Stories about subcontinent

“I was going home after 71 years”: The emotional ‘homecoming’ of an Indian in Pakistan

“I am going home… after 71 years.” I mumbled something along those lines to passengers sitting beside me, while taking a flight from Karachi to Islamabad on Christmas morning. Late in October, a friend of mine who is like an elder brother and a bitter critic of Indian state policies, asked me for my passport. I quickly took some pictures and sent it over to him. A week later, he sent me an affidavit with an invitation to his daughter’s wedding in Karachi that was to be held in late December. And that is how my journey of going home began. It is ...

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Power to the people: The Kartarpur corridor has done what 71 years of dialogue could not

The symbolism is too significant to be missed. When India was observing the 10th anniversary of the Mumbai attacks on Monday, Indian leaders were cutting across party lines and laying the foundation for the Kartarpur road corridor in Gurdaspur, Punjab. This is perhaps the first time after Partition that both India and Pakistan are working together to complete one project: a corridor that connects both sides of the border and leads to the shrine of Guru Nanak Saheb. The corridor does not only have religious symbolism, it carries a lot of political weight that has the potential to rewrite the geo-political ...

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Manikarnika: Only Bollywood’s real ‘Queen’ can play Jhansi ki Rani with such valour and brilliance!

Gone are the days when Bollywood was associated with movies that only portrayed the valour and gallantry of male protagonists. Filmmakers are now finally shifting their focus from male-oriented films to powerful women-centric movies. Successful films such as English Vinglish (2012), Queen (2014), Dangal (2016), Neerja (2016), Pink (2016), and Lipstick Under My Burkha (2016) are just a few names that kept filmgoers spellbound with their feminist storylines and audacious leading ladies. The Queen-famed Kangana Ranaut’s highly anticipated biographical film, Manikarnika – The Queen of Jhansi, is one more addition to these powerful women-centric flicks. These movies that revolve around ...

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Yes, Thugs of Hindostan is a copy of Pirates of the Caribbean but it’s still definitely worth watching

Aamir Khan, aka Mr Perfectionist, has always exceeded expectations, whether they are about the quality of films Bollywood is capable of producing or the amount of money a movie earns at the box office. Khan’s movies are always the “next big thing” in Bollywood and the audience waits for his new releases eagerly because they know they’re in for a spectacle. This time around, the next big thing is Khan’s Thugs of Hindostan, which is also said to have one of the most expensive outdoor settings in the history of Indian cinema. The trailer of this much-awaited movie was ...

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Points Of Entry: Dissecting Pakistan’s ‘real’ history, one page at a time

Nadeem Farooq Paracha, or NFP as he is often called, has been one of the profound influences on my intellectual development. I have been an avid reader of his columns since the early 90s when he started making his mark as a music critic. As a keen reader, besides his regular columns, I have also read all of his three books. Not only that, I also reviewed his first book titled End of the Past for Huffington Post and also had the privilege of interviewing him about his second book for Express Tribune. His third book, which I have recently finished, is linked ...

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When your son asks you “what is a mango”

While flipping through a book of fruits that I brought for him yesterday, my three-year-old son stopped on a particular page. Curiously, he gazed at the picture for some time. He tilted the little book, first left then right, and even gave it at a full upside down rotation in hopes that this thing would look familiar once he sees it with the right angle. As I was watching him making these attempts and inwardly feeling excited on actually witnessing my toddler’s cognitive process (yes, parents have these weird, rather creepy moments of exhilaration), out of frustrated curiosity, my son asked ...

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Is CPEC a rebranded Chinese adaptation of the East India Trading Company?

The proposition that the currently under way China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) is in fact a rebranded Chinese adaptation of the East India Trading Company is certainly fraught with massive inconsistencies. As has been prudently observed by many before me, it is highly unlikely that the Chinese state is going to use the garb of trade to forcefully occupy Pakistan, seize administrative control and establish a colony as a jewel in some sort of neo-Maoist Empire. Notwithstanding the ineptness of the Chinese at duplicating western artifacts, this might be a step too far, even for them. The simple corollary of these observations is that any attempts to draw a ...

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The fall of Dhaka

“It was doomsday. I had fought many wars; I saw the division of a subcontinent. I have seen many of my friends dying in my arms, but this day was different. It was dark, it was gloomy. It was a sad day.” My uncle Rashid swallowed a sip of his tea. His eyes were dipped in tears of sorrow. Rashid, who I’ve always called Major Sahab, had witnessed Pakistan’s movement as a young boy. According to him, Pakistan was his life. He was in the Pakistan Army and was posted to Dhaka in 1971. He fought as a soldier in both the 1948 and 1965 wars. ...

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Life at the fringes of empire: Edward Eastwick in Sindh

Edward Eastwick (1814-1883) entered the service of the East India Company at the comparatively late age of 22, after arriving in Bombay in the summer of 1836. This was not Eastwick’s first trip abroad. Following the unlikely advice of a family doctor and the ‘earnest solicitations’ of his wife, Eastwick’s father Robert had taken his sickly 10-year-old son on a year-long opium-trading voyage to China in 1825. Eastwick caught the travel bug, and probably many others besides. The privations of this early voyage may have gone some way to prepare Eastwick for his first posting in India as ‘Assistant Political Agent, Upper Sindh’. After an ...

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Churchill’s face on the new £5 note is an insult to the Commonwealth

Like 2.5 million others from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and Nepal and millions more from Africa and South East Asia, my grandfather fought with the British military in World War II. Tens of millions of others across the old British Empire gave precious resources to aid the war effort, many millions losing their lives in the process. They accepted the call to join the Allied forces to help defeat the rise of Hitler’s Nazi Germany at the door step of the United Kingdom. Winston Churchill, the war time prime minister, told them to ‘brace themselves for their duties’ and this would ...

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