Monthly Archives: November 2008

The Terrible Silence of Peace

The Terrible Silence of Peace


“The earthy and cold hand of death

Lies on my tongue” (1 Hen. IV 5.4.84)

What has happened in Mumbai is tragic. Mass murder of unsuspecting victims, a life of grief and fear for those left behind who feel powerless, and scars upon the memories of those whose beloved Amchi Mumbai has been ruthlessly defiled.What has happened in Mumbai is tragic. Mass murder of unsuspecting victims, a life of grief and fear for those left behind who feel powerless, and scars upon the memories of those whose beloved Amchi Mumbai has been ruthlessly defiled.But the worst of it is captured by the master of tragedy Shakespeare as quoted above: the silence that comes after, when the hand of death binds our tongues. What silence, angry Pakistanis point out to me, as they deal with the blame (and the very real possibility) of collusion from within their own ranks. And voices like mine get drowned in the flurry of impassioned political discussions about political alliances, internal power contests, cross-border terrorist linkages, etc. etc. Continue reading


Filed under India, Pakistan

Zafarul Islam Khan on Indian Muslims, Media and Terrorism

Dr. Zafarul Islam Khan is the President of the All-India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat, a platform of several influential Indian Muslim organizations. He is also the editor of the New Delhi-based fortnightly Milli Gazette, one of the few English-language Muslim news magazines in India. In this interview with Yoginder Sikand he talks about terrorism in India, about how the media projects Muslims and what he feels Muslims should do in the current context.

Q: Increasingly, Muslims and Muslim organizations have been singled out by the media, wrongly or rightly, for being behind the escalating incidence of terrorist acts across the country. This has led to Muslim organizations focusing much of their energies simply on countering the charges against them. How do you think this has impacted on their work for the development of the Muslim community?

A: Despite these massive provocations these organisations’ work for reform and development still continues. I think the current phase is an aberration, and I hope it will clear soon,  especially now since the media has started waking up to the undeniable reality of Hindutva terrorism, pointing out what I think is just the tip of a hydra-headed monster which, in my view, is behind many of the terrorist activities and bomb blasts that have occurred across the country in recent years. The media is now slowly coming out with details of the precise role of these Hindutva terror groups in setting off deadly blasts, providing armed training to their cadre, indoctrinating them in the ideology of terror and running bomb-making factories. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan

The Half-Burnt Cigarette : A Short Story

by Awais Aftab

He took a puff of his cigarette, blew the smoke and observed with purposeless acuteness the amorphous wisps of smoke diffusing into the air, thinning out of existence. His lifted his gaze to a yellow taxi, a few cars ahead of his at the traffic signal, to make sure it was still there. ‘Yellow, yellow like guilt,’ he thought, taking another draw. His eyes fell on the rear-view mirror, and he saw a partial reflection of his own face: black, warm eyes; a handsome charming face in the early thirties. His wife, his former college fellow, had often told him how he used to be the crush of a dozen girls during the college days. He had felt a strange, meaningless pride in that revelation by his wife before, but at that moment, as he recollected this memory, he felt doubt. ‘Could this be a lie too?’ he thought. Doubt— a monster which was engulfing his whole life, his whole mind, robbing him of even a single moment of peace; doubt of his wife, doubt of her fidelity. He looked again at the taxi and saw a brief glimpse of her auburn hair. In the past when he nestled his nose against those silky strands, their pleasant fragrance used to fill to his whole body. But since a few days, after he had become a victim of doubt, that aroma had become a pungent odour, setting his soul on fire.

He had never thought of himself as a jealous, possessive husband. ‘I am an educated, cultured man’, he used to say to himself. But time knows better: that even thousands of years of social evolution is not enough to counter an atavistic impulse that runs in the very blood of one’s veins. He believed that he had always trusted his wife, but everyone can trust when times are cordial. It is only in the clash of suspicion and faith that the strength of trust is revealed; like yanking a sheet off a naked body. And it was only when those silent phone calls and wrong numbers started coming that he came to realize that he had never trusted her, never even for a moment. It was all an illusion. Continue reading


Filed under Fiction, Literature, Pakistan, Writers

Freedom and Lights : Ode To Bombay

by Shaheryar Ali

Fire billows from the Taj Mahal Palace hotel on 27/11/08

Once again they have attacked, at the heart of Bombay. Bombay is every thing which they hate. Bombay is Freedom, Bombay is Life, Bombay is Music, Bombay is Light. This is the  attack on city of Lights. 100 people have been killed in cold blood. The attack is an attempt to over throw Indian democracy and secularism. The madness which has engulfed this world due to George Bush’s and OBL’s war of Terror has now struck  India. Continue reading


Filed under India, Pakistan

The Collapse of Muslim Marriages

by Mozaffar

I used to be of the view that Muslim marriages have been collapsing because we have these couples that are being pulled in multiple directions.  They are being pulled in one direction by the perceptions of Islamic obligations.  They are being pulled in another direction by the culture they were raised in in their homes.  They are being pulled by the culture they were raised in outside of their homes.  They are being pulled by the requirements of professional advancement.

That is definitely true for many.  Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan

Tufail Niazi – Pakistan’s Greatest Folk Singer

Fawad Zakariya

It was in my teens, almost 25 years ago, when I first heard Tufail Niazi singing “MeiN naiN jaaNa Kherian de naal” from Heer Waris Shah in that uniquely rustic and melodious but exceptionally virtuosic voice that has brought tears to my eyes many times over the years. Of all the wonderful music I grew up with (mostly because it was what my parents played in the house) this song by Tufail Niazi alongwith K.L Saigal’s “Ik raje ka beta le kar urne wala ghora” and Begum Akhtar’s “Chaa rahi kali ghata, jiya mora lehrae hai” have a special place in my imagination. (The youtube link above does not include it but Saigal’s cackling laugh at the end of this recorded song on the LP is an enduring childhood memory). Every time I hear these pieces again they conjure up the same mesmerising effect they had on me when I first heard them huddled around my father’s turntable or in later years, his various cassette players. Continue reading

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Filed under culture, Music

Who Cares about Education in Pakistan?

You know, it’s a good time to talk about education in Pakistan–especially with the op-ed in the New York Times by Nicholas Kristoff a couple of days ago that’s been so much the talk of the Pakistani chatterosphere (online and off) since.
But this morning, the talk of the town is a piece of news that the Chief Justice (not Iftikhar Chaudhry, the person currently occupying that office) used his influence to get his daughter’s grades/marks in High School “improved”, to give her a better shot at various things one wants to do after High School and which are based, in Pakistan, often even more on that performance than it is in other places. [I pretty much started my journalistic career with a piece about that process; back in … oh, another lifetime.]
As usual, you can read a good intro to the topic by Dr. Adil Najam on He also quotes, in full, the editorial from The News that he very aptly calls “even more dramatic than the story itself“.
Now, since Education in Pakistan was pretty much the family business in my parents’ generation, and having spent an agonizing 7 years at the receiving end of the government-run part of it myself, I have only one comment on the whole brouhaha; and to express it, I can only quote, with a small amendment, Amrita Pritam‘s tour de force:
ik ro’ee si dhi Punjab dhee thoon lakh-lakh maray veen;
jub lak-haan dhiyaan rondhiyaan tho kith-hay Waris Shah?

[One daughter of Punjab wept, and you wept millions of tears;
When thousands weep, where are you to be found Waris Shah?]
Why is this specific case of malfeasance news? Our education system was all hunky-dory till now? I remember one particular time in my own life, the night before an exam at the end of 12th grade when it first hit me up-front, and personally, where it really hurt, how messed up the system was–and I was doing rather well in it till then. But back then, I was just the son of a Professor in the sarkari system; I as just a middle-class kid in a middle class neighbourhood. Today, well, today, you’re reading my blog post, and The News, and Naeem Sadiq–who, like I do now, lives “uptown”–and all the nice English-medium Brown Saahibs Imran Khan talks about, and maybe even the New York Times, care about the system that none of them or their kids partake in. [Which reminds me of another story, but I’ve gotta get back to my day job.]


Cross-posted on the, Pak Tea House, Doodpatti, by Tohfay blogs.
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Filed under Education, Justice, Law, lawyers movement, movements, Pakistan, Politics, Society, state