Stories about Independence day

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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I could smell it, I could breathe it – Pakistan was near

It was very chilly for an August night. The moon played hide and seek behind pregnant clouds of white and grey but the winds were strong and the clouds did not stay above us for too long. We had travelled nights like these before and swayed many times during the course of the journey, but it had led us here and we were close. The town we had stopped in was unknown. It once had a name but it had long been abandoned when the news of Partition circled the country. They were smart people or maybe superstitious for no one really ...

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Instead of invoking patriotism and jazba, #CSNationalAnthem portrayed disrespect and injustice

It’s become common practice for brands to associate themselves with humanitarian work and patriotism in order to gain extra mileage in the public eye. Recently, Coke Studio launched its own version of the national anthem. Considering that it had the likes of Shafqat Amanat Ali, Ali Zafar, Attaullah Khan Esakhelvi, Rahat Fateh Ali Khan and Ali Noor, it should have been a beautiful rendition, but it was anything but that. I have quite a few issues with this version of the national anthem. Firstly, I find it ridiculous that they thought it was okay to call it the #CSNationalAnthem and not the Pakistani ...

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Not all Indians are rapists just like not all Pakistanis are terrorists

As a Pakistani, I always thought of the Indian media as anti-Pakistani and excessively nationalistic. So when I recently got the opportunity to work with Indian journalists, I was not sure what to expect. I was on my way to London for the Chevening/South Asia Journalism Fellowship. The program brought 17 leading journalists from Pakistan, India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and the Maldives to live and work together in London for two months. Getting off the plane at Heathrow Airport, I wondered what it would be like to have a frank conversation with an Indian journalist. India is almost four times the size of Pakistan, yet their news media seem to be obsessed ...

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Please let Pakistan’s national anthem be as it is – powerful and poignant

In 2011, while attending the opening ceremony of a Model United Nations (MUN) conference in Karachi, I came to an odd yet poignant moment. Before the ceremony officially began, it was announced that the national anthem was to be played and hence everyone should arise from our seats to show respect. Everyone did so accordingly. However, when the anthem was played, it was nothing like the powerful melody we have all been brought up listening to. Firstly, it was a guitar version of the anthem, without the robust drums which made the tune so colourful and lively. Secondly, it did not have lyrics. Both these things made the ...

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Pakistan and India should celebrate independence from the British – not from each other

Sometime back I ran into an elderly man at work. Since I live in an area of Canada that is densely populated with immigrants from Indian Punjab, I knew the gentleman was from India. After I was done helping him out, he looked at my name-tag and asked me what part of India I was from. I told him I was from Pakistan, not India. A wide smile appeared on his face, and he asked me what city of Pakistan I belonged to. After I mentioned that I was from Lahore, his smile grew even wider as he got teary-eyed. ...

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