Tag Archives: Pakistani

Rescuing the Pakistani state

Raza Rumi

Three weeks after the floods have broken Pakistan’s back, the international community is yet to show its resolve in helping a drowning country. The reasons for such a slow response are erroneously being understood in the context of the Pakistani government or the current crop of civilians in power. However, this is a narrow twist to the reality. The real angst and distrust being displayed by the world is at the Pakistani ‘state’. The situation is also reflective of the duplicity of international opinion makers and power-centres in labelling Pakistan as a country with an ‘image problem’.

One is sick of reading nauseating reports on how the post-earthquake assistance was ‘diverted’ or squandered. The truth is that in 2005 a military dictator was ruling Pakistan and the entire world was doing business with him. At that moment, the issues of democracy, transparency and human rights all took a backseat and strategic imperatives prevailed.

Pakistani, and by extension the global media, are regurgitating tiresome cliches about corruption without talking about reforming state institutions. For instance, not a single commentator has said that we have a new accounting system in the form of the Project to Improve Financial Reporting and Auditing (Pifra) in place. But it has not been put into place effectively at the provincial and district levels. This is the way we will ensure transparency and good tracking of money received and spent. Continue reading

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Filed under Pakistan, public policy, state

FICTION: The Solidity of Things

Posted by Raza Rumi

At PTH, we have struggled to retain the balance between politics, history and arts and culture. However, given Pakistan’s turbulent politics and security, it has been an uphill task. We are now inviting new writers to come and express themselves at PTH. Especially since the explosion (pun intended) of Pakistani fiction at a global scale. We are printing a story by Hamza Rehman who is a an Esquire based in Islamabad. Hamza is a practising lawyer who moonlights as DJ for Pakistan Broadcasting Association’s Planet FM 94, where he hosts the Alternative Rock and 80’s shows. He freelances for The Friday Times and pens fiction as much as he can. He primarily writes about characters in Islamabad and experiments heavily with metaphor. The Solidity of Things is his debut short story.

Hope the readers would enjoy this rather bold, avante garde story.

“… but they sprawled from another country, Lahore, Karachi, Peshawar and the rest.

Islamabad is Pakistan’s first city.”

The billboard outside the Daewoo Bus Station introduced Islamabad as a new sentence to passengers arriving from Lahore. The other cities trailed off from another paragraph – divided India. Yes of course, Ahmed thought, Islamabad was post partition. The 1960’s. Ahmed sat in his jaundiced Suzuki FX that peeled silver rust at places. Through the tempered glass the weather shone warm with grim April yellow. Ahmed tried to make out if his maternal cousin, Haroon, had arrived.

Islamabad was roadblock central now. Blockades were a zipper formation and the ITP an ever vigil martinet on Fridays. Ahmed remembered a conversation with Usman: “Ahmed, solid terrorism, or manifest terrorism, isn’t the Islamabad Marriot burning the fuck down.” Taking a drag of his Gold Leaf, Usman had pithily said, “It’s the insecurity that follows”, in a wisp of solid smoke and truth.  Continue reading

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Karachi Literary Festival

by Raza Rumi

Oxford University Press and the British Council are holding a literary festival – first of its kind.

The programme can be viewed here – Full programme of the Karachi Literary Festival

I am off to Karachi to attend this moot.

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Filed under Literature, Pakistan, Writers

‘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

The way we are treated at US airports

Word of advice for Washington – in your efforts to win the battle against the terrorists, don’t humiliate your friends, says Bilal Qureshi

After spending about a year in Pakistan, I arrived back home, that is back in the States last night. Well, as I was at the last stop before exiting the immigration area at Dulles Airport, I was asked to come to a separate area without giving me any reason for it.

I went to the separate area and there were dozens and dozens of people from Pakistan, India , Bangladesh , and couple of families from Africa.

First, I was confused as I had been traveling for about 24 hours (without any sleep) and because I was tired and fatigued, it took me a while to grasp that all of us in that room were dark colored Asian, and most probably all of us were Muslims (perhaps with one or two exceptions) and this made me very upset. Continue reading

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Pakistan, Two Nation Theory and Secularism: Response to an Indian Poster

By Yasser Latif Hamdani

This was written in response to an Indian poster who suffers particularly from the ailment of which Oscar Wilde spoke unfavorably once upon a time.    Since the arguments are the usual : cliched, hackneyed and ill-informed chest thumping on why India is better, why two nation theory was wrong, why Pakistanis suck,  why Pakistan is a failed state,  I thought I’d put up this response for the general education of this jingoistic Indian type.   I’ve always thought that these gungho Indians (not all though- there are so many fine Indians we know who can’t be put in this bracket) act like the newly rich of the world and therefore their attitudes towards Pakistanis and the rest of the world smack of a lack of class, manners, decency or sense of balance and proportion. 

Dear Indian poster,

You keep repeating your mantra that India is secular because of the Congress and its one nation idea but the fact is that your constitution itself was authored by a man who opposed Congress’ conception of one nation.  Read B R Ambedkar’s writings especially on the issue of separate electorates for the Dalits and Scheduled Castes. In every way B R Ambedkar’s politics was closer to the two nation theory than one nation theory. And yet this fellow gave you the secular Indian constitution… and if you read the ICA debates you would see just how hard B R Ambedkar had to struggle to keep Gandhian and Hindu Majority’s ideas out of the Indian constitution. Continue reading

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Making Martyrs of Gojra Count

 By Yasser Latif Hamdani

Gojra is Pakistan’s Godhra/Gujurat moment. For years we pointed to India and the horrific communal violence to claim that something like this couldn’t happen in Pakistan despite all of Pakistan’s flaws. The events of Gojra three days ago have changed all of that coming only days before the purported minorities celebration week leading to August 11th celebration of Minorities’ Day. Now the minorities will commemorate a week of mourning ending on a black day commemorating the betrayal of the promise that Jinnah made to all citizens of this country ie protection of life, liberty, religious freedom and equality of citizenship Continue reading

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