Category Archives: Urdu

Farewell Haqqani Saheb – forgive your peers and colleagues

Raza Rumi

A personal favourite, Irshad Ahmad Haqqani is dead. This is a huge loss to Urdu journalism as he was the last of sane voices in the vernacular industry. I often disagreed with his centre-right views but his tone was measured and he remained a staunch supporter of democracy. May God bless his soul.

I stumbled on this post at Cafe Piyala that also talks about Haqqani but the best part of it was what Haqqani’s peers and junior collegaues had to say about him. I think some of the comments were so shameful that I could not even laugh with an easy conscience. I am quoting the last part of that post here that also is quite a treat:

Whatever they might say about him, he did invent the modern Urdu column, which is half analytical drivel, half dinner menus. Only during the last week, for example, Jang columnist Haroon-ur-Rashid (according to his column) demanded and got desi murghi from the Azad Kashmir prime minister, and Hamid Mir (according to his column) discovered new insights into judicial activism over a Kashmiri dish. I forget the name of the dish but according to Jang / Geo’s brightest star, it is made of mooli and shaljam and served with rice. The host was the Lahore High Court Chief Justice Khwaja Sharif.

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Filed under journalism, Media, Urdu

‘The myna of peacock garden’

A new collection of translated short stories reminds us how Urdu literature needs to connect with a global audience, says Raza Rumi

As I hold the recently published “The Oxford Book of short stories” in my hands, I cannot help bemoan the fact that Urdu literature has been almost invisible from the arena of global literature. Admittedly, translation is difficult; the tediousness of translation daunts many a brave heart. Having said that, there have been a handful of remarkable translators such as Khalid Hassan, Alamgir Hashmi, CM Naim, Aamer Hussain, Umer Memon and Rakhshanda Jalil, to name a few. But a wide corpus of Urdu literature lies forlorn and hidden from global readership, which alas is dominated by English language readers. For this very reason, Amina Azfar has done a remarkable job of compiling a collection of Urdu short stories. Her earlier translations have been competent and quite often lyrical. For instance, Akhtar Hussain Raipuri’s Gard-e-Rahh (the dust of the road) and Sajjad Zaheer’s Roshnai ( the Light ) are noteworthy for their tone.

The book has a nice little foreword by Aamer Hussain, who is correct in stating that Azfar’s collection provides a fine introduction to the genre of the Urdu short story. The stories selected encompass a range of various experiments undertaken by the great Urdu writers. The stark realism of Munshi Premchand is counterpoised by Khaleda Hussain’s two short stories that are allegorical and somewhat postmodern in their sensibility. Iftikhar Arif, the renowned poet-bureaucrat, in his formal introduction quotes Dr Jamil Jalibi, terming the selected short stories “in the category of the very best”. Continue reading

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Filed under Literature, Pakistan, translations, Urdu

World journalists write to the Government of Pakistan

Raza Rumi
Today, world editors have written to the government condemning the way a journalist, Matthew Rosenberg, has been maligned without evidence thereby making him vulnerable to being attacked extremists. True, the western media rarely reports without a slant. But unsubstantiated propaganda is plainly wrong and makes us all ashamed. We must practice what we preach. We hope that foreign correspondents are provided protection and better editorial discretion is introduced. As a writer I support freedom of expression but irresponsible allegations can be dangerous in these insecure times.
TO: Qamar Zaman Kaira,
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Minister for Information and Broadcasting, Government of Pakistan

4th Floor, Cabinet Block, Pakistan Secretariat, Islamabad (16 November 2009)

RE: Nation article about Wall Street Journal reporter

Respected Minister Kaira,
We are writing to register our strong concern at a recent development that has caused alarm among international media organizations working in Pakistan.
On November 5, The Nation newspaper published a front page article accusing Matthew Rosenberg, a correspondent for The Wall Street Journal, of working for the C.I.A., Israeli intelligence and the U.S. military contractor Blackwater.
Mr. Rosenberg is a respected journalist of high standing. Not only was the article unsubstantiated, it critically compromised his security and raised questions about whether he can return to Pakistan to work safely in the future. Continue reading

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From Russia with Love: Main Ney Russia Mee kya Dekha

Bradistan Calling

When Pakistan came into existence in 1947, Russia was known as the Godless Empire of Union of Soviet Socialist Republics under brutal dictator Joseph Stalin. This inherent difference in ideologies resulted in tensions from the very start, but the refusal of the first prime minister of Pakistan to accept the cordial invitation of the Soviet leadership to visit USSR started the full scale Cold War. The rest, as they say, is history.

Pakistan decided to accept the invitation of United States of America (the head of ‘Free’ Capitalist and Godly world).Pakistan joined anti-communist military pacts and gave its logistic support for Korean War in 1950s.Despite the unwavering loyalty of Pakistani military and landlord elite, USA refused to provide military assistance and spare parts during 1965 Kashmir war with India. The Pakistani dictator of the time was madly in love with USA, titling his ghost written biography, ‘Friends not Masters’. Continue reading

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Pakistani Literature – Evolution and Trends

By Gilani Kamran

The novel in Pakistan

The novel in Pakistan emerged with Qurratulain Heider’s Aag ka Darya (The River of Fire, 1957). It has been generally held that the novel is about the problem of self-identity, yet it moves in a wider orbit and traverses the curvature between self identity and the collective identity of the people who were placed in a criticasl situation on the eve of Independence in 1947. Leslie Flemming has regarded this novel as A Tale of Three Cities, where the whole phenomenon of Independence has been witnessed as a feature film’s scenario. Thematically, the novel intends to discover some equation between geography and history, though in a much wider sense the human existence is not more than mutability and transmigration of human forms. The novel had indeed opened a new mode of perception, and had given a meaningful matter and theme to fiction writing in Pakistan. Continue reading

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Filed under Art, Books, culture, Identity, Literature, Pakistan, Partition, Urdu, Writers

Pakistaniat : The Crisis of Identity

Bradistan Calling

 

What can I give to Pakistan as a present on its 62nd Birthday, What else than an article on its chequered history and identity. Bertrand Russell famously said,” There are three great civilisations in East i.e. India, China and Islam”. Pakistan is blessed to be located at the crossroads of all these great civilisations. In my humble opinion this is the biggest strength of Pakistani identity. Continue reading

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Neo ‘Iron curtain’ and the loud marching steps.

The Neo ‘Iron Curtain’ and the loud marching steps of  televangelistas.

Bradistan Calling

The latest cultural trend is the sensational rise of televangelist channels in U.K, using tactics which can only be described as ‘emotional and religious blackmail’ and premium rate phone charges to raise funds from devotees, most of these are Nigerian Pentecostal ‘Witchdoctor’  (faith healer potions and exorcisms) TV channels operating from London. Generally the term ‘televangelist’ refers to American evangelical splinter churches propagating to solicit donations for converting poor Africans. This concoction of ideologies is being beamed back to Africa and Asia through satellite. Continue reading

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