Mushir Anwar

Mushir Anwar

A weekly columnist at The Express Tribune who has previously written for other publications. He also writes and translates short stories.

The engaging story of a bureaucrat

My Story, the autobiography of Muhammad Mansoor Kazim, a former CSP officer, would not be an extraordinary book were it not for its engaging simplicity and unassuming narration. It appears Mr Kazim entertains no notion of social or intellectual superiority and is quite free of vanity and pretence that stick like gum to most in his class of Pakistani officialdom. Reading him one may feel he is making a deliberate effort to keep the account of his life and career as free of conceit and high intellectualism as possible, particularly the way he keeps his comment from sounding wise or ...

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Sarmad Sehbai’s poem on 9/11

Playwright and poet, nay poet and playwright, (lest he objects to the former order of his talents as did the revered Ahmad Nadeem Qasmi to Faiz Ahmad Faiz’s reported assessment, giving third place to his poetry, after his newspaper columns and short fiction)  Sarmad Sehbai, is not a man of politics. He is a social beast though and reacts, if at all, to political events in that context only. Politicians interest him, but only as stage characters in their various masks and costumes. As an artist, the fall of the Twin Towers in New York which shook the world ...

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This is PTV: but for its glories ….

So much has changed. Leafing through Agha Nasir’s This is PTV is like returning to one’s ancestral home, or listening to old songs. It is not nostalgic trickery or old age delusion that tends to paint the past in golden hues. Pakistan Television and PIA were those few organizations that, though growing under the shadow of a harsh military dictatorship, were the saving graces of the time. We had something to be satisfied about. Here and there we had men in saddle, in bureaucracy and professions particularly, who were competent and wanted to do something. They were the regime’s counterweights ...

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Inconclusive debates of our time

Friend Ashfaq Salim Mirza is a modernist among our comrades. He refuses to limp back to rosy 19th Century and unlike most dwellers of that dreamland, who have an explanation for every unfolding event, believes several debates are still inconclusive. Arguing with him, our mentor, the late Professor Khwaja Masud, would often take umbrage at his unqualified rejection of Sufism as a crutch for the Left to hobble on, in a kind of three legged race, with the Pakistan ideology stalwarts. He took to task the nascent Awami Party — which he had himself co-founded with Harris Khalique, Ayub ...

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Promoting culture: Giving credit where it is due

Government agencies dealing with culture, creative arts, scholarship and other such intellectual matters may not have played the progressive role they were supposed to, or could have, even remaining within the strait jacket of their stated objectives, but overall they have been far more productive and active in their fields than other areas under government control whose performance has generally been quite dismal. Take for instance water, power, industry and agriculture. Their poor showing is responsible for our present troubles. In comparison cultural bodies dealing with arts like the Lok Virsa, National Language Authority (NLA), Pakistan Academy of Letters ...

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Review: Jabbar’s ‘living, breathing, bustling Pakistan’

Fanning optimism may not have been right for Javed Jabbar at a time when people, by and large, are coming out of the state of denial, the comforting persecution complex is losing its hold on the paranoid national psyche, the intelligentsia has slackened its search for scapegoats; the fatigue of complacence has started to hurt; and a kind of rudimentary self examination is in process. His new book, “Pakistan – Unique Origins; Unique Destiny?”, which counts 57 blessings that will lighten any heart heavy with doubts and misgivings and lull some back to the stupor they were just waking from, ...

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‘On Unknown Seas to Unknown Shores’

On Unknown Seas to Unknown Shores’ is a selection of over 200 poems by Dr Maqbool Elahi published by Dr Ikram Azam’s Pakistan Futurist Institute and Margalla Voices, a literary forum. This collection of verse spans a period of over 60 years, from 1955 to 2010, and covers a range of subjects and themes that long life itself (Dr Elahi is in his 90s now) introduces besides work, travel and reading. Many of the poems have a personal reference as to occasion, locale, event or experience are bunched under different general themes: ‘Edifice of Destiny’, ‘We Meet to Part’, ‘Lonely Time’, ...

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Works on Faiz and other books

Were he alive today, Ahmad Nadim Qasmi would have found the current fervour and growing unanimity of acclaim for Faiz Ahmad Faiz quite intriguing since he thought that his own sidelining as a secondary figure of contemporary Urdu poetry during the latter’s lifetime had something to do with class and lifestyle. With class and lifestyle gone with the man, now what remains, Qasmi Sahib would have wondered, but his poetry and his memory? Is that worth making so much fuss about? In the realm of the arts, relative greatness cannot be determined with a measuring tape. Faiz Sahib himself made no such ...

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The first inventors exhibition

What a time it was. The sprouts of the nation’s creative energies were just beginning to show in a clime and soil that nurtured the desire to do something. Whether in literature, culture or sports there was an ebullient spirit and people in nearly all professions seemed to be doing better. Jinnah’s Pakistan was settling down to normal life. The fifties were a period the present youth of the 21st century would have greatly relished because the air society then breathed was still pure of ideological pollution. There was hope and people had started looking up to better times ...

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Dots & Dashes: All hands on deck

This winter too shall pass and spring come, manifest in its verdure and blossom, but without the cheer for the human heart. Poverty’s ugly grin spreads wider every day on the nation’s face and does not sit well with the warm smile the season of renewal brings. In another month and a half when the yellow jasmine start blooming in Islamabad and herald the onset of spring, prices of essentials would have gone up another 10 to 15 per cent and gas and electricity supplies further depleted forcing the closures of small industrial units, expanding the area of national enclosure ...

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