Stories about independence

Hazara’s electoral politics

With the elections around the corner, many proponents of the Tehreek-e-Sooba Hazara — who vociferously demanded a separate province for the inhabitants of Hazara when the name of the erstwhile NWFP was changed to Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa — have joined mainstream political parties. This switching over and ditching game played by the champions of the peoples’ rights has literally left the Hazarawals in the lurch. They are now groping in the dark as to who to support as it is not clear who will promote their cause for a separate Hazara province in the best possible manner. The inhabitants of Hazara lack direction as ...

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Was the Two Nation Theory flawed?

Pakistan, the product of the two-nation theory, is struggling to be a nation, 65 years after conception.  Even the usually taciturn army chief has lamented, “Disillusionment, desperation, religious bigotry, political disharmony and discord seem to permeate our lives.” Much of this is the unintended consequence of the theory. Jinnah had realised that the theory had the potential for unleashing fissiparous tendencies that would cripple national development. Just three days prior to independence, he called on Pakistanis not to interject religion into their public lives. The important role of minorities was enshrined in the national flag with a white bar. Jinnah’s call was a tall order that would test the ...

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Zindagi Gulzar hai: Liberating women in different ways

“Zindagi Gulzar Hai” is a series far better than any I have seen in a long time. The drama is based on Umera Ahmed’s novel “Zindagi Gulzar Hai?” – a story about the daily diaries of two polar opposites, Kashaf and Zaroon, who are first tied in the bond of hate, then love and finally matrimony. At first, the meeting of Kashaf and Zaroon seems like a Pakistani adaptation of Elizabeth Bennet’s and Mr Darcy’s first encounter from Pride and Prejudice. This, to any female, portrays irresistible on-screen chemistry, and one is smitten by the love story right away. However, the drama touches upon many ...

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India only wants Kashmir, not its people.

I belong to the generation of the 90’s; a time when struggle for the independence of Kashmir was passing through its bloodiest phase. A few months before it all started, I was enrolled in a prestigious school in Srinagar, but my education started at home. As one of my former principal writes in his memoirs – which appeared in the school magazine a few years later – we had only 60 working days that year ─ the rest of the year was consumed by curfews, crackdowns, and strikes. Living in a posh colony shielded me from the outside world; I couldn’t see ...

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The best revenge is yet to come, she said

“Mom was right in asking me to spend Ramazan here, Nani. Easier rozas (fasts), smaller days than in Canada” “Yes, beta. There is not much to do here though. There is load shedding and it’s terribly hot; there are not many friends; all the relatives are in Canada, US and UK” “Why is that, Nani?” “Beta, they thought they would have a better life elsewhere” “So why did you not go?” “This is home. I am not leaving my language, my people and my food. What will I do there? Will I incessantly watch TV programmes about unfamiliar things? At this time of life, I’ve no one to tell all the art ...

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I was there to witness the miracle of August 14, 1947

It is August 14 – a day that revives the memory of an extraordinary experience of a young girl, Zee Niazi, on the day of the inception of this beautiful country. The way that events moved at that time instills the belief that miracles do, in fact, happen. Zee got married to an officer in the then British Army, just before partition took place. Not being acquainted with an army lifestyle, her husband’s first posting came to her as a surprise. They went to Harbanspura by train. The future had already begun to look bleak for the newly married couple. They was no accomodation ...

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The leader in all of us

June 4, 1947, Lahore The air was filled with joy. As he walked through the crowded streets of the walled city, Ahmed could see the excitement on people’s faces. His heart raced with joy at what had been achieved. The viceroy had just finished his speech on the radio. India was to be divided; Pakistan would no longer be a dream! The moment of triumph was bitter-sweet. Mixed with the joy of Pakistan’s creation was the sad memory of those who had laid their lives to make this moment possible, freedom had not been cheap. Lost in his thoughts, Ahmed was startled by gunshots ...

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Dreams of the elders of Pakistan

It was late in the afternoon when I arrived at his house. Islamabad was going through one of its worst spells of heat but as I was shown in, the antechamber was cool and the drawing room cooler still. I was informed by his caretaker that he was sleeping and would be joining shortly after Asar. I nodded and took a seat, waiting. The room was decorated with black and white pictures that I could make out were well before my time, some on the wall and others on cabinets and tables. Except for him, a considerably younger him, ...

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A butterfly with no wings

Dear India, There’s a little white boy approaching the windowsill where a snow globe of a snowy day in Russia sits. Beside the snowy day, across mountains and deserts, exists a butterfly whose wings have been severed. I am that butterfly. You are that windowsill. They were the little white boys who severed our bond and broke our wings. I may be that annoying Siamese twin your past can never remove from its memory, but know that the pristine streets of your Bombay and Delhi are just like Islamabad and Lahore. We may not have haute couture but our Lawn season is nothing to smirk at. We ...

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Unsung heroes and our medieval knowledge

Names such as Bhagat Singh, Mangal Panday, Rani Lakshmibai etc are never even remotely mentioned in Pakistani course books. Why? Their contributions as well as those of other unsung (at least in Pakistan) heroes are immense and should not be so arrogantly ignored. I love the fact that the entire Islamic nation, especially Pakistan, is so stuck in and obsessed with the glory days of yore. There’s no doubt that the Arab and Persian scientists from the medieval era made huge contributions to science, but why do we Pakistanis fail to acknowledge that they were Arab or Persian rather than Indians (which we ...

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