Stories about Urdu

Remembering Saghar Siddiqui: The maverick who poetically bared corruption and opportunism

Today marks the 44th death anniversary of maverick Pakistani poet Saghar Siddiqui, who died from an overdose of morphine on the streets of Lahore, the city where he found a home after migrating from India to Pakistan in 1947. He was only six years short of turning 50, joining the ranks of legends such as Asrarul Haq Majaz, Saadat Hasan Manto, Miraji and Mustafa Zaidi, who were equally consumed by the callousness and opportunism of a predatory system. Had Saghar lived longer, I have no doubt he would have been as popular among the youth of Pakistan as Jaun Elia ...

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Dear Shehbaz Sharif, what makes you think “Karanchi” wants to be like Lahore?

Shehbaz Sharif’s pre-election visit and recent comments regarding “Kiranchi”, stereotyping an entire community, seem to have created some ripples in an already charged up political environment in Karachi.  At a time when Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) is badly fragmented; Pak Sarzameen party (PSP) is cementing its position in the upcoming elections; Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) is an utter failure even after two consecutive terms in Sindh; Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) is suffering from several in-house ticket issuance problems, Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) is trying to fill up the current void by Shehbaz’s visit to Karachi and quite recently, a jalsa in ...

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A Sindhi living in Sindh, yet ashamed of their own “tacky” language

I am one of those lucky few who got to spend her childhood with her grandparents. My grandfather would tell me stories of the days of Partition. He was quite young at the time, but seemed to remember every single detail about how everyone in his village would prepare for the people coming to live in Sindh from across the border. He told me how the women would prepare and bring food to the railway platforms, and how some people would even vacate their homes to welcome the refugees. I would often ask him why they had to do ...

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Only in Pakistan can your child get an ‘A’ without learning anything

Over the past few years, the policy on education has taken centre stage in Pakistan. There is now debate over reforming the curriculum of madrassas, as they have failed millions of students who have, and continue to receive, their education in these religious seminaries. However, it is not just the madrassas that need reform, but also the ‘elite’ private school system. I have been teaching part-time in Karachi’s private sector for almost a decade, and it is blatantly clear that the current system has failed miserably. Be it private universities or schools, few understand or are interested in the purpose of education itself. The ...

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Konya: The city of legacies, spirituality and Rumi

As we returned home from our trip to Uzbekistan last year, we kept aside four days in Istanbul to break the journey. Since we had already travelled to Istanbul previously, we decided to spend some time in Konya, which is the burial place of celebrated scholar and Sufi poet, Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi. Situated in the heart of Turkey, Konya is very well connected to the world by road, high-speed rail, and air. We had made our reservations to reach Konya from Istanbul via Pegasus Airlines, one of the no-frills Turkish airlines where the return fare from Istanbul was $50 per person. The airline operates from ...

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Warm people, inexpensive food, beautiful culture – Uzbekistan truly is a treasure trove of wonders

We were at the Tashkent train station at around seven in the morning, on our way to Samarkand. I knew that the best way to travel in Uzbekistan was by train, and had found the schedule from the internet, but was not sure if any seats were available in the high-speed trains. Though a couple of ticket counters were open, there were no signs in English and no one who seemingly understood our language. I stood there, clueless as to how to go ahead with our planned trip. The bullet train we were to board It’s difficult ...

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Dear NADRA, your failure to recognise Pakistan’s undervalued regional languages is not surprising

I recently came across a disheartening news article which stated that the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA) failed to recognise a degree attained in a regional language. This applied to all the areas and provinces of Pakistan and not just Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (K-P). Now, let us take in the severity of this statement. In effect, this means that those who have done their Bachelors or Masters in Pashto or any other regional language cannot enter their education data for their national identity cards (NIC) at NADRA. The premier regulatory authority’s online forms only contain and recognise a master’s degree or Doctorate in English, Urdu and Persian. But ...

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Dear Pakistan, I know our history is complicated, but our friendship is greater. Love, India

When I was a little girl, it was customary for our family to watch at least one new movie every month. Back then, movie titles were always displayed in English, Hindi and Urdu. Therefore, while English remained my primary language of communication, I ended up speaking both Hindi and Urdu fluently. I grew up in Mumbai which has a strong cosmopolitan culture. I grew up with friends and neighbours from different faiths, and was simultaneously introduced to Diwali and Eid, to Navratra and Ramazan, even as my friends got to know more about Christmas and Lent. It was because of this multi-cultural experience that I got to learn so much about the ...

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If Jinnah never asked Ruttie to change her name to Maryam, why did you, Pakistan?

Those of us who were born before Partition know that Muhammad Ali Jinnah could not speak Urdu, except perhaps a few broken sentences. His speeches were always in English, sometimes with a translator to make the crowds understand what he was saying. But sometime in the 1980s, the government dubbed all his speeches in Urdu, apparently under pressure from those who thought a highly westernised Jinnah would make today’s youth doubt that he wanted an Islamic state. One result of this is that an entire generation of Pakistanis have grown up believing that Jinnah was fluent in Urdu, and always dressed ...

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Is Pakistan willing to jeopardise its relations with Iran for Saudi Arabia?

It was shocking to hear Defence Minister Khwaja Asif proudly confirm that the government has agreed to the Saudi request and will allow former army chief General (retd) Raheel Sharif to command the Saudi-led military alliance of 34 Muslim nations to fight terrorism. However, observers are concerned that the coalition could be used for future conflicts against Iran and its ally Yemen.  The National Assembly had earlier agreed that it would not be in the country’s interest to take sides in the present war between Saudi Arabia and Yemen (Iran’s ally), and had decided that Pakistan would stay neutral in the ...

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