Stories about subcontinent

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 ...

Read Full Post

The Kashmir issue has proven that Pakistan and India refuse to learn from history

The pot and the kettle are calling each other black. The truth is that they’re both black – and neither of them is willing to accept it; just like India and Pakistan. New Delhi holds Pakistan responsible for spreading terrorism in its territory and Islamabad claims vice versa. India is not willing to accept its faults in Jammu and Kashmir and alleges that the Islamic Republic is solely responsible for the trouble in the valley. Pakistan, on the other hand, says that the cry for freedom in Kashmir should not be equated with terrorism; the Islamic republic itself is a victim of terrorism and is as ...

Read Full Post

Unity, faith and discipline

Unity, faith, discipline. These three basics I knew, I loved, and I respected. Etched into my heart from Independence Days of the past. These were the principles I’d thrive upon. I didn’t know a lot, and maybe I didn’t know enough but I knew unity and faith and discipline. This year, let’s celebrate our country’s independence. This day is about us, our land, our self-determination, our freedom and everything else we wanted almost seven decades ago. Ever since I was a little girl, my grandparents have been telling me about the struggle they went through to get to this “Independence day”; for themselves, and for ...

Read Full Post

You can play Holi too, even if you are Muslim

Phagwa, more commonly known as Holi, celebrated on the full moon day of Phalgun (the 12th month of the Hindu calendar), is a festival that heralds the arrival of spring. Celebrated with colours, it is a symbolic expression of the changing of temperatures and the blossoming fields of green. My childhood memories are consumed with numerous instances from Holi. Living in a predominantly Hindu neighbourhood in Delhi, and belonging to one of the few Muslim families, we were surrounded by bright, colourful faces on the day of Holi. The enthusiastic crowd did not hesitate to smear my parents with colour the second they stepped out, ...

Read Full Post

Does homosexuality exist in the Urdu ghazal tradition?

The term homosexual was coined in 19th century Europe but its categorisation for the people in the Indian subcontinent had existed long before. The lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) activism emerged in South Asia in the aftermath of the controversy surrounding the 1996 Indian-Canadian film Fire, written and directed by Deepa Mehta which starred Shabana Azmi and Nandita Das. This film argued in favour of the legitimacy of lesbian representation in cinema and subsequently, in public discourse. Following this contention, Ruth Vanita and Saleem Kidwai presented an outstanding array of writings on same-sex relationships drawn from two thousand years of Indian literature to highlight the ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

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 ...

Read Full Post

If Iran and the US can make peace, why can’t India and Pakistan?

The nuclear deal between Iran and the West has opened up new avenues of engagements for those nations which have been in conflict for decades. It has proved that time-tested diplomacy is the only way to achieve peace in the world. Therefore, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s gesture of sending mangoes to his Indian counterpart, Narendra Modi, holds more than just symbolic value. It is, at one hand, a reflection of the desire to normalise relationships between the two countries while at the other hand, it suggests the calming down of frayed tempers on both sides of the border which have been boiling over the ...

Read Full Post

AIB Controversy: Who has the last laugh, India or the moral police?

Although New Delhi’s legislative assembly elections are just round the corner and the city that has been the helm of power in the subcontinent for centuries will choose between its ‘aam aadmis’ and ‘khaas aadmis’, the fulcrum of debate instead is a comedy show uploaded to YouTube, a video-sharing website, that many Pakistanis wouldn’t know of, on January 28, 2015. It is fascinating how one chooses to become a comedian in a part of the world where something funny is going on all the time. A few years back a group of witty comedians, comprising Tanmay Bhat, Gursimran Khamba, Rohan ...

Read Full Post