Stories about partition

Can someone in Pakistan please address the ever-growing elephant in the room?

The way a doctor needs to address a patient’s critical problems first, before evaluating the less threatening ones, a country too needs its public policy practitioners to tackle its grave issues before moving to its trivial ones. We can build all the roads, metro buses, and Orange lines as envisioned by the government ruling the centre, or we can start focusing on health and education as proposed by the opposition instead. However, there is absolutely no way to meet the needs of Pakistan’s people if the population continues to grow as it has been for the past seven decades. According to the 1951 census, West Pakistan had a ...

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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 ...

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Is China only supporting Pakistan to get back at India?

India and Pakistan have had a tumultuous mutual history. Violent separation followed by continued disputes and clashes have created a climate of suspicion and conflict. This is a tragedy of epic proportions given the shared history and heritage of the inhabitants of this land, stretching over thousands of years.  While the circumstances of their separation were unfortunate and sowed the seeds of this distrust, a lot has happened over the years to keep those embers burning. There is considerable anger in India over Pakistan’s support for separatism and terrorism in India. Indians also feel that Pakistan has not done enough to curb or punish anti-India activities. The sight ...

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When Nehru promised Kashmir freedom, why is India still in denial?

India’s reluctance to any third party mediation in Kashmir is, at best, a juvenile attempt at distortion of history and denial of context. Deliberately ignoring historicity and context, the vast sections of Indian media are narrating fairy tales on Kashmir while cashing on falsehood, provocation, propaganda and vitriol with an aim to insult the intelligence of a common man in India and hoodwink international audiences. India took the Kashmir case to the United Nations (UN). Nothing can be more ironic than the fact that it is India which is averse to the UN intervention on Kashmir issue. New Delhi’s denialism and its ...

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An open letter to Indians

Dear Indians, As someone whose recent family history is very much a consequence of partition, I am no stranger to the divisiveness of Pak-India politics. Despite a shared history and culture, we stand today as two nuclear armed nations that have fought three wars against each other. Hatred for the other is fostered in both countries – neither India nor Pakistan is innocent as far as propagating hyper-nationalist aggression is concerned, but this time around, it feels slightly different. This time around, your government, sections of your media, and sections of your civil society (in concert with the government) are behaving in an exceptionally immature and dangerous manner. They ...

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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 ...

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Series 5 Finding salvation Part 3 ‘I am free’

“I am Parvinder Kor! I boarded this train when partition was announced in 1947! I never reached my destination. Our entire train didn’t. Ours was a small village near this station. As partition was declared, my village people decided to move quickly. I was going to be married that night, but our village was under attack and so we left for the station in a hurry. All the areas surrounding our village were Muslim majority areas. They started killing our people in retaliation of their own kin dying on the other side of the country. So we fled for our lives. Our father hurried us ...

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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. ...

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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 ...

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Some wounds only death can heal

I remember it very vividly; I had driven down in my 99 Honda Civic which was a hand-me-down from my dad. The weather was surprisingly brisk considering fall had shot shades of winter in its early days. I walked up to my uncle’s door and found it unlocked, as always, and announced my entrance to the house. Silence was scattered around the house. All I could hear was the dishwasher running in the kitchen. I followed my usual trail up to the top level and towards my grandfather’s room. After three knocks and a slight nudge at the door, I ...

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