Stories about West Pakistan

I dedicate this Pakistan Day to my grandfather, a PoW, and my father, a war veteran

Lieutenant Colonel Shuaib was posted in Bahawalpur, West Pakistan when he was informed of his new assignment in East Pakistan as G1 to a three-star General. This was in the late 60s, when tensions were high between the East and the West wing of Pakistan. As is usual with army postings, he packed up and left to report to his new posting. His family of six – a wife and five children – were supposed to follow him soon. As fate would have it, before his family could arrive and the house could be furnished with belongings that would later be ...

Read Full Post

“Udhar tum, idhar hum”: When Bhutto pushed Bangladesh to the edge of Pakistan

The fall of Dhaka is one of those events in our history that we’d rather forget. No one talks about it nowadays, because it was the result of our own follies. But those who are still alive will never be able to forget TV newscaster Shaista Jabeen’s tearful announcement that dreadful night in December:  “According to an agreement, Indian soldiers have now taken control of Dhaka.” The people in what remained of Pakistan were shocked beyond belief. For days they had been told that everything was normal in the eastern wing, despite the BBC giving a contrasting picture. As always, ...

Read Full Post

Is Pakistan ready to grant citizenship to its Afghan and Bengali refugees?

Policy and governance are most effective when idealism morphs into realism to tackle challenges and go after opportunities in the real world, while also aspiring for utopia. It is in the middle ground between these poles where effective governance happens. Thus, Imran Khan’s announcement that Pakistan would grant citizenship to refugees of Afghan and Bangladeshi origin should be seen in the same vein as his other policy decisions since his victory, many of which he has backtracked on. Atif Mian’s resignation from the Economic Advisory Committee is a case in point. The decision to oust him was a solid ...

Read Full Post

Getting to know the handsome and talented Mikaal Zulfiqar

I recently interviewed model turned actor Mikaal Zulfiqar and discussed his early life, career and upcoming projects. Believe it when I say, you do not want to miss this interview. H: How did you start off as an actor? M: Initially, I began my career as a model and gradually transitioned into an actor. I started modelling for commercials and videos which were relevant to acting. Later, I received a few offers for television and eventually moved on to films. I believe acting happened to me rather than me happening to acting. So along the way, I self-educated myself on how ...

Read Full Post

71st Independence Day special: The evolution of Pakistan’s national song

In the last 70 years, the Pakistan national song has evolved through various governments, wars and music styles. We trace this evolution by reviewing a plethora of national songs from 1947 till the present. Sar Zameen-e-Pak: The first anthem (1947) Very few know that almost seven years before Hafeez Jalandhari’s Pak Sar Zameen was officially adopted as the country’s national anthem (in 1954), Pakistan already had an anthem. Today, it is all but forgotten, despite the fact that it was the first song played by Radio Pakistan when the station began broadcasting at the stroke of Pakistan’s creation in August 1947. The anthem ...

Read Full Post

In Pakistan self-preservation takes precedence over loyalty to the nation

Many today will be looking back at the two fateful days in our history that share a common date – March 23rd. The first of these was in 1940 on which the Lahore Resolution was adopted, calling for the formation of a separate state for Muslims in the Subcontinent. The second was in 1956 when the Dominion of Pakistan became the Islamic Republic of Pakistan with the passage of our first Constitution. The past is all well and good. And much will be made of it today. But the questions that we really need to be asking, as the years ...

Read Full Post

Why does the state structure and narrative unfairly favour Punjab?

The selective way of presenting history in Pakistan conveniently ignores the fact that at the time of the country’s creation, there were two large movements which were sometimes contrasting and sometimes overlapping. The first was primarily centred on the Muslim identity and tried to actually bargain a better position for its bearers. This movement though ended up in carving a separate homeland for the Muslims but did not have a strong separatist thrust, at least in the beginning. However, the Islamic identity itself was not the only identity taken up by the Muslims as strong ethnic nationalist tendencies existed particularly in ...

Read Full Post

Why is the Bangladeshi or Indian narrative the only acceptable narrative for 1971?

The year 2016 is ending on a somewhat positive note for Pakistan with a lower number of terror-related casualties compared to 2015. Yet there is one date that always affects Pakistanis aware of the 1971 partition of East (now Bangladesh) and West Pakistan. That date is the December 16th. December 16th is marked as Victory Day in Bangladesh, signifying not only its independence from West Pakistan (now Pakistan), but also its apparent victory over the Pakistani military. On this day every year, social media, not only in Pakistan and Bangladesh, but also in neighbouring India is abuzz with different narratives, opinions, and sentiments. #16December A historical day for India, the Day ...

Read Full Post

Does the creation of Bangladesh prove the two-nation theory wrong?

This article is not a “defence” or repudiation of the two-nation theory (TNT). Rather it tries to critically evaluate the argument that the creation of Bangladesh in fact proved that the two-nation theory was not valid. Those who claim that the two-nation theory has proven to be a failure cite the creation of Bangladesh as an example. It is claimed that ethnic nationalism trumped religion and therefore the two-nation theory has proven to be a failure. I do not intend to prove that the two-nation theory is wrong or right but just evaluate it with reference to the creation ...

Read Full Post

Some wounds only death can heal

I remember it very vividly; I had driven down in my 99 Honda Civic which was a hand-me-down from my dad. The weather was surprisingly brisk considering fall had shot shades of winter in its early days. I walked up to my uncle’s door and found it unlocked, as always, and announced my entrance to the house. Silence was scattered around the house. All I could hear was the dishwasher running in the kitchen. I followed my usual trail up to the top level and towards my grandfather’s room. After three knocks and a slight nudge at the door, I ...

Read Full Post