Stories about 1971 war

My father was an Ahmadi serving the Pakistan Air Force

On October 14, 62-year-old Mr Latif Alam Butt, an Ahmadi retired Pakistan Air Force (PAF) serviceman was gunned down at Kamra Air base, Attock District. He was shot due to his religious beliefs. My father was also an Ahmadi and a retired PAF serviceman, who also happened to die at the age of 62. But my father was not killed, only marginalised, for his religious beliefs. But he and Mr Butt share more than meets the eye. In 1965, when Mr Butt was only 13-years-old, my parents, newly married at the time, were making plans to start their married life at my ...

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Three Muslim films Pakistanis must watch

Pakistan might not have the best movie industry in the world but Muslim countries across the world have managed to spread some truly phenomenal messages and cultural insights through their films industries. The Iranian cinema’s popularity in European film festivals and their recent Oscar win, is but one example of Muslim cinema’s increasingly transforming and often very realistic nature. In light of that, here are three thought-provoking films from different Muslim film industries that are sure to leave you pondering upon the many facets of Islamic beliefs and Muslim cultures. They will also highlight the drastic parallelism between foreign Muslim societies and ...

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Zulfikar Ali Bhutto: ‘Brilliant, arrogant, autocratic and opportunist’

‘Brilliant, arrogant, autocratic, opportunist’ – these are only a few of the words that have been used to describe the ‘father of popular politics’ in Pakistan. A staunch nationalist and the hero of the suppressed for his local supporters, a naive leftist for his foreign detractors, the man who restored Pakistan’s pride before his foreign supporters and an alcohol consuming corrupt statesman for his local critics. Love him or hate him, you cannot ignore it. Today on April 4, 2014 it has been 35 years since he was hanged following a politically motivated sham trial in 1979. Nevertheless, some facts need to be ...

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1971 was a dark year in Pakistan’s history

During the late hours of March 25, 1971 the Awami League leader, Sheikh Mujibur Rehman, announced the independence of East Pakistan in the form of Bangladesh. What followed was the Bangladesh Liberation War which culminated in Pakistan’s defeat in the end of December that same year and Bangladesh celebrates its independence day on March 26.  The surrender by Pakistan resulted in the largest accumulation of prisoners of war since the Second World War. Two wings of a country divided by almost 1,600 kilometres of presumably hostile territory was never a feasible idea logistically, politically, socially and militarily. Add to this, the startling gap of economic ...

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Pakistan’s soldiers: The sons of our soil

Since 1984, the Pakistan Army has been fighting a war on the highest battlefield of the world, the Siachen Glacier. Although there have been periods of temporary ceasefire, they have always been followed by severe aggression from both sides. During one such hostile period in 1987, a high altitude post of the Pakistan Army at the Siachen Glacier was commanded by my uncle who was then a captain. He had been there for five months and had no hope of being relieved in the near future because of the escalated tensions and harsh weather. One day he was sitting with his troops in ...

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What would you do if your brother was abducted?

In the words of Imam Baksh Nasikh, “Teri ankhein tuo sukhan go hain magar kaun sune, Kyun kar awaaz karein mardam-e-beemar buland?” (“Your eyes tell us everything, but who will listen, Why would a weak nation raise its voice?”) Picture provided by the author. Source: AP This image of Farzana Majeed is iconic – a young woman in a blue shawl and red cap, standing with a portrait of her missing brother after walking 2,000 kilometres to find him. Farzana holds a double Masters and is the general secretary of the Voice for Baloch Missing Person’s March, members of which walked across Pakistan to ...

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Gunday: A macho masala from the 70s

Director cum writer, Ali Abbas Zafar waited a couple of years after the release of his debut ‘Mere Brother Ki Dulhan’, a comedy hit of 2011, to entice filmgoers with an action packed crime thriller. This time, Zafar has replaced the genre of a light romantic comedy with a nice mash-up of 70s’ action films to present the perfect commercial movie – Gunday. If you are a fan of Amitabh Bachchan, particularly of his angry, young man image and classics like Sholay, Don and Kala Pathar, then Gunday is a big treat for you. It’s all about action, double-dealing, revenge tangled with friendship, deceit, romance and betrayal. The film ...

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The Taliban must not be painted as violent savages

“You have no option but to take direct military action.” This was the advice given by John F Kennedy’s top military aide at the height of the Cuban missile crisis which brought the world to the brink of a nuclear war. The future of the world hinged on Kennedy’s acquiescence. After the Second World War, global politics were dominated by the political, ideological and power clash between the Americans and the Soviets. Communists were painted as violent savages to the Americans who were made to fear communism. However, the idea of communism gained ground in Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union grew as a global superpower. Following ...

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No prayers for the soldier…

When the Pakistan Army started full-scale anti-insurgency operations in the tribal areas of Pakistan, it suffered a lot of causalities mainly because the army had not been trained and equipped for undertaking full-scale anti-guerrilla warfare. The worst part was that half the nation termed it a war against our own people. The families of the slain officers and soldiers who died fighting in Waziristan often faced a bigger trauma when their fellow countrymen doubted the shahadat (martyrdom) of these men. For them, these soldiers gave their lives while fighting other Muslims for a war which served the United States. It took 12 long years for this mind-set to ...

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An icon, hero, legend and friend – Air Commodore MM Alam

He was nearly 12 years my senior in service and I did not meet him in person till 1968 when I was posted to Sargodha. He was commanding the elite Mirage squadron, the only one in the Pakistan Air Force; an envy of all his peers while I was flying the Chinese F-6 (Mig-19). For a youngster like me, at that time, he was the ultimate in terms of professional excellence having acquired international fame in aerial combat. I would see him in close quarters during the joint morning briefing and hear his professional input. He had an aura around, not of ...

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