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Tender Tea House

From Partition onward, Nasir Khan writes, a dusty cafe was the centre of Lahore’s literary life. Pak Tea House sits on Mall Road in Old Anarkali, nestled between tyre suppliers and motorcycle workshops. Before Partition it was the India Tea House, but 1947 and a quick paint job changed that. No one knows why it became – along with several similar shops on the same street – a favourite haunt of so many intellectuals. Maybe it was the cheap but good milky tea, or the extra-sweet biscuits. Perhaps it was the literary sensibility of the first post-Partition owners, two brothers from India. It might have been the radio on the counter that was constantly tuned to Lahore’s call-in request programme. And, for scores of struggling writers and poets, the availability of … Read entire article »

Filed under: culture, Heritage, History, Lahore, Pak Tea House, Pakistan

Pakistan: A Failure of Intellectuals

 BY AZHAR ASLAM AND SHERMEEN BANO (Cross-post from Vision21) Every Identity has a history and so does that of Pakistan. It is short but tumultuous, although some say it was born with the conversion or settlement of the first Muslim in India. In truly modern sense though India was only itself born, when British firmly established their rule from Afghanistan to Burma, by 1890s. In the process of doing this however, they sowed the seed of national consciousness in the minds of Indians. British influence moulded Indian nationalism by omissions and commissions. However it inevitably also laid the seed of communalism, as different regions and nationalities in the sub continental melting pot, woke up to the British rule and demanded their rights. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Democracy, Identity, India, Islamabad, Islamism, Jinnah, Justice, Literature, Partition, Philosophy, Politics, public policy, Religion, Rights, Writers

Democracy Is The Greatest Revenge

By Asif Ali Zardari (writing in the Wall Street Journal) Two years ago the world stopped for me and for my children. Pakistan was shaken to its core and all but came apart. Women everywhere lost one of their greatest symbols of equality. And Islam, our great religion, lost its modern face. On Dec. 27, 2007, my wife, Benazir Bhutto, was assassinated. She was the bravest person I have ever known, and the second anniversary of her death is an appropriate occasion to reflect upon what she achieved for our country, and how her legacy must be preserved against those who would return Pakistan to darkness. Twice elected prime minister of Pakistan, Benazir had an immense impact. She stood up and defeated the forces of military dictatorship. She freed all political prisoners. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Pakistan

"Monster MQM"

[This is another contribution by Bilal Qureshi (see here for Bilal's previous piece on the NRO). We are pleased to publish it since we believe it is important to continue the debate. We do not necessarily subscribe to the author's views - PTH] By Bilal Qureshi    © The Nation, Pakistan There are times when I am tempted to accept Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) as a genuine political party. However, thankfully, I come to my senses as soon as MQM attempts one of those fascist maneuvers that have become synonymous with MQM. If anyone pays close attention, it is not difficult to see a pattern with MQM. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Democracy, Justice, Law, Pakistan, Politics

NRO Debate Continues …

By Yasser Latif Hamdani Duniya ki tareekh gawah hai,  adl bina jamhoor na hoga   History bears witness,  there shall be no republic (democracy) without justice -From Aitzaz Ahsan’s Poem “Kal, Aaj Aur Kal” - the anthem of Pakistan’s Lawyers’ Movement.   “I am for the Law.  We wish for a republic of laws.”   John Adams- one of the founding fathers of the United States of America.  ”The first observation that I would like to make is this: You will no doubt agree with me that the first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the State.”   Mahomed Ali Jinnah- our Quaid-e-Azam. The decision on NRO was a historic one.   Based on the short order, however, a reasonable apprehension exists that by invoking articles 62-f … Read entire article »

Filed under: Justice, Pakistan

A Remembrance of Benazir Bhutto

By Mark Siegel For those of us who knew and loved Benazir Bhutto, not just as a great political leader but as an irreplaceable friend, the days between Christmas and New Years can never ring with joyous holiday spirit and celebration. December 27th is a dreaded day on the caledar of the people of Pakistan, democrats all around the world, and the family and friends of Benazir Bhutto. It is a day of remembrance, reflection, and inevitable thinking of what could have been had she lived to govern Paksistan once again. To so many she was an icon but to me she was a friend, a colleague, an intellectual sparring partner, an aunt to my children and a soul mate to my wife. On top of all the great things that she … Read entire article »

Filed under: Benazir Bhutto

Change of Guard At Jinnah's Mausoleum On His Birthday

Change of Guard At Jinnah's Mausoleum On His Birthday

No nation can rise to the height of glory unless your women are side by side with you. We are victims of evil customs. It is a crime against humanity that our women are shut up within the four walls of their houses as prisoners. There is no sanction anywhere for the deplorable conditions in which our women have to live.– Mohammad Ali Jinnah 1944 … Read entire article »

Filed under: Women

Three Poems By Iqbal III: Khizr The Guide

By Dr. Ali Hashmi Khizr-e-Rah (Khizr the Guide) Al-Khizr (Arabic: “the Green One”) is an enigmatic figure in Islam. He is best known for his appearance in the Qur’an in Sura al-Kahf. Although not mentioned by name, he is assumed to be the figure that Musa (Moses) accompanies and whose seemingly violent and destructive actions so disturb Moses that he violates his oath not to ask questions. Islamic tradition sometimes describes him as Mu’allim al-anbiya (Tutor of the Prophets), for the spiritual guidance he has shown every prophet who has appeared throughout history. In Sufi tradition, Khizr has come to be known as one of those who receive illumination direct from God without human mediation. He is the hidden initiator of those who walk the mystical path and also figures into the Alexander … Read entire article »

Filed under: Partition, Philosophy, poetry

Pakistan Meant To Be A Secular State, Quaid-e-Azam Did Not Want An Islamic Republic, says Haji Adeel of ANP

Pakistan Meant To Be A Secular State, Quaid-e-Azam Did Not Want An Islamic Republic, says Haji Adeel  of ANP

By Yasser Latif Hamdani The big news making the headlines today is that Haji Adeel of ANP has spoken out against the Islamic character of the Pakistani state.  Coming out of an official Christmas celebration,  Haji Adeel said: 1.  Pakistan was meant to be a secular state for all people of Pakistan. 2.  Quaid-e-Azam Mahomed Ali Jinnah did not name Pakistan an Islamic Republic.  Pakistan should become the Republic of Pakistan. 3.  Quaid-e-Azam and Bacha Khan both believed in secularism.  4.   Denying Non-Muslims of Pakistan … Read entire article »

Filed under: Jinnah, Pakistan

And Now About the Own Goal

Pause, sirs, and ponder By I.A. Rehman          Dawn  24 Dec, 2009 The fact that in its response to the Supreme Court judgment of Dec 16 the nation is divided cannot be denied, and prudence demands that the causes of this division should not be brushed aside without careful scrutiny. A large section of society believes that Pakistan has become a corruption-free entity and a judicially controlled democracy while a none-too-small section feels deeply hurt. Much can be said for and against both sides. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Democracy, Islamism, Justice, Law, Pakistan, Parliament, state

Three Poems By Iqbal II: Maa Ka Khawab.

By Dr. Ali Hashmi A Psychological Interpretation of ‘A Mother’s Dream’ On the surface this poem is simply a description of a mother’s dream about her young son who is lost somewhere. Some commentators have described it as a lament by a mother whose child has died. However, there is a more life affirming explanation which makes more sense psychologically. The poem starts out simply enough. It is in the first person with a mother describing her dream: ‘Main soey jo ik shab toe dekha yeh khwaab Badha aur jis say meraa iztiraab Yeh dekha kay main jaa rahi hoon kahin … Read entire article »

Filed under: Partition, Philosophy, poetry

Going the Wrong Way about Doing the Right Thing

By B. Civilian The full bench of the Supreme Court (SC) of Pakistan unanimously declared the National Reconciliation Ordinance (NRO) null and void, ab initio. In view of the unpopularity of the Ordinance, the PPP government had virtually disowned it over the last few weeks. The Federation decided not to defend it in the court, again, regardless of one of its lawyers insinuating that there was a threat to ‘rule of law’ from “CIA and the GHQ” (statements which the lawyer later withdrew as his own rather than his client’s view). Pakistan is in the process of transitioning from being a military dictatorship to becoming a democracy. It’s a difficult transition for any country, let alone for one which has attempted such a transition at least twice before, without much success. But … Read entire article »

Filed under: Benazir Bhutto, Democracy, Justice, Law, lawyers movement, Pakistan, Parliament, Politics, state, Zardari

One Pakistani Institution Places His Faith in Another

By Sabrina Tavernise, The New York Times All rights reserved with The New York Times Company Syed Babar Ali, a businessman and philanthropist, is two decades older than his country, Pakistan. He has witnessed every turn in its tumultuous history. Now, at 83, he feels he has earned the right to give it a bit of advice. Mr. Ali is an institution in Pakistan. He has started some of the country’s most successful companies. But perhaps his most important contribution has been his role in creating the Lahore University of Management and Sciences, or L.U.M.S., begun as a business school but now evolved into the approximate equivalent of Harvard University in Pakistan. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Education, Jinnah, Lahore, Pakistan

Leftists, Liberals, Progressives … Time To Live Up To Your Claims

By YLH Those Pakistanis like me identifying themselves as Muslims are required – thanks to General Zia-ul-Haq’s military dictatorship- to state the following at the time of the renewal of their passport: I am a Muslim and believe in the absolute and unqualified finality of the Prophethood of Muhammad the last of the Prophets. I do not recognize any one who claims to be a prophet in any sense of the word or any description whatsoever, after Prophet Muhammad or recognize such a claimant as a prophet or a religious reformer as Muslim. I consider Mirza Ghulam Ahmad Qadiani to be an impostor prophet and an infidel and also consider his followers whether belonging to the Lahori, Qadiani or Mirzai groups, to be non-Muslims. … Read entire article »

Filed under: Law, Pakistan

Three Poems By Iqbal: Introduction

A Psychological Interpretation  By Dr. Ali Hashmi ‘Everywhere I go, I find that a poet has been there before me’ Sigmund Freud One of Iqbal’s translators, the Scotsman Victor Kiernan wrote ‘Mohammad Iqbal, the ‘Poet of the East’, lived a life of which outwardly there is little to be said and inwardly, of which little is known.’ Works on Iqbal by scholars and academicians would fill up a small library, particularly in Pakistan, where he is revered as one of the country’s founding fathers. He was one of the early proponents of the idea of a separate state for the Muslims of British India, a fantastically improbable idea at the time. His eventual whole hearted support for the idea of Pakistan was surprising considering that one of his early poems ‘Tarana-e-Hindi’ (‘Song of … Read entire article »

Filed under: Partition, Philosophy, poetry