Stories about death anniversary

“What a man was born”: Reading Fahmida Riaz’s heartfelt tribute to Karl Marx on his 202nd birthday

Karl Marx was born on May 5th, 1818 – 202 years ago today – in the German city of Trier located along the bank of the Moselle stream, a tributary of the river Rhine. In 1883, a crowd gathered for Marx’s funeral in a London cemetery – a crowd of eleven, counting the undertaker. His great friend Friedrich Engels had been quite right while speaking at Marx’s funeral, “Marx was above all else a revolutionist. His real mission in life was to contribute, in one way or another, to the overthrow of capitalist society and of the state institutions which ...

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Revisiting Josh Malihabadi’s tribute to Urdu on his 38th death anniversary

Shabbir Hasan Khan ‘Josh’ Malihabadi (1898-1982), who passed away 38 years ago today, was the patron saint of the Progressives, who conferred upon him the fond honorific Shaayar-e-Inquilab – the poet of revolution. And he returned the compliment in his own way by summing up the agenda of the Progressives pithily: “Kaam hai mera taghayyur, naam mera hai shabaab Mera naara inquilaab-o-inquilaab-o-inquilaab” (My name is youth, and upheaval is my mission My slogan: Revolution. Revolution. Revolution.) Josh was a freedom-fighter and was part of the movement which called for the end of British rule in India. Despite being close friends with Jawaharlal Nehru, and being awarded the ...

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Remembering Ibne Insha: The man who wanted ordinary people to bring a revolution

The great poet, humourist and travel-writer Ibne Insha passed into literary immortality 41 years ago. While writing in this space on the occasion of his 90th birthday, I had noted that he was not only a literary craftsman who had imbibed the art of creating natural, effortless humour out of the ordinary, but that his travelling had also exposed him to the Cold War machinations of the newly departed colonial powers, especially in the Middle East. Even before Insha was struck by the disastrous Arab defeat to Israel in 1967, he travelled the Middle East. Whatever tragedy he saw unfolding ...

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Remembering Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan: A soldier, a maverick, and a loving grandfather

On June 25, 2002, my grandfather embraced my siblings and me as we carried our father’s body to his home in Abbottabad. In that moment and at the age of 81, he swiftly took responsibility of the family of his eldest son; he remained poised despite the overwhelming grief as familial duty called. At the tender age of 14, I had come under the wing of Air Marshal (retd) Asghar Khan. My mother and her three children permanently settled in my grandparents’ home in Islamabad. Living a semi-retired political life, he took an active interest in my education, reviewing ...

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11 years later, both Pakistan and PPP are suffering the loss of Benazir Bhutto

I still remember the date. It was October 18, 2007, the day Benazir Bhutto returned from self-exile. I was posted in Karachi at the time, and it seemed as if an electric vibe was going through the entire city. As I returned from the office, I could see cars and buses full of people, many of whom were waving the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) flag. I was with a colleague who, after seeing those PPP supporters, could not hide his disgust and remarked: “Jahil qaum hai. Itni corrupt aurat ko welcome kar rahi hai. Yeh Bhuttos mulk loot ker kha gaye. Tab ...

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Remembering Dr Wahidur Rehman: Will tender hearts always be easy targets?

The compassionate souls who put eternity to effect; the nurturing spirits whose influence meets no end, yes, it is a tale as old as time. The enlivening faith in the pursuit ‘teachers are healers of the nation’; they preach to humanity the disciplines of wisdom and intellect, and bestow the power to transform hearts. Not only are they the shapers of society, but they also leave behind a legacy of shared love and life. Teachers have always been greatly revered in every society and with this come the heart-clenching bitter reality of the persecution of remarkable teachers, intellectuals and scientists. Those ...

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I refuse to observe Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s death anniversary

It’s April 4th today, which marks Zulfikar Ali Bhutto’s 36th death anniversary in Pakistan. And for many, it is the day their supreme leader, their democratic prime minister, their charismatic upholder of human rights was wrongfully executed by a dictatorial regime. However, this is not everyone’s view. No doubt that Bhutto was a force to be reckoned with. He started the culture of street mobilisation (rallies), his passionate speeches made people listen to him and understand democracy – his version of it, anyway – and he gained votes from the two most populated provinces in Pakistan – Sindh and Punjab. But does Pakistan comprise of just ...

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Let Bilawal and Bakhtawar takeover Bhutto’s party

It is ironic that around the time of the death anniversary of the greatest civilian leader Pakistan has ever seen, the party he founded is a shadow of its former self. Massively talented with an ego to match, Zulfikar Ali Bhutto will forever remain etched in the memory of every Pakistani. For the ones who saw him during his life, and even for those who only read about him in history books, his name ignites a passion no other leader in the country’s history has been able to match. Benazir Bhutto was the natural successor as the party leader after her father was executed ...

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We are sorry, Dr Abdus Salam

November 21, marks the death anniversary of Dr Abdus Salam – Pakistan’s only Nobel laureate and one of the legendary physicists of the 20th century. The list of his achievements and awards is so long that one wonders how an ordinary man who grew up in the outskirts of Jhang, a relatively small and less developed city in Punjab, could accomplish so much. Yet, Jhang, the land of the Sufi saint Sultan Bahu and the burial place of Heer and Ranjha, gave us another gem, Dr Abdus Salam. Salam truly knew what the way forward for the country was. He had a vision for the socio-economic development of third-world countries and saw development ...

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Nazia Hassan: Remembering our subcontinental princess

Hendon Cemetery, London NW7 on Holder’s Hill Road is a serene space with the usual poignancy and hush that accompanies cemeteries. There, tucked away among other graves is a simple tomb with a black headstone. “786”, the numerical translation of Bismillah is etched along with this touching epitaph: “In the loving memory of Nazia Hassan. Loving daughter, sister and mother. Beloved and cherished by millions of people. Died in her youth, August 13, 2000.” Every word rang true and took me back to July 2000. I was driving my friend and Nazia’s songs were playing on the stereo. “She is about to die”, he ...

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