Stories about 1947

1947: A teenager’s memories of Independence

After all these years I can still smell the stench of death and half burnt timber. I still see mountains of rubble as if it was August 1947 in Lahore. I was 13 years old, tense and worried. I could see columns of smoke rising over the city’s rooftops. Speculations were ripe. They said Lahore was going to be a part of Pakistan but the inclusion of Gurdaspur, the area where my relatives lived,  was doubtful. I did not know what would happen to the rest of the Muslims all over India. My own relatives lived in East Punjab, and I anxiously ...

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Pakistan (Studies) Zindabad!

“You know what really bothers me about India? Not their stupid ‘Incredible India’ slogan or their weird item songs or that ‘Licence to wear Black’ ad,” says a friend during Pakistan Studies class one day. “The Taj Mahal! Everybody wants to see it. It’s on every postcard. Even that stupid French guy wants to see it. It’s the first thing everyone wants to see!” When I ask why she’s bothered by the Taj Mahal, her answer is simple: “Because it’s really ours.” That is, Pakistan’s. Five years of Pakistan Studies class, hours of learning dates and battle names, of revising lists ...

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The problem with Balochistan

If I endeavor to draw a parallel between East Pakistan and Balochistan I’m sure it would be a well-founded one. The way the central government has continued to deny Balochis their rights it’s not too difficult to see how similar the situation is to that of East Pakistan. While all disturbances and revolts are attributed to ‘foreign’ hands’, the centre never ventures to ponder on what makes Balochistan a hotbed for such anarchy. A very fleeting look instantly reveals that it has been an acute state of injustice, provincial inequality and continuous military repression that has pushed Pakistan’s largest province to the brink of ...

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An alienating identity

The cold-blooded murder of Baloch nationalist Habib Jalib, suicide attacks on Ali Hajveri’s shrine and last month’s brazen strikes on the Ahmedi places of worship in Lahore are three seemingly separate incidents. Yet they point to a harsh reality that we have to live with – there is no room for dissent in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Dissenters, whether religious or on other important questions that challenge the hegemony of the small Punjabi-dominated establishment, get exterminated at will. Groups like Khatam-e-Nabuwat and Jammat-Ahle-Sunnat (an offshoot of the banned Sipah-e-Sahaba) openly issue statements condemning Ahmadis and Barelvis respectively, guarding their narrowed and ...

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Pakistan history, distorted by the literalists

Recently released, the Brookings Institute report claims that the real cause of militancy in Pakistan is the public education system, and not religious schools (madrssas) because the majority of Pakistani students attend public school whereas only ten per cent attend madrassas. It states that Pakistani public schools disseminate militancy, hatred, jihad and distort history. Until 1970, despite bureaucratic and military dictatorships, the Pakistani educational curriculum and textbooks, for example, had included the history of the Maurya and Gupta dynasties of the sub-continent conforming to the secular ideals of Pakistan clearly expressed by Mohammad Ali Jinnah in his speech to the constituent ...

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