendance. The Punjabis meekly ceded the high ground moving house ...

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Is Canada the next Anglosphere super power?

China is snapping at the US’s heels in the race for world leadership. Punters cheer it on, disregarding the significance of the Anglosphere, a multinational composite of domestic prosperity, political sagacity, economic achievement, military prowess and soft power concentrated within the Anglo-Saxon group of five effective countries. The Trump administration will further strengthen this sphere’s dynamism and harness it to its vision. The active club members are the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and New Zealand—Ireland may be discounted for ineffectiveness. The five are intertwined within the United Kingdom-United States of America Agreement (UKUSA) by seven treaties in intelligence, signals intelligence, communications electronics, ...

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When Uncle Prem Naat Mehra finally made it across the border

There sat a man, terminally ill, writing a letter. It was a combination of intuition and denial which compelled him to write a letter to a man who was declared dead. Yet he sat there, holding onto his last wish which gave him hope that may not have any fruit to bear. Using a yellow directory, he wondered to himself if it would reach Afzal Cheema, his Muslim friend in Pakistan with whom he had enjoyed his childhood in the green fields of Lahore. Like a story of novels or thematic compilations, the journey of this friendship took a turn ...

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Why is Section 144 only shunning PTI’s voice?

On Thursday evening, during a peaceful protest held in Islamabad, the police stormed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaaf (PTI) youth convention in Islamabad and arrested party workers. This has raised some serious legal questions, specifically in regard to the administrative powers of the state. Section 144 of The Criminal Procedure Code is: “Power to issue order absolute at once in urgent cases of nuisance or apprehended danger.” This was first introduced in 1861; the sole purpose was to curb any native, Indian nationalist uprising against the British Sovereign. During the time of the British Raj, we see that this law wasn’t used to uphold the individual rights rather as a tool by ...

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Life at the fringes of empire: Edward Eastwick in Sindh

Edward Eastwick (1814-1883) entered the service of the East India Company at the comparatively late age of 22, after arriving in Bombay in the summer of 1836. This was not Eastwick’s first trip abroad. Following the unlikely advice of a family doctor and the ‘earnest solicitations’ of his wife, Eastwick’s father Robert had taken his sickly 10-year-old son on a year-long opium-trading voyage to China in 1825. Eastwick caught the travel bug, and probably many others besides. The privations of this early voyage may have gone some way to prepare Eastwick for his first posting in India as ‘Assistant Political Agent, Upper Sindh’. After an ...

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Bristol Hotel: A haunting remnant of the old, glittering Karachi

The building in this picture was the setting for most of the horror stories in my seven-year-old mind. It was also the view from my room in my grandparents’ house. I would listen in awe as my friend talked about the ghosts that she had seen lurking there in the dark of the night. At night, I would draw the curtains together so I wouldn’t have to stare at that abandoned dwelling. I didn’t know much about it back then. My dada (paternal grandfather) told me it was called Bristol Hotel and that it was constructed pre-partition. My imagination added another detail; I assumed ...

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How many of our 23-year-olds even know the struggles of 23-year-old Bhagat Singh?

As the nationalistic fervour of Pakistan Day following March 23rd dies down, one cannot help but notice that there is a criminal lack of commentary on an event that took place exactly nine years prior to what would come to be known as Pakistan Day – the execution of Indian revolutionist Bhagat Singh in Lahore on March 23, 1931. One of the first Marxist thinkers from South Asia, Bhagat was sent to the gallows after being found guilty for the murder of John P Saunders, Assistant Superintendent of Police. Bhagat and his fellow Hindustan Socialist Republican Association members including Shivaram Rajguru, Sukhdev Thapar, and Chandrashekhar Azad, originally planned to assassinate Superintendent of Police, James A Scott to ...

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