Stories about Independence day

Stand at attention, hand on heart, bow your head – what are you supposed to do during the national anthem?

It is not often that people listening to the national anthem get airtime on multiple occasions over a three-month period. In this era of hyper nationalism and unnecessarily overt displays of patriotism, perhaps this is not entirely a bad thing. However, with the recent oath-taking ceremonies, Independence Day, Defence Day and the Asia Cup coming in quick succession, we’ve been blessed with (or subjected to, depending on your perspective) something approaching an overload of this. One remembers, of course, the brouhaha across the border on people not standing up for the national anthem which, apparently, is played before every movie in the ...

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Gilgit-Baltistan: A beauty incomparable

As the airplane taxied on the runway, I was nervous as well as excited. Nervous, because I was travelling by air after a good 17 years or so, and excited, because of this much- awaited trip to Gilgit-Baltistan (G-B). I, along with my family, set off to explore Hunza Valley, taking a detour through the Rakaposhi View Point and the Attabad Lake. The sight at the Rakaposhi View Point, amidst the loud but appeasing sound of water flowing directly from the melted glaciers of the Rakaposhi Mountain, was harbinger of the beauty that was to greet us throughout the trip. The ...

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Almost there, but not quite: Parwaaz Hai Junoon could not soar as high as it expected to

Haseeb Hassan’s Parwaaz Hai Junoon has been in the limelight for quite a while now. Ever since the trailer was released, the obvious patriotism of the film moved even the hardest of souls, but that was not all. The younger star cast, comprising of Hania Aamir, Ahad Raza Mir, Shafaat Ali and Shaz Khan, definitely made it more appealing. Add to that the social media sensation and forever Pyare Afzal in our hearts – Hamza Ali Abbasi – and you have a film the entire country could not wait to watch. The film, centred on the Pakistan Air Force, comes ...

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When the old Pakistan was a new Pakistan

Every year as August 14th peeks around the corner, it is tradition to see stories emerge of what is known to be the bloodiest and largest mass migration in history. Similarly, there have been many instances where I have been told the story of my maternal great-grandparents and their journey from India into Pakistan. Before the Partition of 1947, my great-grandparents, Syed Hasan Mian and Syeda Sardar-Bano, resided in Muzzafarnagar, India with their three sons and daughter. Mian, after receiving his degree in law from Aligarh University, was an advocate by profession and the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Provincial General Secretary in the Muslim League. His friendship with Ayub ...

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What independence are we celebrating?

Some 71 years ago, people from all over subcontinent left their homes and took roads laced with perils to reach the ‘land of pure’. What made them leave their lives behind to move to an unknown land where all that awaited them was a promise? No tangible shelter but only a promise; the promise of freedom. What is meant by this ‘freedom’ that caused the greatest migration of the century? Freedom or independence means the availability of the opportunity to exercise one’s rights, powers, desires and even faith. Yes, I put emphasis on faith because any country where any ...

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Viceroy’s House is a British director’s flawed re-imagination of the 1947 Partition

We have seen Gandhi and we have seen Jinnah. Now, here comes another contender that demands viewing with the same veneration, if not more. But the problem is, I was less than thrilled watching the Viceroy’s House, not wanting to keep this adaptation of the 1947 Partition beside the previous two classics directed by Richard Attenborough and Jamil Dehlavi respectively. In her latest flick, the Bend It Like Beckham director, Gurinder Chadha bends the truth just enough to prove Lord Louis Mountbatten (Hugh Bonneville) an angel, and Muhammad Ali Jinnah (Denzil Smith), an egotistical villain. She portrays Jinnah as if he were single-handedly responsible for the carnage and bloodshed ...

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“Nothing will happen to you as long as you are in this car!”

Born and raised in Karachi, I take great pride in my city of lights. You’ll always find me in the middle of a heated argument (mostly with Lahoris) about why Karachi is the best city in Pakistan. What’s not to like about this place? Karachi has the best food, the best malls, the best people and we also have a beach. Take that Lahore! But it took me four years of living in Lahore to realise that Karachi, as ideal as it was in terms of food and other attractions, wasn’t the safest place to live. Karachiites know the rules of living in Karachi. Do not use ...

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Thank you, Pakistan: 70 years later, the good in this great country still trumps the bad

On Pakistan’s 70th Independence Day, I would like for us to take a moment to remember all those who have lost their lives in fighting for our motherland. We owe our freedom, gratitude and respect to them. Had it not been for their ultimate sacrifice, we may not have had a country to call home. To all those who currently serve in our armed forces, the police force, the Rangers, the Frontier Constabulary, the Levies force, the intelligence agencies and more – we are thankful to you for your services and grateful to you for your continued commitment towards our country. It is ...

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70 years of independence for Pakistan, zero years of independence for its women

Seventy years of independence today. I’m sitting here, trying to sum up what that means for me. There are too many things that encompass this day. There are too many ways to go about it. It’s 1947. Your grandfather is fighting for his life on a train that has no food. He is holding your father tight in his arms. Your great grandmother is leaving behind her house, her jewellery, her life, to run to a place she never wanted to go. You are not yet in the picture. You have not experienced the hardships. You came when it had already ...

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71st Independence Day special: The evolution of Pakistan’s national song

In the last 70 years, the Pakistan national song has evolved through various governments, wars and music styles. We trace this evolution by reviewing a plethora of national songs from 1947 till the present. Sar Zameen-e-Pak: The first anthem (1947) Very few know that almost seven years before Hafeez Jalandhari’s Pak Sar Zameen was officially adopted as the country’s national anthem (in 1954), Pakistan already had an anthem. Today, it is all but forgotten, despite the fact that it was the first song played by Radio Pakistan when the station began broadcasting at the stroke of Pakistan’s creation in August 1947. The anthem ...

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