Stories about 1947

When did Pakistan change from being a liberal country to a fundamentalist one?

When and how did Pakistan go from being a moderate Muslim majority country to a fundamentalist society within a relatively short span of time and is this trend irreversible? Pakistan emerged out of a Muslim nationalist movement organised around the group identity of the Muslims of British India. It was led not by cultural relativists in flowing robes, but by modern Muslim men and women, most of whom felt that they could reconcile their faith with modernity. Jinnah’s objectives in any event were to create a united Muslim voting bloc within united India and his demand for a Muslim majority ...

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Boys will be boys but Qandeel was defiant – so she must be eliminated

The first video I watched of Qandeel Baloch was shared by a friend on his Facebook wall. She was clad in a skimpy grey dress showing off her voluptuous curves. Swaying suggestively and looking straight into the camera she said, “I’m 99% sure you hate me but I’m a 100% sure not even my shoe gives a damn about it.”

In one fell swoop she not only fully asserted herself as a sexual being – a space denied to women in our society – but cocked a snook at everyone unwilling to acknowledge her agency. I instantly fell in love ...

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Lashing out at Bangladesh for Moti ur Rahman’s hanging will not change history

On May 11, 2016, Bangladesh hanged Motiur Rahman Nizami, the 73-year-old leader of the Bangladesh Jamaat-e-Islami. He was the leader of the militant group Al Badr. The searing irony of this saga is that Pakistan’s ruling elite in 1971 outsourced the safeguarding of Pakistani nationalism to unsavoury characters from the Jamaat-e-Islami’s student wing when Jamaat-e-Islami itself had opposed tooth and nail the creation of Pakistan just 24 years earlier in 1947. The brigands of Al Badr were launched by the Pakistani military against a Bengali population which had in 1947 stood unwaveringly with Mr Jinnah and the Muslim League in the Pakistan Movement. In 1965 the same ...

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Why are Lahore Fort’s walls being used as urinals?

Nations, tribes and even individuals have claims to heritage. Heritage helps us define our place in the multitude of ideas that surround us. This view, however, is simplistic and uni-directional to say the least. The notion of a collective heritage and what we hold onto in the present day and age is an iterative one. It means that along with the mighty forts, castles, mosques, literature and practices of the past, we as present day inhabitants of a place can build on the legacy from the past. This building on the past is yet another dangerous term. The experiments in this ...

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The story of Hyderabad, Sindh

Hyderabad is one of those cities where the magnetic pull of nostalgia can be felt to a maximum, owing to the ever glorious landmarks of a bygone era. It is one of those cities where the past silently trudges along with a noisy and loud present. Apart from its new face where it is adorned with high rise buildings, bustling, busy markets thronged with heavy locomotive traffic; there is another face where the past lurks behind colonial buildings, hiding under electrical wires and large hoardings. The same old face can be seen written over the aged, gnarled and wrinkled face of ...

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Colonialism ruined Pakistan and India, even the Koh-i-Noor can’t fix that!

The most precious diamond England had before usurping the Koh-i-Noor from India was none other than William Shakespeare. But the legendary bard, unlike his avaricious countrymen, himself never coveted stones and riches. What he longed for was content, a pleasure which only a man with a heart and passions could enjoy. Shakespeare writes in his play King Henry VI, Part 3, “My Crown is in my heart, not on my head: Not deck’d with Diamonds, and Indian stones: Nor to be seen: my Crown is call’d Content, A Crown it is, that seldom Kings enjoy.” Needless to say, if Winston Churchill had 0.1 per cent of the writer’s virtues, the world ...

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Amidst such dismal set of facts, how is Pakistan still existing?

A former CIA official, Kevin Hulbert, recently wrote in his blog for The Cipher Brief, that Pakistan is probably the most dangerous country of the world as it is ripe with threats of terrorism, a failing economy and the fastest growing nuclear arsenal. Once again, sadly, this nation has been put on the map for the most ominous things. Hulbert says, quite dramatically: “The spectre of the sixth largest country in the world being a failed state is a hypothetical catastrophe that would unleash a world of unintended consequences.” Country profiles by organisations such as BBC and HRW have named Pakistan as one of the world’s deadliest countries for ...

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Karachi and the paralysis of imagination

You want to read about a vision of a just Karachi? The contract killer ($50 a hit) ripping up the road behind Disco Bakery on his Honda 200CC and the secret service colonel cracking skulls in a Clifton safe house will both cite one vision: Dubai. This happens to also be the vision of the one-armed Afghan refugee selling Beijing socks off a cart in Saddar bazaar and the unsexed Karachi Port Trust shipping agent waiting for shady clients to cough up cash so he can escape to Phuket. To borrow from an old Urdu election rallying cry, Chalo,chalo, Dubai, chalo (Come, come, let’s go to Dubai). Vision presupposes ...

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Subramanian Swamy – Loud but irrelevant

The madness continues, with India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader Subramanian Swamy claiming that India will break Pakistan into four pieces if a war breaks out between the two nuclear-armed countries, while admitting India’s role in splitting Pakistan in 1971. It is difficult to take Swamy seriously. He is the same man who suggested that religious freedom in an otherwise diverse India be curtailed to meet the demands of Hindu nationalism in various shapes and forms. From suggesting that voting rights only be handed out to Muslims who accept that they have Hindu ancestry, to proposing a law that prohibits conversion from Hinduism to any other ...

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She left India for Pakistan, but was her sacrifice worth it?

“People didn’t even bother locking their doors; we knew that we could never come back. It wasn’t easy for us, leaving everything behind, and it seems like another life now, as if we left a part of ourselves back in India. Plenty of people lost their lives, it’s still hard to believe what the partition did to all of us,” told 86-year-old Raffat Jehan. She says that she never regretted coming to Pakistan; she believes the Partition was originally a good idea. “My father’s non-Muslim friends told him that they couldn’t protect us anymore, as painful as it was for us, we had ...

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