Monthly Archives: August 2009

A must-read on rural uplift

By Dr Pervez Tahir, DAWN

Is poverty a mere ratio to base poverty reduction strategy papers on to solicit foreign assistance or the never-ending experience of millions losing hope? Day in and day out, the large majority of the poor start their journey to non-fulfilment in rural areas.

In terms of public spending, the neglect of agriculture is now being addressed to some extent. Agriculture, however, is only a part of rural development. Recent pronouncements that higher agricultural prices are transferring billions to rural areas echo the trickle-down make-believe of the Musharraf-Aziz period. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan

Film Theory in Pakistan: Recognizing the Need for Theory

By Zia Ahmad


There are parts of the world where writing meaningfully about films has generally been deemed as a subversive indiscretion; so much so you have to keep looking over your shoulder every two minutes just to make sure nobody’s prying on you. Pakistan finds it effortlessly easy to nudge into the ranks. Films have been consistently and categorically relegated as the most trivial pursuit for any no-nonsense individual to entertain. As an artform, cinema has seldom been seen anything more than means of entertainment in Pakistan. The mere idea that films may have to say anything of importance positively baffles and even offends upholders of our tradition. Hardly a fresh observation, cinema in Pakistan has failed to evolve from its “entertainment for the masses stage. Continue reading


Filed under Art, Cinema, culture, Media, Pakistan

In defence of President Zardari

As the minus-one formula gains currency in Pakistan, our writer Bilal Qureshi has authored this post to present a different case. PTH does not necessarily subscribe to these views. RR

Every time I write something about Asif Zardari, Pakistan’s current president, I get several e-mails daily condemning me for ‘supporting’ him. So, once again, I have to clarify something from the start. I am not a supporter of Zardari.

However, if one looks at the history of President’s in Pakistan, Zardari will stand out as the most significant name in the list. But, it is impossible to make this point in this extremely polarized environment when unfortunately, Zardari’s name gives heartburn to a large group of Pakistanis, both inside and outside the country.

For me, Zardari became a leader when he refused to compromise with those who wanted to sign a confession and leave the country, Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan, Politics, public policy, Zardari

Revisiting Faiz

Coming Back Home: Selected Articles, Editorials and Interviews of Faiz Ahmed Faiz,
Compiled by Sheema Majeed, Introduction by Khalid Hasan, Oxford University Press, Karachi, 2008, pp 157, Rs 295.

‘Politics and history are interwoven, but not commensurate,’ said Lord Acton (1834-1902) in his inaugural lecture as Regius Professor at Cambridge in 1895. So also politics and prose, and, in the worst of times, politics and poetry. There can be no better example of this axiom in the twentieth century than the writings of the revolutionary Urdu poet, Faiz Ahmed Faiz. While most readers in South Asia are familiar with his poetry, few would have read his writings in English. Faiz wrote, prolifically and compellingly, on the events that shaped the destiny of the sub-continent.

Coming Back Home gives the English reader a sampling of the poet’s prose writings – a selection of newspaper editorials, articles and interviews compiled by Sheema Majeed. The title, however, is a bit of a mystery, for many contributions – arranged in no particular order – pre-date his exile and years away from Pakistan. The very first entry is an editorial from The Pakistan Times entitled ‘What Price Liberty?’ written in April 1948 long before his jail term and the spells away from home. No attempt is made to explain the title – neither in the publisher’s blurb on the jacket, nor in the introduction by Khalid Hasan. Hasan’s memoir, coming nearly at the end of the book, however, does talk of the years after 1982 when Faiz returned to live in Pakistan. Continue reading


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The Future Belongs To Jinnah

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Jaswant Singh’s 670-page book on Pakistan’s founding father, Mohammad Ali Jinnah, has reignited the debate on Partition. From an academic point of view, however, he doesn’t seem to have said anything out of the ordinary. Much of this was first stated by Maulana Azad in his “India Wins Freedom”. In the intervening years between Azad and Jaswant Singh, several perceptive historians and authors, many from India, also presented a similar view of history, chief amongst them H M Seervai with his classic “Partition of India: Legend and Reality”. However, there is a new angle in Singh’s biography that is as much an indication of where things are moving in India as much as it is a historical context. Continue reading


Filed under History, India, Jinnah, Jinnah's Pakistan, Pakistan, Partition

The State of the Union

A friend sent this piece to me today via email. I do not know this author but I suppose that it has been published. We are posting it here for our readers. RR

Nadia Rahman Khan

My impending departure from Pakistan, coupled with the nation’s 62nd
independence anniversary is making me feel like a deserter. The past year I
spent in my country brought upon me the most fragmented states of mind. It
constantly felt like an acid trip that had gone on too long; or a badly
scripted film with far too many anti-climaxes. In a severe paradigm shift
from when I was studying abroad, I’ve spent the year desperately wishing I
could leave the country I didn’t recognize as mine anymore. Continue reading


Filed under Pakistan

‘Two Women’, a film from Iran

Soniah Kamal

‘Two Women’ follows the lives of friends Fereshteh (Niki Karimi) and Roya (Marila Zarei) over a decade. As college students, Roya approaches the academically above average Feresteh for tutoring sessions and their friendship develops rapidly in a lovely montage; paradise, however, never lasts. Feresteh is being stalked by a frighteningly violent young man (there is a thoroughly satisfying scene on a bus where she berates him), the university shuts down, and thanks to her small minded father her once promising future takes a downward turn all too real.

As such ‘Two Women’ should not conveniently be categorized as a mere film about women’s rights; it is so much more and Tahmineh Milani, the writer and director, has done a beautiful job without resorting to male bashing or melodrama: there are decent men and there is no chest beating, hysterical weeping, or long diatribes of ‘woe is me’. Instead, simple acts convey heartbreak such as a mother patting the empty bed of her kidnapped children, and Niki Karimi’s stellar expressions whenever her screen husband insults her in front of her children. In each scene be it back story or present day, the camera lingers just long enough to deliver the intent and then briskly skips on without a single misstep or lag thanks to Mostafa Kherghehpoosh’s excellent editing skills.

‘Two Women’ was released to acclaim in 1999, and ten years later it could be set in Pakistan scene to scene with the added detail of helpless/unhelpful neighbors watching from doorways as desperate women run down the street towards literal and symbolic blind ends. The end reminded me of the adage ‘better late than never’, and why it’s not always true. This is a film which should not be missed.

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Filed under Pakistan