Stories about East Pakistan

Dear ZAB, this is what you have left behind

Dear Great Leader, I’m writing to you to wish you a happy 87th birthday. Sorry I’m a bit late but, hey, it’s the thought that counts… Right? After all, in these sombre and remorseful times, it’s difficult to keep one’s head straight. Too much in today’s Pakistan is out of sync with the changing realities. It’s a sad situation, one that is testing people’s patience and crushing their souls. You want to know what else is sad? It’s the political party that you created in the 60s that shook the foundations of a terrible dictatorship; the organisation that glued together a broken nation ...

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Should Pakistan apologise to Bangladesh?

Pakistanis celebrate December as the month in which the founder of the nation, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, was born. December also brings back memories of the dark and stormy, the sad and painful memories of 1971 – the year in which the Eastern wing of the country, now Bangladesh, got severed from the Western, now the one and only, lost and lonely Pakistan. Going by the history books and talking to those who were conscious and aware of the circumstances at that time, one can gather that the decade of the 60s was agonising and turbulent for the people of Pakistan; characterised by an incessant ...

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Why is Pakistan a pariah at the Lord’s Cricket Ground?

Being out of place is a funny feeling – it’s nothing unbearable but it always keeps you outside your comfort zone. For an expat Pakistani, life in the UK is fraught with pangs of this feeling. This is usually evident during the festive season of Christmas when you are always in a dilemma as to whether you should celebrate Jesus’s birthday – with all the commercialism thrown in – with your neighbours, friends and colleagues or refrain from it due to differences in Muslim and Christian beliefs about Jesus Christ. Usually, one does well to acquire a middle ground. This year, however, I decided ...

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Remembering Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan: The man who gave life to qawwali

There are some voices which are dependent on words in order to get heard and appreciated, and then there are those, self-sufficing ones, upon which words cease to exist – the unsurpassed ones. Words perish and what remains is the triad of voice, revelation and a standstill universe. Such is the case with Ustad Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. His voice has transcended the realm of words. “I am a peddler, wandering and roaming from one village to another, in the lanes of cities, in the countries of the world, offering the message of peace, wishing to continue to do so all ...

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A plea to India

Being a Pakistani with ties to India has put me in some difficult positions. For years I have tried to remove misconceptions and disprove stagnant theories on both side of the border. One thing that I had to talk about at length was the freedoms and societal positions of minorities in each country. Most of the people I interacted with did not have first-hand experience and would base their arguments on ‘official’ texts and school curriculum, which were heavily slated against the side. It’s a different situation now; the media is more open than it was in my teenage years ...

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From India: It wasn’t us, Pakistan!

I was sitting on Facebook when a friend of mine, a very patriotic Indian, messaged me informing me of the airport attack in Karachi. I replied expressing shock and grief, a feeling he reciprocated. We, the educated youth of India who love the music of Atif Aslam and Rahat Fateh Ali Khan, and have no qualms with Ali Zafar starring in Bollywood movies, only empathise with victims of terrorism anywhere in the world. Terrorism has been affecting our own country since the late 1980s; starting with the killings and forced displacements of Kashmiri Hindus, followed by a series of ...

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Give Shakeel Afridi a fair trial!

Sometimes I think Pakistan and Pakistanis suffer from a collective national identity crisis. A few days ago, I happened to meet a rock-ribbed writer, known for his patriotic approach. I asked him who he considered to be the biggest enemy of Pakistan. Immediately, he replied, “USA.” I changed the subject and diverted the conversation to different topics, from agricultural science to astronomy and finally I asked, “Do you remember which year we stepped on the moon?” With a smile on his face, he replied,  “Some time in 1969.” “We stepped on the moon?” I exclaimed. Everyone and I mean everyone knows that Apollo 11 was a US ...

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Bangladesh elections 2014: Where democracy is a prisoner of history

It was an election of the ruling party, by the ruling party and for the ruling party. That is how one can describe the recent general elections in Bangladesh. More than half of the candidates won the elections without even contesting and the remaining half, in a parliament of 300, romped home with a token fight between friendly parties. The ruling Awami League, therefore, got a three fourth majority in the national assembly, which was an unprecedented victory. This is a parliament where the largest opposition in the country, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP), has no representation at all. Political monopoly No doubt, a House ...

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ZA Bhutto was put on trial, why not Musharraf?

There is no doubt that Pakistan has suffered at the hands of corrupt politicians since its very inception. These politicians came and led the state to ruin, forcing/enabling the military to intervene on multiple occasions. This ultimately led to a nation where martial law governed for more than half of its life. However, our history shows that these military coups were never successful for the country. Many wonder if these military dictatorships were more beneficial for Pakistan or for the foreign policies of the US. After all, General Ziaul Haq served the US and that helped the country, or so we thought until much ...

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Why shouldn’t the MQM demand a separate province?

Ever since Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) Chief Altaf Hussain demanded a separate province for the Urdu speaking population of Sindh, local media and politicians have by and large framed the debate firmly against the MQM. As has always been the case, any stance that the MQM takes is somehow twisted and presented as anti-state, and this time was no different. The demand for a separate province is never a preferred or pleasant one, as Altaf has stated himself. However, instead of focusing on the cause of such a demand, most of our media anchors, politicians and nationalist leaders pounced upon the opportunity to bash the party instead. While the ...

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