Stories about history

Points Of Entry: Dissecting Pakistan’s ‘real’ history, one page at a time

Nadeem Farooq Paracha, or NFP as he is often called, has been one of the profound influences on my intellectual development. I have been an avid reader of his columns since the early 90s when he started making his mark as a music critic. As a keen reader, besides his regular columns, I have also read all of his three books. Not only that, I also reviewed his first book titled End of the Past for Huffington Post and also had the privilege of interviewing him about his second book for Express Tribune. His third book, which I have recently finished, is linked ...

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From honouring our martyrs to a mere date on the calendar – have we forgotten the importance of Defence Day?

It was August 14th a few weeks ago, and with the newly elected government, Independence Day was fervently anticipated this year. People rejoiced over Naya Pakistan and await the change that was promised. A little over three weeks later, Pakistan commemorates Defence Day ─ now just another day, for so many of us across the country. Just over two decades ago, Defence Day used to be an annual public holiday. It ceased being so, when the then government categorised September 6th as a counterproductive day off; I believe this was circa March 1997. As we speak, the only sign of the importance of ...

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#ETBlogs plays Independence Day trivia: How well do you know Pakistan?

Like every year, celebrations for our Independence Day have begun full swing. Patriotism can be felt in the air, with brands airing special ads in honour of our 71 years and TV channels airing dramas with an added twist of nationalism. With the creation of ‘Naya Pakistan’ falling around the same time as the creation of the old one, perhaps this year is extra special in how much and how visibly we choose to declare our love for our country. However, as we step into Naya Pakistan, how well do we remember the old one? We took to the streets of Karachi ...

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My wanderlust took me to Cambodia, the museum of horrors and mass graves

Back in April this year, I felt really low and sort of depressed, as I kept getting a strong urge to visit a new place, somewhere I’d never been before. I made my way to Google and found that Cambodia offers e-visas for Pakistani citizens. Thus, I ended up applying for a visa on a whim sometime in the evening, and found it waiting for me when I checked my inbox in the morning; the whole process taking only seven hours to complete. My wife and I took a connecting flight, which gave us a six-hour layover in Bangkok. Thankfully the ...

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It’s been 50 years to ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’ and it’s still a futuristic masterpiece

It is not an easy film to watch. But Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey is a film that you must watch. It was released 50 years ago and is considered a landmark film. But how do you watch it? There is little dialogue in the film and some of the best lines are spoken by HAL, that ominous and mysterious computer that takes over controls of the spaceship. I first watched this movie in the mid-80s in Karachi. Video shops and Videocassette recorders (VCR) were in vogue and 26-inch TVs were considered ‘large’. I had heard of A Space Odyssey as a great science fiction ...

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Darkest Hour is like a series of historical paintings, with each angle covered perfectly and in great detail

The film industry’s heavy-weights joined hands together to give a marvellous treat to filmgoers with a stunning political drama cum biopic, Darkest Hour. The film offers detailed directorial work, electrifying performance, engaging screenplay and most importantly jaw-dropping makeover. Darkest Hour is mainly suspense. It dexterously interweaves all the relevant episodes in history which we already know about. However, you still want to spare 125 minutes to watch the day to day delineation of Winston Churchill’s early days in office and his sparkling leadership in such precarious moments. For its flamboyant presentation, the film had been nominated for six Academy Awards and has won ...

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Why quality war movies are not Bollywood and Lollywood’s forte

South Asia’s film industries have failed to produce a war film of international impact that would contribute to the myths indispensable to a culture’s self-image and provide a viable soft power platform. Films narrowly focused on jingoism and self-righteousness only preach to the choir. They quickly degenerate into self-indulgence. The paucity of South Asian war films and their quality leaves much to be desired. Whining about Hollywood cultural assaults discounts the entertainment quality of its movies and the innumerable, politically anti-American, Hollywood war-movie fans worldwide. The Naked and the Dead, The Great Escape, From Here to Eternity, Platoon, Full Metal ...

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What is so similar about Pakistan and Turkey?

You have a neighbouring Islamic country whose government you don’t seem to like much. You would appreciate if its rulers changed. The United States of America shares the same opinion as you. They want you to help settle a few scores of their own. You collect motivated youth from around the world, all aligned in a certain sectarian direction. You provide them with military know how, modern weapons and defence strategies, in your own backyard. You send them charging to your neighbour, hoping that these motivated proxies will overthrow their government for you. While doing all this, you never calculate the ...

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Jewish-Muslim hate: A manufactured enterprise of illegitimate rulers

On November 14, the American Jewish Committee (AJC) and the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) formed a new national group known as Muslim-Jewish Advisory Council (MJAC). They announced three initial action items as follows: 1. The Council will highlight the contributions of Muslims and Jews to American society, and aim to celebrate their contributions in the best traditions of American democracy. 2. The Council will develop a coordinated strategy to address anti-Muslim bigotry and anti-Semitism in the US. 3. The Council will work to protect and expand the rights of religious minorities in the US, as enshrined in the Constitution, so they may practice their faiths in full freedom ...

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Why is the Bangladeshi or Indian narrative the only acceptable narrative for 1971?

The year 2016 is ending on a somewhat positive note for Pakistan with a lower number of terror-related casualties compared to 2015. Yet there is one date that always affects Pakistanis aware of the 1971 partition of East (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan. That date is the December 16th. December 16th is marked as Victory Day in Bangladesh, signifying not only its independence from West Pakistan (now Pakistan), but also its apparent victory over the Pakistani military. On this day every year, social media, not only in Pakistan and Bangladesh, but also in neighbouring India is abuzz with different narratives, opinions, and sentiments. #16December A historical day for India, the Day ...

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