Stories about Jinnah

Can Pakistan ever be a minority-friendly country?

Both January 11th news items were almost conjoined. Or like reading the mirror-written ecnalubma (mirror image of the word ‘ambulance’ written in front of ambulances) and getting it right as ambulance in the rear-view mirror. The Guardian carried a report, titled ‘Christians in India increasingly under attack, study shows’, in which Pakistan ranks fourth on the list of the 50 countries where persecution is worst for Christians. APP reported that Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif reached out to minorities in a speech at the sacred 900-year-old Katas Raj Hindu temples in Pakistan where he said: “The day is not far when Pakistan ...

Read Full Post

Why have we forgotten the long lost glory of the Punjabi language?

The thorny issue of “Pakistan’s regional languages face looming extinction” has been projected to the forefront in an AFP report carried, among others, by The Express Tribune and Dawn. ‘“There is not a single newspaper or magazine published in Punjabi for the 60 million-plus Punjabi speakers,” wrote journalist Abbas Zaidi in an essay, despite it being the language of the nationally revered Sufi poet Bulleh Shah and the native-tongue of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.’ The historical relegation of the Punjabi language comes from the cloud overshadowing the Punjabi stance in the 1857 War of Independence, paving the way for Urdu’s ascendance. The Punjabis meekly ceded the high ground moving house ...

Read Full Post

Let us return to March 23, 1940, and start over, Pakistan

On March 23, 1940, the All-India Muslim League adopted a historic resolution in the city of Lahore. This resolution has since come to be known as the Pakistan Resolution as it became the forerunner to the formal demand for an independent nation state for the Muslims of India. The following is an extract that provides the essence of this resolution: “Resolved that it is the considered view of this session of the All-India Muslim League that no constitutional plan would be workable in this country or acceptable to Muslims unless it is designed on the following basic principle, namely, that geographically ...

Read Full Post

Our minorities have found a voice in Pakistani cinema

I still remember when I was first introduced to The Mindy Project by a friend while sitting in her apartment in DC back in 2014. We started binge-watching it for a few nights after dinner during my brief stay with her. When I returned to my internship in Vancouver, I heard one of my colleagues (an Indian-Canadian woman) raving about it. Mindy Kaling is undoubtedly a talented lady and the show has been quite popular – on a separate note, there was something about it that made all the brown girls go crazy. They finally got to see a brown woman in ...

Read Full Post

National Accountability Bureau: Accountable to nobody

On August 11, 1947, the father of our nation , called corruption “poison” in his speech to the constituent assembly. He said, “One of the biggest curses from which India is suffering, I do not say that other countries are free from it, but, I think our condition is worse – is bribery and corruption. That really is a poison. We must put that down with an iron hand.” He went on to say, “Along with many other things, good and bad, has arrived the great evil – the evil of nepotism and jobbery.” Unfortunately, we all have to agree, that in our country, corruption and bribery is ...

Read Full Post

A common Pakistani’s response to Happy Bhag Jayegi director’s open letter

Mr Mudassir Aziz, Proud Indian, Director of Happy Bhag Jayegi. Dear Mr Mudassir Aziz, I just read your open letter to Pakistan on The Quint regarding the unfortunate ban on your film Happy Bhag Jayegi in Pakistan. I am not the person in charge but merely a common Pakistani, for whose benefit you want to get the film unbanned. Let me say at the outset, that having successfully fought against the YouTube ban as a lawyer in the Lahore High Court, I am absolutely opposed to censorship of any kind. I believe any speech, no matter how offensive, should be allowed unconditionally. I recognise that this ...

Read Full Post

In defence of Ziaul Haq

Pakistan’s liberal classes revile no other figure as much as Ziaul Haq. To them, he is the embodiment of whatever ails Pakistani society today. They put the onus of Pakistani Taliban on that sole grave under the shade of Faisal Mosque. They are quite virulent in their protests that Pakistani society became intolerant and vastly more Islamist solely due to him. Perhaps they forget that the marde-momin mard-e-haq did not declare Ahmadis non-Muslims: Bhutto did. Sadly, the man cannot even take credit for banning alcohol and gambling: Bhutto did. The Objectives Resolution of 1949, calling for the creation of an Islamic rather than a secular Republic, was passed when Zia was a mere Major in the army, with no ...

Read Full Post

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. ...

Read Full Post

Why should non-Muslims bear the brunt of your compulsion to fast in Ramazan?

How many times have you gone for a dinner to a restaurant and then told the management to get rid of the beggars outside looking in through the window? If not that, then how many times have you gone to buy a kebab roll with a hungry child staring at you? How many times did you react in an irritating manner saying, “It’s hard to even buy a roll now without them bothering me!” Let’s dial it down even more, how many times have you eaten something knowing very well that there are people right outside the restaurant who can’t even ...

Read Full Post

Who was Jinnah, an Islamic cultural relativist or a brown sahib?

There are two bar rooms in the Lahore High Court. One is considered the bar room of left liberals and progressives. The other bar room, much bigger of the two, is the favourite haunt of those with a tinge of religious right wing. The left leaning bar room has a photograph of an emaciated Mr Jinnah in a suit. The other one has a sombre portrait of him in a black sherwani and karakul cap. Next to his portrait is an equally serious portrait of Allama Iqbal.  In a poignant piece for Granta sometime ago New York Times journalist Jane ...

Read Full Post