Stories about partition

The importance we (don’t) give our country

When one thinks about Pakistan, what is it that comes to mind? For some, it’s a land with troubled tribal areas or a cradle for terrorism. For many, it’s a haven for corrupt politicians, backed by a corrupt legislation and a flawed constitution. And for others, it’s just a mistake that Mr Jinnah made 67 years ago. If you ask a young, college-going boy about what Pakistan is to him, he will probably say that it’s, “A country in which I was born, raised and taught the tricks of getting my way in the world either by hook or by crook. A ...

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Noor of Bihar

“Babu jee, India is so enormous. Mumbai, Agra, Delhi and Bihar are unfathomable in size. Either you take one step or accomplish a hundred, it will take 10 years to traverse from one end of the country to another,” she assured me in her mellifluous Bihari tone. As the fan overhead continued its eternal hymn, Nani (maternal grandmother) shouted in distaste, “Huh, you have seen India, my foot! Woman of no worth,” she shouted out, as mother and I looked at each other, exchanging mental notes on how to manage Nani’s incorrigible distrust of domestic helpers. Nani suffered from a cancerous tumour ...

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On Jinnah and Nehru: One man’s hero is another man’s villain

My article is in response to the perplexing as well as thought-provoking piece by Taha Shaheen on the Express Tribune titled Of biased history: Wait, wasn’t Nehru the bad guy? The mentioned piece is besieged with the ever-present dilemma in our liberal section of society; a section which is trapped in the intense struggle of bringing together and reconciliation between India and Pakistan. It really baffled me how this way of thinking considers historical personalities, facts and narrations, as well as the building of political history based thought process. This, however, is not an exceptional example of a confused mindset. There a few others as well who always ...

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The memory of partition must become invalid now

During our Aman Chaupal initiative, where we invite a representative from Pakistan to interact with students in India, this time I got the opportunity to meet Mr Aamir Nawaz. Nawaz is the president and artistic director of the MAAS Foundation, a leading theatre group of Pakistan which showcases plays on several social themes. One of their prominent themes is Indo-Pak issues. As a part of the Aman Chaupal, we showed the video of one of MAAS’s plays to students of the South Asian University (SAU), which was followed by a discussion on the theme of the play. The play, named Permasher Singh, was based on ...

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Larkana: Losing our soul, religion and country, one minority at a time

Today is Holi, the festival of colours. Today, Hindus bedeck themselves in the colours of life and love and many other communities join in to mark the start of spring. Alas, the only colour adorning Pakistan is black and red. Our Hindu brethren in the streets of Larkana should be celebrating this auspicious festival. Instead, they hide in their houses, afraid for their safety and worried about reprisals from a community that should be their protectors. Once again, the spectre of bigotry and hatred has raised its head in what is becoming a far too frequent pattern. Once again, we are left wondering about the empty symbols ...

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Karachi Burns Road: The Holy Grail for foodies

The waiter picked up my Naan. He saw my quizzical expression and said, “It’s not hot anymore. I am getting you a fresh one.” Then he comes back and asks in a solicitous whisper if I am enjoying myself. With such courtliness, how could I not? This Michelin star service was not at an exorbitantly priced restaurant. No, the setting of this delightful exchange was Waheed Nihari at Karachi’s Burns Road a.k.a. food paradise. Ernest Hemingway called Paris a moveable feast – in the same vein, Karachi is an immovable feast and Burns Road the location. The food capital of Pakistan is reputed to be Lahore. I beg to differ. Lahore ...

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Jinnah may not be a hero to you, Mr Hanif, but he is to me and to many other Pakistanis!

Every sane individual enjoys the birth right of maintaining a private worldview. Democratisation of the world has granted unbounded and everlasting socio-religious and political freedom to the individual and society. The state’s dictatorial control has sunken into the past. No one can, therefore, force one’s opinion on other fellowmen in this democratic world of our times. However, there is a limit for the expression of opinions, especially when it comes to the collective interests and issues concerning the people. You cannot, for instance, speak positively about Hitler and negatively about the Holocaust across the United States and European continent. You cannot call ...

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My grandmother’s tales: Stories that painted our lives

It’s been a few months since my beloved Naani (maternal grandmother) departed from this world, leaving us in utter shock and grief. She slipped away so quietly, without a warning, without inconveniencing anyone, and without saying goodbye, that it has left a piercing void in our hearts. After attending to mourning relatives, taking condolence calls and repeatedly telling the story of her last moments, we are left with a hollow silence that permeates not only her home, but each one of our lives. Without her, we are like a flock without a shepherd. Ever since she left us, I have heard ...

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Nehru and Edwina: A subcontinental love

The relationship between India’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru and Lady Edwina Mountbatten has long been shrouded in mystery and secrecy. It’s a no-go area for the Congress which has always shielded the Nehru-Gandhi dynasty from controversies. Congressmen certainly don’t want it to become a matter of public discourse. However, the details about their intimate relationship are now in public domain in the form of a book. Indian Summer by Alex Von Tunzelmann offers a vivid account of a special bond the couple shared and complex relationship between Edwina and her husband Louis Mountbatten with the latter playing a role of a ...

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No, this is not Jinnah’s Pakistan

I am writing this piece with reference to Mr Yaqoob Khan Bangash’s article of March 18 titled “Jinnah’s Pakistan”. Notwithstanding the fact that the writer is a chairperson of the history department of Forman Christian College, I would, like to highlight few contentions that I have with his conclusion: “Jinnah’s Pakistan is an Islamic state, which defines who a Muslim is, excludes those Muslims it does not like and is not very democratic.” Anyone acquainted with history would not disagree with the fact that the struggle for Pakistan was certainly couched in religious terms. A lot of historians have also argued that ...

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