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.

The small matter of the title aside, the book is a compact little treasure trove, for it illustrates better than many bigger tomes would, the depth and range of Faiz’s concerns and interests. Not only is the English prose, much like Faiz’s Urdu poetry, hard-hitting and passionate, but it is concerned deeply and ardently with the past and the present. Like his poetry it looks at the future with hope and not just a little foreboding. Unlike the poetry however – and I say this with some trepidation, for Faiz is revered by legions of admirers across the globe, and I would count myself among the faithful as far as his poetry is concerned – the prose is occasionally long-winded and just a trifle ponderous. Where the Urdu poetry enchants and beckons, spilling out a kaleidoscope of images and metaphors, calling out to the readers to find common cause against injustice, exploitation and a host of social and political issues, the prose is occasionally weighed down by its own rhetoric. Where the poetry lilts and soars with effortless ease, conjuring up the most evocative and lyrical images to record or condemn the most grisly events in the history of the subcontinent, the prose harks back to an older style of writing that was self-consciously pedantic, even arcane sometimes. Having said that, I suppose the comparison itself – between prose and poetry – is unfair, and the two, even from the same pen, are by their very nature as dissimilar as apples and oranges.

As the Editor of The Pakistan Times , the Urdu-language left-leaning newspaper from Lahore, he wrote on an array of issues from 1947 until his arrest in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case in 1951. Of this period, perhaps the most moving is the editorial of 23rd March 1949, titled ‘Progress of a Dream’. Declaring the Partition as a way ‘to end the vertical division that separated the two major peoples of the sub-continent… by a horizontal division so that the divided halves could each develop an internal harmony that the undivided whole lacked’ he says, ‘The dream is as yet unfulfilled. The division has come but neither half is as yet completely at peace, either with itself or with its neighbour.’

Faiz reserves his strongest words of criticism for those ‘selfish packs of men’ who ‘mock at the nobility of freedom.’ He is chillingly blunt when he writes:

‘There are no halfway houses between liberty and thralldom. The public have to choose and decide whether they are going to permit this and similar inroads on their hard-won freedom [referring to the infamous Public Safety Act that gave unbridled powers to the State] or whether they are content to live in daily fear for their freedom and honour. The weapon of the Safety Act that they have placed into the hands of their Government is a dangerous weapon and is not a fit thing for children or sadists to play with. It should either be taken back or the people entrusted with it should be taught its proper use. It must be realized that a weapon like this cannot be used properly either by men who are cursed with the vindictiveness of an elephant and the ferocity of a wolf or by men who lack the guts of a rat and the courage of a sparrow.’

For all his scathing editorials on the goings on in the government and his hauntingly evocative ghazals on the blood bath in East Pakistan by the West Pakistani armed forces, Faiz was a nationalist. He remained one no matter where he lived – in Lahore, London, or Beirut. He may not have written any rousing taranas or anthems but his epochal poem on the 1965 war, Uttho ab maati se uttho, jago mere lal (‘Rise from the earth, wake up, my son’), is a tribute to the soldier who lays down his life fighting for the country. For all his musafirat, voyaging to distant lands, Faiz remained deeply, quintessentially attached to his country that he called laila-e-watan (the beloved, that is the land of his birth) in one of his poems. Each one of the editorials, essays, interviews and memoirs in this collection bear that out.

At first reading I found it hard to reconcile the glowing tribute to Muhammad Ali Jinnah, captioned ‘To God we Return’, written upon the Quaid-e-Azam’s death in September 1948 with the poet who wrote Yeh daagh daagh ujala, yeh shab-gazida sehar, yeh woh seher to nahi tha inteza jiska ? Was it the same man who lamented in the poem Subah-e-Azadi (‘Freedom’s Dawn’) the ‘stained light and the night-bitten dawn’ that greeted those who had yearned for freedom? For a man like Faiz to write such an unqualified obituaryof a political leader whom he calls ‘friend and counsellor, the guide and confidante, the comrade and leader all combined into one’ seems fanciful.

There is plenty here that is not quite in consonance with the liberal, progressive ideology that runs like a shaft of translucent light all through his poetry. In real life, however, while Faiz had his sympathies with the poor and downtrodden, he was clearly never one of them. Despite his left leanings and the Lenin Peace Prize awarded to him by the Soviet Union in 1962, he did not belong to the Communist Party. It might, for this reason, be instructive, to read this anthology in the context in which it was written. For one can see here the tightrope Faiz walks between ideology and good taste, between art and propaganda, between his role as an editor and as a free thinker. For it is only then that we can truly appreciate what lies hidden between the covers of this slim book.

Rakhshanda Jalil co-edits Third Frame: Literature, Culture and Society, a journal published by the Academy of Third World Studies, Jamia Millia Islamia. Her two new book are Invisible City: The Hidden Monuments of Delhi, Niyogi, 2008; and Neither Night Nor Day, a collection of short stories by Pakistani Women Writers, Harper Collins, India, 2008

First published in The Friday Times, Lahore

156 Comments

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156 responses to “Revisiting Faiz

  1. YLH

    Faiz was a patriot and took on editorship of Pakistan Times in January 1947 before Pakistan was created. Had the author researched the politics of Punjab a bit she would know the Communist Party of India supported the AIML and the push for Pakistan. How does that make Faiz less progressive? Was the famous Sajjad Zaheer non-progressive as well for supporting the Muslim League? Was Sibte Hassan non-progressive because he was a self professed of the Quaid.

    Needless to say Rakshanda Jalil seems to be run of the mill uninformed writer who makes statements without investigating her own pre-conceived and nonsensical notions. The Dagh Dagh ujala was not a criticism of partition or creation of Pakistan but a disillusionment with the fact that independence meant merely a change of masters.

    Shame Shame on TFT for publishing such an uninformed polemic against Faiz Ahmad Faiz.

  2. “The Dagh Dagh ujala was not a criticism of partition or creation of Pakistan but a disillusionment with the fact that independence meant merely a change of masters”

    I was raised on Faiz Sahab, and he’s my idol in probably the same way as Jinnah is your idol. Dagh Dagh ujala is most definately a criticism of Partition and especially of the violence that occured at that time. At least that’s how I interpret the poem and how it was explained to me.

  3. YLH

    Well well kabir I am afraid that is not true. Read the poem again. It is certainly not about partition of India (it might be about the violence).

    If what you say is true then either Faiz was a hypocrite (having written editorial after editorial from Jan 1947 to August 1947 supporting the AIML’s point of view) or he had lost his mind.

    On the other hand it could be violence he is talking about. We would have to see when this poem was actually written. Couldn’t be the night of 14th and 15th then could it given that the major violence around partition broke out around 17th.

    The problem is that these Jamia Milli types, those who wear Kurta over Jeans … have done such horrible propaganda that they’ve given the wrong impression about Faiz and the left. The Muslim left had by 1946 subsumed itself entirely into the Pakistan Movement just had Jinnah had done so earlier…Read my article “Communists and The Making Of Pakistan”. I caution everyone not to take this lightly. The Communist Party of India was the only other All India Party that had not just supported but worked at the grassroots level for the creation of Pakistan. The Commies in India now try and distance themselves from this history but facts will be facts.

    As for that Jamia Milli…very few people know that this “jamia milli” was started as a “nationalist” counterweight to the Aligarh University. Aligarh itself was of European orientation and then was Pakistani nationalist. Jamia Milli came in from the other angle and was heavy influenced by indigenization trends. They were pro-Congress and therefore are trained to interpret everything according to their own special bias.

    I wonder what Rakshanda Jalil is going to claim next? Saadat Hassan Manto was not progressive because wrote “Mera Sahib” a sketch of Mahomed Ali Jinnah?

    Faiz is universal and humanistic …and he remained a Pakistani to the end. Like Dr. Salam and countless other heroes of this country who can transcend boundaries.. We must jealously guard them only because Indians have a funny way of claiming every thing for themselves exclusively.

  4. I have no problem with Faiz “remaining Pakistani”–though personally I don’t care. He was born an Indian, and he’s a great South Asian poet. Which is enough for me. After all, poets write for humanity at large. Especially someone like Faiz Sahab who felt for the poor and dispossessed everywhere. I doubt he would have gone in for this kind of narrow nationalism that seeks to divide everything between “Pakistaniness” and “Indianness”.

    The poem is absolutely about the violence. It doesn’t matter the exact day it was written, Faiz Sahab would have seen the horrible chaos that was breaking out at Partition and felt, given the kind of sensitive and humanistic man he was, “this is not the freedom we faught for”. There is a great bitterness in that poem. Also, given Faiz Sahab’s constant issues with the Paki establishment, it’s ironic the way you want to turn him into some “proud Pakistani”. He was much more like me: A humanist not a narrow nationalist. At least that is the part of him that I fell in love with.

    BTW, though “hum ke there ajnabi” is a response to 1971, it could very well be a metaphor for Indo-Pak relations. “phir banaygay ashna kitnee mulakatoon kay baad?”

  5. Also, since you mentioned Manto– Manto was also like me, he realized that trying to seperate “Indian-ness” from “Pakistani-ness” makes madmen out of us all. Isn’t that what “Toba Tek Singh” is about?

    Frankly, I don’t care whether it is Pakistan or India, it is Punjab I care about, and Lahore I care about. I wish the Pathans and all well, but they and I have nothing in common.

  6. bonobashi

    @kabir
    @YLH

    First, it does seem apparent, considering his stormy personal history within Pakistan, that he may not have been totally enchanted by what emerged from the blood and slaughter. Poets have this disconcerting habit of displaying to us a picture of what ought to have been, or sometimes a picture of what ought to be, rather than the compromised reality that we actually live in. It is difficult to imagine that his passionate avowal of the cause of Pakistan, before the creation of Pakistan, continued unflagging into the reality that was Pakistan. It is difficult to read that famous poem that both of you have been referring to in any other context but disillusionment. It is of course a moot point whether the disillusionment was with the actual events alone, the bloody killings alone, or with all the rest of the tiresome detail that goes into forming a functioning nation state. Perhaps we will never know; it is difficult enough to gain a sense of the true meaning of the author even from the clearest and most lucid expositions of statesmen in their documents where they intend to clarify all for the devoted and the inimical alike, to seek clarity and forensic precision from a poet is another class of inspired guesswork altogether.

    On another note, I envy kabir his transparent affiliation to one cause and that one only. There must be a part of our DNA that makes us more or less complicated than our fellow beings. It is difficult to imagine being dedicated to an exclusively Bengali cause, and to believe that the others don’t matter. Perhaps a genetic disorder; take this as a confession of inadequacy.

    PS:

    I don’t read Urdu in its natural script, only in Roman script, and due to the distorted education I have had, it isn’t easy for me to get every nuance or every shade of meaning. My copy of Faiz has the original Urdu script, then a Roman version, then an English translation. When stuck at the Roman version over a word or a phrase, I refer to the translation.

  7. @bonobashi,

    The one cause I care about is the cause of humanity, the poor and dispossessed. Within that, I care most about the South Asian cause, and then the Punjabi cause, so I’m pretty complicated as well:)

    Perhaps I was a bit too emphatic in my earlier comment. I have nothing against the other ethnic groups of the subcontinent but I am a Punjabi first (well Kashmiri-Punjabi):)

    P.S. I don’t read Urdu in it’s natural script either. thank the gods for Victor Kiernan:)

  8. Gorki

    “We must jealously guard them only because Indians have a funny way of claiming every thing for themselves exclusively…”

    Look who is talking!!

    And this from a man who has so far expropriated Ranjit Singh, Bhagat Singh and who possessively treats the Quaid-e-Azam as his own personal ruling deity!

    Bonobashi:
    Is life so dear that you still keep quiet?

    Bol Ke Lab Azad Hain Tere..

    Speak up man, if you hold anything dear at all.

    If not then I have a deal to offer YLH that he cannot refuse; we will trade you a certain celebrity author an ex-colonel, ex-foreign minister etc. for a poet; Faiz Sahib or Faraz Sahib; take your pick.😉

    Regards.

  9. bonobashi

    @Gorki

    Fighting words, those. I note that you are willing to fight to the last bonobashi. Did you have ancestors in the military leadership at the Lahore Court? Just an historical enquiry, nothing personal of course.

    You might look up the military definition of a forlorn hope – there is a definition, by the way, and it is a military term – while you idle around in your box, waiting for the next turn to step out onto the ampitheatre. And when I say to you, Morituri te salutant, O Caesar, I am painfully aware of the identical root of Caesar and Kesar, as in Kesar-i-Punjab.

    One last point: perhaps you are thinking of an ex-Major, not an ex-Colonel.

    @YLH

    If you can get your tongue out of your cheek for a second, I need to represent earnestly to you that poets and authors have no nationality. They belong to all humanity. For every nationalist interpretation that you can bring to Faiz’s poems, I can with equal strength, certainty and conviction point to a universalist context for the lines in question. Faiz was an avowed leftist and a Marxist. For such as he to be pinned down like an object on a lepidopterist’s board is a sorry end. Do not annex him; let him rule over all.

    Before you put word to paper, or word to electronic DASD, as the case may be, do bear in mind that I am but a herald, an emissary representing the rest of mankind. And bear in mind that by ancient custom, such office-bearers are sacred in their person, not to be mutilated or killed.

  10. Bloody Civilian

    I wish the Pathans and all well, but they and I have nothing in common

    “emphatic”, indeed.

  11. @ BC,

    I would like to qualify what I wrote: I acted out of pique and impetuousness ( I am a young man after all). I was frustrated by YLH’s need to defend Faiz’s “Pakistani-ness” and “patriotism”. I seriously have nothing against Pathans or any other ethnic group. I know they are just as Pakistani as I am. I just don’t relate to them. I’m not very religious, so even the “common identity” of Islam is not something I share with them. I don’t speak their language or share their culture. To me, they are just like the Tamils or Malyalis. I have no issues with them, but no common bond.

    I am a Punjabi and a Lahori first and foremost. That is my limitation.

    “For such as he to be pinned down like an object on a lepidopterist’s board is a sorry end. Do not annex him; let him rule over all.”

    @ bonobashi, truer words were never spoken. Let’s not reduce Faiz by claiming him as a “Pakistani poet”. He was a great South Asian, and indeed world poet.

  12. PMA

    Words of Kabir.

    “Frankly, I don’t care whether it is Pakistan or India, it is Punjab I care about, and Lahore I care about. I wish the Pathans and all well, but they and I have nothing in common.”

    “The one cause I care about is the cause of humanity, the poor and dispossessed. Within that, I care most about the South Asian cause, and then the Punjabi cause, so I’m pretty complicated as well.”

    “Perhaps I was a bit too emphatic in my earlier comment. I have nothing against the other ethnic groups of the subcontinent but I am a Punjabi first (well Kashmiri-Punjabi).”

    “P.S. I don’t read Urdu in it’s natural script either. thank the gods for Victor Kiernan.”

    “I would like to qualify what I wrote: I acted out of pique and impetuousness ( I am a young man after all). I was frustrated by YLH’s need to defend Faiz’s “Pakistani-ness” and “patriotism”. I seriously have nothing against Pathans or any other ethnic group. I know they are just as Pakistani as I am. I just don’t relate to them. I’m not very religious, so even the “common identity” of Islam is not something I share with them. I don’t speak their language or share their culture. To me, they are just like the Tamils or Malyalis. I have no issues with them, but no common bond.”

    “I am a Punjabi and a Lahori first and foremost. That is my limitation.”

    My dear Kabir. I don’t think you are complicated at all. I think you are rather a simple man trying to make sense out of your own confused little world. I understand your limitations.

  13. PMA sahib, is that meant to be condescending? If so, I don’t really appreciate it. If not, thank you in all sincerity for understanding my limitations. I’m doing the best I can. I don’t claim to be the final authority on anything.

  14. P.S. I think the only major point on which you and I differ is that I feel Pakistan is part of South Asia and should have an eastward orientation and you feel it is part of Central Asia and should look westward. Is that correct?

    Otherwise, we are substantially on the same page.

  15. PMA

    Kabir: No that is not correct. Unlike you I believe that Pakistan, in its present geographical boundaries sits simultaneously at the peripheries of South Asia, Central Asia and Persia. It encompasses various cultural units belonging to all three civilizations. Even you have said that by stating: “I have nothing in common with Pashtuns. I don’t speak their language or share their culture.” The trouble with relegating Pakistan squarely to South Asia, or “Indian Matrix” as I call it, is that such geographical description automatically leaves out some very important and significant parts of our country. Just like you are a self professed Punjabi ethnocentric, there are your mirror images in other parts of the country as well. I pose these questions to you sir: If all Pakistanis start thinking and behaving like you do then where does that lead us to. Would you like to divide up Pakistan into several mini half-ethnic states or would you rather reach out to your other countrymen with whom you do not share your own ethnic background. Which option is the best for all of us. Other than a secular state what is your vision of Pakistan. I am the last person to deny the ethnic diversities of our country. But like it or not, we all belong to the same country. We are all interdependent. We must all work together and create a nation capable of achieving great things. What do you say my brother. Are you willing to come aboard.

  16. Bloody Civilian

    I seriously have nothing against Pathans or any other ethnic group. I know they are just as Pakistani as I am. I just don’t relate to them. I’m not very religious, so even the “common identity” of Islam is not something I share with them. I don’t speak their language or share their culture. To me, they are just like the Tamils or Malyalis. I have no issues with them, but no common bond

    depending on how young you are and how many pathans you’ve actually met, your view might be justifiable. but about completely missing the historical bonds between punjabis and pathans, pathans and india, and even lahore and the pathans is, in my humble opinion, more surprising.

  17. Bloody Civilian

    did YLH say faiz was exclusively pakistani? or are we saying that he was everything but pakistani?

  18. PMA Sahab, As far as their status as citizens of the state is concerned I fully believe all the ethnic groups of Pakistan should be treated equally, all provinces should be given their due share, etc.

    My feelings about Punjab are a seperate issue. I would not describe myself as “ethnocentric”. Of course, I as a Punjabi, relate more to that group, including to Indian punjabis than I do with other ethnic groups in Pakistan. That doesn’t mean that I don’t identify with Pathans on a human level or as fellow Pakistanis. At the same time, I feel bitterly that my province and my homeland was arbitrarily divided by the Radcliffe line, leaving my Nana’s ancestral home of Amritsar in a “foreign” country. As Amrita Pritam wrote “Aj akhan waris shah…. uth dekh apna Punjab… lahu de bhara chenab”. That feeling will never go away, though I am two generations removed from Partition.

    @BC, I’m in my early twenties, if that helps you out any.

  19. Gorki

    Dear Bonobashi:

    Not having had the benefit of an excellent education in languages like you have I must say that I can never use the ancient Latin phrases like you do and can only admire the ease with which they role off your tongue.
    I do agree that entering into an arena against YLH such a salutation of those about to die is entirely appropriate.

    Being a product of the Hindustani landscape however I prefer to greet you and YLH by the following words instead:

    “Hum jo tareek raahon mein mare gaye……”

    And a lucky guess; yes indeed, my family counts among its revered ancestors an officer who served with some distinction in the Army of the Indus that YLH mentioned some time ago.
    It is claimed that he was honored with a present of a ceremonial sword by the Maharaja himself.
    A likeness of another long gone ancestor adorns the statuette handed out to all out going officers of a certain Indian army regiment who have served it with distinction.
    One or another ancestor has always been in action with the Indian armies in Abyssinia, in Mesopotamia, in Flanders in Malaya, and several other not so ancient battlefields.
    Thus I bring all of them shame by not only being one who has never fired a shot in anger but also as someone who can’t tell the difference between an ex colonel and an ex major. Indeed you are right. I meant to say a major.😉
    Thanks.

  20. Bloody Civilian

    kabir

    thanks for the responding to one part of my post. i’m afraid, on it’s own, the info doesn’t help that much. but many thanks, anyway.

    btw, the idol that you grew up with, was the son of khan bahadur sultan khan. trusted advisor at the muhamadzai court at kabul. biographer of amir abdur rehman. ahmed faraz was a hindko (dialect of punjabi) speaking pathan from kohat… just in case you feel any bond to him. this i thought i’d mention in lieu of the rather voluminous, historical links and bonds.

    regards

  21. BC, I think I’ve apologized now for about the tenth time for the earlier rather too “emphatic” comment. Seriously I have no issues with Pathans. I have people in my own family who live in Peshawar. However, I’ve only been there like twice in my life. Whenever I visit Pakistan, I stay in Lahore, which is where the bulk of my family is. Lahore is also the place where I’ve lived the longest when I’ve lived in Pakistan.

    One can’t help what one identifies as. I identify as Punjabi. I don’t mean disrespect to any other group by claiming that identification.

    Btw, I love Faiz Sahab because of his poetry, it doesn’t make an iota of difference to me what his ethnic background was.

    Regards

  22. bonobashi

    @Bloody Civilian
    August 29, 2009 at 10:06 pm

    Faiz is universal and humanistic …and he remained a Pakistani to the end. Like Dr. Salam and countless other heroes of this country who can transcend boundaries.. We must jealously guard them only because Indians have a funny way of claiming every thing for themselves exclusively.

    That’s why I was propelled by an irresistible force applied to the small of the back out of the citadel, legs milling unwillingly, into battle against ferocious odds, all by a heartless Sardar doing what heartless Sardars have done down the centuries.

    Fortunately, YLH seems to slaying dragons somewhere else, so in the spirit of Charles of Anjou and Peter of Aragon, or in the spirit of Charles of Salerno, having offered battle and not seen the opponent turn up, I now am entitled to hammer in frenzy at the postern gate and scream for admission before a ghastly mistake occurs and the (ahem) he-who-must-not-be-named turns up. Let me in, you blackguards!

    Actually, Dr. Salam was so ill-treated in Pakistan and so revered and respected in India, I really don’t see why you should grudge us the right to salute him in reverence. He steadfastly refused to budge a millimetre from his allegiance to Pakistan, so to lay claim to him would be a wretchedly underhand thing to do, but it is nice to know that we knew his worth and celebrated it, at the moment that his countrymen were denying him.

  23. PMA

    Kabir: Thanks for the explanations. From what you have told us so for, I understand where you are coming from. I too feel bitter about the ‘moth eaten Pakistan’ that was handed to us. But I have accepted the ground realities. I have let East Punjabis go and embraced my Pashtun brothers because the future of my children and of my fellow countrymen is with Pakistan and not with East Punjab or India. For a moment I thought perhaps I could broaden your allegiance from Punjab to Pakistan, but it may not be possible right now. No problem. Nice to have you on this board.

  24. My allegience is with South Asia and with the Indian subcontinent. What I feel is best for Pakistan is to progress towards becoming a secular democratic nation and then enter into a EU type arrangement with India–open borders, free trade, etc.

    The Pathans can go with Afghanistan if they want, if not they are welcome in the South Asian Union as well.

  25. hossp

    “As the Editor of The Pakistan Times , the Urdu-language left-leaning newspaper from Lahore, he wrote on an array of issues from 1947 until his arrest in the Rawalpindi Conspiracy Case in 1951. ”

    Interesting! The Pakistan Times was actually an English language paper. Urdu paper from that group was “Imroz” امروز.

    “he did not belong to the Communist Party.”

    Another misinformation. Faiz was a member of Pakistan Communist Party till the day he died.
    But his status in the party parlance was not of full member because he would not work full time for the party. CPP was underground basically from 1948 on, but many of its members were politically active in other parties with approval from the Party. Many people still alive in Lahore and Karachi are aware of this fact.

    Faiz was awarded Lenin prize on the recommendation of the Communist Party of Pakistan. He was given asylum and made the editor of a PLO English magazine in Beirut on the recommendation from CPP and the Russian communist Party. He remained close to Yassir Arafat long after that stint.

  26. YLH

    PMA,

    Kabir wants to establish Faiz in his own ilk. He would probably want Faiz to take credit for “slumdog millionaire” and avoid inconvenient questions about the Taliban as well.

    When I point out that Faiz was voluntarily the editor of Pakistan Times as early as January 1947 when Pakistan by no means a certainty and that he wrote that glowing tribute to Jinnah or that Faiz identified himself globally as a Pakistani from Pakistan, I am somehow dividing everything into narrow minded pakistani and Indian lines.

    This is what I call promoting hogwash as history.

    Saadat Hassan Manto moved to Lahore at partition (he could have stayed in Bombay) and wrote moving accounts of violence at partition. But he used to decorate his house every Pakistan Day with the “little Pakistani flags” according to his nephew Hamid Jalal.

    The three geniuses Faiz, Manto and Abdus Salam were humanists and global in their approach but who gave anyone -especially someone who is as cowardly as to deny his origins because it would lead to questions about the Burqah- the right to deny them what they themselves appropriated for themselves?

    Anyone who accuses me of having an exclusivist conception of Pakistan ought to get their head checked. But I can assure you that I would fight every inch against any misappropriation of my heritage by some lilly livered coward who says he idolizes “Faiz” but doesn’t have the moral courage or integrity that Faiz Ahmed Faiz lived his life by… just like the man he eulogized in his obituary of 13th or was it 12th september issue of The Pakistan Times.

  27. YLH

    Kabir,
    By identifying yourself as an Indian, by self admission, you have no locus standi to speak on where we want to take Pakistan. If you have a certain vision for Pakistan you would have to first identify yourself as a Paksistani. If yoou can’t do that then confine yourself to commenting on Indian affairs which is your country of choice. Ofcourse there is very little chance Self respecting Indians woyld allowa self hating Pakistanui to join their ranks.

  28. YLH

    Bonobashi,

    It is also a fact that to his dying day Dr. Salam remained uncompromisingly Pakistani. He corrected many a paper and journal who called him British. When he won the bobel prize Dr. Salam thanked the committeee on behalf of all of Pakistan.

    Here was man abused, marginalized, and persecuted even by the state. He remained Pakistani to the end. Then we have people like Kabir who are in it to win brownie points from patrons like you. Well bloody well done all of you.

  29. YLH

    Erratum Nobel Prize.

  30. YLH

    BC,

    You have asked the right question. Did? I only said that by writing Jinnah’s obituary, Faiz doesnot become unprogressive as alleged by Rakshanda Jalil.

  31. YLH

    PS to Bonobashi,

    I hope you don’t misconstrue my use of the word “bloody… It is meant in a most colonial way :)m no disrespect intended.

  32. YLH

    Dear Gorki, I claimed Ranjit Sinmh the uintessential Indus man and Pakistan the latest Indus state. Bhagat Singh was martyred in Lahore and championed by Mahomed Ali Jinnah.

  33. YLH

    And I’d like everyone to apply their mibd to Faiz’s description of partition as “horizontal division” to end vertical division ” above.

    You all can just accept my point of view right now or. You can accept after 10. Years as you fellas did with Jinnah😉

  34. YLH

    Sorry about the spelling mistakes. It is the blackberry.

  35. The critique of Faiz’s writings in English is not just related to writing on MAJ.
    There is a problem that the author is trying to grapple with. Faiz’s poetry and persona are somewhat at odds with the collection of his editorials which are not always a reflection of his revolutionary zeal. One way to look at it is that a newspaper editorial is topical and journalistic but poetry reflects the higher level vision and ideology.

    Kabir’s point has a value. A layer of our complex, composite identity is South Asian. Nation states are new but the subcontinent has been there for ages. Yes we are Pakistanis, Bangaldeshis and Indians but we also share a lot and we ought to be following a path where we become what EU is today. Retaining our particular, national allegiances but also part of a big economic, cultural bloc.

    How many more wars are going to fight?

  36. YLH: You are being a little unfair with Kabir’s point. Sometimes your reasoned argument gets blurred with a a bit of national-jingoism. Nothing problematic about it except that this is the line that Pakistan’s national security state has taken and ruined the country and its myriad peoples.
    We ought to be careful in formulating this opinion for we lost half the country much before you were born by exactly arguing that it was the Indians and Hindus who sowed the seeds of discord in our Bengali brothers.
    As you know I am against jingle-bell nationalisms be they of Pakistani, Bangladeshi or Indian variety.
    They have obviously failed to deliver for the sea of humanity – the anthems, wars, tanks, missiles, submarines and hollow glory-trademarks have left millions impoverished and marginalised.

  37. hossp

    “How many more wars are going to fight?”
    Plenty.

    Every nation has to go through a process to define itself. These wars or struggles take a long time. People in many countries around the world are fighting these battles. After decades of turmoil, the South american countries have just begun to emerge as more self assured and more confident of their directions. And just remember that their is no historical ambiguity in the South American nations.

    A country as natural as India is still resolving its idealogical and historical ambiguity and
    a nation like Pakistan which, realistically speaking, is an unnatural country/nation, will need to define itself and that process will continue for a long long time.

  38. Thank you Raza for defending me. YLH has indulged in attacks on my integrity and choices I have made in my life. I’m not going to defend myself here except to say that it’s natural to be tired of answering the same old ignorant questions about burqa and Taliban. With a random person on the street, it is much easier to simply answer in the affirmative to the question “Are you Indian?” I save my energy for where it’s most needed.

    As you have rightly pointed out, a layer of our identity is South Asian and “Indian” not in the narrow nationalistic sense but in the larger sense of belonging to the Indian subcontinent. Plus, many of my ancestors are actually from what is now India–so I have a perfect right to claim “Indian-ness”. That said, no one can take away from me my identification with the land that is now Pakistan. I am not “self-hating” as YLH likes to call me at all. Rather, I am very clear about what I identify with and where I stand on the issues.

    As a person of Pakistani-origin, I have the right to comment on Pakistani affairs. Additionally, people have the right to comment on affairs that don’t pertain to their particular nation-state. Indian citizens comment on PTH all the time, and YLH doesn’t ban or shun them. I also find it hard to believe that YLH himself doesn’t have opinions on international issues such as Palestine, or does he believe that as a Pakistani he has no business advocating for the Palestinians?

    Nationalism is all well and good but we should not forget humanism. We should be wary lest our nationalism turn into jingoism. That is not in the interests of any of our countries.

    Best,

    Kabir

  39. YLH

    Raza,

    I find your last comment quite disconcerting. Hear me out. You know that there is no jingoism in what I write. To say Faiz is not unprogressive for writing Jinnah’s obituary is not jingoism. Saying that Faiz was Pakistani is also not jingoism.

    To lecture me on South Asian identity and the pitfalls of concocted nationalisms is like preaching to converted. So your point about the one obvious point we could agree with Kabir on is neither here nor there. He also claims to stand for example for a secular Pakistan – does that automatically mean I am against that as well?

    No. Obviously No. I find it strange that you are trying to put me a corner I can’t be fit in. On the other hand I strongly caution against encouraging people like Kabir.

    He is utterly without integrity, self respect or a backbone. He will now twist and turn this whole thing in a million ways to prove that his position is somehow more progressive then mine … But the truth is that he is on record admitting that he describes himself an Indian because he wants to be congratulated for that film “Slumdog millionairre” and because he wants to avoid questions about “Taliban”.

    One would imagine that a real progressive minded person would want to assert that they are from Pakistan. A South Asianist would want to do that to show that this pov has following in Pakistan. Instead this self-hating self styled self proclaimed Indian wannabe claims that he would rather be congratulated for Slumdog millionaire.

    Well I am not going to let the liberal space be usurped by these easy targets for the Mullah brigade. Those who really believe in the ideals that they profess to day in day out cannot and should not put their bets on this.

    Kabir,

    You are welcome to hold on to whatever identity you want to but then don’t get angered when I point out that you don’t have any locus standi. Infact you should be an honest person and refrain from commenting on Pakistani affairs or atleast presenting your pov as a Pakistani pov.

    And to think this all started because of my first two posts where you as usual started your nasty business.

    What was in those posts exclusively Pakistani that frustrated you so?

    No it is just some mental problem you have. You ought to get your head examined because it seems to have nothing but wind in it.

  40. karun

    Edited for passing Gas!

  41. Dear YLH

    By no means was my comment meant to preach anything as I know that you are already aware of the state of affairs in the country. Nor did I suggest that you are a jingoist (heaven forbid). I was referring to the fact that often the use of patriotism and national identity gets mixed up. And it was my impression that you have addressed above.

    The point I am trying to make is that we need to think in more regional terms given the interconnectedness and the kind of problems we are mired in. Rational people across the region should be making a noise about an end to state sponsored politics of hate.
    Just because I am saying this, I am not attributing it to anyone. It is my personal view and surely in response to the debate.
    Lastly, Mr Jinnah, as you have stated many a time here, wanted good relations between India and Pakistan. We have to move towards that policy ideal.

    Kabir: I think you are taking the whole thing a little personally. I think YLH in his initial comments was making a valid point. He interpreted the poem that challenged your view of the same piece; you will agree that literary pieces contain many dimensions.
    I think we should agree to disagree and I would urge you not to take this debate further as you have said what you wanted to say and so has YLH.

  42. yasserlatifhamdani

    Raza bhai,

    There can be no two views about your regional cooperation. We cannot afford such animosity and at some point we have to underscore peace and cooperation with India. US-Canada is often given as an example and a model (no doubt because Jinnah himself gave it) but I would say France and Great Britain are better examples. These two nations fought so many wars …heck they called their wars by names such as the 100 year or war and so on and so forth. But today these two nations work in close cooperation.

    Pakistan and India are neighbors and there is no changing this fact. What is also a fact is that the European Union model builds on existing blocks. Thus for a South Asian Union to exist the realization that Modern India and South Asia are not the same thing needs to come about.

    I find it strange and ironic that some think such an identity can be imposed on a country like Pakistan from the top. Pakistan will only come into a South Asian arrangement voluntarily.

    For someone to first deny our identity or our right there to and then try to foist and superimpose an identity is a formula for disaster.

    This is where Jaswant Singh’s book becomes so important. My article published in the News on Jaswant Singh elicited incredible response from my counterparts in India- the professional middle class. I can tell you that the Indian middle class is ready and willing for re-constitution of Indo-Pak ties on the basis of sovereign equality, of undoing hatred and bigotry. Peace will come because of rational and common sensical reasons not hogwash and nonsense based on bankrupt ideas about what identity, nation and culture ought to be. In this people traditional peace-nicks and their counterpart in the Mullah-brigade, are all relics of a bygone age.

    But what is required is for Indians and Pakistanis to seek out those who actually matter for those who “candle waving” types in both country have failed.

    Peace is a material condition. It is therefore corporate and commercial venture.

  43. yasserlatifhamdani

    “Pathans can go with Afghanistan if they want. If not they are welcome in South Asian Union”

    Where is this South Asian Union of which you were recently crowned King Emperor and what is your representative authority to speak to Pakistani citizens of Pathan origin like this?

    “I am a Punjabi and Lahori first”

    Amazing. What a turn around. First Indian now down to parochial Punjabi Lahori identity…

    “I wish Pathans well but they and I have nothing in common”.

    Wow! And yet you have everything in common with the Tamils of South India?

    Have you read a bit about Ranjit Singh and his Kingdom? Did you know that Pathans were always a part of the Indus. If we logically apply your theory we see that since 1025, Punjab has been controlled more times from a center of power west of the current India-Pakistan border than East of it. You are clueless aren’t you?

    Atleast don’t list Faiz as your inspiration.

  44. yasserlatifhamdani

    To quote the author above:

    “Faiz remained a nationalist wherever he lived” …

    Faiz was the consummate patriot. He is our true poet philosopher. He is the quintessential Pakistani…Jinnah was the father of this nation but he was the last Indian to rule it and not the first Pakistani.how could he be what he fathered. Singh’s book proves that Jinnah was an Indian par excellence and Indian without match…one of the greatest Indians to ever live whether Indians admit it as much.

    It is Faiz though who embodies Pakistaniat-the finest values of this country and its finest aspirations.Faiz is Jinnah’s Pakistan incarnate.

    So how can anyone grudge me for fighting for Faiz to be identified as Pakistani?

  45. hossp

    YLH,
    There was a poster at another place in time, who used to claim that since his parents were born in Pakistani part of Punjab, he had every right to comment on Pakistani affairs. If I remember correctly, he was an airline food reviewer.

    I do concede that every one whether he/she is of pak origin or not, has a right to comment on Pakistani situation.

    The left in Pakistan including Faiz were called traitors by the ruling Pakistani elite and their right wing followers. Now the trend seems to be that they take pride in their narrow sectarianism and call people like faiz and Jalib their heroes.

    My jaw drops when I hear these folks talking about their narrow sectarianism and the Marxist internationalism in the same breath.

    Pakistan is a part of Indian subcontinent and the Pathan are integral part of both Pakistan and Indian subcontinent.

  46. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear HP,

    Ah good old Veeresh Malik uncle from Delhi golflinks. I suspect that Mr. Malik never outgrew his teenage years.

    Perhaps the idea that only right wingers can have national pride is flawed ab initio.

    Practical experience suggests otherwise. Syed Sibte Hassan’s editorials in Lail-o-Nahar is the clearest example of left-leaning Pakistaniat (as opposed to say Nawai Waqt nationalism of urban middle class).
    Your reference vis a vis Jalib is probably to Shahbaz Sharif. Be that as it may, isn’t the rise of business class driven politicos good for political development in the country? Would this not be a step further towards a bourgeoisie national democracy? How does this fall vis a vis Menshviks etc?

    But you are right. Some of us considered Faiz a patriot from the start (his unfortunate role in 1951 issue which is still clouded in mystery notwithstanding). After all the man was the first Editor of Pakistan Times and an indefatigable crusader for Pakistani causes. Left was entirely committed to Pakistan and their marginalization in Pakistan has hurt Pakistan more than it has hurt them.

  47. Gorki

    That’s why I was propelled by an irresistible force applied to the small of the back out of the citadel, legs milling unwillingly, into battle against ferocious odds, all by a heartless Sardar doing what heartless Sardars have done down the centuries.
    ………………………………………..

    This Sardar is a bit different in that he is smart. He is smart because:
    a) He indulges in battles with the likes of YLH only from the safety of his own den and also a safe distance of several thousand miles with a couple of deep oceans thrown in for a good measure
    b) He indulges in only verbal duels (in which one can easily back off to live to fight another day.)
    c) He does not fight alone and enlists the best of the best in penmanship to his side before he throws down the gauntlet.
    d) Other than that, I think he is pretty much like those of his kind.😉
    e) Anyway YLH is back now and accompanied as he is by a newly roused host which includes among other the descendants of ancient royal Popalzai and the reliable poet from the windy city, I must hurry back as well.😉

    On a serious note, I come to PTH to learn and do lesson or two every day about convictions, about courage and about service.

    Reading the anecdote about Dr. Abdus Salam acknowledging his country Pakistan, while receiving the Nobel Prize was one such lesson. By his speech he set the bar for national pride and responsible citizenship extremely high for all of us. More importantly Dr. Salam and Faiz Sahib showed us that it is possible to be patriotic without holding grudges or ill will towards others. To the country of such men, I can only tip my own head in salute. Faiz Sahib himself made Pakistan his home and I am no one to dispute his choice; his poetry on the other hand, is an entirely another thing and I will insist on keeping it a common legacy for all mankind.

    He wrote a hauntingly soulful poem after visiting BD. (YLH and Kabir correct me if I am wrong.) The words he wrote appear divinely inspired and yet the sentiments expressed are universally shared by all of us who yearn for forgiveness and understanding among all the peoples who share our common South Asian homeland.

    Kindly allow this Indian to borrow Faiz’s timeless words to address the poet’s own countrymen today:

    “Hum ke thehre ajanabi itane madaaraaton ke baad
    phir banenge aashnaa kitani mulaaqaaton ke baad
    Kab nazar mein aayegi bedaag sabze ki bahaar
    Khuun ke dhabbe dhulenge kitanii barasaaton ke baad”

    Another thing. The discussion between YLH, BC, Kabir, PMA and Rumi Sahib is a discussion among Pakistanis and I do not think it is appropriate for me to comment upon it; however as an outsider I cannot fail to appreciate the sincerity in the hopes and dreams all of you have for Pakistan. It is an honor for this outsider to be able to glimpse this dynamic side of the Pakistani society first hand.
    Regards

  48. Bloody Civilian

    we may ‘resurrect’ jalib whenever we need his poetry to use against a dictator we get fed up with (tends to be after 6 or 7 years). as for fai, while there remain pakistanis who can read and understand urdu, it’d be difficult to ignore faiz… as zia found out. btw, faiz was given the role in PT and imroz by none other than mian iftikharuddin. when will we resurrect and celebrate mian iftikharuddin as a first step towards rejecting absurdities like the objectives’ resolution?

    btw, in his Meezan, faiz lavishes the most unprecedented praise upon iqbal. he claims that iqbal is one of those rare breed of pioneers who do not rely on others to develop their innovation, but are able to develop it to perfection all by themselves, in their own lifetime, instead. i’m only reproducing faiz’s pov, paraphrased.

    YLH

    “Nawai Waqt nationalism of urban middle class” = Nawai Waqt nationalism of mostly punjabi urban middle class?

    Kabir

    The Pathans can go with Afghanistan if they want, if not they are welcome in the South Asian Union as well.

    the pathans have had many opportunities to make this choice, and they’ve always made their choice clear. again, it is a matter of history.. of 30 years before partiton and 62 years since. pakistan has never had to post a single soldier (figuratively speaking) on the western front. not throughout a period of constant belligrence from kabul, nor even when the ussr was in afghanistan.

    if we were to stereotype and generalise the punjab based on characters like zia-ul-haq, anamolies like LeT, SS/LeJ or JeM… or what is termed, in some smaller provinces, as the ‘punjabi army’.. i’m sure both your sense of proportion, justice and objectivity and punjabi-ness would seek redress. i see you have made some well-reasoned comments on the ‘drone attacks’ thread. so you can see the just war that our pakistani army is engaged in and giving the ultimate sacrifice on behalf of you and me and our loved ones (and the land and culture you and both claim to love). and you can also see the nick i use. i hope you’ve also read Raza Rumi’s recent post titled ‘salam pakhtunkhwa’ as a firsthand account of the present state of affairs. i hope you will not hold against me when i too seek to address what i consider to be an unwarranted stereotyping and baseless generalisation.

    even the KKs never opted for joining afghanistan. btw, in their three terms in officem before partition, they never once even mentioned the issue of renaming the province. this is a comment on the KK, not the right of the people of the province to call it what they like. hence the title of Raza Rumi’s artcile, which is only right and proper.

    as another not completely unrelated aside, in case you don’t already know about the hashtnagar peasants’ movement, do note that the movement found Bacha Khan’s ‘successors’ (the NAP) aligned with the landlords and against Faiz’s ‘successors’ (now the Mazdoor Kisaan Party) and the poor peasants.

  49. hossp

    “Left was entirely committed to Pakistan and their marginalization in Pakistan has hurt Pakistan more than it has hurt them.”

    This is just another myth but the politics that they promoted really set the agenda in Pakistan in the 70s. Today people are more aware of the role the army played and how the smaller provinces are not equal partners. The left in Pakistan was the early champion of all the anti army movements and they were the first to organize politics in Pakistan around the provincial rights.

    Pakistani left was the only group that opposed the army since the first coup in 1958. They were at the forefront against the army action in East Pakistan. Faiz and Jalib were just the most prominent names among many political workers who paid a heavy price for their opposition to the army and for democracy in Pakistan.
    Recently in Sindh people observed Nazir Abbassi’s death anniversary. He was killed in an Army brig in 1980. Brig. Imtiaz was the ISI head hancho then.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/urdu/pakistan/2009/08/090830_nabbasi_sen.shtml
    it is in urdu.

    What we see in Pakistani media today is basically a copy paste job from what the leftist wrote back in the 70s.
    I would also like you to find old copies of Viewpoint edited by Mazhar Ali Khan( I know you don’t particularly care for his famous son Tariq Ali)and print some of his editorials and articles here. You will be surprised by what was written in the 70s and how accurate the political analyses were.

    Btw, 1951 conspiracy case was bogus and was the first one in a series of bogus cases that were created against the political opponent.

  50. Bloody Civilian

    just to clarify that i quoted faiz’s views on iqbal just as an interesting example of how right of centre iqbal, appropriated by the right and far right in pak, was virtually idealised by the leftist faiz. faiz as a youngster was inspired by bhagat singh, to use another example. i’d leave it to others to discuss faiz. to me, he was by far the best urdu poet of the 20th century (and this one, so far).. regardless of his own views on iqbal.

    gorki

    your choice of faiz’s words was so wonderfully approproate.. it reminded me of somebody, perhaps correctly, saying that a good poet constantly has his words expanded and redefined by his readers and the times they go through.

    talking of mian iftikharuddin and thinking of sajjad zaheer and faiz himself.. it reminded me of faiz’s own words.. most likely said for the same people and state of affairs

    ki sang o Khisht muqayyad hain aur sag azaad

  51. @ Raza, I absolutely do agree that literary pieces contain many dimensions. YLH is entitled to his interpretation of “Subah-e-Azadi” but it seems really bizzare to me to claim that the poem is only about disappointment at a mere change of masters. Someone like Faiz would clearly have been disillusioned by the violence and chaos surrounding Partition and I feel this was the impulse that led to the writing of this poem, just as it led Manto to write “Toba Tek Singh”. This doesn’t mean that these writers didn’t want Pakistan or were not patriotic–they just didn’t think “East or West,Pakistan is best”.

    @YLH:

    “Pakistan and India are neighbors and there is no changing this fact. What is also a fact is that the European Union model builds on existing blocks. Thus for a South Asian Union to exist the realization that Modern India and South Asia are not the same thing needs to come about.

    I find it strange and ironic that some think such an identity can be imposed on a country like Pakistan from the top. Pakistan will only come into a South Asian arrangement voluntarily.”

    I agree with this and I never implied that Pakistan will be forced into a South Asian Union. I only expressed the hope that the Pakistani establishment would realize that it is in their best interests to become secular and democratic, and then increase cooperation with India, leading to a South Asian Union. Even the EU could not be imposed on any country by force.

    One question I would like to ask you in all seriousness though: Where was the “Pakistani” identity prior to 1947? Were the people on this side of the border always concious of being different from those on the other side? I would argue NO, but I’d love to be proved wrong if you can bring credible evidence. Pakistan is an artifical nation-state created in 1947. Prior to that we were all Indians– ethnically, culturally, etc, we are still Indian– so I am not “self-hating” or “sick in the head” for claiming to be Indian. The truth is just a lot more complicated than you want to present it as.

    @ Gorki,

    Yes, the poem that you have quoted is called “Dhaka say wapsi par” (On return from Dhaka). It is ostensibly about 1971, but I think it can be extended and seen as a metaphor for Indo-Pak relations and for the breakup of 1947.

  52. kabir

    @ YLH:

    “You are welcome to hold on to whatever identity you want to but then don’t get angered when I point out that you don’t have any locus standi. Infact you should be an honest person and refrain from commenting on Pakistani affairs or atleast presenting your pov as a Pakistani pov.

    And to think this all started because of my first two posts where you as usual started your nasty business.

    What was in those posts exclusively Pakistani that frustrated you so?

    No it is just some mental problem you have. You ought to get your head examined because it seems to have nothing but wind in it.”

    Citizens of any nation-state have the right to comment on world affairs and cannot be stopped just because they happen not to hold a passport of the particular nation under discussion. If that were the case, there would no European academics discussing South Asian affairs.

    As a South Asian, I am concerned with what happens in the whole of the Indian subcontinent, as events in Pakistan effect events in India (Mumbai attacks anyone?). I am also passionately concerned about Kashmir. Therefore, the nation-state of “Pakistan” definitely comes into my purview of interest, and you or anyone else cannot take that away from me.

    I’m not going to respond in kind to the personal insults, but telling someone to see a psychiatrist because they hold views that you disagree with is hugely condescending, and not appreciated at all. What’s the worst you can do to me? Ban me from PTH, your personal fiefdom on the web? If you want to do that, go right ahead, there are plenty of other places for me to get my message across. It’ll only make you look small.

    And don’t tell me I can’t use Faiz Sahab as my inspiration. I will claim Faiz, Jinnah, Akbar, Jahangir and whoever my heart desires. You have no right to tell me what to do.

    @BC: Again, I’m not trying to force the Pathans out of “Pakistan” or the South Asian Union. I’m just saying if they choose to go with their brothers across the Durand Line and form “Pashtunistan”, it’s their right and I’m not going to stop them. If they don’t choose that, it’s fine as well.

  53. HP

    “the Pakistani establishment would realize that it is in their best interests to become secular and democratic, and then increase cooperation with India, leading to a South Asian Union. ”

    You expect establishment to become secular and democratic? There is no country in the world where people have not struggled for democracy. Secularism comes with the democracy and it’s not establishment jobs to make a country secular.
    Also, it is not Pakistan establishment’s job to increase cooperation with India. I think Indian establishment will have to make similar efforts too and I don’t see that happening from the Indian side either. So it is just naive to first ask the establishment to establish democracy and then again make it only Pakistani establishment’s job to improve relations and work towards the Indian union.
    The whole thing is a process and for all of that to happen pressure must come from the people. Here is the problem: we are so dependent on the dictators and establishments to change our lives that we look towards them before we even attempt to make them realize that this what we want.
    You want Indian union, you want democracy, you want secularism; you work for it. Don’t expect establish all that because you think the establishment can read your mind.

  54. HP

    Don’t expect establish all that because you think the establishment can read your mind
    corr:
    Don’t expect all that from establishment because you think the establishment can read your mind

  55. yasserlatifhamdani

    Dear Kabir,

    Now that is much better. Could you now point out what in my posts alleges “East or West Pakistan is the best”? So I haven’t done it and you’ve read my writings, should not your comments be construed as a snide attempt to create a strawman out of my argument?

    I don’t know about Saadat Hassan Manto’s views on the creation of Pakistan per se but I do know that he has written the finest biographical sketch of Mahomed Ali Jinnah (mera sahib) and I have already mentioned his nephew Hamid Jalal’s thing about 23rd March. Did I mention Hamid Jalal’s daughter is none other than Ayesha Jalal… Ayesha Jalal is the grand niece of Saadat Hassan Manto.

    However Faiz Ahmed Faiz was very much part of the left that supported the Muslim League push against the British and Congress backed Unionist Party in Punjab.

    But how is my pointing out that the writer is wrong in saying that Faiz’s obituary of Jinnah marks a break with the progressive tradition somehow indicative of jingoism and narrow nationalism. By the way you are wrong- absolutely wrong- in your interpretation of Dagh Dagh Ujala …

    Here is the poem in full:

    ye daaGh daaGh ujaalaa, ye shab gaziida sehar
    wo intazaar thaa jis kaa, ye wo sehar to nahiiN

    ye wo sehar to nahiiN jis kii aarazuu lekar
    chale the yaar k mil jaayegii kahiiN na kahiiN
    falak ke dasht mein taroN kii aaKharii manzil
    kahiiN to hogaa shab-e-sust mauj kaa saahil
    kahiiN to jaa ke rukegaa safinaa-e-Gam-e-dil
    jawaaN lahuu kii pur-asaraar shaaharaahoN se
    chale jo yaar to daaman pe kitane haath parey
    dayaar-e-husn kii be-sabr Khwaab-gaahoN se
    pukaratii rahiiN baaheiN, badan bulaatey rahey
    bahut aziiz thii lekin ruKh-e-sehar kii lagan
    bahut qariiN thaa hasiinaan-e-nuur kaa daaman
    subuk subuk thii tamannaa, dabii dabii thii thakan

    sunaa hai ho bhii chukaa hai firaq-e-zulmat-e-nuur
    sunaa hai ho bhii chukaa hai wisaal-e-manzil-o-gaam
    badal chukaa hai bahut ahl-e-dard kaa dastuur
    nishaat-e-wasl halaal-o-azaab-e-hijr-e-haraam
    jigar kii aag, nazar kii umang, dil kii jalan
    kisii pe chaaraa-e-hijraaN kaa kuchh asar hii nahiiN
    kahaaN se aaii nigaar-e-sabaa, kidhar ko gaii
    abhii chiraaG-e-sar-e-rah ko kuchh Khabar hii nahiiN
    abhii garaani-e-shab meiN kamii nahiiN aaii
    najaat-e-diida-o-dil kii ghaRii nahiiN aaii
    chale chalo k wo manzil abhii nahiiN aaii

    It is clear that Faiz is lamenting that the “independence” has not challenged the old order, that the hopes and aspirations have not been fulfilled. I don’t know how or where the interpretation that is in vogue amongst Indians and people like you is associated with it. This poem was probably written many years after partition … when disillusionment with “independence” had set in.

    “What’s the worst you can do to me? Ban me from PTH, your personal fiefdom on the web? If you want to do that, go right ahead, there are plenty of other places for me to get my message across. It’ll only make you look small. ”

    Where did this come from? You ran out of arguments and decided to become the martyr for some ill-defined creed that you seem to hold ? I do not intend to ban you at all. What is this martyr complex you seem to have? Aww. Are you about sacrifice yourself for your “message”. Honestly your message is only embarrassing to those who actually are forwarding the idea of a secular Pakistan at home in South Asia and at peace with Pakistan. This is what you don’t get. While it is potentially embarrassing, I am ready to shout it down right here without “banning” you.

    I pity those from across the border who are encouraging someone like you.

  56. karun

    however as an outsider I cannot fail to appreciate the sincerity in the hopes and dreams all of you have for Pakistan. It is an honor for this outsider to be able to glimpse this dynamic side of the Pakistani society first hand.
    🙂 gorki rehne de yaar!!

  57. karun

    EDITED for Passing Gas.

  58. Gorki

    Karun:

    You are welcome.😉

    Regards

  59. YLH sahib,

    The beauty of poetry and literature (and I can say this as someone who has a degree in the subject) is that no one can be “absolutely wrong” in the interpretation of a poem. It’s not an equation. I see “Subh-e- Azadi” as a response to the Partition akin to “Dhaka se wapsi par”. It doesn’t matter when the poem was actually written, which we have no way of knowing for sure unless Faiz Sahab wrote in his diary that “today I wrote
    Subh-e-Azadi”. All that matters is whether the interpretation each of us holds can be supported from the text of the poem. Let’s agree to disagree on this issue.

    Your message and my message are substantively the same except that you don’t share my identification as “South Asian” or as “Indian” (again not in the post-1947 sense, I am not an Indian citizen). You also don’t approve of some of my personal choices. It’s OK, that’s your right. But people like us need to agree to work together in pursuit of our common goals. The only thing I will not take is personal attacks on my character and advice to see a shrink. That is uncalled for in any case. I also will not presume to advise you on how you should live your personal life.

    Regards,

    “Bhagat” Kabir,

    P.S. I’m not a fan of the title “King-Emperor” , I much prefer “President for Life”🙂

  60. yasserlatifhamdani

    Kabir writes:

    “One question I would like to ask you in all seriousness though: Where was the “Pakistani” identity prior to 1947?”

    So? Does that make it less valid? The question is there a Pakistani identity today? And if that doesn’t matter… Why are we going back to 1947 only then? How about 1700s? Was there an Indian identity then before the British imposed the idea of one India on this subcontinent? Let us even go earlier than that…. was an Indian identity during Mohenjodaro and Harappa? Last I checked Indus Valley civilization was always distinct from the rest of India… please provide credible evidence otherwise. Basically you are arguing against the established norms … what matters is that Pakistani identity exists today.

    “Were the people on this side of the border always concious of being different from those on the other side?” I would argue NO.”

    This is what you don’t understand. Where did I argue otherwise?

    “but I’d love to be proved wrong if you can bring credible evidence.”

    Once again and idiotic argument by someone who doesn’t get the point. But if you want evidence of there being a difference (though that is not my argument in toto) then you should read Aitzaz Ahsan’s Indus Saga.

    “Pakistan is an artifical nation-state created in 1947.”

    It is only as artificial as Modern Republic of India is artificial… or Great Britain is or France is. All Nation States are created out of conflict.

    “Prior to that we were all Indians– ethnically, culturally, etc, we are still Indian– so I am not “self-hating” or “sick in the head” for claiming to be Indian.”

    You yourself said above “I am a Punjabi and a Lahori first” and that you don’t care about Indian or Pakistani. Now you are arguing the exact opposite of it. When are you going to learn that these things are purely subjective. Nation, identity etc is a purely subjective experience. Your claim that we are still Indians is borne out of ignorance … and I am beginning to think I am discussing this with a 12 year old.

    “The truth is just a lot more complicated”

    … than you (Kabir) want to present it as. It is time you grew up and realized that you are far too ignorant to argue the way you do here. Be humble … read a bit.

  61. yasserlatifhamdani

    “Bhagat” Kabir…

    Stop trying to be the latest Mahatma …. we’ve already had too many of those.

    “Your message and my message are substantively the same”

    No.

    “except that you don’t share my identification as “South Asian” or as “Indian” (again not in the post-1947 sense, I am not an Indian citizen)”

    I believe in an idea of South Asia. It is not based on some ancient hogwash which assumes “Indian” to be the natural “ancient” identity … simply because we were once part of British India. British India was a product of history, just as Pakistan and India (i.e. Modern India) are products of history. I am not arrogant enough to assume that any of these products of history are more artificial or less artificial than others.

    “which we have no way of knowing for sure unless Faiz Sahab wrote in his diary that “today I wrote
    Subh-e-Azadi”.

    Faiz wrote Subhe-Azadi in 1952 while incarcerated after the Rawalpindi conspiracy case.

    By the way here is what Faiz wrote for Gandhi in 1942 (“Ik Siyasi Leader Kay Naam”)

    Tujh ko manzoor nahin
    ghalba-e-zulmat laikin
    Tujh ko manzoor hay
    yeh hath qalam ho ja’ain
    Aur mashriq ki kamingah
    main dharakta hua din
    Raat ki ahni mayyat kay
    talay dub ja’ay

    (You don’t like that the darkness conquers everything
    But you want that these hands are chopped off
    And the day that pulsates in the hideout of the East
    Gets buried under the steely corpse of night)

    Faiz confirmed that this was written for Gandhi in his interview with his biographer Ayub Mirza. The context was Gandhi’s non-cooperative “Quit India” Movement which was obstructing the British war effort against the Nazis.

  62. yasserlatifhamdani

    Prayer (Dua)

    by Faiz Ahmed Faiz

    come, let us raise our hands, as well –
    we, the ones who do not remember the ritual of du’a
    we, the ones who [do not remember] anything other than the searing of love,
    do not know of any idol, nor any God.
    come, let us beseech that the Creator of existence may
    fill sweetness in the morrow from the poison of today
    those who cannot bear the burden of passing day,
    may their eyelids be unburdened of the day and night

    they, whose eyes have no bonding to the morn,
    may someone light a lamp in their night
    they, whose feet have nowhere to go, no path
    may someone illuminate a way to their sight
    they, whose religion is lies and deceit [riya’a]
    may they get the temerity of infidelity, and audacity to question
    they, whose heads await the swords that betray
    may get the guidance to ward of the hands that slay

  63. karun

    So? Does that make it less valid? The question is there a Pakistani identity today? And if that doesn’t matter… Why are we going back to 1947 only then? How about 1700s? Was there an Indian identity then before the British imposed the idea of one India on this subcontinent? Let us even go earlier than that…. was an Indian identity during Mohenjodaro and Harappa? Last I checked Indus Valley civilization was always distinct from the rest of India… please provide credible evidence otherwise. Basically you are arguing against the established norms … what matters is that Pakistani identity exists today.

    ***************************************************
    Balls!

    1) ashoka had a pan india empire as early as 200bc(please fill up exact dates). His stone inscriptions have been found as far as karnataka,girnar(gujarat),dhauli Orissa

    2) Buddhist monks travelled thoughout the breadth of the subcontinent including amravati(A.P) with its magnificent stupa and of course hindustan ka dil a@sanchi

    3)800 A.D Adi shankara sets up 4 main centres at 4 corners of the country(puri,dwarka,badri,rameshwaram)

    4) Akbar’s pan India was the 1st greatest attempt after Ashoka and his successors till Aurangeb attained the pan Indian empire with pockets of resitances.

    5)The Aryans , historians claim ,settled around \indus and punjab initially and later shifted to ganga-jumna doaab area. Sankrit was uniformly the priestly langugae for hindus throughout india

    Religion wise, Hindus and Jains definitely claim a united uniform India.

    Last I checked Indus Valley civilization was always distinct from the rest of India
    Idiot! Indusvalley is compared to sumerian and mesopotamian and egyptian civilisations. Distinct !!! was thr anything else at that time???

    Anyway why i am i talking to a prick like you

  64. YLH:

    1) I concede that a Pakistani identity exists now, and that it is valid for those people who choose to ascribe to it. You must also concede my right not to ascribe to it (I consider myself a Kashmiri- Punjabi South Asian).

    2) I concede that Pakistan as a modern nation state is no more artificial than India or France, etc. However, some nation states were naturally well-defined because of geographic features, while in the case of others, like Pakistan, a line was arbitrarily drawn on a map through the center of an ethnically and linguistically homogenous area, splitting it into two. There is nothing natural about the Radcliffe line and nothing inherently “Pakistani” about those on one side and inherently “Indian” about those on the other.

    3) I think it is intellectually dishonest to conflate the Indus Valley civilization with modern Pakistan. As Karun points out this would be like conflating ancient Sumeria and Babylon with modern Iraq.

    4) My claim that we are all Indian is not born of ignorance. Ethnically, we are Indian. There are no genetic differences between East and West Punjabis.

    Regards

  65. Hayyer 48

    Karun:
    The concept of India is elusive.
    We can assume that there wasn’t an India before the Aryans moved into the Gangetic plain circa the start of the first millenium BC. I leave aside the Baluch movement into South India even before that because that is still only a theory, or even the movement out of Africa through the Arabian peninsula along India’s west coast and into Andamans and then onto Borneo and Australia. (Were they the original Arabs of India?)
    Were the Anglo Indians Indian, before they all migrated ‘home’ or failing that to Australia. Ancient History and proto history offer no guide. We are concerned with the present.

    “Buddhist monks travelled thoughout the breadth of the subcontinent including amravati(A.P) with its magnificent stupa and of course hindustan ka dil a@sanchi………..
    …..Sankrit was uniformly the priestly langugae for hindus throughout india………
    ……800 A.D Adi shankara sets up 4 main centres at corners of the country, puri,dwarka,badri,rameshwaram”

    To answer these ad seriatum.
    Christian monks also travelled all over Europe for a thousand years till the birth of the nation state. But there is no country called Europe.
    The apostles of Jesus also travelled all over the Roman Empire to convert; St Thomas even came to India, but that did not make it one Christian country. The Nestorians travelled deep into China in the fourth century and Buddhist monks travelled into Central Asia and China; that did not make them part of an extended Judae and Samaria or India.
    Sanskrit was spoken by Brahmin priests and scholars between themselves (even as their wives spoke only Tamil, or prakrit language in the kitchen). Like Latin it was the language of scholars and priests not the public who spoke Prakrit languages
    India (like Pakistan) is a colonial construct, much like Iraq, or Kenya or many other Asian and African nations. Our leaders had only the crutch of mythology to define when they called the land of the Bharatas. Who knows; in two hundred years or three (the maximum duration of empire in India) some new entities may emerge in the geographical expression called South Asia whose semantics and deconstruction may provoke unborn generations to as impassioned an argument, as we read now on PTH. Till then we can expend our passions on the entities we insist define us, no matter how elusive, imagined or transient they may be. It is human nature to love what is yours. Yourself, your parents, language, religion, wife children brothers and sisters or whatever, warts and all.
    There is a considerable number of North Indians who would be happy with a good neighbourly South Asian relationship with Pakistan, as I am sure Indian Bengalis be would with Bangladesh. They are not any the less good Indians for this sentiment. And it is possible to be a good Pakistani with reciprocal sentiments. This accords with Kabir’s position I think, but not with PMA’s who thinks it in the best interests of both countries to turn their backs on each other after they have solved Kashmir (ah! happy day), but that may be whenever.
    In the interim it should remain within the realm of probabality to be good patriotic Pakistanis or Hindustanis or Bhartis while harbouring some twinge of sentiment for the ‘enemy’.
    By the way, while ‘Indian’ may not have much history as a term meaning nationality, Hindustani does, unlike Bharti. Hindustan under the Mughals included all of North India, but strictly speaking excluded Bengal and Punjab. Sar Hind or modern Sirhind is where Hind began, unlike the Persian Hindu which began beyond the Indus. Maybe Bonobashi can educate us on the subject.
    It is obvious that Indian confusion about itself persisted well into the 1960s. In the early days of free India all government enterprisies were named after Hindustan; thus Hindustan Copper, Hindustan Machine Tools, Hindustan Steel and so on. In the 60s it became Bharat, as in Bharat Heavy Electricals. In brief we Indians had no name for ‘our country’, ergo we were not a country.
    This lengthy comment in a discussion of Faiz may be seem beyond the point but is really to question Karun certainties. Advani some years ago wanted Indians to be known as Hindus. Since Hindu meant Indian anyway, and was a term that the west (starting with Persia) used for India, its replacement for the terms the ‘Hindus’ used to describe themselves is in itself an indication of the birth pangs of Hindu nationalism. It is when Hindus stopped being Vaishnavis, Shaivates, Bairagis etc, etc and adopted a foreign name in common for themselves that we have the first twinges of an Hindu identity outside Brahminism.

  66. bonobashi

    @Hayyer 48

    That was a masterly exposition, but wasted, I rather fear. I wish I knew rather more about mediaeval India; your reference to Sarhind is new to me, and I am now hopelessly enmeshed in curiousity. Of course the context of Hindustan, especially its not including Bengal is familiar; that it also didn’t include Punjab is a surprise, to be perfectly honest.

    To distort the Latin tag, Historia longa, vita brevis. Back to the books.

  67. Majumdar

    Yasser Pai,

    Bhagat Singh was martyred in Lahore

    Which was just as well from your POV. Else he too wud have been booted out to India (like Jagannath Azad sb)

    Regards

  68. PMA

    bonobashi (August 31, 2009 at 5:45 pm):

    After having succeeded with Kabir it falls upon me to educate an old kook like yourself. (I hope you are smiling.) In my university days I used to teach Urdu as an elective subject to the American English speaking undergrads (for which I used to get paid $400 as honorarium). The word ‘sir’ in Persian means ‘upper’ (and ‘top of head’ in Urdu). Persians had named all that was east of Indus as ‘Hind’ meaning ‘dark’ relating to the dark skin natives, perhaps dravidians of India at that time, and the ‘land of five rivers’ as ‘Punj-Aab’ meaning ‘five-rivers’. Starting from the last of the five rivers to further east was to them ‘Sir-Hind’ meaning ‘Upper Hind’ and not the ‘beginning of Hind’ as mahatma has stated. The word ‘Hindustan’ is a later day Turkish construct and not a Persian one. The word ‘Hindustan’ was coined by the Turks who had already claimed Punjab as theirs and wanted to take ‘Hindustan’ as well, the Sir-Hind of Persian language.

  69. Hayyer 48

    That was most informative. Sirhind is the very south of Punjab, just about 30 kilometres from the beginning of Haryana. Sar or sir is used for head and the upper Hind is ofcourse where Hind began.
    Is Hind not just the river but also denoting dark?
    Unlike the original Mahatma it may please be noted that this one declines the title.

  70. bonobashi depressed

    @PMA

    Not smiling, maestro, but frowning in vexation at my lack of the basic skills needed for comprehension of the earlier and middle histories of these parts. I despair: how can I learn Urdu and Persian at this age?

    I had no idea of the original root of ‘Hind’.

    Just to clarify: from your last sentence, does that mean therefore that Hindustan is Sirhind?

    PS: Totally off topic, in my camp existence, I have been reading Runciman’s “The Sicilian Vespers”, and was tickled pink to come across several references to Butrinto, which Charles of Anjou owned as an overlord of Achaea. Every time I saw it, I thought of your poem, and of the Googled picture of the romantic spot.

  71. PMA

    Hayyer 48 (August 31, 2009 at 8:34 pm):

    Sir (no pun intended) you are confusing ‘upper’ with ‘beginning’. ‘Sir-Hind’ is a Persian construction and it means ‘Upper-Hind’ as compared to ‘Lower-Hind’. The modern day English equivalents are ‘North-India’ and ‘South-India’. To ancient Persians ‘Hind’ was the land east of the River Indus. They gave that name because the skin color of the people of the land they first came across. I am aware that in latest Indian narrative coming out of India, the name of the river is ‘sindhu’ and that is where the word ‘hind’ comes from. But that is just not so. The river got its name from the land and its people and not the other way around. To ancient Persians hindu meant a ‘dark skin person’ and ‘hind’ land of dark skin people. Of course that is before the Brahmanism.

  72. hossp

    PMA,
    Do you have any reference for the meaning of hind ?
    I certainly have not seen or read
    that before.

  73. bonobashi depressed

    @PMA

    No, that is not correct. It was always primarily the Persian word for that river first, and the Indian pronunciation second. So the Hindu river on one side of the pronunciation divide became the Sindhu on the other side. As the Greeks did not do aspirates very well, they took the more familiar Persian word and converted it in their own pronunciation to Indus, dropping the ‘h’ in passage rather in the manner of a Cockney bus conductor.

    I learnt about the other meaning of ‘Hind’ right now from you.

  74. Hayyer 48

    Perhaps I am misunderstanding. Please bear with me. You did say that Hind started east of last of the five rivers. “Starting from the last of the five rivers to further east was to them ‘Sir-Hind’ meaning ‘Upper Hind’.” By ‘last’ I presume you mean the Sutlej, in which case Hind starts with areas east of that river and that is where Sirhind is located.
    On the other hand if ‘last’ meant the Jehlum then east of that was the Punjab mainly.
    Now if Sirhind was upper Hind lower Hind must etymologically have been what is now called the cow belt, i.e. the Hindi speaking heartland of India. Did the Persians have a specific name for South India? The early Mughals considered themselves emperors of Hindustan but they were not then in control of any part of South India and to the residents of which territory the Indus is remote anyway.
    “I am aware that in latest Indian narrative coming out of India, the name of the river is ’sindhu’ and that is where the word ‘hind’ comes from. But that is just not so. The river got its name from the land and its people and not the other way around. To ancient Persians hindu meant a ‘dark skin person’ and ‘hind’ land of dark skin people. Of course that is before the Brahmanism.”
    Sindhu is not part of the political narrative anyway. The narrative is etymological in common belief, having to do we are told because the name Sindh got corrupted to Hind in Persian Arabic usage and thence to Ind in Greek.
    If Sindh is the original word and Hind a derivative, then notwithstanding its meaning the name could not have denoted land of dark skinned people.
    Brahmins and the Aryan invasion into the subcontinent took place between 1500 and 2000 BCE. The Brahminical name for the area between Peshawar and the Jamuna was the Sapta Sindhu. This included Kashmir and what is now Himachal Pradesh. The dark skinned Harappans were surely not called Hindus by Persians. And they would not have called the fair skinned Aryans dark.
    The Aryans tribes that entered India were a branch of the tribes that entered Persia. The fair coloured Aryans dominated Punjab in the second millenium BCE. That is when the Rig Veda is believed to have been written. Persian conquests of the Punjab came after the Aryan invasion. So Hind, meaning land of dark skinned people cant have begun then.
    Are there extant Persian references to a place called Sirhind or Sarhind?

  75. bonobashi depressed

    @Hayyer 48

    No, at the cost of being typecast as a dusty old pedant (nobody likes to look into a mirror), I have to add something to this. Please can it be tomorrow? It is already 11 to midnight, too late for my bleary old eyes.

  76. Bloody Civilian

    kabir

    I’m not trying to force the Pathans out of “Pakistan” or the South Asian Union. I’m just saying if they choose to go with their brothers across the Durand Line and form “Pashtunistan”, it’s their right and I’m not going to stop them. If they don’t choose that, it’s fine as well.

    your intentions, no doubt noble, and total lack of bias, one way or the other, is irrelevant to my objection which has been to you using a generalisation that was tantamount to misrepresentation of fact and history. i challenge the assumption your statement is based on.

    i would have made the same protest and sought to correct what i thought was without basis in fact if you made a similar generalisation about punjabis or any other group that i knew enough about to support an argument. so my argument remains about facts. nothing else.

    indeed, you are free to choose for yourself whatever identity you wish or feel. by the same token, please do not make assumptions about others and present them as fact. if you wish to make a certain statement about a group, please back it with facts…. esp, when challenged. so, while i appreciate your explanation about your intentions, the explanation is redundant. unfortunately, what you’ve repeated is the same explanation. apologies were neither sort nor required. while your magnanimity is appreciated, historical facts and/or analysis were what was needed and what have been totally absent.

    as an example, consider the statement: ‘indian muslims are free to go with pakistan, if that is what they wish’. innocent intention does not change the fact that it is a loaded statement that will, rightly, be challenged.

    regards

  77. PMA

    Ancient Persians have called all the lands known to them east of River Indus as Hind. ‘Hind’ is a Persian word and it means ‘dark’. They gave that name because the first people they came across in present day Sindh Province were the dark color natives and not the later arrived light color Aryans. But the name stuck and before the arrival of Islam everyone that was living east of Indus was a ‘hindu’ to the outsiders. They also called the Indus river ‘Sel-e-Hind’. In Persian, word ‘sel’ means ‘flow’ like in ‘sel-e-aab’ (flow of water) commonly spoken as ‘selaab’ in Urdu. Over the time the word ‘sel-e-hind’ become ‘sind’. Persian language, culture and narratives predate Hinduism and Indian narratives, including Vedas that refer to the river as Sindh or Sindhu. Unfortunately Indian boys and girls are taught differently. The ‘indians’ ancient Persians came across on the east side of the Indus have nothing to do with the Aryans or modern day Hindus of India. If you look up a Persian dictionary it will give you the meanings of the word ‘hind’.

    And about the word ‘sirhind’. Again it is the Persian description of the land mass east of the last river of Punjab stretched all the way to the Ganges Valley. Regardless what it represents today, to the Persians it meant ‘upper hind’. But to the ancient Persians ‘hind’ started at the eastern banks of the Indus. The word ‘hindustan’ is Turkic and not Persian in origin. For Turkic invaders, modern day Afghanistan and Pakistan were the staging areas for the ultimate prize, Hindustan, stretched from the last eastern river of Punjab to as for as they could go. Sirhind is a Persian and geographical expression whereas Hindustan is a Turkic and political expression. I understand now both words are not in vogue in modern India.

  78. PMA

    For all of you Faiz fans here at PTH. I am proud to tell you that Faiz, Iqbal, Raza Rumi and PMA, all are Old Ravians. Raza will vouch for me that for some of us Faiz and Iqbal have different meanings than they do for many others. We sat on the same benches, walked the same corridors and consumed ‘samosas’ and ‘shami kababs’ at the same tuck-shops as did those giants. Along with our pride we also carry the burden of the message of these great forerunners that they place on our weak shoulders. In that spirit I have attempted to translate two or three couplets of Faiz:

    Why you ask of my possessions
    Whatever I got, I’ll bring to you
    My sleeves contain my ashes
    My cup is full with despair
    I’ll drop my sleeves to you
    I’ll empty my cup for you.

    Decorate
    The reasons of your desire
    With my thinking;
    Light your inner fire
    With fire of my yearning.

  79. Bloody Civilian

    bonobashi

    the persians couldn’t pronounce the ‘s’ sound and therefore called it ‘hind’? usually, ‘s’ and ‘sh’ sounds get interchanged when speakers of a language do not have one or the other sound (the biblical shiboleth story, of course). or did the ancient persians, before the aryans arriving, couldn’t pronounce neither ‘s’ nor ‘sh’ and ended up pronouncing either as ‘h’?

    PMA

    ‘sel’ is still used in modern persian. sel-e-hind was being used in the language of persia was 3000/4000 years ago, and older? so this word was in use even in the pre-aryan persia? or was it that aryans had arrived in persia before they arrived in india (a question for all historians on this forum, thanks!)? we hear that sanskrit is the oldest surviving language, and the word hindu is foreign to sanskrit. how old is persian relative to sanskrit?

    re. old ravians: as another old ravian, it is good to see that raza rumi’s PTH is following the ravian motto: ‘courage to know’.

  80. Hayyer 48

    PMA:
    The confusion continues I am afraid. Modern Pakistan includes the bulk of the Punjab. The eastern most river is the Sutlej. Modern Punjab ends about 90km across the Sutlej.
    “Again it is the Persian description of the land mass east of the last river of Punjab stretched all the way to the Ganges Valley………………..to the ancient Persians ‘hind’ started at the eastern banks of the Indus.” There does appear to be a contradiction here.
    It will have to be the sage of Kolkata to pronounce from Bengaluru, even in his depressed condition; but from my non-historians’ limited knowledge I seem to recall that the Aryans moved into India from Central Asia through modern Afghanistan and through eastern Persia at about the same time as they moved into Persia. Sanskrit is what linguists call an Indo Iranian language, and the oldest of such languages are believed to be Sanskrit, Avestan and old Persian.
    So, if the physiognomy of Indians led to nomenclature of the land it cant have been the Aryans who were the cause of it; and yet, the Persians who saw the dark people could not have been around much before the Aryans entered India. Ofcourse old Persian and the earliest Persians may predate modern Persians, so my questions may be simply a result of only a little knowledge.

    Even if Hind means dark and is the reason for naming the land as such it must be remembered that the earliest inhabitants of Baluchistan were also dark, and yet Baluchistan was never Hind. Why then should dark Sindhis cause the land to be named Hind but not dark Baluchis. We are talking practically of pre-historical times when dark people lived all over the Sind valley, and in modern Baluchistan.
    The term Hindu was used in the west for all Indians including Muslim Indians. In that sense it did not imply religion only.
    Sapta Sindhu is the earlier name for the area of Punjab and its neighbourhood and is believed to occur in the Rig Veda which is supposed to have been composed around 1800-2000 BCE. The seven rivers were the five of Punjab and the Sindh and Saraswati. The Saraswati disappeared soon after the Aryans arrived in India. So Sapta Sindhu, the term of the Indo Aryan branch would have been Haft Hindu in Persian. Are there references in Persian to such a place?
    From what you have said it appears that the name Hind for dark Indian came to be used before 2000 BCE. That is a rather ancient time, even for old Persian.

  81. PMA

    BC: Elamites ruled Persia 4500 years ago! The Persian word ‘hind’ was in use during the time of Elamites as various ‘Persian’ tribes traveled over the land mass stretched between Indus on the east and Tigris on the west. Aryans first migrated into ancient Persia 2600 years ago. Ancient Persians extended their empire all the way to the banks of Indus and extracted tributes from ‘dark skin Hindus residing east of Indus’. Those ‘indians’ certainly were not the ‘Aryans of India’ as we come to know.

  82. PMA

    Hayyer 48 (September 1, 2009 at 3:35 am):

    With all due respect to the religious communities, I prefer not to consult religious books and sources for the learning of history, particularly ancient history which we are here talking about. My sources are mostly anthropological in nature. Lately there are lots of anthropological studies done by German and Pakistani researches regarding Sindh, Balochistan and their connections and contacts with ancient Persia. Many of these findings are in contradiction with the stories of religious sources. And for the last time. To ancient Persians ‘hind’ in general starts at the east bank of Indus, and ‘upper hind’ lies east of Sutlej. No more discussion please. I am getting tired.

  83. Hayyer48

    PMA:
    I must thank you for your patience-though many of the questions remain unanswered. I shall now have to research the net.

  84. BC: Is there not a modern “Pashtunistan” movement? Do not many Pathans or Pashtuns or whatever they want to call themselves feel the Durand line is just as irrelevant as “ethnocentric” Punjabis like myself feel the Radcliffe line to be?

    I am asking these questions in all sincerity, not trying to expel any “pakistani” sub-group from anywhere. I’m just saying everyone has the right to their own nationalist feelings, if they feel disinfranchised by the pakistani state.

  85. YLH

    Kabir mian,

    No one denies your right to an identity… but who gave you the right to decide what I am? Besides I don’t have a problem with your “Punjabi” or “Kashmiri” South Asian identity… all of these make sense- you may be Punjabi or Kashmiri and we are from the region of the world called South Asia. However refer to point 5 on why your blanket ignorant statement “we are all Indians” is illogical to say the least and just downright dishonest intellectually.

    1. That you are now forced to quote a someone like Karun should tell you something. Karun is a hatemonger. He hates everything that challenges his narrow-minded thinking. That Karun who advocates nuclear war against Pakistan supports you should tell you just how irrelevant you really are to the whole discussion.

    2. Anyway I am glad I have made some headway into your thinking.

    3. Your latest accusation that I conflate the Indus Valley onto Pakistan is just a figment of your own imagination as usual. The Indus pre-dates Pakistan, British India, Mughal India and what not. Pakistan is just the latest of political entities to encompass the Indus as a whole. It is a logical fallacy to make strawmen and break them my dear friend.

    4. Your claim that we are all Indian because there is no difference in the ethnic make up of East and West Punjabis is logically inverted. Only a few posts ago you said about the Pathans “they and I have nothing in common”. If racial make-up is all that is needed then you will no doubt concede that most West Punjabis and East Punjabis have nothing in common with Bengalis or South Indians. Where is your Indian identity now?

    5. Both Pakistani and Indian identities are territorial identities based in international law. You may keep repeating this we are all Indians but you don’t have a justification for it either in ethnic or cultural argument (your own argument vis a vis Pathans case in point) … or in international law. Everybody has the right to be wrong if they wish… but then don’t expect not to be called out for it. Yes we (Correction Our Ancestors not We) were once British Indians. We were also the subjects of the King Emperor then. Should we then call ourselves British subjects as well? Yes we (Correction Our Ancestors not We) were part of Mughal India once. Should we call ourselves “Mughalistanis” then? These would be ridiculous arguments … the real argument has to be based in law and law alone. Therefore please spare us.

    6. The Pushtun Nationalist issue- Any nationalism is purely subjective. That means a great majority of a said people have to agree to this conception for it to be valid. The main Pushtun Nationalist ANP – which mind you is not even openly separatist – won 48 seats in the NWFP legislature out of a house 107 or 110 … the mainstream parties PPP + PML-Q + PML-N together have close 55 or so. For the Pushtun Nationalist issue to be valid there has to be some real degree of support for it in the masses. There isn’t.

  86. yasserlatifhamdani

    7. “However, some nation states were naturally well-defined because of geographic features, while in the case of others, like Pakistan, a line was arbitrarily drawn on a map through the center of an ethnically and linguistically homogenous area, splitting it into two. There is nothing natural about the Radcliffe line and nothing inherently “Pakistani” about those on one side and inherently “Indian” about those on the other. ”

    First of all the radcliffe line and the division of Punjab was not part of the Pakistan idea. Pakistan idea was based on reconstitution of existing constituent provinces which were Muslim majority around a new center which in turn could be in confederation with the rest …

    But this new theory of defined and ill-defined nation states that you’ve pulled out of your bag of tricks is pure hogwash. What natural frontiers separate France from Germany? Canada from the US or US from Mexico?…. Argentina from Brazil….

    And if Mountains or rivers are “natural frontiers why isn’t India of today divided into East Ganges and West Ganges? You claim to live in the US … have you travelled the length and breadth of that land … why doesn’t the Grand Canyon form a natural frontier. What the hell makes Alaska or Hawai a “natural part” of the nation state called the US?

    On both counts… first the racial Punjabi argument and now the “natural frontiers” argument you probably have deconstructed the so called Indian identity that you wish to impose on us much more so than one would have hoped for.

    In contrast my argument is simply one rooted in international law… not in arbitrary geography or arbitrary accident of birth. Besides why is man made line any less sacred than “God-made” natural frontiers (which in any event is a case of perception and confirmation bias) of what you have ridiculously called “well defined” nation-states.

  87. When I say we are all “Indian” I don’t mean Indian in the sense of the modern Republic of India– I mean in the sense of belonging to ethnic groups indigenous to the Indian Subcontinent . Most of our ancestors, like it or not, were low-caste Hindus who converted to Islam at some point or the other, probably converted by Sufi saints. Yes “Pakistanis” may have some more Persian, Turkic, Afghan blood than other Indians, but how much difference that makes is debatable. The Pathans have more Afghan blood than Punjabis, and the reason I don’t relate to them has more to do with cultural and linguistic issues than anything else.

    Karun may be a “hatemonger” but he had a valid point that the Indus Valley civilization is not Pakistan in the same way that Sumer and Bablyon are not Iraq. For what it’s worth, the Indus Valley Civilization is not even an “Indian” civilization (in the Republic of India sense), it is an ancient civilization belonging to the Indian subcontinent.

    Have you ever wondered why so many groups in Pakistan are unhappy with the “Pakistani” identity that was grafted on to them? Why the struggle for “Pashtunistan” or “Sindhudesh”? Could it not be that ethnic identification might trump the top-down attempts to create a “Pakistani” identity?

    We may not be “Indian” BUT we are “Hindustani” whether you choose to accept it or not– heck even our classical music is technically called “North Indian” or “Hindustani” classical music… there is no such thing as “Pakistani” classical music. Worth pondering, no?

  88. Majumdar

    Kabir mian,

    Have you ever wondered why so many groups in Pakistan are unhappy with the “Pakistani” identity that was grafted on to them?

    There is no need to throw the baby out with the bathwater. There is nothing which makes the Pakistani identity any inferior to the Indian identity that you prefer (for the subcontinent as a whole). The real issue is denial of political rights and the cultural autonomy which was promised as part of LR-1940.

    Regards

  89. Majumdar ji,

    I agree with you that the real issue is denial of political rights and cultural autonomy. I just find it interesting that people who are partisans of the “Pakistani” identity and see Pakistanis as being eternally and essentially different from “Indians” (not referring to YLH personally, but to a lot of people I know) rarely stop to wonder why ethnic identities which are much older than Pakistan or India (Punjabi, Sindhi, Baloch, Pasthun, Tamil, etc) so often take precedence in people’s minds over the “national” identity.

  90. yasserlatifhamdani

    Kabir,

    Why don’t you start answering some questions instead of shifting your point of view every five seconds. You’ve ignored the points above completely.

    Look I don’t have a problem with the usage of the term “Indian” in the sense that you now claim (in your latest post)except ofcourse that it is no longer in usage this way and certainly not how you used it earlier (you said you wanted to be congratulated for Slumdog Millionaire) Btw are you reading what I have written or are you just simply interested in repeating your own imagined strawmen and breaking them?

    My point about Indus Civilization (which Karun probably understood better than you did) was not about “conflating” it to Pakistan…. but that these arguments of what we are or what we were etc etc does not apply to present reality. If you can’t see this or acknowledge it, then I have no choice but to re-affirm what I have saying all along: you are utterly without integrity.

    Can you point out where I said that we are not sons of converts, Hindus etc or claimed that we are not Indian because we came from Turkey or Afghanitan? Infact had you bothered to read above, Gorki is pointing out that I claim Ranjit Singh and Bhagat Singh as part of the Indus and Pakistan’s cultural heritage. Why are you putting up these “Turkic”, “persian” arguments . For the record this “Turkic” “Persian” Afghan blood nonsense arguments are all as invalid as your earlier “Indian” argument. . We are the sons of the soil. I cannot claim an association with the Indus and deny that my ancestors were from this land. It doesn’t make me an Indian though any more than it makes me a British national… I mean just because some of my ancestors lived in British India? No I am afraid there is no question of agreement on this fundamental point.

    Now you’ve changed your vocabulary to introduce the word “Hindustan”- seeing as you did that the word “India” is problematic (I’ll come to that in a minute). Let us apply your argument regarding “Hindustani Classical Music” in totality … we speak English as well… does that make us “English”? English is the state language of the United States of America… does that make Americans Englishmen? What kind of a childish argument is this?

    Just so that you are more aware, Jinnah on August 26th 1947 lodged his protest at the adoption of the term “India” exclusively by the Dominion of India. This ofcourse made sense given that the word “India” derives- through a convoluted historical process- its name from “Indus” which is the main river of Pakistan. However once the dust was settled, India came to denote Modern India alone.

    Finally … your points about ethnic dischord in Pakistan… well if you had read a bit of history you would know that the ethnic identifications that you’ve pointed out… the parochial provincial identities -especially Bengal, Sindh and Punjab – opposed the central Indian identity as bitterly as they now do a top down Pakistani identity as you put it. Had you been more knowledgeable you would know that Khan of Kalat’s arguments against the Pakistani federation was that Kalat was not part of India i.e. Princely India and therefore not part of the successor state-ie Pakistan- in the normal way….

    And how ironic that you’ve yourself spoken about Pushtun Nationalists considering Durand line “unnatural”. Their argument also seems to be that they were never part of India or atleast your “natural frontiers” theory is hoist its own petard.

    Do you see how many knots you’ve tied yourself in by simply denying established facts of international law?

  91. yasserlatifhamdani

    “rarely stop to wonder why ethnic identities which are much older than Pakistan or India (Punjabi, Sindhi, Baloch, Pasthun, Tamil, etc) so often take precedence in people’s minds over the “national” identity.”

    Can you point out where I have objected to your usage of the term “Punjabi” or even “Punjabi-Kashmiri South Asian”? It is when you superimpose an inaccurate all encompassing we shall assimilate you resistance is futile borg like Indian national identity on everyone (not just yourself) that I object…

    In the process you have contradicted yourself a million times.

  92. Majumdar

    Yasser Pai,

    We are the sons of the soil. I cannot claim an association with the Indus and deny that my ancestors were from this land.

    It reminds me of what a very witty chowkie once posted. That there are more Syeds in Indian subcontinent than there are Arabs in the whole of Arabia.

    Regards

  93. yasserlatifhamdani

    True. That witty chowky had to Tahmed I am guessing?

    Ironically you’ll find more syeds in India than in Pakistan. In Pakistan you find lots of local castes which many a proud Pakistani very proudly owns up to… Bhatti, chatha, bajwa, brohi, soomro, nagi, other jatts, rajputs… quite common.

    Even the family trees of the supposedly authentic ones (like say for example these damned Hamdani types- who are descended from Shah-e-Hamadan -allegedly the great great great grandson of Ali AS- who lived in Kashmir for two years after being persecuted by Taimur) shows considerable – I’d say significant majority share- of local indigenous populations. So this “syed” nonsense too seems to be a state of mind bordering on ridiculous.

    We are Pakistanis. Not Arabs, Afghans, Persians or Turks.

  94. Look YLH I’m tired of this back and forth, neither of us are going to change our minds, so lets just stop engaging with each other. You are welcome to your blog and whatever, I’m just going to stay on my father’s blog now and we will propogate the South Asian identity to our heart’s content and fight against people like you and your “Pakistani identity”.

    International law is fine as far as it goes. You’re a lawyer and you know much more about that than me, so I am leaving that issue alone.

    One final thing though, you keep claiming that I want to be “Indian” because I lack integrity. This I disagree with. You have taken my earlier remarks out of context. The reason I don’t have a problem being identified as Indian– and indeed claim Indian identity is because I find all attempts to divide “Indian-ness” from “Pakistani-ness” entirely stupid and beside the point. I take inspirition from “Toba Tek Singh”. Engaging in this will make us all madmen. As the poor unfortunate hero of that story says in the end, “I don’t care about India or Pakistan. Where is Toba Tek Singh?”

    I don’t care about India or Pakistan. I’m a Lahori. Lahore could be part of the hypothetical nation-state of the “Communist Empire of Swaziland” and I would still be a Lahori. That’s all that matters to me in the end.

    Bas is bakwas behes ko band kar dehtay hai. Have a nice life.

  95. Majumdar

    Yasser Pai,

    I think that was Salimbhai although Chachoo too deprecates this Arab wannabee-ism in Pakistanis. Incidentally he takes pride in his Gujjar ancestry.

    Incidentally we have in our apartment a gentleman who bears the surname Safavi and claims descent from the Safavi Shahs of Iran. Both he and his wife claim descent from the Prophet (pbuh) thru two diff Imams. They are very tall, fair and good looking people and personally I am quite inclined to accept their being of Iranian stock.

    Some of the other Rizvis, Siddiques etc that I have encountered are prolly of more dubious origins- they are as kala kaloota as other Indians.

    Regards

  96. yasserlatifhamdani

    Little boy,

    You write: “Go ahead, Ban me. I’m not coming back to this shitty blog any way. ”

    That is the fifth time you’ve said this. No I am not going to ban you… and no you don’t have the integrity to stay away from this “shitty” blog as you put it.

    Congratulations to your father on his PhD. How is this relevant to the points I have addressed to you above which you have failed to answer?

  97. yasserlatifhamdani

    Raza bhai,

    Please don’t delete Kabir’s posts. His real face should be for everyone to see.

  98. “Did he earn it through a correspondance course?” I see you thought better of that and self-edited.

    For the record, my father earned his doctorate from Stanford University. It’s not relevant to your points, but when you call his blog idiotic you fail to appreciate that these are the views of an extremely, well-educated, well-read man who writes everything after carefully researching it. He’s a true intellectual, unlike you.

    Final word from me.

  99. yasserlatifhamdani

    Kabir mian,

    Somehow I doubt it.

    But assuming your father is well educated, well read etc… what happened to you?

    So long as you and your father keep assuming that in order to achieve your “South Asian Idea” you have to erase Pakistani identity or abuse those who may identify themselves as Pakistani…. you will never get this idea through.

    This is from someone who has fought much longer than your “educated” father from Stanford against the state-imposed “nazaria Pakistan” and other concocted nationalisms of the state. I am telling you this… South Asian identity and Pakistani identity are not in conflict.

  100. Yasser,

    Have you ever heard of a man called Mir Anjum Altaf? Now you can do your own research, find out that I’m telling the truth and realize what kind of man you have insulted.

    I try to emulate him but unfortunately I lose my temper after spending too much time arguing with idiots like you.

  101. honey, you haven’t even been alive as long as he has. How could you have fought “much longer” than he has? Stop being delusional.

  102. Hayyer48

    Shah e Hamdan is also known among other names as Amir e Kabir in Kashmir and there is beautiful shrine to him.
    He is said to have entered Kashmir with about 700 Syeds and visited the valley perhaps three times. Hamdani is a common enough surname in Srinagar.
    Shah Hamdan is said to have stabilized and greatly enlarged the practice of the faith in Kashmir.

  103. Majumdar

    YLH’s wikipedia entry once had references to one of his ancestors (I wonder if it is the same gentleman that Hayyer mian is referring to) who was a big saint in Persia but someone seems to have edited that out.

    Regards

  104. bonobashi depressed

    @Majumdar
    Incidentally we have in our apartment a gentleman who bears the surname Safavi and claims descent from the Safavi Shahs of Iran. Both he and his wife claim descent from the Prophet (pbuh) thru two diff Imams.

    Dada, I know you have a large heart and liberal views, unlike the rest of us bigots, but I hope that I’m not presuming when I gather that you were referring to your apartment block, not to your apartment.

  105. Majumdar

    Bono da,

    That is true. We share only an apartment block, not the same apartment, we are not that broadminded (BM) yet.

    Regards

  106. yasserlatifhamdani

    Yes it is the same.

  107. yasserlatifhamdani

    Amir Kabir syed us salar, salar-e-ajam Ali Wali Hamdani urf Shah-e-Hamadan.

    Allama Iqbal wrote a rather flowery poem about him… called “Salar-e-Ajam”.

  108. Majumdar

    Who edited out the reference to this saint from your wiki bio?

    Btw, does any other chowkie/chaiwalla has a wiki entry?

    Regards

  109. yasserlatifhamdani

    I did. I don’t wish to be associated with witchdoctors of any kind.

  110. yasserlatifhamdani

    During my stay in US I shared an apartment with one “Shershendu Mukherjee” (1999-2000) on George St in New Brunswick NJ. I am guessing he was a Brahmin.

    One day he was eating beef. I asked him why? He said “this cow is not Indian cow”.

    True story.

  111. bonobashi depressed

    @Bloody Civilian


    bonobashi

    the persians couldn’t pronounce the ’s’ sound and therefore called it ‘hind’? usually, ’s’ and ’sh’ sounds get interchanged when speakers of a language do not have one or the other sound (the biblical shiboleth story, of course).

    or did the ancient persians, before the aryans arriving, couldn’t pronounce neither ’s’ nor ’sh’ and ended up pronouncing either as ‘h’?

    Please forgive me for responding in brief. It is difficult to summon up the energy and enthusiasm to push into these areas.

    You need to communicate with my good friend Frank Pohlmann, sometime graduate student at SOAS, who now lives in Northern Italy: quite appropriate for his Bavarian stock, and their historical familiarity with the Brenner Pass dating back to ancient times!

    He will inform you that there are a very large number of transpositions, mostly consonantal transpositions, and some vowel transpositions as well.

    You are referring to a well-known incident in the Bible, when the Israelis used the word ‘shibboleth’ to sort out infiltrators from a routed tribe who were trying to ford a guarded river and flee to safety; the tribesmen pronounced it ‘sibboleth’ and were slaughtered.

    There are many more such examples, almost countless. This particular transposition is famous historically. It is almost certain that the sequence of adoption was Indo-Iranian, then Indo-Aryan, for various linguistic reasons. In other words, the river (or, according to what we have just read, the land beyond the river to the east) was named the Hindu by the Indo-Iranians, and the river system in general the Hapta Hindu, the people to its east who came into the territory later had a transpositional pronunciation which made the sound Sindhu, and they talked of the Sapta Sindhu, the seven rivers of the plains, again transposing the names used by the elders, the Indo-Iranians.

    The entire territory extending the length of the Indus river, and north to the valley of Ferghana, was a borderland between eastern Iranian and Indo-Aryan. At some time in future, perhaps, if you are in the mood and I am there to tell the tale, you might be interested and amused to hear of the relations between the tribes, and their gradual consolidation onto either the eastern Iranian or the Indian sides of an invisible cultural boundary that was been drawn, unknown to the people concerned who were drawing it. We will talk about it some other time, Insh’allah.


    PMA

    ’sel’ is still used in modern persian. sel-e-hind was being used in the language of persia was 3000/4000 years ago, and older? so this word was in use even in the pre-aryan persia? or was it that aryans had arrived in persia before they arrived in india (a question for all historians on this forum, thanks!)? we hear that sanskrit is the oldest surviving language, and the word hindu is foreign to sanskrit. how old is persian relative to sanskrit?

    I shouldn’t be poaching on someone else’s territory, but…

    I don’t know about the word ‘sel’ at all. I am not aware of whether it was an Indo-Iranian word or older, Elamite as PMA quite correctly points out. We neglect the Elamite, Babylonian and Sumerian civilisations for totally unknown reasons, considering how much they had to do with the environs of Iran and India.

    It is generally accepted that Indo-Iranian tribes were in Iran earlier than any part of India.

    Sanskrit is the oldest surviving language in a sense. It was probably a living language at some point of time, but subsequently became a sacerdotal language.

    As Hayyer 48 points out somewhere, the priests and the men folk used this formal ‘high’ tongue, the women and the labourers used different tongues; cf., the greeting of Sakuntala’s friend, ‘Hola, hola, Soundale!’ Far from the polished Sanskrit, which would probably have been,’O Sakuntale!’ It is interesting that Kalidasa clearly distinguishes between the ‘high’ tongue and the dialects or lingua franca used by women in his plays.

    The point of this excursus is to prepare you for the reminder that an even older, or at least equally old tongue exists as a sacerdotal language. That is Avestan, the language used by the Zoroastrian priests even today, but mostly not understood except by a handful.

    How old is Persian relative to Sanskrit?

    There are some passages in the Zend Avesta which cannot be understood without knowledge of Rg Vedic Sanskrit; there are some hymns in the Rg Veda which cannot be understood without a knowledge of Avestan. If you read Avestan (passages are available transliterated into English in various Internet locations), you will understand the point within a sentence. An ancient Indian would have understood it with probably the same ease that a Hindustani would understand Punjabi; a half-day of discomfort and identification of parallels, followed by a week or two perhaps of rapidly increasing proficiency in the day-to-day language, not extending to knowledge of the terms used for higher philosophical or abstract notions. I am being fanciful.

    That more or less exhausts what I have to say.

  112. bonobashi depressed

    @YLH

    Mukherjees (Mukhyopadhyaya in original) are Rarhi Brahmins, imports into Bengal from the holy city of Kanauj; the importer was a Sen king, no kin to us poor folk, himself an import from Karnataka. They form a tightly-knit and large group, along with Chatterjee, Ganguly, Banerjee and Bhattacharyya (I think; I could be wrong with the last).

    Why did you ask him ‘why’?

  113. yasserlatifhamdani

    🙂

    Because I thought as much. I didn’t think Brahmins were practitioners of cow slaughter.

  114. Majumdar

    Bono da,

    On my distaff side I am a Mukherjee. (you can correct the grammar, expression pls)

    Regards

  115. Majumdar

    Bono da,

    I believe Bhattacharya is a generic term for a Brahmin who earns his living by pooja path, teaching etc as opposed to a Chakravarti (a land owning Brahmin)

    Regards

  116. Bloody Civilian

    Do not many Pathans or Pashtuns or whatever they want to call themselves feel the Durand line is just as irrelevant as “ethnocentric” Punjabis like myself feel the Radcliffe line to be?

    yes they do. they all live in afghanistan, i.e. a proportion only of afghan pashtuns. infact, the more vociferous about the issue are non-pashtun afghans. pakistani pashtuns do not consider the durand line to be irrelevant. wishing it to be a friendly and peaceful border with freedom of movement is not at all the same as considering it irrelevant. many indians and pakistanis hope the same for the radcliff line. that does not mean they wish it to be no more. the division of punjab aside, which it has already been pointed out was a result of the desire to do violence to the idea of pakistan.

    i see you agree with majumdar about the issue of denial of democratic/political rights and justice. a pakistani dictatorship is not pakistan. the sub-nationalities are quite capable of seeing that. take the lawyers’ movement as an example.. esp the long march. why the need to crackdown so harshly in sind and seal the sind-punjab border? or consider the role of the nwfp bar and bench and the people’s support for them. balochistan is an issue that needs immediate attention. 3 out of 4 army operations there were carried out by dictators. one by a civilian despot. it is an example of the failure of those in power who opposed/abandoned not just the idea of pakistan but any respect for rule of law or common norms of decency. that is nothing to do with the idea of pakistan. and, yes, you are right, democracy includes the democratic right to secede. as for outfits like JI etc., they’re and always have been against the idea of pakistan (and democracy and justice too).

    both pakistan and the decision of pakistani pahtuns regarding it were democratic choices. as YLH has already pointed out, surely democracy’s is far weightier a verdict than that of geography or genetics or some arbitrary view of history.

    if there can be no arbitray point in ancient or relatively distant history beyond which we must not go, then, equally, there cannot be an arbitrary point in more recent or modern history where all events since can be declared irrelevant. iraq is not babylon and sumer, but can anyone deny iraqis this part of their historical heritage? indians have every right to claim the indus civilisation as part of their heritage. but does that mean that pakistanis cannot or must not?!

    this board started with an objection being made to the assertion that somehow writing jinnah’s obituary falsified faiz’s liberal, progressive ideology. even cast a doubt over his honesty/integrity. the author based this statement on an assumption that jinnah was the opposite of liberal and progressive. by not bothering to back up her assumption with any evidence, the author is pretending that no one will catch her out in her attempt to pass off a lie as an established fact, universally accepted. that is dishonest.

    a few days ago, there was a piece by m j akbar published here on PTH. in it akbar claimed that partition was the means to ‘isolate’ the ‘wound’. but he does not care to explain what is the ‘wound’? he too tries to pass off his assumption as some established fact which does not need any explanations. his dishonesty is even worse, for he leaves it to the readers to decide what the wound was/is.. according to their own liking/leanings.

    you, similarly, made a statement about pakistani pahstuns wishing to join afghanistan when not even the KKs ever demanded that. an independent pashtunistan will hardly be independent if it were part of afghanistan. yet, as YLH pointed out, even the KK with their minority support, have not been openly separatist. in fact, even kabul has never claimed a greater pashtunistan or a joining up with afghanistan. interestingly, kabul kept using the so-called flag of pahtunistan as propaganda symbol. only rarely it has used a map, and, guess what, in it pashtunistan has been east of the durand line.. preserving the ‘relevance’ of the durand line even to afghanistan (e.g. see a postage stamp issued by kabul in 1969… with a map of pashtunistan on it). so kabul’s support for pashtun nationalism was strictly limted to pakistani pashtuns.

    like i said before, i only dispute your facts. i have absolutely no doubt about your sincerity. in fact, in many ways, i admire it.

    regards

  117. bonobashi depressed

    @Bloody Civilian

    ….both pakistan and the decision of pakistani pahtuns regarding it were democratic choices. as YLH has already pointed out, surely democracy’s is far weightier a verdict than that of geography or genetics or some arbitrary view of history.

    In fact, in line with that, I too believe – that a conscious choice is a greater, more potent identifier of nationhood than the time-immemorial ones of ethnicity, language and religion. The USA, Canada, France, UK, Australia come to mind.

  118. bonobashi depressed

    @Majumdar

    Yes, you are probably right. I am not really too well up on these matters. Baidik Brahmins, however, who are Chakravartis, are a group of originally Iyengar Brahmins from the South, who were tempted to stay on by the Malla Rajas of Bishnupur. These, with the Barendras, are three; there are two others, listed in Risley, but I have forgotten.

    Majumdar is a land-title and not a caste name, as you know. Now you can come out and battle us in the open.🙂

  119. Majumdar

    Bono da,

    Now you can come out and battle us in the open.

    I will think twice before taking on an erudite man like you.

    Regards

  120. Hayyer48

    Bonobashi:
    Could you enlighten me (on email) about the origins of the Bengali hyphenated surnames. e.g sengupta’ dasgupta, dutta majumdar and other such.

  121. bonobashi

    @Hayyer48

    I would be delighted, learned Sir, if I knew your e-mail😀

  122. PMA

    bonobashi (September 1, 2009 at 3:22 pm):

    Do ‘cultural boundaries’ exist? Visible or not? I always thought cultures blend into the next one as an unbroken chain. That is what the lahori-kashmiri-punjabi young man was talking about. But forgetting that at the eastern banks of Indus his cherished ‘punjabi culture’ is hardly distinguishable from the ‘pashtun culture’ just across the river. He needs to spend few days in Attock. But he has time on his side.

  123. bonobashi

    @PMA

    No, you are right, cultural complexes blend into one another unbroken, the differences appearing only after some distance has been traversed. At the time I used that phrase, I was uneasy; on examining my conscience, it appears that a cultural watershed might have been a more apposite term.

    This thought has other repercussions which I would rather leave for a more comfortable personal moment.

  124. Bloody Civilian

    bonobashi

    a conscious choice is a greater, more potent identifier of nationhood than the time-immemorial ones of ethnicity, language and religion

    indeed. although, the conscious choice may be based on one of those identifiers, democratically expressed. but you’re right. the weight is attached to the fact that it is a conscious choice, and not what particular identifier is used or not used.

    of course, no individual is bound to agree or identify with the democratic choice. her/his individual choice is no less valid or important than any other individual opinion at variance with the majority’s in a democracy. it becomes relatively more important if it represents the view of a big minority, or, in a multi-ethnic polity, if the minority opinion represents the majority of a minority… and relatively more important still if it represents the majority of a large minority.

    and many thanks for a thoroughly interesting post in response to my questions. it clarified some points and has enough intriguing bits in there for me to go and pick up a basic intro to the relevant period of history (while hayyer48 is looking up more advanced references).

    best regards

  125. Bloody Civilian

    instead of “multi-ethnic”, i should have said ‘heterogeneous’… in order to allow that the diverse identities may be based on any old identifier.

  126. bonobashi

    @Bloody Civilian

    That middle passage was quintessential Bloody Civilian and a lesson to us. It is the greatest test of democracy to ensure that an individual is given her rights, irrespective of the acceptability or popular support for those rights. A case in point is the unfortunate Tasleema Nasreen. A counter-case, identical but opposite in polarity, is M. F. Husain.

    We need to support even what we find personally abhorrent on a point of principle. Until then, we are brutes.

  127. hayyer48

    Bonobashi:
    “We need to support even what we find personally abhorrent on a point of principle.”
    Surely you mean tolerate, not support.
    And even in toleration there would be limits. In sexual politics for example I would tolerate homosexuality without supporting it. On the other hand would you even tolerate something like say a party dedicated to perpetuating caste.There is a fine line to what can be tolerated and what must be proscribed.
    Societies dont have to be multi cultural and multi ethnic to face these dilemmas.
    BC:
    My researches are lost between myth and history including sects claiming that some Elamites were black. It was a surprise that connections are claimed to the Baluch. I also found one reference in the Persian to ‘Hindu e falak’, but none to confirm that the land (of black people) gave the river its name not the river to the land. PMA’s theory is credible but evidence lags.
    A Pakistani web site giving the history of Sindh claims that the Persians took the name of the river from them.
    Because PMA declines further discourse I must remain in the dark (no pun intended).

  128. Bloody Civilian

    Hayyer48

    i had the same question, i.e. not knowing whether the elamites were migrants from far enough north or not, i assumed that, like culture (and language*), skin tones don’t jump too many shades over a few hundred miles unless migrant stock is involved.

    hind-e-falak is claimed to be saturn – the dark(?) planet (‘falak’ being persian for sky). the modern persian name for it (also used in urdu.. and, i believe, turkish) is zuhal. but that is of course from the name for the god Saturn, so it leaves us none the wiser about hind-e-falak. i too came across the elam-dravidian languages theory…. and about brahvi.

    since i can’t keep asking our learned friends here to educate me, it’s time i found some offline friends whose brains i could pick.

    * depending on how travel-friendly the particular terrain is. so language/culture change over shorter distances in the mountains/jungle/arctic.

  129. karun

    indians have every right to claim the indus civilisation as part of their heritage. but does that mean that pakistanis cannot or must not?!

    ************************************************

    certainly you should but then dont be so particular in choosing the history that suits you meaning you should also choose the aryan history associated with the Sindhu river and punjab before it made transition into ganga-jumna(doab) area.

    meaning you should be proud of you aryan anscestry (read hindu)which may be as significant as mohenjodaro/harappa.

    i have no problem…just the music of the words sounds a little funny…isn’t it.

  130. karun

    the similarity between ancient persian and sanskrit is striking but the evidence of any interconnection between the two civilisations is only linguistic that too is not completely proven except few similarities:

    some argue that they were competing civilisations:

    so aryan gods were ‘suras’, persian ‘asuras’ or ahura
    now that you are familiar with the s and h interchange

    significantly however early vedic gods like surya,indra,varuna,mitra and usa have no parallels

    these similarities experts claim may just be incidental

  131. karun

    on a very different note: one reason more for my love for delhi is the magnificient collection of the artifacts of the Indus valley civilisation at the National Museum. Simply superlative!

    Also lest i forget since zorastrians are mentioned,we in mumbai celebrated parsi new year few days ago(by official holiday and fantastic food) the fire temples were bedecked and choc-a-bloc. beautiful thing!!!

  132. Gorki

    Karun:
    on a very different note: one reason more for my love for delhi is the magnificient collection of the artifacts of the Indus valley civilisation at the National Museum. Simply superlative!

    Shhhhhhhhhhhhh!!

    Never, ever repeat the above to any one again lest a certain Pakistani lawyer starts getting ideas and moves the court to remove these pieces back to Pakistan.😉

    Regards.

  133. Bloody Civilian

    mein khayal hoon kissi aur ka, mujhe sochta koi aur hai

    ….. in more ways than one, that is😉

    karun

    thanks for quoting me and addressing someone else.

  134. PMA

    hayyer48 (September 1, 2009 at 9:33 pm):

    Bloody Civilian (September 1, 2009 at 10:39 pm):

    I will only be happy to share what ever little I know about the land of my ancestors. Even though I sign-in here under my initials, most of you are familiars with my essays and articles published at ATP under my full name. You may like to go to ATP site and read up some of the things I have said in the past. You might find my essay on ‘Hellenistic and Parthian Gandhara’ of some interest. When I said to hayyer yesterday that no more discussions, I was referring to the repeated questions about ‘sirhind’. Here is my information about Elamites.

    They were the first ones to build cities in the ancient Persia. Their empire that existed between 2400 and 500 B.C. was the first Persian Empire with Susa as its capital. The Elam Civilization was ruled by the code of law first developed by the Babylonians. Elams were fair skin people of Central Asian and Persian stock. Elam tribes traveled between Tigris and Indus and are considered to be the first ones to “discover” India. They are also credited with giving the vast land mass east of Indus its name Hind and its inhabitant their Persian name Hindu. The River Indus came to be known as the ‘river of hind’, evolved as Sind. There is no written history of that time except what is attributed to the fifth century B.C. Greek historian Herodotus. The latest knowledge of ancient Persian history comes from the archaeological and anthropological sources of the late twentieth century finds. Most historians backed by the archaeological evidences are coming around to the idea that Persian-Indian contacts via Maka (Makran) are older than the Aryan invasions of Persia and then India. The Vedic period of India is younger than the early Persian-Indian contacts. The words, hind, hindu, sind and sindhu are older than the Vedic scriptures. Similarly Indus Civilization, which is now claimed to be as old as eight millennium is older than the Vedic period and has no relevance to the modern day Hinduism.

  135. bonobashi

    @PMA

    I am pretty ill-read on Middle Eastern history in the ancient proto-historic period, but know enough to affirm that your summary is a good guide for beginners like us. However, there are a couple of points where I wish to underline, without being disrespectful to the facts and without seeking out controversy.

    I am sought elsewhere urgently at the moment, and hope to put these two matters before you around seven hours from now.

    Please bear with me.

  136. bonobashi

    @Hayyer48

    Important things first: are you

    Hayyer 48
    Hayyer48
    hayyer 48 or
    hayyer48?

    The differences and your systematic changes are driving me crazy. Let me rephrase that. They are putting me further off balance than I already am.

    The less important.

    I did mean ‘support’, in the sense that the right to differ must be supported. I might personally disagree with a political agenda, but if it is legitimate under the Constitution, it has to be allowed and given space. We cannot choke it ‘unconstitutionally’, and that includes a wide variety of coercive measures used by the State, and by that section of the people who happen to command the apparatus of power of the State.

  137. Hayyer48

    What’s in a name. I hope hayyer says as little as Hayyer or what’s the internet for. It is my hope that the net not only preserves anonymity, it promotes objectivity. Disembodied words dropping out of the ether are not necessarily voices in the air. As the Guiness ad said a long time ago. ‘All black magic is not mumbo jumbo’. I think I should switch to ‘Enquirer’. If the net were a surreal medium I should be justified in accepting ‘Mahatma’ as my takhallus.
    With your Voltairian (is that right?) perspective I can have no quarrel whatsoever. The adjective here is not the enemy of the proper noun.

  138. Hayyer48

    The above is addressed to Bonobashi.

  139. Gorki

    Hayyer and Bonobashi:

    “And even in toleration there would be limits. In sexual politics for example I would tolerate homosexuality without supporting it. On the other hand would you even tolerate something like say a party dedicated to perpetuating caste. There is a fine line to what can be tolerated and what must be proscribed.
    Societies don’t have to be multi cultural and multi ethnic to face these dilemmas”.
    ……………………………………….

    Your last line is absolutely true but I think the answer is both, tolerance and support.

    Bonobashi has hit the nail on the head; the letter and the spirit of the constitution should be the only moral compass to go by, everything else will take care of itself.

    Regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with a political agenda or not, as long as it is within the framework of the constitution it has to be completely supported legally and tolerated in practice. Of course it can be opposed in a political forum.

    A case in point is a debate about the ban on covering of the head by Muslim women in France (discussed on the PTH a few weeks ago.)
    While Sarkozy may find it personally distasteful (and we all may find it hopelessly medieval), it is by upholding the right of these medieval minded women that we all but more importantly the president of France can truly call his nation enlightened.

    Therefore I hope is ban is challenged in the court and struck down as unconstitutional.
    I hope that then Sarkozy will be democratic enough to accept it and protect the writ of the law if it happens.
    Of course Sarkozy Sahib is free to use the bully pulpit of his office to ask for a voluntary ban on such medieval practices as his political position.

    Regards.

  140. Bloody Civilian

    i thought bonobashi was very clearly in saying that we must support everyone’s rights, even as we abhor and oppose their views with similar vigour. hence hayyer’s reference to voltaire.

  141. Gorki

    Hence the following:

    “Bonobashi has hit the nail on the head….”

    I was simply acknowledging the fact that I was butting in on their conversation😉

    Regards.

  142. Bloody Civilian

    oops! sorry!

    i too was just butting in, really😉

  143. ghulammuhammed

    I sometimes wonder if ‘Pakistan’ was ever freed from the bondage of the West. For that part of the subcontinent, as if the colonialists have never gone away. It was a big hoax perpetrated on the people of ‘Pakistan’. The worst part is that they are completely unaware of their bondage. If so, when and how they will fight to be really free, if ever.

  144. YLH

    Dear Karun,

    I had dinner with a german journalist from New Delhi last night.

    I repeated some of the things you keep telling us about India- Gurgaon, economy, metro, progress etc etc.

    She was like are you joking? I said no how do you mean.

    She then described Delhi and India as the most backward ghettoist fourth world country. I was surprised and shocked. She also declared that Gurgaon has no electricity or water.

    According to her Pakistan was infinitely more organized and modern. Now is this all true?

  145. YLH

    Also – about the metro- she said – it is a metro to hell.

  146. Majumdar

    Yasser Pai,

    This German lady’s name is not Moin Ansari or Riaz Haq, by any chance?

    Regards

  147. YLH

    No I can assure you she is completely german, lives with her son in New Delhi and writes as the New Delhi correspondent for a Vienna based Austrian Newspaper.

  148. YLH

    Btw she said many many unflattering things. For example when we pointed out th extraordinary capitalist progress, she pooh poohed it. India continues to be a socialist hell hole she said. To illustrate an example she said that the countryhead for Metro in India keeps telling her (this is metro cash and carry). That India has no future for a chain like Metro. In. Contrast Pakistan she said does very weol on the real numbers.

    These are her views not mine.

  149. Majumdar

    Yasser mian,

    I am sure there are lots of unflattering things to tell about India.

    But what does she mean by saying there is “no power or water in Gurgaon” Surely I can’t be accessing the Net from Gurgaon without power?

    Regards

  150. Majumdar

    That India has no future for a chain like Metro.

    Not to mention that there is no Dunkin Donuts either.

    Regards

  151. Hayyer 48

    India is third world not fourth. It is not China. Delhi is not a European style city, or even as orderly as say Bangkok (which is not saying much). But the German lady overdoes it. The metro works fine and it is clean.
    Traffic is disorderly, sanitation is poor except in Lutyen’s Delhi. Power and water shortages happen in high summer even now.
    Delhi is cleaner than other Indian cities except perhaps Bangalore and Chandigarh.
    Gurgaon is not Delhi. It is in Haryana. The DLF company responsible for Gurgaon in the main and the other builders took no account of the infrastructure when they began their second megalopolis. The water and power shortages are much worse than Delhi.

  152. Majumdar

    But the German lady overdoes it.

    I think this is the influence of a notorious lawyer formerly from Lahore and now based in Isloo. This gentleman has a habit of plying his guests with booze and Dunkin Donuts and the guest eats out of his hand. A former Delhiite chowkie landed up at Lahore and ended up describing it as another Singapore.

    I think this lady has been under bad influence.

    Regards

  153. YLH

    I can assure you the lawyer had nothing to do with. Almost deliberately I presented myself as an Indo-phile in awe of Indian achievement.

    May that is what elicited the response.

  154. Ex Muslim

    A friend sent me this audio link to
    Faiz day in Moscow.

    http://urdu.ruvr.ru/main.php?lng=urd&q=2471&cid=49&p=08.05.2009&pn=1

  155. Hello from Wexford Ireland, I enjoyed the article. Very Good.