Stories about Urdu

Baby Bhutto, the Kashmir issue is way out of your league

Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has spoken. “I will take back Kashmir, all of it, and I will not leave behind a single inch of it because, like the other provinces, it belongs to Pakistan.” This statement has evoked serious backlash from the Indian side and has made him a butt of jokes in both Pakistan and India. The statement was disturbing on many levels. It came at a time when the “political intern” was visiting flood affected areas and was, ironically, asking all political parties to set aside their differences and work in unison for the flood victims. By mentioning Kashmir out of the blue, he contradicted his own agenda ...

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Will Muhammad Shoaib Adil be convicted for blasphemy or will the state save him?

“The clerics tried to attack me at my office and later at the race course police station. The police were very supportive and didn’t let them touch me. Later, they surrounded the race course police station and tried to pressurise the police. Luckily, some of my friends came to my aid and they did whatever they could to make sure I get out of police station safely.” He was freed from the police station in the wee hours of night, when the angry mob had dispersed. That day his life changed and he went into hiding along with his family. ...

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Here is why I chose Habib University

Every student stepping out of high school faces a dilemma: which university should they choose for further studies? Recently, a major investment has been made to establish Habib University. This university is a progressive educational institution that has incorporated state-of-the-art facilities along with learned faculty members. This university became my choice and here is why: The faculty Many universities in Pakistan have faculty members from foreign countries but very few are committed to undergraduate research and service inside and outside the campus community. This holds true for Pakistani teachers as well. A majority of the faculty members at Habib University are middle-aged or younger; this just ...

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Manto: A realist par excellence

Saadat Hassan Manto (1912-1955) is a name synonymous in the annals of Urdu literature. Considered among the greatest contemporary Urdu short story writers of the 20th century, he has left a legacy that stretches far and wide. Manto’s greatest gift was his ability to depict the reality of society with such ease that he would leave the reader mesmerised and in utter awe. His attention to minor details and his signature style of description was second to none. Manto was a realist and a puritan who hated hypocrisy in every given way. Manto was a household name for me, virtue of my mother being his daughter. The ...

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Noor of Bihar

“Babu jee, India is so enormous. Mumbai, Agra, Delhi and Bihar are unfathomable in size. Either you take one step or accomplish a hundred, it will take 10 years to traverse from one end of the country to another,” she assured me in her mellifluous Bihari tone. As the fan overhead continued its eternal hymn, Nani (maternal grandmother) shouted in distaste, “Huh, you have seen India, my foot! Woman of no worth,” she shouted out, as mother and I looked at each other, exchanging mental notes on how to manage Nani’s incorrigible distrust of domestic helpers. Nani suffered from a cancerous tumour ...

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Am I a ‘ganwaar’ if I speak in Punjabi?

Over the last few weeks, I have been meeting children from different parts of Punjab. They ranged in age between three and five years and included children of my friends and extended family. I was pleasantly surprised to hear these kids speaking in Punjabi. Some of the phrases that I recall hearing them use are, “Kithay chalay o?” (Where are you off to?) “Aa ki aey?” (What is this?) “Ki karde paye o?” (What are you doing?) Punjabi is the most widely spoken language across Pakistan. However, from what I have seen, most of the people in Punjab – especially those living in the urban centres – do ...

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Don’t label me ‘Mohajir’

Being a first generation Mohajir might have felt like stepping into an exciting new territory full of adventures in reassertion of identity, a deeper assimilation into the national fabric and finding a voice in a country teeming with provincialism. However, as a second generation Mohajir reflecting over the three decades that have transpired since, it seems that these were nothing short of a fool’s dreams that at least I could have survived without. Objectively, I feel that having chased these dreams has actually left me more devoid in numerous avenues than empowered. Retrospectively, I find it hard to understand why we ...

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‘Abay yaar’, who betrayed Urdu?

There is a large number of modern, educated people in Pakistan that are blind to an entire area of literature, beginning with the first Urdu novel written by Deputy Nazir Ahmed back in the 1800s to anything written in the Urdu newspapers today. Not only are they completely oblivious, but this educated class also looks down upon the mother language and anything associated with it. To me, it seems that it’s not their fault. For every one of them, somewhere along the line, Urdu lost its value and respect in their eyes. This is how I experienced it. I remember very vividly the day I first used the word ...

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I am Pakistani, whether I speak Urdu or Punjabi

We are not a sitar with a single string, and our music takes more than one chord to make. We are a convergence of languages and cultures, all of which are simply too lustrous to be overshadowed by any single one. Yet Urdu is not considered a language; it is an apparatus used to measure patriotism. It is a test that is used to verify one’s allegiance to our green and white flag. Isn’t this an awkward status to have bestowed upon Urdu, considering hardly eight percent of Pakistanis speak it as their mother tongue? On the other hand, Punjabi happens to be the first language ...

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Is Urdu just a servant’s language today?

Recently, a comment made on the language that is a part of our identity, Urdu, left me in utter shock. A friend of mine told me about an incident that took place with his sister, who’s an Urdu teacher for grade one and two in Lahore. A student, in one of her classes, was refusing to speak in Urdu during the period. When she asked him as to why he was being so difficult, his response was nothing less than shocking and disappointing. ‘My mom told me that Urdu is a servant’s language’ Please take a moment, sit back and let that ...

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