Stories about partition

Why is the Wagah border ceremony a competition of nationalism?

It has been 70 years since India and Pakistan emerged from a single, coherent geographical unit as two sovereign nations, and both states do their best to remember and reaffirm this. Every day at around 4:30pm, the Wagah border prepares for a unique ceremony, wherein the soldiers stationed at and near the border gates on both sides re-state the identity of India and Pakistan as sovereign nations, while their people cheer for them. As the dusk sets in, it is time to lower their respective flags, but both countries do so by giving a warning to each other. The gates ...

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Pakistan and India have one thing in common – they are both intolerant nations

A few days ago, I watched a video clip of a Hindu MNA from PTI, Lal Chand Malhi, in which he gave a fiery speech, pointing towards the discriminatory, and in fact, derogatory attitude of the Pakistani society towards the Hindu community. He objected to the way in which the Hindu style of worship is mocked. Malhi also lamented about the conflation of Pakistani Hindus with the Indian state by saying, “inko gali deni hoti hai India ko, galian de dete hain Hindu ko.” (They want to abuse India, instead they abuse Hindus). He claimed that Hindus are equal citizens of Pakistan, and complained that ...

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Dear Dina, I could recognise you from a thousand miles, my daughter. Love, Jinnah

When she reached the top of the endless stairs at the mausoleum, she wondered why this much effort was needed to meet her father. When she was younger, all she did was barge through a brown door. Of course she was small, and the handle was high, but she would jump for it and the door would almost unhinge from the sides, and she’d find her father deep in his study under a lamp on his big oak table. “Dina,” he would say, without taking his eyes off the page. She would giggle and run to him, disrupting the little bubble of peace ...

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Fudging the population: The missing 90 million Indian Muslims

There is one thing about Indian Muslims that just can’t be denied – most of them are poor. They don’t earn enough to be able to go on vacations to other countries. Most of them wish to go for Hajj to Saudi Arabia, and this they are able to do only when they are very old; having struggled to save over many years for the journey. Of course, there are rich and literate Indian Muslims whom one occasionally meets (mostly in the UAE and Saudi Arabia), and when you talk to them, they are adamant that the population of Indian Muslims is ...

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India couldn’t beat us in 1965, can’t beat the stronger Pakistan of today either

In the early hours of September 6, 1965, India initiated an unannounced military offensive against Pakistan. General Jayanto Nath Chaudhry’s self-confidence had gone a “peg” too far. His famous dream of “drinking at Lahore Gymkhana” that evening was soon shattered by brave Pakistani troops. India did gain some territory, but ended up losing a lot more. Pakistan’s unexpected response and India’s heavy losses of men, material and territory brought the Indian confidence-plus-ambition down several notches and suddenly, negotiations became an option. The Tashkent Agreement ended hostilities and the (mis)adventure came to an end. It wasn’t the first misadventure and it certainly wasn’t to be ...

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No cow, no beef, no slaughtering – Will Indian Muslims be able to celebrate Eidul Azha with zeal?

India at 70 is an entirely different country as compared to when it started its journey as an independent nation in the summer of 1947. It ranks amongst the leading economies of the world, sent a satellite to the moon, is nuclear-armed, and is a country admired by most. But unfortunately, this progress cannot mask its ugly reality. In 1947, the most pressing challenge, other than economic development, was settling the dust of the Partition. It was an urgent and long-term necessity needed to create societal harmony. An atmosphere where the country’s secular and multicultural temperament would return to normalcy was imperative. Decades of ...

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Is Pakistan too fragile to exist without American help and aid?

Donald Trump and his cronies must have wondered why Pakistan’s tribesmen in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) and Balochistan staged an anti-US rally. The reason behind this rally taking place was to protest Trump’s remarks about Pakistan not “doing enough” in the war in Afghanistan. Our people (particularly the tribesmen) have suffered immensely due to Trump’s policies, particularly the drone attacks which killed thousands of innocent people. Furthermore, they have suffered due to his failure to stop terrorists in Afghanistan from killing civilians. And to rub salt in our wounds, Trump asked India to help crush the Afghans! In Pakistan, we know that Trump is not reasonable, ...

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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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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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The tales of Karachi’s love for old books

We’ve heard stories about their utilisation plenty of times. You can see exactly where the fingerprints grazed the pages. You can deduce how long it was held by the depth of the finger stains. This is none other than a depiction of an old book. Unfortunately, we live in a culture that places too much importance on new books, rather than old ones. Why is it that new things are considered more valuable than old things? There might be a time in the future when books will be published for a specific audience and the physicality of reading material will become extinct. However, there ...

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