Stories about Lahore

Pakistan is ‘Asia’s best kept secret’ – what will it take to reveal it globally?

“The thing about tourism is that the reality of a place is quite different from the mythology of it” – Martin Parr. Pakistan, unfortunately, is a country that has been at the receiving end of such mythology and perception for a good while now, even as things on ground have changed quite drastically over the last few years. According to the National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA), terror-related incidents have declined 58%, from 2,060 incidents in 2010 to 681 in 2017. These figures are testament to the success of our Army during the massive military operations conducted in the northern areas of ...

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From a “political nobody who would never amount to much” to the prime minister of Pakistan

Twenty-two years ago, did I think this day would ever arrive? That in little more than 10 minutes, a visibly uncomfortable Imran Khan would fumble over difficult Urdu words and take the oath to become Pakistan’s 22nd prime minister? I wish I could say a resounding yes, but I, like so many of his supporters, have seen Imran rise and fall over the years (only to rise again) with exasperation. ‘Surely he will deliver once he reaches his goal’ is how we have comforted ourselves through the many stumbles, U-turns and compromises. Along the way, we have been called cult followers, ...

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Nandita Das does justice to the iconoclastic Manto in a way Sarmad Khoosat could not

Viewing the trailer of Nandita Das’s Manto was a great pleasure, especially since prior to seeing Sarmad Khoosat’s biopic of Saadat Hasan Manto released in 2015, I had not seen its trailer. Comparisons of Das’s version with Khoosat’s trailer will seem inevitable, even much-needed, given what the respective directors and main actors are trying to prove in a short span of less than three minutes, if the trailers are to be believed. Das’s Manto, played by Nawazuddin Siddiqui, comes across as an iconoclast and a rebel right from the opening scene of the trailer, where Manto is shown to be in ...

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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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5 stories that prove the trauma of Partition did not end in 1947

As I think of the Partition that happened 71 years ago, it feels like a memory. Though I do not possess any personal narrative of it, yet it feels like I do have one – so personal that it invokes emotions. This owes to the Partition of 1947 being a national memory in both India and Pakistan to this day. A memory that, as Pakistani historian Ayesha Jalal notes, “continues to influence how the peoples and states of postcolonial South Asia envisage their past, present and future”. Despite this eminence, it feels like there is a dearth of narratives; stories that ...

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Jinnah’s Pakistan: Why Christians voted for Imran Khan

The minorities living in Pakistan have perhaps been more adversely targeted since 9/11, with them being harshly exploited by the majority on the basis of their religion. Brutal incidents against the Christian community in Pakistan have gained international media attention, but politicians who made many promises in the past to work equally hard for minorities conveniently forgot about their promises once obtaining a seat in the parliament. Before Imran Khan turned towards politics with the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), there were many famous politicians who made their party manifestoes in favour of the minority, just to grasp their attention and their vote. They pandered ...

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If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it: If you think Wasim Akram should replace Najam Sethi, think again!

The verdict is out and the nation has spoken – Naya Pakistan is on its way, and the bandwagon of rejected politicians isn’t going to stop it. This ‘new’ Pakistan comes with a lot of new promises as well, but as the saying goes, ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’. Severe challenges lie ahead for Imran Khan, particularly the economy. Axing Najam Sethi from his job as the Chairman of the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB), as the rumours suggest, would simply open up another wound that is unwarranted. Wasim Akram, the rumoured replacement, isn’t a weak candidate by any ...

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If Lahore couldn’t handle the rains, what hope does Karachi have?

Karachi has a love-hate relationship with the monsoon season. While Karachiites long for rain throughout the year, we shudder at the very thought of prolonged downpour, flooding, destruction and power outages that are inevitably associated with it. The last time this city truly got to enjoy the rainy season was during Mustafa Kamal’s tenure, when despite drains heavily clogged with rainwater – especially the Gujjar Nala and Neher-e-Khayyam – alternate drainage arrangements were made and the citizens were spared the entire rain-related trauma. Things are much, much different now. With monsoon rains that are imminent and expected any day now, infrastructure ...

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Despite everything, I will still vote for PML-N

When I moved back to Pakistan after completing my undergraduate studies in the US, I was not a supporter of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). In fact, my newsfeed was flowing so much with remonstrations about the ‘Jangla Bus’ (Green Line Metro Bus) that it was hard to even contemplate that possibility. One day, I decided to test out this infamous bus service, from Model Town to Lahore Fort, expecting to witness how utterly senseless the project truly was. Handed a yellow plastic token, I entered through the turnstile and awaited my ride. It pulled in and the doors parted with a ...

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Remembering Saghar Siddiqui: The maverick who poetically bared corruption and opportunism

Today marks the 44th death anniversary of maverick Pakistani poet Saghar Siddiqui, who died from an overdose of morphine on the streets of Lahore, the city where he found a home after migrating from India to Pakistan in 1947. He was only six years short of turning 50, joining the ranks of legends such as Asrarul Haq Majaz, Saadat Hasan Manto, Miraji and Mustafa Zaidi, who were equally consumed by the callousness and opportunism of a predatory system. Had Saghar lived longer, I have no doubt he would have been as popular among the youth of Pakistan as Jaun Elia ...

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