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Mera Sahib – Saadat Hassan Manto's Classic

Saadat Hassan Manto wrote this classic in the early 1950s in Lahore.  The translation here is by writer who writes under the num de plume “Godot”

“It happened in 1937. The Muslim League was in its juvenility. I, too, was a young man. I wanted to do something. Anything. Besides, I was healthy and strong, and wanted to engage in a rumble. I wanted to look for trouble and pick fights. I was at an age when one longs to do somethingBy something, I mean to say, if not a great adventure than something!

“After this brief intro I return to the time when Ghalib was young. Don’t know if he ever participated in any political movements or not, but Yours Truly was a very active member of the Muslim League. Ghazi Corps was comprised of youths like me, and I was a sincere member of it. I stress ‘sincere’ because in those days I had nothing else. “It was in those times that Mohammad Ali Jinnah came to Delhi. The Muslims took out a huge and a wonderful procession in his honor.  Obviously, Ghazi Corps participated in this procession with full vigor. Our leader was Anwar Qureshi sahib. He was a strong young man who has been given an honor of, and is now known as, ‘Poet of Pakistan’. Our Corps’ youths were singing an anthem written by him. I don’t know if we sang in tune with each other or not, the only thing I remember is nobody cared about singing in synch. “This historical procession started from Delhi’s historical Jamia Masjid and, roaring, passed through Chandni Chowk, Lal Kewan, Hoz Qazi, and Chawri Bazar and ended at its destination, meaning at the Muslim League office. In this historical procession people yelled “Quaid-e-Azam,” which was considered illegal, for Mohammad Ali Jinnah. A six-horse coach was provided for him. All members of Muslim League were there in this procession. There were lots of cars, motorcycles, bi-cycles and camels. But it was exceedingly well organized. Quaid-e-Azam, who by nature was a very civil and organized person, seemed very pleased to see such civility.

 “I caught many of his glimpses. I don’t know my reaction the first time I saw him. Now, when I think about it and analyze it I conclude that, because sincerity is colorless, my reaction too was colorless. At that time if someone had pointed me to any man and had said ‘there is your Quaid-e-Azam,’ my adoration would have believed him. But when I saw him many times there in that crowd of people and cars, my ego was hurt: my Leader and so skinny…such a weakling! Ghalib has said: He comes to my house God blesses / Sometimes I look at him and sometimes I look at my house.

“It was his kindness and God’s blessing that he came to our house. I swear to God when I saw him and his frail body and then my strong physique, I wished either I contract or he expands. In the heart of my heart, to keep him safe from evil eye, I had prayed for him and his feeble body. The wounds he had inflicted were a common topic among his enemies. “Circumstances change. Situation arose such that the art bug that was sleeping in me started to crawl. I felt like testing my kismet in Bombay in that field. I was attracted to drama ever since I was a kid. I figured maybe there I could show off my skills. Now, on one hand a desire to work for the nation and on the other, acting! A man is weirdly contradictory!

 “I arrived in Bombay. In those days Imperial Film Company was at the top. It was difficult to get in, but somehow I got in. I worked as an extra for eight anas a day, and used to dream that I will be a top movie star one day. With God’s blessings, I am very talkative. I am not a very pleasant talker, but I am not that unpleasant either. Urdu is my mother tongue, a language the stars of Imperial Films did not know. Urdu helped me out more so in Bombay than it did in Delhi. Almost all the stars there had me read and write letters in response to those that came to them in Urdu. All this reading and writing for them did not help me, though. I was an extra and remained an extra. “During this time I became friends with Buddhan, the very special driver of Saith Ardesher Irani, the owner of Imperial Film Company. Buddhan paid back my friendship with him by teaching me to drive a car in his free time. But his free times were brief, and I was always scared of the Saith lest he finds it out. I never really became a skillful driver. Without Buddhan I could drive the Buick on an alif-like straight road. My knowledge about the parts of the car, however, remained zero.

 “I was obsessed with acting. But that was in my head. My heart still belonged to the Muslim League and Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. At Imperial Film Company, on the Kennedy Bridge, in the Bhindi Bazar, on the Mohammad Ali Road, and at the Play House, we used to have a discussion, with groups of mostly Muslims, about the behavior of the Congress. Everyone at Imperial knew that I was a Muslim Leaguey and adored Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. But it was a time when Hindus did not try to kill anyone who uttered the word “Quaid-e-Azam.” Pakistan was not yet on the horizon. I think when people at Imperial Film Company heard me praise Quaid-e-Azam they thought he was a film star and I was a fan of his. That is why one day the biggest film hero D. Blemoria said to me, ‘hey, here’s your Jinnah sahib,’ while moving Times of India towards me. I thought there was a picture of him in the newspaper. But I didn’t see it. So I said, ‘why, bhaiya, where is his picture?’ Blemoria’s John Gilbert style thin mustache expanded with a grin, ‘no photo woto, this is an advertisement.’ I asked, ‘Advertisement? What kind of advertisement?’ Blemoria took the paper back and showed me a long column and said, ‘Mr. Jinnah needs a motor mechanic who can take charge of his garage.’ I saw the ad where Blemoria finger was resting and said ‘Oh!’ as if I read the whole ad. The truth is I knew as much English as Blemoria knew Urdu. “As I already told you, my driving was limited to driving a car on an alif-like straight road. I knew nothing about the mechanism of the car. Why does the engine start when you press the self, if some had asked me that question I would have said that because it is the law of motors; and why it sometimes doesn’t start, then I would have said that is also the law of motors and human intelligence has nothing to do with it! “You’d be surprised to know that I noted down the address of Jinnah sahib I took from Blemoria and decided to go there the next morning. I neither thought nor expected to get the job. I just wanted to see him in his residence from up close. Therefore, taking my sincerity as a diploma, I arrived at his beautiful mansion, located near the Pleasant Road, on the Malabar Hill. Outside was a Pathan guard. He was wearing an enormous shalwar and a silk turban, was very clean, strong, and intimidating. His appearance made me very happy. I felt strangely satisfied that there was not much difference in his and my biceps, maybe of half-an-inch or so. “There were many candidates. They were all standing with their credentials under their arms. I joined them. The funny thing was, forget about the credentials, I didn’t even have a simple driving license. My heart was beating hard just thinking I am about to meet Quaid-e-Azam any moment. I was still thinking about my heartbeat when Quaid-e-Azam appeared in the porch. Everybody turned attention. I moved to the side. With him was his tall and skinny sister whose pictures I had seen in many newspapers and magazines. On the side was his respectful assistant.

 “Jinnah sahib fitted his one-glass round eyeglass on his eye and started to scrutinize the candidates. When his eye turned to me, I moved back further. Immediately his piercing voice was loudly heard, but I only heard “You.” I knew that much English. It meant “Tum.” But who was that “Tum” that he addressed? I thought it was the guy next to me, so nudging him I said, ‘I think he’s calling you.’ The guy asked hopefully, ‘me, sahib?’ Quaid-e-Azam said again, ‘No. Tum.’ His skinny but iron-like strong finger was pointing at me. My whole body trembled, ‘Ji, ji, me?’ ‘Yes.’ This three-knot-three bullet ripped through my heart and brain. My throat, which used to yell “Quaid-e-Azam,” was completely dry. I couldn’t say anything. But when he took off his monocle and said “All right,” I felt I might have said something that he heard, or he understood my feelings and said  “All right” just to save me from further torture. He turned around and said something to his very handsome and healthy secretary and went inside with his sister. Totally confused, as I hurried to get out of there his assistant called me and said that the Sahib wants me present at ten o’clock tomorrow morning. I couldn’t ask the assistant why the Sahib wanted me; I couldn’t tell him that I was not at all capable and not qualified for the job for which Qaid-e-Azam put out an ad. The assistant went inside and I returned home.

“I was there again at ten the next morning. When informed I was there, the handsome and very well dressed secretary came out and, to my surprise, told me that the Sahib had selected me and wants me to take charge of the garage immediately. When I heard this I felt like spilling my guts and tell him that Quaid-e-Azam had misunderstood Yours Truly, and that I showed-up just to have a little fun; why are you putting this garage responsibility on these incompetent shoulders. But I don’t know why I couldn’t say all that. As a result, I was immediately given that responsibility and the keys were handed to me. There were four cars of different makes, and I only knew how to drive Saith Ardesher Irani’s Buick, and on an alif-like straight road at that. There were many turns to get to Malabar Hill, and Azad was going to carry not only his own self in the car. God knows how many different places for important work he had to carry this Leader to whom belonged lakhs of Muslims lives. “I thought of dropping the keys and running away; run straight to my house, pick up my stuff, and catch the first train to Delhi. But I didn’t think this was the right thing to do. I figured tell the truth to Jinnah sahib, apologize to him, and return to the place where I really belonged. But trust me, sir, I did not get a chance to do this for the next six months.”

“How so?” I asked. Mohammad Hanif Azad continued, “Listen to this now. The very next day I was ordered to bring the car. Those things that fly at times like these, almost flew. I decided that the moment the Sahib comes, I’d say salam to him, return the keys, and fall at his feet. But it couldn’t happen. When he came to the porch, I was so intimidated by him that the incompetent me couldn’t utter a word. Besides, Fatima sahiba was with him. To fall into someone’s feet in the presence of a woman, Manto sahib, was too much.” I saw bashfulness in Azad’s big eyes and smiled, “khair, what happened then?” “What happened then, Manto sahib, is that Yours Truly had to start the car. It was a new Packard. I started the car with the name of Allah, and took it out of the mansion very cleanly. When I got to the bottom of the Malabar Hill near the red light at the corner…you know what a red light is, right?” “Yes, yes,” I shook my head affirmatively.

“Well, sahib, that became a problem. Master Buddhan had told me to just press the breaks and everything should be alright. In confusion I hit the break with such clumsiness that the car stopped with a sudden jolt. The cigar fell off Qaid-e-Azam’s hands. Fatima Jinnah jumped forward two balisht and started cursing at me. A deep fear seeped through my entire body. My whole body started to tremble. I felt dizzy. Qaid-e-Azam picked up his cigar and said something in English, which probably meant ‘lets go back.’ I obeyed the order. He asked for a new car and a driver and left for where ever he had to go. I did not get to serve him for the next six months after that incident.”

 “To serve him like that?” I asked, grinning. Azad also smiled. “Yes. You figure the Sahib would not give me another chance. There were other drivers. They served him. The assistant told the drivers the night before the car and the driver that were needed the next day. If I’d asked him about me he couldn’t give me a satisfactory answer. I found out later what was in Sahib’s mind. No one could say anything about him with any certainty, nor could ask him about such matters. He spoke only when he had to, and listened only when he needed to. That’s why, although being so close to him, I could not find out why he kept me like a useless car part.” “It’s possible that he forgot about you,” I said to Azad.

 A huge laughter came out of Azad’s throat, “No, sir, no. The Sahib never forgot anything even if he wanted to. He knew very well that Azad is breaking free bread. And, Manto sahib, when Azad breaks bread they are not little bread. Look at this built.” I looked at Azad. I don’t know what he was like in ‘37 or ’38, but I saw a well built and a strong man sitting in front of me. You must have known him as an actor. Before the Division he worked in many films in Bombay. With his other actor friends he is barely making a living in Lahore these days.

I found out last year from a friend of mine that this big-eyes, dark-skinned, well-built actor was a driver to Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah for some time. I had been, therefore, eyeing him ever since. Whenever I met him, I brought up the topic of his Master and collected his stories in my head. With an intention to write this essay, when I listened to his stories yesterday, I saw a very interesting angle to Quaid-e-Azam’s life. What had struck Mohammad Hanif Azad most was that his Master liked physical strength. Just as Allama Iqbal liked those things that were tall and majestic, Quaid-e-Azam liked strong things. That’s why when he picked his servants, their health and physical strength was the first thing he noticed. In those days, of which Mohammad Hanif Azad talked about, Quaid-e-Azam’s secretary was a very handsome man. All of his drivers had exemplary physical built. The guards for his mansion were also selected based on physical strength.

What could be an explanation for this other than that, psychologically, although Late Jinnah was physically very weak but extremely strong from inside, he did not want to associate himself that was weak and feeble. When a person really likes something, he takes care of it real well. Quaid-e-Azam made sure all his well-built servants dressed very well. His Pathan chowkidar was ordered to dress his ethnic dress. Azad was not a Punjabi, but was at times asked to wear a Punjabi turban. This headgear is quite impressive and one looks very impressive in it. Quaid-e-Azam seemed very pleased by it and used to award Azad whenever he put one on. If one thinks about it, Jinnah being so conscious of his own frail body was his very strength of his strong and powerful life. That was evident in the way he walked, talked, ate, and thought. Mohammad Hanif Azad told me that Quaid-e-Azam ate very little. “He ate so little I wondered how he is alive. If I were forced to eat that little my fat would’ve started to melt the next day. Despite him eating so little, four or five chickens were cooked every day. But he used to eat only a very small cup of a chick’s soup. Fruits were delivered everyday, and lots of it; but all of it used to wind up in the servants’ bellies. Every night after the dinner, the Sahib would check the list of grocery and give me a one-hundred-rupee bill for the next day’s dinner.”

 “One hundred rupees everyday?” I asked Azad. “Yes, sir, exactly one hundred rupees. And the Sahib never asked what happened to it. Whatever remained of it got divided among the servants. Sometimes thirty rupees remained, sometimes forty, and sometimes even sixty or seventy. He must have known that we kept the remainder, but he never asked for it. However, Miss Jinnah was very clever. She used to get mad at us and say we all are thieves. But the way the Sahib treated us we used to think of his things as our own. So we kept quiet when she would lose her temper at us. At times like that the Sahib would say to her sister, ‘It is all right, it is all right,’ and that would be the end of it. But once “It is all right” did not end it. Miss Jinnah kicked the cooks out, not one but both cooks. Quaid-e-Azam had two cooks at the same time, one was an expert in Hindustani food and the other in English food. Usually the Hindustani cook was a waste and did not do anything. He got to cook maybe once in months. Once in a blue moon he would get an order to cook, but Quaid-e-Azam did not really care about that food. “When both cooks got kicked out,” said Azad, “the Sahib did not say anything. He did not interfere in his sister’s affairs. So he started eating out in restaurants. During this time we had a ball.

We would take the car out for hours, hang out, come back and tell them we could not find a cook. Finally, both cooked were asked to come back by Miss Jinnah.” If a man does not eat much, he either hates those who eat a lot, or feels very happy to see others eat a lot. Quaid-e-Azam ate very little but he was very happy to see others eat a lot. That’s the reason he used to hand out one hundred rupees everyday and forget about it. It doesn’t mean he was a spendthrift. Mohammad Hanif Azad recounts an interesting incident. “One evening in 1939, by the Warli Beach, I was driving the white Packard very slowly with the Sahib in it. The low waves were touching the shore gently. It was a beautiful but slightly chilly evening. The Sahib was in a really good mood. I took advantage of it and started talking about Eid. He knew immediately what I was after. I saw in the rear view mirror he took his never-separating cigar out of his mouth and, his thin lips smiling, said in a broken Urdu, ‘Well, well, you suddenly have become a Muslim, try to be a little bit Hindu also.”

Four days earlier Quaid-e-Azam had turned Azad into a Muslim, meaning that he had given him two hundred rupees as an award. That‘s why he advised Azad to become a little bit Hindu. But that did not affect Azad. In this Eid Azad came to the film producer Syed Murtaza Jilani to affirm his Musalmani when I saw him and further interviewed him for this story. Quaid-e-Azam’s private life is a mystery and will remain so forever. That is the general feeling. But I think his private life was so mixed-up with his political life that he had practically no private life left. His wife had passed away long time ago and his daughter married a Parsi against his wishes. Mohammad Hanif Azad told me, “The Sahib was in a great shock because of it. He wished his daughter had married a Muslim; the skin color or the ethnic background did not matter to him. His daughter argued that if he could marry to whom ever he wanted, how come he does not grant her the same freedom.”

Quaid-e-Azam had married the daughter of a very influential Parsi man. Everyone knows that. But very few people know the Parsi man was very unhappy about it and sought revenge. Some think he conspired to have Qaid-e-Azam’s daughter marry a Parsi. When I talked to Azad about it he said, “Only Allah knows. I only know that this was the second biggest shock to him after his wife’s death. He was greatly affected when he found out that his daughter married a Parsi. His face was a mirror of his feelings, and reaction to even a simple event could be seen on his face. A simple furrow in his eyebrow could become very scary. What must have gone through his heart, only the Late One could tell. What I found out from the outside sources is that he was very disturbed. He did not meet anyone for fifteen days. He must have smoked hundreds of cigars, and must have paced hundreds of miles in his own room. “He walked a lot when he was in deep thoughts. In the dead of the night he would pace back and forth on the hard and spotless floor for hours. In calculated steps, from here to there, and there to here, in the measured distance, his white and black, black and white, or white and brown shoes used to make a strange tick tick sound as if a clock is telling the news about its life in a consistent manner.

 Quaid-e-Azam loved his shoes, perhaps because they were always at his feet and moved according to him. “After fifteen days of constant mental and spiritual disturbance, he suddenly re-emerged. There was no sign of shock on his face any longer, although the sadness had left a slight wound in his neck. But it was still straight and stiff. It did not mean, however, that he had forgotten the shock.” When Azad started to talk about this aspect of Qaid-e-Azam’s life a second time, I asked, “How do you know he had not forgotten that shock?” Azad answered, “Nothing in a house can be hidden from the servants. Sometimes the Sahib would order to open a trunk. In this ship-like trunk were many clothes, of his late wife and of that disobedient daughter when she was a little girl. When those clothes were taken out, the Sahib would look at them with an intense quietness. Then a sudden sadness would cover his thin and very clean face. He would quietly say ‘It is all right, it is all right,’ take off his monocle and, wiping it, would walk away. According to Mohammad Hanif Azad, “Quaid-e-Azam had three sisters: Fatima Jinnah, Rehmat Jinnah, and I don’t remember the name of the third one who lived in Dongri. At Jopati Corner, near Chinnai Motor Works, lived Rehmat Jinnah. Her husband was employed somewhere. Their income was very modest.

Every month the Sahib would give me a sealed envelope that had money in it. He would also give me a parcel that perhaps contained clothes and things. I used to deliver these to Rehmat Jinnah. Miss Fatima Jinnah and the Sahib would pay visit there every once in a while. The sister who lived at Dongri was married. All I know about her is that she was well off and did not need anyone’s help. He had a brother. The Sahib would help him out routinely, but he was not allowed in the Sahib’s house. “I had seen this brother of Quaid-e-Azam in Bombay. One evening, in a bar, I saw a man, who looked like Quaid-e-Azam, ordering half rum. The same feature, the same backcombed hair, almost the same white striped hair. When I inquired about him I found out that he is the brother of Mr Mohammad Ali Jinnah, Ahmed Ali. I kept looking at him. Sipping it slowly, he finished that half a glass of rum in a royal manner.

It cost one rupee, which he paid as if he is paying a huge amount. From his attitude it appeared as if he is sitting at a bar in Taj Mehal Hotel, not in a flimsy and a cheap one. There was a gathering of Muslims just before the historic meeting between Gandhi and Jinnah. I had a number of friends at that gathering. They told me that Jinnah was on the platform giving a speech in his typical style, and far, at a distance, his brother Ahmed Ali, wearing his monocle, was standing in such a way as if he was chewing his brother’s words.

“Billiards was the only indoor game Quaid-e-Azam liked. He would order to open the billiards room when sometimes he felt like playing the game. Although every room was cleaned every day, the servants made sure the special room he ordered to open was very clean and everything in it was set properly before he walked in. Because I played the game a little, I was allowed in that room. Twelve balls would be presented to him, he would select and the game would begin. Miss Fatima Jinnah would stand nearby. The Sahib would light up a cigar, press it between his lips, and would analyze the position of the ball he was going to hit. He would spend many minutes in his analysis. With this angle. With that angle. He would weigh the cue in his hands and move his bony fingers on it as if it were a sarangi, mumble something, and take a position; but if another angle come to his mind, he would stop, think, make sure, hit the ball with the cue, and if successful, would look at his sister with a conquering smile. “In the game of politics, Quaid-e-Azam was as careful. He would never decide immediately. He would analyze and scrutinize each problem as if it were a billiard ball. He would move his cue to hit only if he was certain. Before he struck, he would weigh his prey with his eyes carefully. He would consider all angles. He would select the weapon according to the size of his opponent. He was not a hunter who would pick up a gun and just shoot. He would make sure not to miss. He would know his prey’s every possible weakness before he aimed.”

According to Azad, “Qaid-e-Azam stayed away from the people who came by just to meet him. He hated useless and senseless talk; but only those talks that mattered, and even that had to be very precise and concise, in both what he had to say and hear. That’s why only a few people were allowed in his special room. There was only one sofa inside the room with a small side table on which he would drop the ashes of his cigar. Across the sofa were two showcases. He kept those Qurans in them that were given to him by his fans. That room contained his personal papers as well, where they were kept safely. He would spend most of his time in that room. There was no table there. If a person was asked in that room, he would stay at the door, listen, and walk out backwards. The empty side of the sofa had his papers all over it. If he wanted to write a letter, he would have the steno come in and take dictation. His tone had certain harshness. When he spoke one felt as if he was putting emphasis on those words that did not need emphasis.” Judging from Azad’s testimonies, it seems the psychological reason for his harshness was his physical weakness. His life was more like a smooth pond, but he lived a life of a storm.

Some people say that it was his inner strength that had him live for that long, that is, his awareness of his own physical weakness. According to Azad, the Late Bahadur Yar Jung was among Quaid-e-Azam’s best friends. “It was only him with whom he was so frank. Whenever he came to visit, both men would talk about the country and politics like true best friends. At that time, Quaid-e-Azam would separate his outer shell from his inner self. He was the only one with whom the Sahib was so frank and open. One felt as if they were childhood buddies. When they talked to each other, one could hear the loud laughter coming out of the closed doors. Other than Bahadur Yar Jung, other Muslim League leaders, such as Raja Mahmud Abad, I. I. Chundrigarh, Maulana Zahid Husain, Nawabzadah Liaquat Ali Khan, Nawab Ismail, and Ali Imam sahib used to pay visit. But the Sahib dealt with them in a professional manner, not in a frank way reserved for Bahadur Yar Jung.”

“Khan Liaquat Ali Khan must have visited quite often,” I said to Azad. Said Azad, “Yes, the Sahib treated him as if he were Sahib’s best student. And the Khan sahib listened to him very carefully, obeyed, and carried his orders. When he was asked to pay visit, sometimes he would ask me, ‘Hey, Azad, how’s Sahib’s mood today?’ I would tell him how his mood was. If the Sahib were not in his good mood, every wall in the mansion would know it. “Quaid-e-Azam took great care in his servants’ character and personal behavior. Just as he hated bodily dirt and smell, he hated bad behavior and character. He liked his assistant very much, but was very irritated when he found out that the assistant was having an affair with an employed girl. He could not tolerate this irritation for long. The assistant was asked to see him, and was fired. But after firing him, the Sahib started treating him as a friend.” Tells Azad, “Once I came home at two in the morning after having some fun. Those were the days when young blood feels certain pleasure for doing bad things. I thought the Sahib would not know about me coming in so late. But somehow he did. He called me in the next day and said in English, ‘You are developing a bad character.’ Then he said in a broken Urdu, ‘Well, we’ll have you married.’ So, when he went to Bombay from Delhi for a conference, I was married per his instructions. Although I am just a Shaikh, I am fortunate that only because of him I was married in a Sadat Family. The girl’s family accepted me because Azad was a servant of Qaid-e-Azam.”

 I suddenly asked Azad a question, “Ever heard Quaid-e-Azam say I am sorry?” Azad moved his fat neck in negation, “No. Never.” Then he smiled, “If by an accident he uttered the words “I am Sorry,” I’m certain he would’ve erased those words from the dictionary forever.” I think this spontaneous response of Azad sums up the entire character of Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah. Mohammad Hanif Azad is alive, in this Pakistan given to him by his Quaid-e-Azam. And now, on the map of this world, this Pakistan is struggling to stay alive with the leadership of Jinnah’s best student, Khan Liaquat Ali Khan. In this free country, outside the doors of Punjab Art Pictures, near the paan store, Azad sits on a broken cot and waits for his Master. He also prays for a better time when he would get his salary in time.

He is even ready to be a Hindu, as his Master once told him, provided he gets that chance back. He was very worried when I talked to him about Quaid-e-Azam’s life. He did not have money even for a paan.

When I started to make small talk to relieve him from his worries, he sighed and said, “Sahib has died. I wish I had gone on that journey with him. It would be his open white Packard. I would be at the wheel. I would drive the car very slowly to his final destination. His frail body could not tolerate jolts, you know. I’ve heard, Allah knows right or wrong, that when the airplane with him on landed in Karachi, the engine of the ambulance that took him to the Government House was not in good condition. It stopped after going only a short distance. My Sahib must have been so annoyed.”

Azad’s big eyes were full of tears.


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141 Responses to "Mera Sahib – Saadat Hassan Manto's Classic"

  1. YLH United States Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    On the issue of princely states- Jinnah’s position was a constitutional one (without going into Kashmir which we’ve discussed). It was Jinnah who had suggested absorption of Princely States into British India at the roundtable conferences…had that proposal been accepted there would have been no issue to begin with.

    Sikandar-Jinnah Pact was absolutely necessary to give Jinnah representative capacity. Infact many would argue that it was the joint Muslim League communist move against the Khizer govt on the basis of communist thesis of the right of determination of “muslim nationalities” that partitioned Punjab.

    I think it was the post 1946 Unionist defection to the League that changed the character of the Muslim League from a salariat petty bourgeoisie party to a feudal dominated party in Punjab.

  2. YLH United States Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    You do have an Indian mind as per the definition given by Karun.

    Unfortunately it is not meant as a compliment. Neither to you nor to the word “Indian”…apologies to Majumdar, Bonobashi and others.

    There is no reason to discuss anything any further when almost everyone has failed to reason with you.

    I thank everyone for trying to make this fellow see some light.

  3. Hayyer Canada Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Father of the Nation is a term that the Indian Government gave Gandhi. It is not written in law and therefore not binding on Indians.
    Gandhi’s greatness lies in his eccentricities. He was attempting something novel in a twentieth century world. He was trying to fashion modern government, incorporating his own version of religion and politics as an essential component of economic and administrative theory. ‘I am truly a Mahatma’ he exclaimed to one of his nieces a few days before he died.
    Jinnah, a truly enlightened modern leader was driven into what he eventually did by the obfuscation of Gandhi and the obtuseness of Nehru. Nehru what ever his achievements after 1947 certainly turned a deaf ear to Muslims as long as Jinnah was speaking for them. He did call the AIML a communal body forgetting that the Congress had long accommodated communal view points of Muslims, Sikhs and Hindus.
    After putting Congress on the defensive in the forties Jinnah had it in his power to compromise on terms that would have been acceptable to him a decade ago, but by then he was in an understanding with the British.
    When they no longer needed him they cut bait and ran and he was stuck with an attitude that led to a moth eaten Pakistan.
    I agree with the core of your belief however. There is a South Asian identity, variegated though it is. Even the Pathans while involved with central Asia and Iran have had their fingers in the Indian pie for as long as anyone can remember. All of North India’s history at the very least is tied up one way or another with Pathans. Large numbers of North Indian Muslims have ethnic connections to the Pathans. That is not going to disappear.
    It is the contention of some that there is no India, that it is a geographical expression and so forth. The country does exist, it is politically speaking, older than Pakistan by at least 100 years. The Indian identity is probably more amorphous than the Pakistani one, but I imagine, less tenuous.
    Modern India has much to thank Nehru for; secularism, democracy and the rule of law (arbitrary as it is), but all Indians do not see themselves as acolytes of Nehru and Gandhi. Most of us are quite happy with our regional identities about which Nehru was confused and which led to the mess on Kashmir. Gandhi of course was not above using his Gujratiness to woo Jinnah when he felt he needed to.
    I have visited your site. It is refreshing in its inclusiveness. We have our Ganpat Rams as you have yours. Don’t let them discourage you.

  4. koschan India Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Jinnah, a truly enlightened modern leader was driven into what he eventually did by the obfuscation of Gandhi and the obtuseness of Nehru. Nehru what ever his achievements after 1947 certainly turned a deaf ear to Muslims as long as Jinnah was speaking for them.————————————
    hayyer, you really need to read mani shankar ‘s review of jaswant singh’s.
    People such as you, majumdar and jaswant singh seem to have a huge personal grudge against nehru and gandhiji. Gandhiji is the father of nation for me and for most of the indians , irrespective of your biased opinion.He may have introduced religion into politics but his religiosity was benedictory ,inclusive and certainly not fundamentalist.He quoted equally well from koran and bible as he did from geeta and the atheist’s guide to salvation.Did he not save thousands of lives in kolkata during the midnight hr?
    from an oxfordian like you, i expect a more nuanced interpretation of gandhiji’s actions.Kritgan…………..

  5. koschan India Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    hayyer , 2 ‘koschans’
    if gandhiji had as many faults as you want us to believe , why do the Nobel Committe members regret that they did not give the NP to gandhiji in 1948 or before?How do you compare His Holiness the Dalai Lama to jinnah and gandhiji?

  6. kabir Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    What did I say? Just that I don’t believe politicans should be treated like prophets or gods. What is there in that to fill you with bile? I quite enjoy people’s attempts to make me “see the light” as if I’m some poor heathen that needs to be converted, so do go ahead if you please:)

    I agree with you. All I have been trying to say is that there is a “South Asian” identity and it is valid. No disrespect to anyone who wishes to call themselves Pakistani or whatever.

    By the way, TSAI is not my blog, but my father’s:)


  7. bonobashi India Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    Nobody needs to read anybody’s review of anybody else’s book; the facts are clear before us, and while there is every justification for listening to someone else’s point of view, or for reading a well-written piece in spite of disagreeing with it in essence, we don’t need the prosthetics (that’s a medical term, and you will come across it very soon, if you stop wasting your time on PTH and attend to your studies) provided by a Congress ‘apologist’ (Kabir, please tell me where to send you your royalty payment).

    I sincerely wish, really, truly wish that you would stop reacting from your glands and hormones and instead start reacting from your gray matter.

    I don’t think Hayyer has a grudge against anybody; it isn’t apparent from his writing, and it is a mystery where you got that impression. If you have read Majumdar, you will have noticed, unless you are quite dense, that he has a sharp mind, perhaps the sharpest next to YLH, but is also handicapped by a sense of humour, which among other side-effects doesn’t allow him to take himself seriously. What sort of grudge do you think he’ll bear? Nothing very weighty, I should imagine. Not being as well acquainted with Jaswant Singh as you seem to be (you Delhi people have all the luck), I can’t comment on your third anti-hero.

    There is not much proof that people are reacting from a sense of having been wronged, or from a vindictive mind-set. I don’t see the grudges; maybe they’ve been flying around and never came to earth.

    We have to deal with your heart-on-the-sleeves emotions, however; specifically your formulation that Gandhi happens to be father of the nation to you and to most other Indians, irrespective of the biased opinion of this coterie that you have just named.

    This sort of turbo-charged emotion is always suspect, I think; genuine emotion would not be so demonstrative and oriented towards display. But on the other hand, let us assume that Gandhi is our common beloved father of the nation.

    Would you go on from this premise to say that he was unblemished, in all respects? Assume for a moment that you are given two knowledge of history tablets tomorrow morning, and they work with instant speed. Assume that you become aware of, say a marginal number of things that Gandhi did sinfully, or negligently. Would you still proceed to defend G in so robust a manner, or rather, in as unquestioning a manner as before? If you would not, please take out a piece of paper, and figure out how you and those you have just pilloried differ from each other.

  8. bonobashi India Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    Yasser, with your permission, I shall break into poetry: the successive vast blows struck by our Sir Galahad have now brought my already enfeebled and rapidly aging mind to its knees. Prose will no longer contain my emotions; poetry it is then:

    Beside yon straggling fence that skirts the way
    With blossom’d furze unprofitably gay,
    There, in his noisy mansion, skill’d to rule,
    The village master taught his little school;
    A man severe he was, and stern to view,
    I knew him well, and every truant knew;
    Well had the boding tremblers learn’d to trace
    The days disasters in his morning face;
    Full well they laugh’d with counterfeited glee,
    At all his jokes, for many a joke had he:
    Full well the busy whisper, circling round,
    Convey’d the dismal tidings when he frown’d:
    Yet he was kind; or if severe in aught,
    The love he bore to learning was in fault.
    The village all declar’d how much he knew;
    ‘Twas certain he could write, and cipher too:
    Lands he could measure, terms and tides presage,
    And e’en the story ran that he could gauge.
    In arguing too, the parson own’d his skill…………

    and here I shall beg leave to depart, and leave it as an exercise to you, gentle reader, to complete these lines. They are obviously, from their polish and styled elegance, not mine.

  9. koschan India Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    OK, Bonobashi
    1. Its been three years since i have heard the term prosthetics .
    2.i am not overreacting but sometimes when gandhibashing and nehrubashing gets supramaximal at pth, i cannot prevent myself from defending them.I stand by my observation that Hayyer and majumdars are two of the most unrelenting cynics i have come across.
    3. Yes, i havealmost wasted seven hrs on the net today (meri chuttiyan chal rahi hain).Seven precious hrs………seven hrs that have been uselessly spent. seven hrs that i could have devoted to ganong’s physiology.Big mistake.

  10. karun India Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Raza Uncle : SOS

    things spinning out of control. Pls take charge….

  11. Hayyer Canada Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Did it occur to you that the Congress is cleverer than the BJP. Jaswant Singh’s book could have devastated the Congress. Instead, the BJP committed hara-kiri and the Congress quietly smirks.
    Mani Shankar Iyer is a disgrace, an ex communist from Cambridge, a fan of China in the 62 war transformed into a Rajiv Gandhi groupie on a Doon School connection, and then a votary of Panchayati Raj of which he had little understanding. He is a leading sycophant of the Nehru family and you expect his reviews of a book criticizing Nehru to be be authentic?
    Mani Shanker Iyer is out of favour these days. He may be seeking re-entry into the inner circles by hack reviews. His brother Swaminathan Iyer is the more authentic writer.

  12. Hayyer Canada Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Opinion is free. There is no law against admiring Gandhi just as there is none against criticizing him. Father of the nation? Nothing that he did brought about the nation.
    When Jinnah wrote to him in 1938 asking for his intercession against the obduracy of people like Nehru, his reply was ….”I wish I could do something but I am utterly helpless…….I see no daylight out of the impenetrable darkness, and in such distress I cry to God for light” How evasive!
    But in 1944 Gandhi could take the trouble to go to Bombay and spend two weeks trying to return Jinnah to the path of the 30s.
    The reason the British left is that they just could not hold on after the war. They lacked the troops, the resources the will. Before the war they were thought they would stay for the forseeable future.
    The Quit India movement is what enabled Jinnah and the League in the absence of the Congress to build up their organization. It was Gandhi’s doing, (though not Nehru’s). Gandhi was afraid of Bose who had allied himself with the Axis powers and travelled to Germany. Gandhi thought he could retain the initiative that way. Instead he paved the way for partition.
    The father of the nation is the Indian Constitution. Little of Gandhi fortunately is to be found there.
    I am not an ‘Oxfordian’ by the way, though I did spend an academic year at that University as a visiting fellow.

  13. Hayyer Canada Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Erratum, last line fourth para. “Before the war they thought they would stay for the foreseeable future”.

  14. bonobashi India Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    I’ve been fulminating about Karun’s idiotic remark about Greek and Indian minds since he wrote it.

    This is arrant rubbish. We are not a nation of Lobsang Rampas. There is not a single theme in public or private life which justifies Karun’s comment. It is not clear where he’s coming from.

    It doesn’t feel insulting when you refer to this classification of minds – classification of minds!!! – because the whole thing, referring to Karun’s original comment, constitutes my first WTF moment on PTH.

  15. YLH United States Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Dear Bonobashi,

    Given that India produced so many “greek” minds, I don’t think it is a fair classification either. Besides Indian here would denote the erstwhile British/Mughal conceptions of the entire subcontinent… One could say that the classification that is being referred to as the “Indian” brain/mind may loosely apply to many many many Pakistanis.

  16. Junaid Australia Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Also, say a Pakistani person really admires Nelson Mandela and his fight against apartheid in South Africa. If this person then names his son “Nelson” it doesn’t mean the kid is trying to be South African and not Pakistani.

    Logically, the same principle applies to a “Pakistani” kid named Mohan. One can admire Gandhiji without being a “traitor” to Jinnah. One can criticize and be against TNT, without being against Jinnah as a person.

    Is this so hard to understand?

    Great words Kabir.

    You have very well worded what I was trying to put forward.

  17. kabir Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Thanks Junaid, I try, though it is an up-hill battle.

  18. D_a_n United Arab Emirates Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    the worlds tiniest violin is playing just for you….(sniffle)

  19. yasserlatifhamdani United Kingdom Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Only now do I understand the classic saying “khawajay ka gawah tattoo”.

    Gentlemen – Kabir and Junaid- you are fighting ghosts that don’t exist on this website.

    All both of you have done so far is make strawman fallacies unrelated to the
    arguments at hand.

    Grow up.

  20. Bloody Civilian United Kingdom Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    kunad hum jins ba hum jins parwaaz


    oops! that’s persian.. there goes my claim to be indian!

    from claiming pathans are not indian, i see you’ve flipped and flopped till you have gone a full 180deg. starting from the ‘divisive’ exclusion of pathans from india.. i see you now consider them indian. indeed you claim the whole of pakistan to be culturally indian. i presume you consider pathans to be part of pakistan.. till you say otherwise. you even consider PMA to be ‘ethnically indian’.. without bothering to find out whether he indeed is a non-pathan. so your ‘argument’ continues to evolve, albeit as per chaos theory.

    it may or may not have occurred to you that hardly any one here has attacked you for your views or had any problem whatsoever with your right to hold any view when it comes to your own identity. what might not have occurred to you either is that many here, some indians included, do not believe that claiming pakistani identity precludes one from claiming the indian one. rejecting pakistani idenity is not a pre-requisite. it’s just a right which you are free to exercise. as for the india v south asia debate… even PMA has made it clear that he does not deny pakistan’s east… he just emphasises that there also is a west.

    other than that, you have been accusing pakistanis of talibanism, religiosity and being under the illusion that they are arabs. which one of the regulars here at PTH do you accuse of any of that? wouldn’t these blanket accusation from high above be better directed at some other blogs.. rather than PTH? yet, isn’ tit ironic that you’ve been lapping up praise from those pakistanis who have – post after post here – proven that they are much of all that you cite as reasons to reject pakistani identity for yourself. while the indian counterpart has been the kind who have stated that they look forward to war with pakistan.

    those debating you here are not as interested in opinions as they are in facts and analyses. the objection here has been to you stating views, ad nauseum and not with brevity, without feeling the need to back them up with any facts… let alone a coherent and consistent argument. your indian-pathan ‘argument’ has been a depressing case study. while you ignore challenges to your facts, when you have quoted something which is simply not true, as per your own convenience.

    so you claimed 8 out of 37 years to be “most of” faiz’s life. you conveniently ignored the challenge. you have told us many times that you are “fighting” for your right to define your own identity. wonderful. but as they say in yours and mine beloved punjab: “such bolna adhhi larrai ae”

    or you can use this post too as nothing more than an excuse to merrily carry on with your monologue pretending to be a dialogue.


  21. Bloody Civilian United Kingdom Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    btw, the reverse also is true of course, ie. claiming indian (the present day nation state) identity does not preclude any one from their ‘pakistani’ heritage or even identity. but identity of course is a personal choice, while heritage is a fact – whether historical, cultural or (typically) both.

    it might come as a surprise to you, but those trying, in vain, to have a (healthy) debate with you also believe their human identity to be the most important of them all. all other identities are less important. why i say “in vain”, i’ve already explained in my previous post. what you and YLH engaged in for a good number of consecutive posts was, for all its entertainment value, not a (healthy) debate. so i’m not talking of that.

    you are called kabir for a thoughtful reason, you say. i’m sure he was and is popular not just for his ideas. there was more to it than just his views and opinions, repeated ad nauseum.

    returning to identities other than insaniyat… as shah hussain put it

    naa’o'n hussainoo
    qaum jullaha…
    ….. jo main haa
    so main haa

  22. bonobashi India Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    @Bloody Civilian

    I was waiting for a reaction, any reaction from Kabir to write to him somewhat in your fashion. ‘Somewhat’ because you have put matters with such felicity that I can’t see where to take away a word, or indeed, where to add a word.

    Thank you for expressing my feelings so well; I am sure these are the feelings of many others also.

    Your comment also invokes the spirit of this blog so, so well. RR could pay you and use your words as an introduction.

  23. kabir Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    No one has attacked me for my views? Where have you been man? YLH has called me “self loathing”, implied i’m a “traitor” to the Pakistani cause, derisively referred to me as a “bhajan singer” as if that is a contempible identity and that is all I am (I’m not a great lawyer but a poor performing artist). You don’t expect me to defend myself against that?

    My argument has always been consistant. I have the right to call myself Hindustani without anyone deciding that I’m “self loathing” or a traitor. The rest of you are free to call yourselves Pakistanis or greater timbuktooans, I really don’t care. PMA sahib is free to deny that the term “South Asia” exists, despite it’s recognized use as a concept in academia and the real world.

    As for the “indian vs. pathan” argument, you are taking it out of context. I am no one to decide people’s national identity for them, but national identity and ethnic identity are not necessarily the same. As I wrote to YLH on the other thread, I don’t relate to Pathans simply because I haven’t spent time in NWFP and don’t speak their language. By contrast, I’ve spent a lot of time in Punjab, understand Punjabi, like Punjabi poetry, Punjabi khana, etc. It’s a reflection on me and not on some inalienable truth.

    Sorry about the “most” of Faiz’s life, but 8 years in prison or exile is still pretty significant. I stand by my point that Pakistan wasn’t much good for Faiz sahab.


  24. Bloody Civilian United Kingdom Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    someone like me can only learn from PTH.

    i hope we can establish a dialogue with our friend kabir and develop the discussion with him on his interesting views and ideas.

  25. Bloody Civilian United Kingdom Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    bhai kabir

    No one has attacked me for my views?

    do argue that YLH is hardly “hardly anyone”.. if you wish, but kindly do not misread/misquote me. and do go ahead, regardless, and tell me/us what YLH did or did not do.. but please do acknowledge the fact that i’ve clearly and more than once excluded your debate with YLH from those trying “in vain”. otherwise, we just end up talking across each other rather than to each other… yet again.

    As for the “indian vs. pathan” argument, you are taking it out of context

    now had you deigned to respond to rather than ignore my questions about the puktunwalist bacha khan or your fictitious contemporary kabir mohan khan of peshawar… perhaps i, and several others who have stated their bewliderment, would not have ‘taken it out of context’.

    The rest of you are free to call yourselves Pakistanis or greater timbuktooans

    … but not hindustanis? not unless we forfeit pakistaniat?

    you claim identity to be subjective, and to be a personal choice. but then you bring in mr tharoor as evidence in support of your ‘argument’… with his ‘legal definition’ of indian identity. don’t you see that mr tharoor’s criterion is at least irrelevant to your claim, and largely redundant (who in south asia does not have grandparents born in united india??), if not actually going against the very grain of your claim? how is yours a consistent argument then? how does a subjective, personal choice involve having to petition the high court in delhi?

    you claim that you do not relate to the pakistani identity (whatever that is, as you keep reminding us) nor the islamic identity.. and then you bring in, rather unnecessarily, IMHO, the fact that you are irritated by having to explain to people that you’re not an islamic fundo or worse…. so you choose to say that you’re indian ‘which, in any case, is not a lie’. why confuse the more fundamental issue??

    the difference between identity and stereotyping is that the former is your own definition of your identity, as per right, where there is virtually no right or wrong definition, while the latter is other people’s (wrong) definition of your identity. when other people do not have a right to define your identity for you. now correcting/attacking a stereotype is something anyone, even a third party, could (and perhaps should) do.

    as for faiz, any time in jail and exile is significant indeed. but so are the 29 years he spent in pakistan.. including time serving his country and his people. spending time in jail and having to go in to self-imposed exile does not mean that faiz, of all people, would agree with you that his country was no good for him. just to quote an example.. what is it that has kept aung san suu kyi under continuing house arrest, away from her family, for a significant part of her life other than a small bunch of thugs and her love for her country and her people?


  26. Bloody Civilian United Kingdom Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    “but so are the 29 years he spent in pakistan..”… as a free citizen

  27. kabir Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    1) Not just YLH, but also D_a_n accused me on being “self loathing” which I find extremely condescending. Bonoboshi proceeded to inform me of facts which I already know, which is also condescending. Why do you people think that the facts demand that a person can only think a certain way? Facts are open to interpretation, and I interpret them differently than some people here, because I can never be pro the creation of Pakistan, or accept the use of religious rhetroic or TNT. I think the creation of a country for “Muslims” was by far the stupidist most ridiculous thing on the planet. The fact that Bharat had to be vivisected to get it just makes it worse.

    2) You people are free to call yourselves “pakistanis”, greater timbuktooans, or hindustanis, whatever you want— no skin of my back.

    3) It’s not my job to constantly correct stereotypes. I never want to talk about Taliban, Islamic fundemantlism, or in fact Islam of any kind ever again. Those are not issues I’m interested in. I’m content to focus on my ethnic, rather than “national” identity, sing my bhajans and khayals, and discuss larger South Asian, “Hindustani” issues as opposed to muslim issues. I’m only interested in “Pakistan” because it forms part of South Asia, and events here influence events in Bharat– such as the terrorism that Pak loves to export. I also have family that lives here, and of course, I care about them. But politically, and ideologically, I don’t and can never identify with an “Islamic Republic”


  28. kabir Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Also, I care about the people of “Pakistan”, the poor, innocent, non mullahs who are “muslims” but not bothered by what anyone else is. I was talking to my driver about this recently and i said to him that we are all actually Indian and there is no difference between Lahoris or Amritaris and it is horrible the way a line was drawn dividing our Punjab. He agreed with me totally. It’s ironic that a village boy who hasn’t even finished high school has more sense than some of you more “educated” Pakistanis.

  29. kabir Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Erratum: Amritsaris

  30. yasserlatifhamdani Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    “I was talking to my driver recently”

    We’ve gone through this discussion many times. I am not going to repeat what Jinnah said and how partition of Punjab was not our idea. Such arguments are too fine for the philistines like yourself.

    Thanks for quoting your driver as a trump card. I’d rather not quote the famous Ghalib-mango joke because I fear compulsions of another kind at play … I can well understand how your driver might be willing to agree with you…

    Now that we have that out of the way… may I please request that you address Bloody Civilian’s comments?

  31. yasserlatifhamdani Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    or Bonobashi’s… for that matter.

  32. PMA United States Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    BC: No I am not MIA. I have followed this thread from the start. I have not said anything because I have nothing new to say. I have taken a position on the use of various geographic terms because of their descriptive limitations vis-a-vis Pakistan. I am in realization of the evolution of the terms such as ‘Hind’, ‘Sub-continent’, Pak-o-Hind, and now ‘South Asia’. In true sense non of these terms strictly donate a precise political entity like a country or a continent does. These are roughly defined regional descriptions first used by the academicians and politicos and then adopted by commons without much realization. I am not sure if Kabir himself understands his own interpretation of the terms ‘South Asia’ and ‘India’. Therefore it has been difficult and frustrating to have a meaningful discussion with him on this subject. About YLH. Well, he thinks that the arbitrarily drawn Durand line is the western limit of ‘South Asia’. He often refers to Jinnah’s Pakistan not realizing that the internal dynamics of post 1971 Pakistan are not same as Jinnah’s Pakistan of 1947.

    Before independence the commonly used term was ‘Indian Sub-continent’. Where is western boundary of this ‘Sub-continent’? The boundary set by the British or the boundary set by the Mughals? If so then which boundary? That of 1947, 1879, 1707 0r 1524? It is obvious that there could be no universal agreement on that. After 1947 the term ‘Pak-o-Hind’ was in use. Then after 1971 it became ‘South Asia’. There are those in Pakistan located west of Indus who do not consider their areas as ‘India’ or ‘South Asia’. Then in the interest of being inclusive and developing a common Pakistani identity why not to drop the use of such vague terms? In the environment of current provincial and regional dissatisfaction, why not to adapt a national narrative more closely representing the entire nation? This is something for all Pakistanis to think about.

  33. yasserlatifhamdani Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Bloody civilian,

    This little twit (kabir) doesn’t even have the capacity to understand what you’ve written.

    Well argued sir. It is an irony that this fool keeps going in circles thinking that he is “rebutting” you. He is re-butt-butt-buttin out of himself.

  34. yasserlatifhamdani Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    To me “geography” is as imagined an idea as a “nation”. This is why I don’t agree or disagree with your view on South-Central Asia … to me a legal nation state and legally defined national identity and national origin – like Modern Pakistan or Modern India- is the basic building block.

    Here my only concern has been the foolishness shown by Kabir… who by the way has already conceded that your South Central Asian conception for Pakistan … and in doing so has blown up his own “Indian ethnicity” (ethnicity is yet another imagined idea given the intermingling of all various ethnicities)…

    I wonder where Bloody civilian falls in all of this … hailing from a royal and proud pushtun tribe (sorry if this is divulging too much) speaking Pushto, Punjabi, Urdu and English with equal ease…

  35. yasserlatifhamdani Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Also…. Kabir mian says that his view of Pushtun as being alien is because he doesn’t understand the Pushtun language… i.e. Pushtu…

    Does he understand Sindhi? Or Gujurati ? or Marathi? or Tamil? or Bengali? or Kanada? or Telegu?

    Interestingly… Pakistan’s four provinces have rather interesting meeting points:

    Hindko exists on the border of Punjab and NWFP … Hindko can be understood by both Punjabis and Pushtuns… Pushtuns and Balochs understand and converse with each other in Balochi, Pushto and Farsi…

    If you go South… Balochs and Sindhis share many common tribes.. for example is Brohi a Sindhi or a Baloch tribe? Between Sindhi and Balochi exists a language called “Brahvi” which is either an ancestor or a derivative of both languages in my view… and between Sindh and Punjab exists large tracts of Seraiki which is understood by both Sindhis and Punjabis…

    Pakistan’s unique federalism and linguistic pluralism is entirely interlinked…. if only we were to give it a chance.

  36. Raza Rumi Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Kabir. Please stop it now. Add something more here. You are a bright young man and bring fresh pieces of information, research and opinions here. Your views on identity are respected even if many do not subscribe to them.

    YLH: Let us close this issue. We have to, at the end of the day, respect what people think of themselves and how they want to be known and perceived.

    It should not be an issue if Kabir metaphorically calls himself an ‘Indian’ or Tibetian…

  37. yasserlatifhamdani Pakistan Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    Dear Raza,

    I completely agree.

    None of those who Kabir has argued with have disputed his right to whatever identity he wants to associate with. He can claim to be a Martian for all I care. It is his attitude towards those who don’t agree with his blanket statements that I have taken an issue with.

  38. Bloody Civilian United Kingdom Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    This is something for all Pakistanis to think about.

    i’ve little desire, on a day-to-day basis, to take focus away from this issue of real and practical importance. mindful of the diversity and linkages YLH has alluded to above, i believe democracy and its continuing evolution, from whatever beginnings, no matter how slow and frustrating, is the only answer. an expanded/inclusive consultative process of government and policy making is the only hope and way forward. ‘nek badshahs’ will not work here.. no matter how nek(esp not of the uniformed variety. not least since the uniform is not seen as truly representative of this diversity).

    the only other issue comparable in importance and urgency is the fundamentalist threat and the need to defeat religiosity and leave no room for it in public life.

  39. Bloody Civilian United Kingdom Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:


    re. your post of September 21, 2009 at 6:32 am

    1) Facts are open to interpretation

    really? ;-) ok, ok.. i won’t complain about it being ‘condescending’ that you’re telling me the basics that a 12-year old ought to know :-)

    …i would rather use the time to try and learn something more substantial from a discussion with you.

    in order to be valid, the interpretation has to be put across coherently and argued with a high degree of consistency. of course the facts have to be a) correct, b) complete, not partial and c) (which is linked to b)) not taken entirely out of context. that’s all.

    2) You people are free to call yourselves…

    i know. it’s just that you end up, knowingly or unknowingly, again and again, giving the impression like ‘we’ are not. i suspect it is because your ‘interpretation’ of facts, perhaps, tend to be more declaratory than explanatory.

    btw, who are ‘we’?

    3) It’s not my job to constantly correct stereotypes.

    you choose, of course. if you re-read my point, it is about the fact that the fundamental principle is that identity is a choice totally internal to you and who you and only you feel you are… hence the subjectivity. it has and should have nothing to do with what others say or claim. why go off on a tangent talking of the desire to avoid being stereotyped… is all i was asking… and dilute your argument, unnecessarily.

    please note that i’ve tried to limit my response strictly to your single post above. mainly in an attempt to explain better where i might have failed in my earlier post. i’ve no cause to dispute your identity, whatsoever. i’ve stated that enough times. indeed, if you wish to challenge anything within the lines above, please do so by all means. but then, after that, perhaps we should agree to continue this discussion, if at all, another day another place.

    best regards

  40. PMA United States Unknow Browser Unknow Os says:

    “to me a legal nation state and legally defined national identity and national origin – like Modern Pakistan or Modern India- is the basic building block.”

    I agree with YLH on that point. A Modern Pakistan, all inclusive where each citizen is fully and equally vested regardless of his/her religion and ethnicity. His review of linguistic and ethnic demography of Pakistan is very informative. Unfortunately many on this site are either not informed about it or refuse to take that into account. The future of Pakistan lies in bringing its diversities toward a common all-inclusive national narrative. The vague concepts of ‘South Asian’ or ‘Indian’ Sub-continent will not do it for us. Our common narrative must be ‘Pakistan’.

    I also agree with BC when he says: “I believe democracy and its continuing evolution, from whatever beginnings, no matter how slow and frustrating, is the only answer. An expanded/inclusive consultative process of government and policy making is the only hope and way forward.”

  41. msm Pakistan Google Chrome Windows says:

    I am sure I am late, but one thing I can not understand: at that time rupees 100 must be more than a good monthly salary. I am told that around those days a primary teacher got Rs 30 as salary. I know myself that in 60′s a fresh graduate doctor’s salary was Rs 300, mutton was RS 2.50 /kg and wheat was around Rs 12/ maund. Mr Jinnah was wealthy, but this is not understandable.

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