Stories about partition

Karachi and the paralysis of imagination

You want to read about a vision of a just Karachi? The contract killer ($50 a hit) ripping up the road behind Disco Bakery on his Honda 200CC and the secret service colonel cracking skulls in a Clifton safe house will both cite one vision: Dubai. This happens to also be the vision of the one-armed Afghan refugee selling Beijing socks off a cart in Saddar bazaar and the unsexed Karachi Port Trust shipping agent waiting for shady clients to cough up cash so he can escape to Phuket. To borrow from an old Urdu election rallying cry, Chalo,chalo, Dubai, chalo (Come, come, let’s go to Dubai). Vision presupposes ...

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She left India for Pakistan, but was her sacrifice worth it?

“People didn’t even bother locking their doors; we knew that we could never come back. It wasn’t easy for us, leaving everything behind, and it seems like another life now, as if we left a part of ourselves back in India. Plenty of people lost their lives, it’s still hard to believe what the partition did to all of us,” told 86-year-old Raffat Jehan. She says that she never regretted coming to Pakistan; she believes the Partition was originally a good idea. “My father’s non-Muslim friends told him that they couldn’t protect us anymore, as painful as it was for us, we had ...

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68th Independence Day: Liberation from the prejudices of the past

This weekend, India and Pakistan celebrate their 68th Independence Day as two independent nations. Such a solemn occasion is also a time for one to reflect upon and evaluate the journey taken so far. One wonders whether the fury, rage and bloody madness that gripped the countries prior to the independence were justified? Were the killings in the name of religion perpetrated by Hindus, Muslims and Sikhs justified? You cannot avoid these piercing questions. History would not allow us to forget the guilt and living in guilt is an unbearable pain. It is time to reflect upon how much damage the collective guilt and refusal ...

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End of silence: A woman’s narrative of the 1947 Partition

Many of us born to families who migrated across borders during partition grew up hearing whispers of events from that time. The end of the British Raj in India saw the subcontinent dissected into two – Pakistan and India. This led to the largest migration in history and caused widespread communal violence. My nani (maternal grandmother) narrated tragedies of madness raging the land without adequate police or troops to maintain law and order. One of my nani’s friends narrated how her father had told all the women in their family that should the train they were on be stopped and boarded by rioting mobs, they should commit ...

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When India’s loss became Pakistan’s revenge

India’s dismal performance in the World Cup semi-final was a huge disappointment. India lacked strategy against the mighty Aussies and their performance was shocking for many. However, what I found more harrowing was how Pakistanis revelled in the misery of the Indians, some even claiming that this was Pakistan’s revenge. Mood #WeWontGiveItBack pic.twitter.com/TkdK8aXz4l — ≟ (@Ya5ir_) March 26, 2015 India trolled! #indvsaus pic.twitter.com/GpLzVEFWNE — Life-o-holic (@K_Gwalani) March 26, 2015 KHUSHI IS SEEING INDIA LOSING #AUSvIND — Danish khursheed (@kk_Deekay) March 26, 2015 Misbah, what are India's chances of winning now? pic.twitter.com/LKHYaA9Hmp — Talha. (@OyeTalha) March 26, 2015 Pakistanis and Bangladeshis right now. #INDvAUS #WC2015 pic.twitter.com/Sy4kaE4Z6e — Achilles ! (@Akkyllees) March 26, ...

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A nation that forgets its heroes will itself soon be forgotten

 American president, Calvin Coolidge, once said, “A nation that forgets its heroes will itself soon be forgotten.” It was a moment of relief and glory for Pakistanis when a hero, who was later turned into a ‘villain’ by conspiracy theorists, won the noble peace laureate on October 9, 2014. Yes, it is our brave Malala who is the youngest recipient in the world to have received this prestigious award. She will continue to be despised by those who consider anyone getting an international acclaim a ‘yahoodi agent’ (Jewish agent), ‘ghaddar’ (traitor), ‘kafir/ mashriq’ (non-Muslim/ Western) or a ‘drama’. However, whenever someone mentions Malala and the Nobel ...

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Can the Pakistani education system stop catering to political agendas please?

The issue of school curriculum has been under discussion in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) for some time now. The 18th Amendment devolved the education sector to the provinces but that has yet to bear fruit, since the leaders who have decided to take up the responsibility of planning a ‘better’ future for the youth of K-P still need to achieve some constructive results. Playing its ‘due’ role, the coalition government in the province wants to change what is being taught to children at schools. The changes desired are within the lines of ‘religious’ and ‘national’ teachings, according to the members. They want chapters on national heroes like Bacha Khan ...

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Jinnah’s Flagstaff House, neglected but not forgotten

This summer, when a meeting in Karachi was cancelled, I finally found an opportunity to visit the Flagstaff House. I had known it was a museum since college days but had been unable to visit it. I felt it was time to make up for the omission. Flagstaff House is an impressive stone building located in the Saddar area in Karachi, and was one of the residential properties of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. He had purchased it from a Parsi businessman before partition. As we pulled into the driveway, I was surprised that one could drive right in. There was only a single semi-interested security guard. Upon walking up to the ...

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Bringing FATA into the mainstream

The much talked about and supported military operation, Zarb-e-Azb, has been initiated in North Waziristan with the objective of clearing the region from local and foreign Taliban sanctuaries. The military strategy has already displaced thousands from the war-torn region at a time when the internally displaced persons (IDPs) affected from previous conflicts and disasters haven’t returned to their homes yet. Up to 30,000 soldiers are involved in the current operation, while more than 800,000 people have fled the area over security and an uncertain future. The operation was launched after the failed attempt at peace talks and demands from the ...

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An Indian in Pakistan

A simple white shalwar kameez, a pair of traditional Peshawari shoes and a black jacket. The packed hall of about 900 people exploded into thunderous cheers and a standing ovation. Young boys and girls jumped up with excitement, thumped their tables and filled the air with whistles. The welcome befitted a rock star. The man in white moved to the stage and commenced speaking. He spoke clearly, simply and in elegant Urdu; every member of the audience could understand him. His thoughts were crystal clear; he stood for a multi- cultural and secular framework, believed in a corruption free society, ...

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