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Neither Night nor Day

Raza Rumi Our contributor, Soniah Kamal‘s short story ‘The Breast’ is included in the captioned anthology published by Harper Collins, India. In the recent months, Soniah was busy with her academic pursuits and will be writing for Pak Tea House regularly. Despite her Pakistani origins, Soniah is a true global citizen as she has lived in different countries and walked through myriad cultures. Her writings therefore bring forth a unique sensibility that is nuanced by her inherited … Read entire article »

Filed under: Books, Literature, Pakistan, Writers

Dr. Enver Sajjad – An Enigmatgic Icon

temporal  The first ever-commissioned play to be telecast in the subcontinent in November 1964 was written by Enver Sajjad. He was bestowed with Pride of Performance in 1989 for his valuable work in literature. And he got the ECO Award of Excellence 2004 in history, literature and culture. His screenplay are so deftly written that a prolific writer like Ashfaq Ahmed once confessed that he learned to write screenplay from Enver Sajjad I was at Riaz Rafi’s studio apartment one evening. Rafi as he likes to be called is an artist with a nagging conscience. I was in the midst of doing an in-depth profile of him. (project shelved indefinitely–cannot get permission to use some quotes.) … Read entire article »

Filed under: Arts and Crafts, Books, Dance, Fiction, Karachi, Literature, Theatre

In memoriam: Benazir Bhutto —Aitzaz Ahsan

I will remember her for three qualities: a constant urge to reach out to her people, a willingness to take on Herculean challenges, and for her ability to forgive, even embrace, her enemies. These three qualities made her superhuman. And all three took her to her tragic, yet heroic death? “The first thing I want to do is to release all political prisoners,” she announced as our meeting on November 30, 1988 began … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan, Politics

Peshawar: Cutting trees

By Dr Ali Jan I was sitting in my cosy chair, feeling smug and sipping coffee in the evening when I received a distressing phone call from a friend, Arbab Haleem Khan, who gave me the news of some shisham trees being chopped down, “in the Cantonment, on The Mall near the Combined Military Hospital at 5 pm, on Jan. 24,” according to him. My heart broke and it felt like I had been personally robbed of something very precious. In British India, the term “cantonment” meant a permanent military station or settlement where the soldiers lived, not in private houses, but in barracks, quarters, forts or occasionally camps. After defeating the Sikhs and occupying the old town of Peshawar in 1849, the British founded a new cantonment, turning it into a … Read entire article »

Filed under: Environment, Peshawar, urban

Afghan Madhouse (Book Review of No Space for Further Burials)

Raza Rumi Decades of imperialism have left Afghanistan and its people devastated. But the fall of the Taliban, and the much touted “liberation” of Afghanistan, has produced a new spate of novels, films and other artistic media dealing with the “Afghan victim.” And when I say “Afghan victim,” I mean a nauseating overdose of burqa-oppression, Taliban brutality and other “Oriental” tragedies. Not only are these subjects sexy – they tie into the global imperatives of terror and Islamism – but they also artfully exonerate the “aggressor,” whether it is the Soviets, US imperialism or NATO. As such, the bulk of this new subgenre of fiction addresses the Western, English-speaking world; writing about reluctant and not-so-reluctant fundamentalists sells “Over There.” Meanwhile, literature … Read entire article »

Filed under: Books, Pakistan, Writers

Behold a pale rider

by kinkminos Sundown is frowned upon in certain spheres Where high ground is taken by quarrelling peers Cement crowns the basis of all hundred floors Confounding soothsayers and prophets of yore No more to call upon unfractured idols Perforce to fall back on unpractised cycles Of rhythmically challenged canonic devices Kept swirling and whirling in time to my vices Start slicing and dicing my writing at will False niceties oftentimes will fit the bill But a look in the mirror won’t always reveal What all of us try very hard to conceal Don’t feel that you ought to believe what … Read entire article »

Filed under: poetry

Pakistan: Geography of romance

We are posting this brilliant piece by a Karachi based author that indicates the new contours of relationships and the transformations that are taking place in the realm of romance, relationships and marriage… (Raza Rumi) Majed Akhter writes on the emerging Geography of romance in Pakistan:  Not only does the novel spatiality of cyberspace offer great potential for romance, Pakistani youth, and corporations, are responding vigorously to the opportunity. To what other goal, if not a new geography of romance, are the giant billboards that offer “completely free, late-night mobile conversations” striving for The generation gap in Pakistan is increasingly apparent in more and more facets of life to the youth, and the older generations. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Love, Society, urban

On cutting down trees

by Green Sufi ************************************************* Trees are being cut down in cities everywhere in Pakistan, by the hundreds. Karachi, Lahore, Islamabad, Hyderabad seem the worst hit. But I’m sure it’s all over. This is the way of the modern city alas. Although many factors are behind it such as greed, and fantastic manias of the Development Authorities, odd notions of “progress”- mostly implying shiny metal and glass structures with a few manicured shrubs in front of them- I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Environment, Pakistan, Urdu

Pakistani political malaise – Ayesha Siddiqa on BBC Urdu

Courtesy BBC edition Thursday, 24 January, 2008: ‘پاکستانی سیاست طبقۂ خواص کی جنگ’ عائشہ صدیقہ اسلام آباد فوج اور سول بیوروکریسی اس طبقۂ خواص کے مفاد کی حفاظت کرتے ہیں۔ صدر پرویز مشرف نے برسلز میں کہا ہے کہ یورپی ممالک کو احساس کرنا چاہیے کہ پاکستان میں مغربح طرز کی جمہوریت نہیں آ سکتی۔ صدر صاحب کے ہمدرد دانشوروں کا خیال ہے کہ ملک میں جہالت اور جاگیرداری نظام کی وجہ سے لوگ اپنا ووٹ آزادانہ طور پر نہیں دے سکتے اس لیے ملک کے لیے گائیڈڈ ڈیموکریسی یا رہنما جمہوریت کا اصول بہتر ہے۔ آخر کو دیکھیں کہ برسوں سے انتخابات ہو رہے ہیں لیکن جمہوریت آنے کا نام ہی نہیں لے رہی۔ ایک طرف فوج اور بیوروکریسی کی طاقت ہے تو دوسری طرف سیاسی جماعتیں اور ان کے لیڈر جو عوام کو … Read entire article »

Filed under: Citizens, Democracy, Education, Pakistan, Society

When will this vandalism stop -'Another 100 trees chopped down in Islamabad'

ISLAMABAD, Jan 21: The city managers, who have already been accused of butchering thousands of trees that came in the way of various development projects, have axed about 100 more trees in a fresh sweep at the recently dualised Ibn-i-Sina Road. Over 20-year-old and over 50-feet tall Eucalyptus trees were cut one by one by in front of many people who condemned this act of the Capital Development Authority (CDA). The authority had already chopped down hundreds of different species of trees on the same road when it was under process of dualisation. It had allegedly cut over 10,000 trees from different locations to widen roads and sometimes in the name of termite attack or weakening of trees that could make people vulnerable to any accident. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Environment, public policy, urban

Benazir Bhutto: The fog of a legacy

By Razi U. Ahmed and Yaqoob K. Bangash SINCE Benazir Bhutto was assassinated on Dec 27, inevitably a lot of discussion has eddied about her legacy. Historian William Dalrymple, in an article in The Observer, has said that Ms Bhutto introduced a strange strand of democracy in Pakistan, which in essence was “elective feudalism” and “helped fuel the current, apparently unstoppable, growth of the Islamists”. Abbas Rashid has called Ms Bhutto “a symbol of deliverance … committed to fighting the growing perils of extremism and militancy that threatened Pakistan …” These are rivalling countenances of Ms Bhutto obfuscating her real legacy. A common motif running through opinions of Ms Bhutto is the perception that her two governments were corrupt and yet another motif is that the main reason she was celebrated in … Read entire article »

Filed under: Citizens, Democracy, History, Pakistan, Politics, Society

Pakistan still the favourite investment destination…

Moin Ansari’s piece is quite optimistic: The fundamentals of the Pakistani economy are sound. Arab and Asian money is still flowing into the Stock Exchange and the entire country looks like a construction site. You don’t read all about the 9 new 5 star hotels being developed in Karachi, or the flyover, and the motorways. You don’t hear about the massive idustrialization and the six industrial zones being set up by China. You don’t hear about giant new cities springing up where there was only desert. Pakistan has the 4th largest coal reserves in the world and now most of the cars run on Liquid Petroleum Gas. There is excitement in the economic air and stock exchange reflects it. My servant from 30 years ago called me today–from his own mobile! I … Read entire article »

Filed under: Economy, Pakistan

Pakistan: the wheat crisis – issues and solutions

Shahid Kardar, the former Finance Minister of the Punjab Province, has written a two part series on the current wheat/atta crisis in Pakistan. He makes some startling comparisons: While the Pakistani farmer was being paid less than half of what the government has been willing to pay to the Australian and American farmer for the wheat imported from them, and with price of flour significantly higher beyond our borders, the government continued to provide cheaper wheat to the flour mills, over a million tons of which, as mentioned above, was smuggled out. He is clear on who the real beneficiaries of this crisis are: The beneficiaries of this bizarre wheat policy have been middlemen (Arthis), officials of the Food Department, the flourmills, traders, and personnel of border security forces, all of who connived in this … Read entire article »

Filed under: Economy, Pakistan, public policy

Kabul; Women in Britain; and Putting a Face on Blogging and Civil Society in Pakistan

Sorry I have been MIA for a bit. A couple or three things jump out from the New York Times, NPR and the ‘Net this morning. Firstly, a shout-out to my peeps, so to speak. There’s a clip on Google Video today of an interview with two of Pakistan’s most prominent bloggers on an English-language breakfast show. Well worth watching, what with Pakistan in the news in such a big way. Then there’s an op-ed in the NYT this morning by the country director for the Institute of War and Peace Reporting providing his personal perspective about the bombing of the Serena Hotel in Kabul, a watering hole (and just a place to hole up) for expats, particularly. And there have been other stories about Afghanistan in The Times, on NPR, other … Read entire article »

Filed under: Blogging, Islam, Islamism, Karachi, Media, Pakistan, Politics, Society, Terrorism, World

Manto: A Love Affair with Truth

There was another inmate, a Sikh, who had been confined for the last 15 years. Whenever he spoke, it was the same mysterious gibberish: ‘Uper the gur gur the annexe the bay dhayana the mung the dal of the laltain.’ Guards said he had not slept a wink in 15 years. Occasionally, he could be observed leaning against a wall, but the rest of the time, he was always to be found standing. Because of this, his legs were permanently swollen, something that did not appear to bother him. Recently, he had started to listen carefully to discussions about the forthcoming exchange of Indian and Pakistani lunatics. When asked his opinion, he observed solemnly, ‘Uper the gur gur the annexe the bay dhayana the mung the dal of the government … Read entire article »

Filed under: Books, Pakistan, Urdu, Writers