Stories about Lahore

Remembering Habib Jalib on his 92nd birthday with his iconic poem ‘Dastoor’

Habib Jalib, who was born 92 years ago today, was a Pakistani resistance poet par excellence. I have written elsewhere on the themes of resistance and revolution in his poetry and also about why his work has an urgent appeal even in the 21st century, despite most of it having been written in the middle of the last century. Instead, I want to focus today on Jalib’s iconic poem Dastoor (Constitution) which not only became an anthem of protest for a whole generation during Pakistan’s first military dictatorship of Ayub Khan in the 1960s, but gained a new lease of life ...

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Remembering Dr Mubashir Hasan and his contributions

Former finance minister and the co-founder of the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP), Dr Mubashir Hassan passed away on Saturday, March 14, 2020 at the age of 98. It is perhaps somewhat poetic that he breathed his last at his Gulberg residence in Lahore, the very same house where the PPP was formally founded on December 1, 1967. Although he was widely viewed as Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto’s deputy, he did not always see eye to eye with Bhutto on several matters. For starters, by his own admission, he did not hold Bhutto in very high esteem initially. This is because ...

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Lahore’s infamous night theatres: obscenity or art?

The Al-Hamra Arts Council has always been extremely sensitive about giving a platform to political content. During the tenure of the previous provincial government, one could not even use the words “kyun nikala” as part of the dialogue during a performance. If you did, your production team would immediately be expelled from the theatre. However, this sensitivity is only limited to politics and does not extend to content of the infamous ‘night productions’, which seem to rule the roost at Al-Hamra. No plays can run beyond 10pm from Monday to Saturday and beyond 7pm on Sundays because both the main ...

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In conversation with Noam Chomsky – Part 3: Pakistan, India, religion, and climate change

This conversation with Professor Noam Chomsky is presented as a three part series. Part 1 covers American culture and politics. Part 2 covers media, intellectuals and imperialism, along with science, language and human nature. Part 3 includes a conversation regarding religion and spirituality, alongside a discussion about the Indian subcontinent, climate change and the migration crisis. ~ Religion and spirituality Hassan Mirza (HM): Did religion have any big influence on you when you were growing up? Were your family members religious? Noam Chomsky (NC): Judaism did, religion didn’t. My parents were not religious in the usual sense. Deeply rooted in Jewish/Hebraic culture, somewhat observant. HM: What do ...

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How many times will Pakistan fall victim to mob mentality?

“But what is liberty without wisdom? And without virtue? It is the greatest of all evils; for it is folly, vice, and madness, without tuition or restraint.” These words of Edmund Burke, the 17th century statesman and member of the British Parliament, circled in my head while watching the horrifying images and depressing accounts of what transpired in Lahore on December 11th. At least three people died after a protest by a group of lawyers at the Punjab Institute of Cardiology (PIC) turned violent; hospital property was vandalised, attendants tending to their patients were thrashed, a police van was set ablaze, ...

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Ahmad Shah Durrani and the misconceptions surrounding the Third Battle of Panipat

Today Panipat is a bustling city in Haryana state, but on January 14, 1761 it was the site of an epic battle — known as the Third Battle of Panipat — between Ahmad Shah Durrani (also known as Ahmad Shah Abdali) and the commander of the Maratha army Sadashiv Rao Bhau. The battle has been referenced, albeit usually inaccurately, by Hindu extremists to play the victim card, and to drive the wedge between Hindus and Muslims. Lately, the Bollywood film ‘Panipat: The Great Betrayal’ has also drawn a great deal of attention to Durrani, whom many in Afghanistan and Pakistan ...

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Dining on ashes: Pakistan’s hazardous coal dependent future

This article is the second part in a series about climate change and Pakistan’s carbon footprint. Read the first part here. ~ Earlier this year in August, I came across a newspaper article that read: “The government confirmed on Sun­day successful commercial operations of a two billion dollar 1,320MW coal-fired power plant set up by the China Power Hub Generation Company (CPHGC) under the China-Pakistan Econo­mic Corridor (CPEC) project.” It is mind boggling to see such news at a time where the world is moving towards renewable energy. What makes it worse is that Lahore has been plagued by dangerous smog for the ...

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A visiting Indian delegation opened my mind and heart

When all eyes were on Kartarpur Corridor’s landmark inauguration scheduled for November 9, a day before the main event (on November 8), a group of Indian journalists crossed into Pakistan via the Wagah Border. They were in Lahore to attend the opening ceremony of the corridor ahead of the 550th birthday of Baba Guru Nanak on November 12. Baba Guru Nanak is also respected among the Muslims of Pakistan because of his teachings on humanism and unity, and against separatism and barbarism.I was the part of a team tasked with hosting the Indian journalist delegation and it was a riveting experience ...

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Is Pakistan’s smog epidemic about to get worse?

Environmentalists in Islamabad were aghast this week when precious old trees in the capital were cut in order to make a bridge to connect sector G-7 to G-8 over the Express Highway, a signal free corridor. Despite their pleas that an alternative loop existed nearby which could be used, the Capital Development Authority went ahead to facilitate traffic flows. Islamabad’s activists are ringing alarm bells because this is exactly what happened in Lahore, with all its fancy signal free corridors, over passes and under passes which steadily ate away the old trees and green belts of the city. The ...

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Zahid Mayo: Breaking the canvas

When Zahid Mayo was studying at one of the most notable art colleges in the country, the National College of Arts (NCA) Lahore, he was a square peg in a round hole. Mayo had dreamed of studying there since he was a teenager and finally managed to gain admission in 2008. But, having come from a small village near Gujranwala, he felt alienated in his new surroundings. His fellow students with their impeccable English and urban ways made him feel like he will always be an outsider. But then again, Mayo was not one to take such things sitting down, and ...

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